Home Recipes Hobo Casserole (Easy Recipe)

Hobo Casserole (Easy Recipe)

Hobo casserole is a feast for those nights you don’t feel like cooking. We’ve all been there. 

It’s a filling, classic meat-and-potatoes-style dish that’s creamy and delicious.

Did I mention it has crispy French fried onions on top? Nobody can resist casseroles with this crunchy crust. 

Hobo Casserole with French-Fried Onions and Ground Beef
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Hobo Casserole 

Hobo casserole is a fun take on the classic Mulligan stew (aka hobo stew). 

In the early 1900s, camps of hobos prepared this savory stew with easy-to-find ingredients. It was so delicious, the recipe stuck around for a while.

It’s a fantastic dinner option when you’re short on time and ingredients. 

Just chuck the ingredients into a casserole dish and let the oven work its magic. 

Hobo Casserole Ingredients - Lean Ground Beef, Onions, Potatoes, Cheese, Milk, Salt and Pepper


The ingredients in this recipe are easy to find and incredibly affordable. 

And if you don’t have French fried onions, I have a clever substitute listed below!

  • Lean ground beef – You don’t cook and drain the beef before adding it to this recipe. So you need leaner ground beef (92 percent or higher) or ground turkey. 
  • Onion Fresh onion adds a wonderful pop of flavor to this dish. However, this step is completely optional if you aren’t a fan of onions. 
  • Potatoes – Be sure to slice potatoes into thin, even pieces. If they aren’t even, they won’t cook all the way through in the oven.
  • American cheese – It’s not classic American cuisine without American cheese! It gets super melty and gooey, and it’s so affordable. 
  • Cream of mushroom soup – It helps the casserole stay thick and creamy and adds so much flavor. If mushrooms aren’t your jam, you can use any flavor of creamed soup. 
  • Milk You can use any type of milk, from dairy or plant-based substitutes. It helps the casserole stay incredibly creamy. For an even creamy texture, swap out milk for half and half. 
  • French-fried onions – For the perfectly crunchy crust, you can’t go wrong with French-fried onions. Don’t have any on hand? Fear not! Crushed potato chips are another delicious topping. 
  • Salt and Pepper – This recipe is so flavorful, there’s no need to dig into the spice rack. A dash of salt and pepper is all you need. 

How to Make Hobo Casserole 

You won’t believe how easily this recipe comes together. It takes 5 minutes to prepare and a little over an hour in the oven. 

The hardest part is patiently waiting for it to cook!

1. Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

2. Layer your ingredients. Place the ground beef at the bottom, then layer with the onion, potatoes, and cheese. Then, season it with salt and pepper. 

3. Add the creamy components. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the cream of mushroom soup and milk. Then, pour it over the cheese and potatoes. 

4. Cover and bake it. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil, and bake it until the potatoes are fork-tender (a little over an hour).  

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5. Garnish the casserole. Remove it from the oven and garnish it with fried onions. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

A Piece of Hobo Casserole in a White Plate

Tips for the Best Casserole 

Check out these quick and easy tips so your casserole is hobo-approved. 

  • Save the best for last. Always sprinkle the fried onions after the casserole comes out of the oven. If you place them on top before it hits the oven, they’ll become soggy. 
  • Add a pop of color. As with all delicious comfort foods, hobo casserole is unapologetically brown. You can add a pop of color (and bright flavors) with a simple garnish of chopped parsley or green onions. 
  • Be sure all the ingredients are even. If some layers are thicker than others, the casserole won’t cook as evenly. And no one wants undercooked potatoes!


The great thing about this recipe is there are many ways to get creative with flavors. It’s a blank canvas for your creativity. 

  • Swap out your soup. Cream of mushroom soup adds such hearty flavors, but it’s not mandatory. If you want to add a different flavor profile to this recipe, try cream of potato, chicken, or even broccoli soup. 
  • Use frozen potatoes instead of fresh. If you don’t have the time to slice potatoes, frozen potatoes work just as well. A bag of frozen hash browns is a great substitute and cooks incredibly evenly in the oven. 
  • Bring on the garlic! Do you love all things garlic? You can add a garlic twist to this recipe with a sprinkle of garlic powder. For more intense garlic flavors, add a few crushed garlic cloves. 
Homemade Hobo Casserole with Ground Beef Potatoes and Green Onions

How to Store 

The great thing about this recipe is there are always leftovers. But that’s ok! They keep well in the fridge and are a cinch to reheat for a delicious lunch. 

  • To Store: Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
  • To Freeze: Yes, you can also freeze leftovers! Allow the casserole to come to room temperature, and place it in an air-tight container. Frozen leftovers stay fresh for up to 2 months. 
  • To Reheat: You can reheat leftovers in an oven preheated to 350 until they’re warmed through. Or, place a single serving in the microwave and heat it for 30 seconds at a time until it’s warm. 

Note: No one wants soggy fried onions! If you know you won’t eat a whole casserole in one sitting, only place onions on half the casserole. When you reheat it, garnish it with fried onions after it’s warm. 

More Casserole Recipes 

Did this recipe transform you into a casserole fanatic?

If you want to add more casseroles to your weeknight repertoire, check out these fantastic dishes. 

1. Tater Tot Casserole

This classic comfort food is similar to hobo casserole with a flavorful twist. 

Tater tots add a crispy crust, and who doesn’t love tater tots? And with a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce, the flavors are out of this world. It’s so easy! 

Check out my post “What to Serve with Tater Tot Casserole” to make it a feast!

2. Chicken and Rice Casserole

If you’re in love with old-fashioned casseroles, you have to try this recipe. 

Like hobo casserole, it’s simple, affordable, and oh-so-easy. It’s ultra-creamy, and the tender chicken melts in your mouth.  

3. Paula Deen Pineapple Casserole

No, it’s not dessert. This recipe from Paula Deen mixes sweet and savory flavors for the ultimate side dish. 

Pairing pineapples and cheese seems strange, but you have to try it! Has Paula Deen ever steered you wrong?

Hobo Casserole (Easy Recipe)



Prep time


Cooking time







This easy hobo casserole is a weeknight winner! Packed with ground beef, potatoes, and cheese, it’s such a satisfying dish.


  • 1 pounds lean ground beef

  • 1 small onion

  • 2 medium potatoes, sliced thinly

  • 4 slices American cheese

  • 1 (10-3/4 ounce) can of cream of mushroom soup

  • 1/8 cup milk

  • 1 1/2 cups French-fried onions

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In an 8×8 casserole dish, layer the ground beef, onion, potatoes, and cheese. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream of mushroom soup and milk. Then, pour it over the cheesy meat and potato layers.
  • Cover it with aluminum foil, and bake it in the oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  • Remove it from the oven, and sprinkle it with French-fried onions.
  • Let the casserole cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!


  • Always save French fried onions for last, or they will become soggy. 
  • Place the meat and potatoes in even layers to ensure they bake evenly.
  • If you don’t have French-fried onions, you can also use crushed potato chips.
  • To make it vegetarian, you can swap ground beef for textured vegetable protein and bulgar wheat.
Hobo Casserole

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

14 thoughts on “Hobo Casserole (Easy Recipe)”

  1. I’ve made this a few times exactly as directed. It’s delicious. And so easy to make on a weeknight. I decided to sprinkle the French fried onions on the individual servings instead of bake them on. If you can’t eat all the casserole the French fried onions become soggy and don’t re-crisp.

    • Hi Wendy, I love your French fried onion trick! I will try that for sure next time. This casserole is perfect for busy weeknights!

  2. I have been making a version of this in my crockpot. My changes…no milk, no soup.
    Spray crockpot with no stick spray. Layer Potatoes, ground beef, onion, baked beans, and cheese.
    Cook on high 5-7hours. (you can slide a long spoon or fork and test to see if potatoes are done). We call it Shipwreck Casserole because it looks like a shipwreck on the plate, lol.

    • Hi Kathy, yes, you are correct! This is a rare casserole where you don’t have to ground the beef first. The oven does all the work.


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