Slow Cooker John Wayne Casserole is made with tater tots with southwestern flair and lots of cheese!
I love making casseroles in the slow cooker if you want to try a few other great ones try my Chicken Cordon Bleu or Chicken Enchilada Casserole recipes.
Not your average recipe today! I made this drool-worthy Slow Cooker John Wayne Casserole for dinner the other night. I’ve wanted to try an oven version of John Wayne casserole for years, but never got around to doing it. I thought, why not make it in the slow cooker?
The history on John Wayne Casserole and my changes
I don’t think John Wayne had anything to do with the casserole. I believe the name of this came about because it’s western themed, but still, this is a fun recipe to try. The original John Wayne casserole recipe that I’ve found is made with biscuit mix, but one of the reviewers on Food.com said that she had a version of this casserole made with tater tots at a restaurant. BINGO! That’s how this recipe can be made perfect in the slow cooker, with tater tots.
I have a beloved standard tater tot casserole recipe that I adore on my site, so I knew exactly how to assemble this new creation. I also make a chicken and bacon tater tot casserole that you must try too!
How to make John Wayne Casserole:
You will need:
- tater tots
- ground beef
- bell pepper
- sour cream
- taco seasoning
- salt, pepper, onion powder
I add the bag of tater tots to my slow cooker. Then I brown a pound of hamburger with bell pepper, onion, taco seasoning, and water, I pour that meat mixture over the tots.
Then I make a sour cream and cheese mixture with a bit of seasoning and spread that on top of the meat.
Cook on LOW for 4.5 hours, and topped with more cheese, I put the lid back on the slow cooker and the cheese melts in minutes.
I like to serve this delicious casserole with tomatoes on top. When I say this meal was the bomb, I mean it! I was seriously licking my plate! Try it, you’ll love it!
I want to do a shout-out to my favorite cheese company Tillamook. If you ever visit the Oregon coast you must visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory! We do it once a year. Tillamook was a sponsor at the Indulge Conference I went to recently. We arrived in our hotel room to find that Tillamook stocked our mini fridge with cheese! That was possibly the best gift ever.
Other wonderful Slow Cooker Ground Beef Recipes:
- Slow Cooker Salisbury Steak
- Slow Cooker Beef and Potato Au Gratin
- Slow Cooker Hobo Dinner
- Slow Cooker Hamburger Potato Casserole
- Slow Cooker Taco Meatloaf Stuffed Peppers
- Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs
- Slow Cooker Lipton Onion Meatloaf
Slow CookerHamburger Hash
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Slow Cooker John Wayne Casserole
- 32 oz. bag tater tots (frozen, not thawed)
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1 oz. taco seasoning mix (I use Lawry's)
- water add the amount of water to the meat that the taco mix says to add, 2/3 cup is what my packet said
- 16 oz. sour cream
- 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (divided, half in sour cream mixture and half on top at the end)
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- diced tomatoes
- bell peppers
- Spray a 6-quart oval slow cooker with non-stick spray. Add the tater tots down in an even layer, so there isn't a high spot.
- In a large skillet, set over medium high heat, brown the hamburger, onions and bell pepper. When the meat is browned, drain the fat. Add the amount of water the taco packet says to add to the meat (my packet said to add 2/3 cup). Add the taco packet, and continue cooking and stirring until the meat and the seasoning has thickened.
- Pour the meat mixture over the tater tots in the slow cooker.
- In a medium sized bowl add the sour cream, salt, pepper, onion powder, and half of the cheese (this is about a heaping cup of shredded cheese, save the other half to top the casserole at the end.)
- Spread this sour cream cheese mixture over the meat mixture in the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 4.5 hours, without opening the lid during the cooking time.
- After the cooking time is up add the remaining cheese evenly over the casserole.
- Cover and let the cheese melt, this will only take about 5-10 minutes.
- To serve, top with diced tomatoes.
How to Video:
Nutrition info is auto-generated. This information is an estimate; if you are on a special diet, please use your own calculations.
Made this tonight for dinner. And it was pretty darn good. Husband doesn’t like bell peppers so I didn’t add them. When I make this again I think I’ll use 2 pounds of hamburger as it seemed like there wasn’t enough meat.
I like it was easy. Flavor was ok.
I made this yesterday and thought it was good but it needs something. My husband doesn’t like anything spicy but I would want a little more spice. The kids all loved it.
I read that when John Wayne was FYI g of cancer a young girl had written him and asked for a recipe to put in a cookbook she was getting to benefit the American Cancer Society, and he sent her this recipe, which has been adjusted and tweaked over the years. Don’t know how true that story is, but it’s pretty sweet! Can’t wait to try this recipe!
My husband and I were pleasantly surprised by this dish. I did add some green chilies, garlic powder -!; onion powder to the sour cream mixture
I think this would be better baked in the oven, so the tater tots could get a little crispy
The flavor is good the tater tots are mush. I have tried it twice I like the flavor but not in the Crock-Pot I will not do it again
if you find a bake time that works and degree that works would be great
Martha Ramirez says
tried it this way. I air fried the tator tots til crispy. Spray the bottom of the pan/crockpot with Pam. I put the meat mixture on the bottom of the crockpot or iron skillet, then put the sour cream mixture on top of that, and then the tator tots on top, covered with a bit of cheddar cheese. I baked it with an iron skillet with the lid on in oven for 2.5 hours at 375 (you can cook it at a higher temp & shorter time.) I took it out of my oven & the cheese was melted on the crispy tator tots and it was delicious! The grandkids hate mushy tator tots & they love cheesy tator tots, so this solved the problem! I also thought it was a bit bland, so the next time I added minced garlic to the meat.
How would I go about cooking this in my instant pot?
I was wondering the same. Would be less mess to clean up.
Use a crock pot liner.
I agree the crockpot liners are great. Pull up each end, tie it shut and throw it away. Best way to clean up a dish that calls for cheese that can be a pain to scrub off of a pot. $2.29 for 8 liners is a great deal.
Denise Bruce says
Did not enjoy this. Lacks flavor but is easy to prepare
Tina D Williams says
If you’re like me, you find the store taco seasoning missing something. I would recommend making your own taco seasoning and using it. This way, if you want more heat, you can put it in there. We like adding Ghost peppers to our taco seasoning. Try it that way and see if that helps.
Try seasoning the tater tots before adding them. This helps many potato recipes for me, as potatoes are so bland. Salt, pepper, onion flakes, Lawrys, Mrs Dash, little bit of southwest seasoning, garlic, etc. will help any potato based recipe, in my opinion. Also sub tomato juice or v8 for the water in the two meat.