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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Brandi Schilhab


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39 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We make this all the time and are Gluten and Dairy Free, so we leave off the toppings of cheese and sour cream. We swapped the tots with Mr. Dells hash brown potatoes for a bit of a healthier bite as it is all organic potatoes, but the flavor from the sauce and beef take over so well here, thanks a ton for sharing and becoming part of our regular weekly dinner menu!

    1. That’s so great to hear, CJ! We are so glad to hear that y’all love it!

  2. 5 stars
    My husband ALWAYS requests this one! It’s so good and so easy on weeknights when I just don’t have it in me to make a multi-step meal. We used ground turkey a couple of times too and loved it!

  3. 5 stars
    10/10! I was running behind to get home and make dinner, so my husband (who NEVER COOKS) and 12 y/o jumped in to throw this together. The instructions were simple to follow. And it was DELICIOUS! My husband even asked if this was going to become a weekly recipe HE can make!

    1. That is AMAZING, Megan! We are so so happy your family loves and that your husband is so excited to make it! Thank you for taking the time to share this with us!

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe is SO GOOD! Tried it for the first time last night and am in love with it. Just went grocery shopping today and bought more ingredients for another one. Chefs kiss for this one! I could eat the whole pan myself haha!

    1. YAY! We are so excited that you love it, Sarah! Thank you for taking the time to share with us!