Sloppy Joe And Taters Casserole Recipe

Some foods connect us with other people, whether they were part of our childhood cohort or not. Take sloppy joes and tater tots; both evoke memories of school cafeterias and comforting meals. Pair them together, and the result feels like a warm hug that's complete with a crispy topping for good measure. Mashed recipe developer Patterson Watkins shares this sloppy joe and taters casserole — "Gotta love a casserole that sparks nostalgia," she says. This rendition skips the soggy bun and calls for a fork, making it slightly more manageable though not entirely mess-free. Watkins says, "Even with a fork, I wouldn't recommend wearing lighter colors."

While a saucy meat mixture is a delicious component to bulk up this meal, the tater tots don't play second fiddle. "I hold tots on a lofty totem," Watkins says. "I even served 'em at my wedding." This hearty, layered casserole is a filling dish, but pairing it with a tangy side is a great way to brighten the flavors. Watkins likes raw onions and dill pickles in her sloppy joe sandwiches and consequently says, "I see no reason to not include those as a little side pickle/nosh to balance the palate in between bites. Even other pickled veggies would work!" Alternatively, opt for a leafy green salad with a vinaigrette for a similar pop. 

Gather the ingredients for sloppy joe and taters casserole

For this recipe, you'll need olive oil, diced yellow onion, diced green bell pepper, and garlic cloves (peeled and minced). Next, get ground beef, a can of tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, beef bouillon paste, and smoked paprika. To assemble the dish, you'll need shredded cheddar cheese, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, frozen tater tots, and chopped scallions.

Step 1: Preheat the oven

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Step 2: Prep a baking dish

Lightly spritz a 13x9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Step 3: Heat the oil

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Step 4: Saute veggies

Once hot, add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, or until tender.

Step 5: Stir in beef

Add the ground beef to the skillet and stir to combine with the veggies.

Step 6: Cook the meat and veggies

Continue to cook for 5–8 minutes, or until the beef is cooked through.

Step 7: Whisk the sauce ingredients

Meanwhile, place the tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, bouillon paste, and paprika in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.

Step 8: Simmer the beef with the sauce

Once the beef is cooked, add the sauce to the skillet and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer.

Step 9: Lower the heat and keep cooking

Once simmering, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Step 10: Pour the meat mixture into the dish

Transfer the sloppy joe mix to the prepared casserole dish, spreading it out in an even layer.

Step 11: Top with cheese

Sprinkle the top of the casserole with ½ cup of each cheese.

Step 12: Add tater tots

Top the cheese with tater tots and place the casserole dish in the oven, uncovered.

Step 13: Bake until crispy

Bake for 45–55 minutes, or until the tater tots are crispy and golden on the top.

Step 14: Top with more cheese

Remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Step 15: Bake until the cheese melts

Return to the oven and bake just long enough for the cheese to melt, about 2 minutes.

Step 16: Garnish and serve

Once the cheese has melted, remove the casserole from the oven and serve, garnishing each serving with chopped scallions.

Can you make this sloppy joe casserole in a slow cooker?

Although you'll definitely want to finish off this casserole in the oven to get a crispy tater tot and melted cheese topping, the meat sauce can be made in a slow cooker, if desired. This gives you the chance to prep it ahead of time without having to stand by the stovetop as the meat cooks. Watkins provides instructions for optimal results: Start by browning the ground beef, then add it to the slow cooker. Toss in the diced veggies, and whisk together the sauce ingredients before pouring the mixture into the slow cooker. Make sure the meat and veggies are well coated, then cover and slow cook on low for 4–5 hours. 

"The sloppy joe mix can also be made a few days in advance, too. Just cool, cover, and refrigerate until you're ready to bake and munch," Watkins says. If you're planning to eat it on the same day, transfer the meat sauce to your baking dish and layer it with cheese and tater tots. Bake it for the same duration before adding a final sprinkling of cheese for the last bake. 

How can you spice up this sloppy joe casserole?

This tasty sloppy joe taters casserole is nicely seasoned, but it's still pretty mild. If you're looking for an element of heat, Watkins has several ideas. "You could add a diced jalapeño (or two) to the veggie mix," she suggests. Be sure to finely dice the pepper so that it blends into the sauce seamlessly. For a super quick fix she says, "You could add several dashes of your favorite hot sauce to the saucy mix — a smoky chipotle hot sauce would be absolutely delish!" 

The recipe already calls for smoked paprika, but Watkins recommends taking it up a notch by using cayenne powder in its place. Meanwhile, if you want to play with different pickled ingredients, "Pickled chiles would make for a fun finishing garnish or spicy side (pickled jalapeños, cherry peppers, etc.)," Watkins recommends. As for the dosage, it's really up to what you can handle. You can always add a splash of hot sauce to your portion, but you can't put out the fire once it starts burning.

Sloppy Joe And Taters Casserole Recipe
4.9 from 21 ratings
Ditch the buns for this sloppy joe and tater tots casserole, which puts the whole plate into a single cheesy, saucy, and altogether delicious mix.
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
1.12
hours
Servings
8
servings
sloppy joe tater casserole portion
Total time: 1 hour, 22 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon paste
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ + ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • ½ + ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
  • 2 pounds frozen tater tots
  • ½ cup chopped scallions
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Lightly spritz a 13x9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Once hot, add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, or until tender.
  5. Add the ground beef to the skillet and stir to combine with the veggies.
  6. Continue to cook for 5–8 minutes, or until the beef is cooked through.
  7. Meanwhile, place the tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, bouillon paste, and paprika in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
  8. Once the beef is cooked, add the sauce to the skillet and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer.
  9. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  10. Transfer the sloppy joe mix to the prepared casserole dish, spreading it out in an even layer.
  11. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with ½ cup of each cheese.
  12. Top the cheese with tater tots and place the casserole dish in the oven, uncovered.
  13. Bake for 45–55 minutes, or until the tater tots are crispy and golden on the top.
  14. Remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  15. Return to the oven and bake just long enough for the cheese to melt, about 2 minutes.
  16. Once the cheese has melted, remove the casserole from the oven and serve, garnishing each serving with chopped scallions.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 525
Total Fat 39.3 g
Saturated Fat 19.4 g
Trans Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 111.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 14.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.0 g
Total Sugars 8.7 g
Sodium 960.7 mg
Protein 29.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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