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Easy Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole


If you love casseroles that start with ground beef and end with tater tots this recipe is for you. This Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole recipe is a must make any time of year! Add it to your menu this week.

Serving a sloppy joe tater tot casserole.
Table of Contents

Having a good list of great casseroles {like this Totcho Casserole} is such a time saver in the evenings. Dinner is in the oven in no time and the whole family is sure to love what you are making.

This hearty casserole is no exception. In fact, this is a recipe I have made for my family at least twice a month for over 25 years. It has always been a family favorite.

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What goes into this Recipe

The ingredients needed to make sloppy joe tater tot casserole.
  • Ground Beef: I prefer to go with 93 or even 96 percent lean beef because it requires no grease draining.
  • Onion:  A yellow onion works well but a red onion can also be added for great flavor.
  • Tater Tots: There are a handful of different frozen tater tots you can go with. The extra crispy tater tots work great.
  • Shredded Cheese: This is the perfect layer between the sloppy joe mixture and the tots.  Cheddar cheese melts great and goes great with the sloppy joe mixture.
  • Ketchup: A great starting ingredient for a delicious sloppy joe.
  • Chili Powder:  It along with cumin and dried oregano add a fabulous taste.

See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Substitutions and Additional Ingredient Ideas

Try using lean ground turkey, chicken or pork instead of beef.

Add chopped green pepper or red bell pepper at the same time as the onions for added flavor.  A brick of cream cheese can be added to the sloppy joe base for a great creamy texture.  A can of black beans or can of corn would be great additions to the sloppy joe filling.

How to make Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole.

1. Start by adding the oil and onion to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the onions are soft, add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Next, add the hamburger and cook beef until it is browned.

2. Once the burger is cooked through, add the ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce and spices. Stir to combine.

Steps 1 and 2 of making sloppy joe casserole. 1, make the hamburger filling. 2, pour ground beef into casserole dish.

3. Add the meat mixture to a 9×13 casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

4. Top the cooked ground beef with shredded cheese and a single layer of tater tots. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then turn the oven to broil and continue to bake until the top of the tots are crisp and golden brown.

Steps 3 and 4 of making a sloppy joe tater tot casserole. 3, top with shredded cheese. 4, add tater tots and bake.

Expert Tips

  • Be sure to drain the ground beef {if needed} before adding the sauce. If you leave the grease in the pan, the casserole might get soggy.
  • Add enough cheese to cover the ground beef mixture but not too much. While adding cheese is always a good idea, adding too much can result in the tots not getting crispy.
  • Don’t skip turning on the broiler for the last few minutes. This simple step makes a huge difference in the end result and gets everything super crispy.
  • Allow the casserole to come to room temperature before storing or freezing.  If you try this step while the weeknight dinner is warm the condensation will change the texture of the casserole.
  • This filling could also be used to make sloppy joe sandwiches.  Toast a bun or bread and add the mixture for a good sloppy joe recipe. This hamburger sloppy joe is also a great option.

Storage and Freezing

Store- This casserole will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator as long as it is covered tightly with plastic wrap or in a good airtight container.

Freeze- This casserole is a great freezer meal. For best results, assemble it up to baking instructions and then freeze.  When you pull it from the freezer it can go straight into the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes or until heated through.

Recipe FAQs

Can I use a can of sloppy joe mix?

Yes, you can definitely save a bit of time by using a can of sloppy joe mix instead of the ketchup mixture to this hamburger tater tot casserole. However, I do love the flavor of this simple homemade sloppy joe sauce.

Why is my tater tot casserole runny?

If your casserole is runny it could be a couple of things. First of all, be sure that you are allowing the casserole to rest for a few minutes before serving. This will help to thicken the sauce.

I also suggest using the broiler for 3-5 minutes to be sure that the tots are super crispy. Even if you add a lot of cheese {which can make the top of the dish soggy}, this simple step will help.

What should I serve with sloppy joe tater tot casserole?

While this dinner recipe is great by itself, a good side salad or side dish are a great addition.

I love adding this bbq green bean casserole, mac and cheese, harvest salad or wedge salad.

Sloppy joe tater tot casserole on a plate for dinner.

Do you love easy casserole recipes? Try one of these…

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Serving a sloppy joe tater tot casserole.

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

All of the best elements of sloppy joes and tater tot casserole are combined into one amazing dish. 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 614kcal
5 from 5 votes
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  • 2 pounds ground beef {I used 93/7}
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion {chopped}
  • 1 clove garlic {minced}
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tablespoon brown sugar {lightly packed}
  • 3 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 Tablespoon worchestershire sauce
  • ½ Tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups shredded cheese {I used Colby Jack}
  • 1 package frozen tater tots


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a skillet over medium-high heat add oil and onion.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add minced garlic and cook for an additional minute or until fragrant.  Add hamburger to onion and garlic mixture and cook until the burger is browned completely.  Once the hamburger is cooked through, add the ketchup, brown sugar, yellow mustard, worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and oregano to the ground beef. Add sauce to drained meat and stir to coat.
  • Add sloppy joe mixture to a greased 9×13 baking pan and top with shredded cheese and a layer of tater tots. 
  • Place the casserole in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, after 20 minutes turn the oven to broil and finish baking for an additional 4-5 minutes or until the tater tots are crisp and browned.  {Be careful not to burn}


  • Be sure to drain the ground beef {if needed} before adding the sauce. If you leave the grease in the pan, the casserole might get soggy.
  • Don’t skip turning on the broiler for the last few minutes. This simple step makes a huge difference in the end result and gets everything super crispy.
  • Prep the recipe early in the day and refrigerate until ready to bake.
  • This recipe freezes well for up to 3 months.  You don’t even have to defrost.  Just pop it into the oven frozen and bake for 40 minutes.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 614kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 989mg | Potassium: 607mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 666IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 242mg | Iron: 4mg
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