This Sloppy Joe Casserole is probably unlike anything you’ve seen: the most delicious sloppy joe filling is topped with a layer of crispy tater tots (YEP) that are then covered in melty cheese. It all crisps, melts, and becomes one in the oven and you become a mealtime hero. Dietary modifications are below!

A close up photo of Sloppy Joe Casserole - tater tots covering ground beef and topped with melted cheese and sliced green onions.

This recipe is…

What is Sloppy Joe Casserole?

Sloppy joe filling is essentially ground beef, some tomato, spices, and just a touch of sweetness that are cooked and tossed together until totally delicious. A typical sloppy joe serves this yummy filling between hamburger buns, but I decided to make a casserole out of it.

To make matters even MORE fun, I topped the filling with frozen tater tots. it’s that simple! Pop the pan into the oven and you will get delicious filling topped by crispy tots and (if you wish) a layer of melty cheese.

I like mine with sour cream and green onion!

If you’re looking for more delicious family-friendly meals, be sure to try this ham and cheese casserole – it never disappoints!

Ingredients for Sloppy Joe Casserole

Ground beef, a simple Sloppy Joe sauce, tater tots, and some garnish – that’s it! Here’s the full list with amounts included.

The ingredients for sloppy joe casserole (shredded cheese, tater tots, mustard, sour cream, ground beef, green onions, honey, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, and spices) in small white bowls on a marble countertop.

Ingredient Variations and Modifications

We’ve got a couple of swaps and modification ideas for you!

  • Make it dairy-free – skip the cheese topper and the sour cream garnish if you’re looking for a dairy-free dinner option.
  • Swap the ground beef – if you’re short on ground beef (or just prefer a different protein) use ground turkey or ground chicken instead!

How to Make Sloppy Joe Casserole

This casserole is really easy to make and even has the potential to be a one-pan meal if you’ve got a big enough skillet. Here’s how you’ll make it happen:

Ground beef being cooked and mashed with a metal potato masher in a yellow enameled cast iron pot.
All of the ingredients for sloppy joe sauce being whisked together in a glass bowl.
Sloppy joe sauce being mixed into cooked ground beef in a yellow enameled cast iron pot.
Sloppy joe ground beef mixture being spread into a 9x13 stone casserole dish.
A top view of a casserole dish with sloppy joe ground beef spread on the bottom of the dish and tater tots covering the ground beef.
Sloppy joe casserole covered with cheese before heading into the oven.
  1. Brown the ground beef – add the ground beef to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes, breaking up the ground beef as it cooks, until it is fully browned.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Make the sloppy joe sauce – in a large bowl, whisk together the ketchup, honey, mustard, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika until fully combined.
  4. Add the sauce to the ground beef – pour the sauce over the ground beef in the skillet and stir to coat. 
  5. Transfer to a casserole dish – transfer the sloppy joe-style ground beef into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  6. Top with tater tots – top the ground beef with the tater tots.
  7. Bake – bake for 30 minutes, until the tater tots are browned.
  8. Add cheese and bake again – sprinkle the cheese over the tater tots, and return the dish to the oven for 5 more minutes, until the cheese has fully melted.
  9. Garnish and enjoy – garnish with a sprinkle of green onions and a dollop of sour cream, and enjoy!

Make-Ahead Method

To make this Sloppy Joe casserole ahead of time, brown the meat, mix it with the Sloppy Joe sauce, and transfer it into a 9×13 casserole dish. Before serving, top the ground meat with the tater tots and pop it into the oven to bake for 30 minutes. Pull it from the oven, top it with shredded cheese, and let it bake for 5 more minutes.

Recipe Tips and Tricks

Use a skillet – if you have an 11-inch skillet, brown your meat in that, and skip transferring it to a 9×13 casserole dish.

Cook your ground beef for long enough – if you cook the ground beef for long enough, the grease will reabsorb into the meat, so that you don’t have to drain it. This will save you a step & build REALLY delicious flavor. 

A side-view of a spoonful of cheesy Sloppy Joe casserole being taken out of the casserole dish.

What to Serve with a Tater Tot Casserole

This casserole is filling on its own, no doubt, but if you’re looking to add a little bit of green to your plate, these veggie sides would be delicious accompaniments: 

How to Store Leftover Sloppy Joe Casserole

Store your leftover Sloppy Joe casserole in an airtight container (or tightly cover your casserole dish with aluminum foil) in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

A portion of sloppy joe casserole topped with sour cream and sliced green onions on a white plate sitting next to a brass fork.
Who invented tater tots?

Oooh, good question! Per the US. Food website, tater tots “were invented by F. Nephi Grigg of Ore-Ida in 1953 as a way to use excess potato shavings that came from making frozen french fries. Originally, the shavings were sold as livestock feed.” Thank you, F. Nephi Grigg!

What’s the difference between a Sloppy Joe and a Sloppy Jane?

What’s the difference between a Sloppy Joe and a Sloppy Jane, you ask? Sloppy Joes are made with ground beef, while Sloppy Janes are made with ground turkey. Otherwise, they’re the same!

Sloppy Joe Casserole Recipe

4.73 — Votes 44 votes
By Cassy Joy Garcia
Cook: 55 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings
This Sloppy Joe Casserole is probably unlike anything you’ve seen: the most delicious sloppy joe filling is topped with a layer of crispy tater tots (YEP) that are then covered in melty cheese. It all crisps, melts, and becomes one in the oven and you become a mealtime hero. 

Ingredients  

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 32 ounces frozen tater tots
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup green onions thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Sour cream for garnish

Instructions 

  • Add the ground beef to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes, breaking up the ground beef as it cooks, until it is fully browned.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the ketchup, honey, mustard, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika until fully combined.
  • Pour the sauce over the ground beef in the skillet and stir to coat.
  • Transfer the ground beef into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  • Top the ground beef mixture with the tater tots.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until the tater tots are browned.
  • Sprinkle the cheese over the tater tots, and return the dish to the oven for 5 more minutes, until the cheese has fully melted.
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of green onions and a dollop of sour cream, and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Ingredient Variations and Modifications
  • Make it dairy-free – skip the cheese topper and the sour cream garnish if you’re looking for a dairy-free dinner option.
  • Swap the ground beef – if you’re short on ground beef (or just prefer a different protein) use ground turkey or ground chicken instead!

Nutrition

Calories: 680kcal | Carbohydrates: 52.1g | Protein: 43.4g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 11.8g | Cholesterol: 125.9mg | Sodium: 1776.1mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 25.6g

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 680
Keyword: sloppy joe casserole, tater tot casserole

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39 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and we are in love! We didn’t feel like meat tonight so I made a batch of Puy lentils in the instant pot and subbed it for the ground beef.
    I think I’ll be adding some celery seed to the sauce next time I make this (oh, yes, there will definitely be a next time). And possibly sub half of the ketchup for some Whataburger spicy ketchup for a bit of a kick.

    1. Great ideas, Rebecca! We’re so glad you enjoyed this recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Made this for my group of friends (and our toddlers) and it was a hit with everyone! Accidentally added the cheese at the beginning of baking and it still turned out great.

    Question – any advice on making ahead and freezing for later?

    1. Yum! We’re so glad everyone loved it! To make ahead and freeze, cook the ground beef mixture as instructed, top with the tater tots, then cover with foil and freeze! When you’re ready to enjoy, stick it in the oven (covered) at 350°F for about 45 minutes, then uncover it, top with cheese, and continue baking for about 15 minutes (or until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and starting to brown just a bit!).

  3. Making this tomorrow! It looks delish! Have you ever tried it with sweet potato tots?

    1. We haven’t, but I’m sure it would be delicious, Fallon!

  4. I am making this weekend! How far in advance can I prepare the beef mixture following the make ahead method? 24 hours? More/less?

    1. You can make the beef mixture as much as a couple of days in advance, Alex! Enjoy!

  5. Can I omit the honey? Would like to make this for dinner that my <1 year old LO can eat too, so I can't use any honey. Any other sub?

    1. You can swap it for maple or brown sugar or just omit it altogether!

  6. 5 stars
    Yum!! This recipe was a hit with the whole family! I prepped most of the ground beef the night before (I was a bit short so had to defrost some more overnight). I defrosted frozen riced cauliflower with my remaining meat then mixed that all in with my previously cooked and sauced meat as suggested by a previous reviewer, and otherwise prepared as written. Wonderful!

  7. Would lentils work instead of the meat? Trying to make this veggie. Or maybe tvp?

    1. We haven’t tried any meat substitute, Kinsey, but I don’t see why lentils wouldn’t work. If you try it, please let us know how it goes!

  8. Is there a good substitute for mustard if I want to make for a family with a mustard allergy?

    1. Hi Christine! You can either sub the mustard for 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (to get the same tart flavor) OR omit the mustard altogether. I hope that helps!

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe is so simple and delicious. While browning the beef, I threw in a big handful of spinach to sneak in some greens. My family loved it and I loved how easy it was to pull again. Definitely recommend!

    1. Oops typo – meant to type how easy it was to pull together!

    2. We’re so glad to hear that, Sarah! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  10. Is there a cleaner brand of tater tots you recommend? Many brands I find have a lot of unhealthy additives. Thank you!

    1. Hi Elizabeth! We haven’t found a super clean brand of tater tots. I usually grab the Alexia potato puffs if I can find them!

  11. 5 stars
    This casserole is so good!! The sloppy Joe’s have great flavor, and the cheese livens up the tots. The best part? there’s leftovers, so I get to have it again for lunch!

    1. Hi Michelle! You can either sub the mustard for 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (to get the same tart flavor) OR omit the mustard altogether. I hope that helps!

  12. Holy moly, this was so good I had a hard time keeping away from the pan! I added a 12 oz. bag of riced cauliflower and chopped red, yellow, orange pepper (the equivalent of one pepper) because I always add more vegetables to things. Can’t wait to have leftovers!

    1. Yes, thank you!! I threw in a bag of frozen riced cauliflower—perfection!

  13. What do you have for the number of servings for the 680 calories per ?
    (1x recipe/ 2 lbs ground beef etc)

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Lauren! The recipe (as written, with 2 pounds of ground beef) serves 6, and the nutrition facts are per serving. I hope that helps!