This sloppy joe casserole is a hearty freezer-friendly dinner for the whole family! A rich and saucy homemade sloppy joe layer is topped with cheddar cheese and crispy tater tots, and baked until bubbly and hot. Perfect for a busy weeknight or casual weekend supper!
This is one of my Beef recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
Since I shared my favorite sloppy joe recipe back in 2018, you guys have been crazy about it, and I can’t blame you one bit!
So I knew I wanted to find other ways to incorporate that amazing deliciousness into other recipes, and it dawned on me to fuse it with another favorite of mine. Tater tot casserole.
What’s not to love? The savory/slightly sweet flavor of the saucy sloppy joes topped with gooey cheddar cheese and crispy potato nuggets… it doesn’t get much better!
Plus, the entire casserole can be assembled ahead, frozen, or parts of the recipe can be prepped ahead of time. This saves you precious time on those busy weeknights, and is a lifesaver on those days where you just don’t want to cook but you need to get dinner on the table!
How to make a sloppy joe casserole?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Brown beef. Crumble it as it cooks, then drain.
- Saute vegetables. This is the onion, green bell pepper and garlic.
- Stir in beef, liquids, and seasonings. This makes it a sloppy joe!
- Add beef to baking dish. You want a 9×13″ dish for this.
- Top with cheese.
- Top with tater tots. I lined them up, but you can toss them in however you’d like.
- Top with a little more cheese. Then bake again.
This recipe uses my reader-favorite sloppy joe recipe as the base filling (which over 1,300 people have loved). Since I truly love that recipe, I didn’t want to alter it to much for this casserole recipe. However, this is your casserole, so please use any sloppy joe type/recipe that you like best.
Variations of this recipe
- Thicker sloppy joe layer – if you’d like a greater sloppy joe to tater tot ratio, feel free to double the sloppy joe ingredients, while keeping the cheese and tater tot amounts the same.
- Meat – if you’d prefer to not use all beef in the sloppy joe layer, feel free to use ground turkey, ground pork, ground sausage, etc, or any combination you like best. You just want 1 lb of meat.
- Cheese – you can use your favorite cheese to top the casserole if you’re not a fan of cheddar. You do want a melty cheese though, not a harder or more crumbly cheese.
- Tater tots – for a fun twist, try using onion flavored tater tots, or crispy crowns instead.
Yes, I’ve seen quite a few like that. And you could certainly do that if you’d like. We really like this recipe with the gooey cheese and crispy tater tots though.
Absolutely! I do this all the time to cut down considerably on the time it takes to make this meal. Once the sloppy joes are made, they should be cooled, and either refrigerated (for 5 days) or frozen (for 3 months) in airtight containers.
Making sloppy joes casserole ahead of time
During testing, I found that this casserole is best when baked right before eating it.
However, it can be assembled entirely ahead of time (sloppy joe filling made, cheese added, tater tots added), then cooled completely, covered, and refrigerated for a day or so.
Bake as directed, adding some additional time since the casserole and dish will be cold.
Assemble the casserole, but don’t bake, then cool completely, cover tightly and freeze for up to 3 months.
Bake from frozen at 400°F for about 40-50 minutes, covering loosely with foil if the tater tots get too browned before the filling is hot and bubbly.
Leftover casserole should be refrigerated in an airtight container and enjoyed within 5 days.
You can use any 9×13″ or 3 quart baking dish for this recipe, but I really love this one. The silicone is great for gripping and stacking, and it comes with a lid for easy food storage!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 lb. ground beef (I use 80/20)
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 large yellow onion finely chopped
- 1/3 medium green bell pepper finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2/3 cup ketchup
- 2/3 cup reduced sodium beef broth or water
- 1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar (optional and to taste)
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 3/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
- few dashes of hot sauce
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- frozen tater tots as many as you'd like to fit on top of the sloppy joe layer
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Make sloppy joes
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over med/med high heat. When hot, add beef and brown, crumbling as it cooks, for about 5-7 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain.
- In the same skillet, add butter and heat over med heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook about 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add beef back to the skillet and add tomato paste. Stir well and cook for a minute or so, until the tomato paste is well incorporated.
- Add ketchup, beef broth, brown sugar, mustard, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, salt, red pepper flakes and pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Cook over medium heat for about 7-9 minutes, until mixture has thickened a bit.
- Remove from heat and transfer sloppy joes to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with 1 cup of cheese. Arrange frozen tater tots in a single layer on top of the sloppy joe mixture, leaving a little space between each tot.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until tater tots are cooked through and golden brown.
- Sprinkle with remaining cheese and return to the oven and bake another 5-7 minutes or until melted.
- Remove from oven and serve hot.
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- I’ve estimated this recipe serves about 8.
- The exact amount of tater tots will vary from person to person, so put as many on as you’d like (or will fit).
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.