Cowboy Casserole

Monday 11 January 2021

Cowboy Casserole.  Such a simple name, but wow, what fabulous flavours.  This recipe I am sharing with you today is one I have adapted from a cookerybook entitled the Betty Crocker Ultimate Bisquick Cookbook. 

I bought it second hand from Amazon. Most of the time their second hand books are quite reasonable and in fairly decent shape. My heart breaks when I think of the cookbook collection I had to leave behind in the UK.  All of my Dorie Greenspan books, etc.  I will hopefully gradually be able to build the collection back up again in time. We will see.

One thing which appealed about this recipe is the fact that it seemed relatively simple to make and did not require a lot of ingredients. My sister had taken a pound of ground beef from the freezer.  I made several suggestions as to what we could make with it.

Most received a nay.  This recipe did tempt them however, and I got the go-ahead. Whew!  You can use ready made Bisquick for this or you could make your own baking mix to use in this.  I always made my own baking mix when I was in the UK. You can get that recipe here.

You could also make a homemade biscuit dough of a dropping consistency to drop over top of the casserole. I have included some instructions on how to do that in the recipe.


All work well. All are delicious, although I do have to say I am a bit partial to the homemade biscuit dough. It is probably because of the butter. 😋 Butter makes everything tastier.

I am not sure why it is called Cowboy Casserole. Probably because of the ground beef and the baked beans.  Surely cowboy types of foods.  Many a cowboy has been sustained by ground beef and baked beans when out on the range. 

My sister buys organic grass-fed beef.  She buys it at a local farm market, frozen in one pound packages. When I was in the UK I bought ground steak from my local butcher.

In any case you want to use a good quality of ground beef here. You want it fairly lean. I think if I was living on my own I would just grind up my own steak for this. 

I cannot stand cheap ground beef. Not only do you end up pouring half of it away in fat, which is a huge colossal waste of money, but it stinks when you are cooking it.

There is no economy in buying cheap ground meat.  The fat content is far too high for one thing. And you are paying for all of that fat.  Fat which you will not be eating.

Or at least that you shouldn't be eating, not if you care for your arteries anyways. A small amount of fat is okay, but I would never use beef that had any more than 5 % fat in it.  This is just my way of thinking and how I like to do things.

But then again ground beef has never really been a favourite of mine and not something I would eat at all when I was growing up. And I am really not fond of it mixed with other things, as in casseroles. Its a texture thing. 

You know what they say . . . .  there's naught so queer as folk.  And some of us are a bit weirder than others!  We are all different and I like to celebrate our differences as much as I can!

Life would be incredibly boring were we all the same!  Now back to the casserole.

You need a tin of baked beans for this, and some prepared BBQ sauce. You could make your own BBQ sauce if you wanted to.  For this recipe you would need tomato ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar, Worcestshire sauce, dry mustard powder and some seasoning.

I would start with 1/2 cup (120g) of the ketchup and add 1 TBS each of the brown sugar and cider vinegar.  1 tsp of dry mustard powder, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce and then salt and black pepper to your taste.

If you have it you could add liquid smoke to really give it that campfire taste.

We used an ordinary can of original baked beans. (Bush's) In the UK you could use Heinz or any other brand. I think in something like this the brand of baked beans doesn't really matter that much overall.

I did find that the mixture was a bit too thick and so I added a bit of boiling water to thin it out a bit and it could have been a bit thinner still I think.  You judge accordingly.

You don't want it too thin and you don't want it too thick. I would also be tempted to add an additional half a can of beans, but then I really like baked beans.

You could really amp it up by adding some chopped onion, green chillies and garlic when you are frying the ground beef. That would give it it a bit of delicious heat, but it is up to you!

As you can see it was fairly thick.  The biscuit dough absorbs some of the liquid, so don't be afraid to make your beef  mixture a bit thinner! 

Its really delicious however, so don't mess with the flavours too much. They don't do salt at all in this house so I only added some ground black pepper.  And to be honest you really didn't need any salt.

I've never been one to add a lot of salt to things anyways, but I often do add a tiny bit to things.  Its all a matter of taste and what you are used to.  Using less salt never hurt anyone.

And in fact its much better for you to use less.

We actually used a Tex Mex mix of cheese to sprinkle on top that we had leftover from some natchos we had made around New Years. It was a tiny bit spicy so that worked well with the rest of the flavours.

I would normally use a good strong cheddar cheese. The stronger the flavour of your cheese, the less you need to use. Its a fact.

Anyways, I think this was enjoyed. I had no complaints really and I did enjoy it myself.  I served it with some homemade coleslaw.  I do make good coleslaw if I don't say so myself. 

You can find my coleslaw recipe here. Creamy Coleslaw. Its my favourite. I don't always add the cucumber. Yesterday it was only cabbage, carrots and some scallion/spring onion.  BBQ always goes well with coleslaw.  

I hope you will want to give this a go.  I highly recommend it for a fabulously tasty, family friendly, mid-week supper entree!

Cowboy Casserole

Cowboy Casserole
Yield: 6
Author: Marie Rayner
prep time: 10 Mincook time: 25 Mintotal time: 35 Min
Quick, easy and incredibly delicious. This tasty casserole uses only a few ingredients, cooks quickly and is a real family pleaser.


  • 1 pound (453g) extra lean ground beef
  • 1 can (16 oz/453g) baked beans
  • 1/2 cup (120g) BBQ sauce
  • 2 cups (240g)Original Bisquick
  • 2/3 cup  (160ml)  milk
  • 1 TBS softened butter
  • 1/2 cup (40g) grated cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat the oven o 425*F/220*C/ gas mark 7. Have ready a 2 litre/Qt casserole dish. No need to butter it.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Crumble in the ground beef. Scramble fry the beef for 5 to 7 minutes until browned and no longer pink. Drain if needed. 
  3. Add the BBQ sauce and baked beans, stirring everything thoroughly together. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.
  4. Stir together the baking mix, softened butter and milk.
  5. Pour the beef mixture into the baking dish. Smooth over and then drop the baking mix over top by spoonfuls to cover.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 22 minutes until the biscuit topping is golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese. Return to the oven for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
  8. Serve hot.


You can make your own biscuit mixture from scratch to drop on top very easily. Whisk together 2 cups (280g) all purpose flour with 4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. Cut in 1/2 cup (120g) butter until crumbly. Stir in 3/4 cup (180ml) milk until you have a soft droppable dough. Proceed as above. You may need more milk to get the right consistency.

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Cowboy Casserole

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  1. This would warm your tummy up on a brisk January day. For dinner last night, I made up individual foil packets of three tiny lamb chops, potato, onion, garlic, red pepper, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, sprig of thyme and rosemary, salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil. I used a double thickness of foil and wrapped the packets tightly. They baked for an hour at 350. They were really tasty and best of all, no clean-up except our plates. The lamb chops were tender and juicy and the veggies were done to perfection. I'm sure you could substitute pork chops or chicken thighs. Well, it's only 5:00 am here, a little too early for breakfast so will try to sleep for another hour at least. Have a good Monday, Marie. I wonder what will be happening south of the border today. Love and hugs, Elaine

    1. Your dinner sounds lovely Elaine, and I love LOVE the no-cleanup aspect of it! I haven't had lamb in a while. I need to look for some! Love and hugs. xoxo PS - trying hard to ignore south of the border goings on, but its hard. Its frightening!

    2. Those lamb chops sound really tasty! And I'm in favour of the no washing up! We haven't eaten out here in the UK for over four months whereas we used to pop out for a quick pub lunch at least once a week. (We have only had one take away dinner delivered as most of the take away options here are, frankly, rubbish.) The novelty is wearing off all the planning, shopping, cooking and, above all, the washing up!

    3. I know what you mean about eating out in the UK Jean. The last time I ate out over there was on the 4th of March last year. I know the exact date as I had a date with the chiropractor and we had lunch at a small spot on the way home. I remember feeling very afraid on that day. My heart goes out to you all. I can well imagine how tiresome this whole thing is getting for everyone. Even here in Nova Scotia, where thankfully up to now things have not been so bad. We still take every precaution but have been very lucky thus far. xoxo

  2. Gosh, this looks and sounds yummy, just right for the season (cold, grey and dreary) to cheer us up and warm us up.
    I chuckled at the name. It reminds me of the menu at the Druid Inn in Birchover. One time when I was there the dishes all had quirky names and I chose the Roman casserole because, according to the description, it had "bits of fallen gladiator" in it! It was very tasty beef.
    I would be heartbroken if I had to part with my cookbook collection. I haven't been keeping up to speed with what has happened but is there no chance they could be shipped out to you?

    1. Thanks Jean, unfortunately the cost of shipping my things over was simply out of this world. I just could not afford it. All of my belongings were simply given away or donated. What could be sold was sold, but you know how much people are willing to pay for things these days. I got precious little for most of my things. It is all long gone now. I did so love the names of the Inns and Pubs in the UK. They were always so inventive and did have quirky dishes on the menus in a lot of cases! I will really miss the UK, always. xoxo

  3. Marie, your Cowboy Casserole sounds delicious! It's easy to fix and quite filling by the sound of it. I will definitely give this a try. I always keep Bisquick on hand, and like you, I do prefer the homemade biscuit dough! Thanks for sharing and enjoy your day!

    1. Thanks Sandi! Its great when you want to make something quick and I love the impossible cheesecake you make with Bisquick, but I do prefer to use homemade biscuit dough when I can! Wishing you an enjoyable day also! xoxo

  4. This is an older recipe for sure. My grandmother got this from somewhere Betty Crocker but it used canned biscuits or crescent rolls on top.. not so much breading as bisquick dumped, but that is probably good too. This was the first recipe I made for my husband after we got engaged. 47 1/2 years later we still have it occasionally, usually use our favorite barbeque sauce. Always delicious, frequently requested by family, and no leftovers! And I still have my well used big red Betty Crocker cookbook 1971 edition, gift from a wedding shower! Its a part of our family heritage! sorry you had to leave all yours behind

    1. I had the old Binder Betty Crocker Cookbook, the illustrated one. It was well used as well. It did break my heart to leave all my books behind, but it is what it is. My children will have a lot less to get rid of now when I am gone! xoxo

  5. I somehow missed the story of your move from the UK. I tried checking back but was unable to find it. Having lived several years in East Anglia, I enjoy your blog and your wonderful stories and recollections. Could you supply the timeline so I can catch up?

  6. Hello. So enjoy your recipes and your stories..
    My mom started making this in the 70's.. we called it Sloppy Joe wishes..
    Thanks for the reminder..guess what I'm making for supper?🙂


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