Throw together a quick and simple family dinner with this tater tot casserole. It’s creamy, cheesy, and packed with tater tots!
Tater tot casserole is a hotdish, or a baked casserole from the Upper Midwest in the United States. As its name suggests, a hotdish is a one-dish meal you serve hot from the oven.
In general, you make a hotdish with a meat, a starch, a frozen or canned vegetable, and a can of soup. For this classic tater tot hotdish recipe, I use ground beef, tater tots, frozen veggies, and cream of mushroom soup.
And to make the casserole extra special, I add a layer of cheese. It’s so decadent!
This is a great dish for communal events such as potlucks because it’s easy to prepare and serves lots of people. So, throw one together for your next gathering, and wow all of your family and friends!
Easy Tater Tot Casserole Recipe
- Prep Time10 min
- Cook Time30 min
- Total Time40 min
- Yield9x13-inch casserole
- Prepare Ground Beef and Veggies
Before you start cooking, set your oven to 425 degrees F and allow it to preheat while you continue working. As well, grease your baking dish with cooking spray.
Now, grease your skillet and put it over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground beef into the pan and brown the meat.
Next, turn off the heat and drain off the water and oil that separate out of the meat. While the pan is still hot, pour in the soup, frozen veggies, cheddar cheese, and garlic powder.
Then, gently stir everything together.
- Layer Tater Tots and Toppings
Once you’ve finished the beef mixture, scrape it into your prepared baking dish. Next, sprinkle the fried onions on top.
Finally, place the frozen tater tots into an even layer over everything.
- Bake Casserole
Put the tater tot casserole in the preheated oven until the tots are golden brown and the filling is bubbling. This should take about 25-30 minutes.
- Add More Cheese
If you want an even richer dish, remove your tater tot casserole from the oven at this point and spread the optional American cheese on top.
Then, put the dish back in the oven for another couple of minutes until the cheese melts and bubbles. Now, you can dig in!
Tater Tot Casserole Variations
Use Fresh Veggies
If you have more time, you can make your own fried onions. In addition to being delicious, they’ll make your kitchen smell heavenly!
As well, you can chop up your own mix of fresh vegetables to go in the filling.
Swap the Mushroom Soup
Instead of mushroom soup, you can use any creamy canned soup you like. For example, cream of asparagus or cream of chicken soup goes really well in the beef mixture.
If you want a very rich casserole, you can also add fresh dairy products instead of using canned soup.
For instance, you can substitute an equal amount of heavy cream for the soup. Or, add half as much sour cream.
However, canned soup has a lot of added ingredients, including sodium, which fresh dairy doesn’t. Therefore, you may need to toss in some extra seasonings including salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
As a quick flavor booster, you can also add a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce to the filling mix.
Add More Seasonings
When you get tired of the basic tater tot casserole recipe, spice it up! I love to add extra flavors for different variations.
If you want a similar – but more intense – casserole, you can add dried oregano, parsley, or paprika to the ground beef mixture.
As well, I love to make a Mexican tater tot casserole by adding chili powder and cayenne or diced jalapenos. You could also swap out the cheddar cheese for Pepper Jack.
Instead of ground beef, you can use other meats to make a healthier version of this tater tot casserole. In particular, both ground chicken and ground turkey work well.
However, poultry won’t taste quite as rich as beef does.
Tater Tot Casserole Serving Suggestions
- To cut the richness of the cheese and tater tots, I like to serve this dish with a fresh green salad. It’s refreshing and delicious!
- Or, serve this classic comfort food with a sweet fruit salad. Since tater tot casserole is savory and salty, the fruit is a lovely complement either on the side or afterward.
- Additionally, you could echo the rich casserole filling by topping the fruit salad with a tangy, creamy Greek yogurt sauce.
- And for a carb extravaganza, make some garlic bread to go with your tater tots! This side is always a winner.
To save your leftovers, wrap the baking dish in cling film or aluminum foil so that it’s airtight. Then, you can place it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
If you want it to last longer, put the leftovers in freezer bags or airtight containers. Then, you can keep them in the freezer for 3-4 months, according to the USDA.
If you want to make tater tot casserole ahead of time, you can do that too! Since this casserole doesn’t have raw meat in it, you can freeze it baked or unbaked.
However, keep in mind that thawing and baking tater tots can prevent them from getting crispy. To get the perfect crunch, only add the tots and cheese right before you’re going to bake the dish.
And if you bought your tater tots a while ago, don’t worry! They’ll stay good in the freezer for up to 12 months from the purchase date.