This tater tot casserole is bursting with savory ground beef, melty cheese, and crispy tater tots. Sit back, relax, and indulge — this is comfort food at its finest.

Tater Tot Casserole with a serving spoon in it.

What Is Tater Tot Casserole?

Tater tot casserole is a baked dish comprised of meat sauce, veggies, cheese, and tater tots. It has a creamy texture with a slight crispiness from the tater tots. The flavor of tater tot casserole is cheesy, rich, and sure to satisfy everyone — from picky kids to hungry adults.

This casserole (otherwise known as “tater tot hotdish”) was invented in the state of Minnesota during the Great Depression. It was a cheap and filling way to feed families, and the delicious taste has made it a staple in the Midwest to this day.

Tater Tot Casserole Video

How To Make Tater Tot Casserole

This tater tot casserole comes together in less than an hour with a few simple steps. Cook the meat and veggies, thicken the sauce, then layer and bake — that’s what you call an easy meal.

  • Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Cook the beef: In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef until it is browned, breaking it apart as it cooks. Season with garlic parsley salt. Drain any excess fat and set the ground beef aside.
  • Sauté the veggies: Add the chopped onion, and garlic to the same skillet. Cook on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until the veggies are softened.
  • Finish the sauce: Stir in the flour and cook for about a minute. Add the milk, broth, and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to cook and whisk constantly until the sauce thickens (2-3 minutes), then stir the cooked ground beef back into the pan.
  • Layer the ingredients: Place the meat mixture in an even layer in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with two cups of cheese, then arrange the tater tots in a single layer on top of the cheese.
  • Bake the casserole: Bake the casserole in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Top with the remaining cup of cheese and bake for 10 more minutes until the tots are golden brown. Let the casserole rest for a few minutes before serving, then dig in and enjoy!

Hot tip: Swap out the flour, milk, and broth for two 10.5 oz cans of cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken soup. There’s a saucy shortcut for you!

Ingredient Variations

Who can resist the yummy versatility of a casserole? Make any of these ingredient changes to enjoy the taste and convenience of your tater tot casserole even more.

  • Meat: Use ground pork, chicken, or turkey instead of the ground beef to suit your preferences.
  • Broth: Opt for beef or vegetable stock instead of the chicken broth for a different flavor.
  • Veggies: Add more fresh veggies or any canned or frozen vegetables you have on hand. Corn, bell peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, and green beans are a few delicious options.
  • Seasonings: Add a punch of flavor to the ground beef with smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, or a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Tips For Extra Flavor

We believe good food must have a solid foundation of flavor and this tater tot casserole is no exception. Here are a few tips to help you capitalize on flavor at every level of this dish.

  • Freshly grate the cheese. Grating a block of cheese yourself produces meltier, more delicious cheese. Avoid pre-shredded cheese, which often contains starches that inhibit melting.
  • Brown the beef well. Caramelized bits of meat have the most amazing savory flavor. Allow the ground beef to develop a browned crust on the bottom before breaking it up.
  • Use the broiler. Slide the casserole under the broiler for a few extra minutes to achieve extra crispy tater tots and golden, bubbling cheese. Keep a close eye on it, though — cheese burns quickly under the broiler!
  • Garnish the casserole. Sprinkle chopped chives or parsley over the casserole once it’s done baking for a pop of color and herby flavor.
Tater Tot Casserole baked in a pan.

Ways To Serve

Tater tot casserole is a classic comfort food dish that makes an easy dinner recipe. Allow it to rest for a few minutes once it’s done baking, then serve it hot with sour cream on the side or as a topping. For a pop of green, garnish the casserole with your favorite fresh herbs, such as chives or parsley. Toss up a garden salad or bacon brussels sprouts salad for extra nutrition, then add a few more sides to the table. Buttermilk biscuits, and Parmesan asparagus are especially delicious with this tater tot casserole.

Make Ahead

This tater casserole is a brilliant make-ahead meal. Whether you want to prep this dish the day before or you’re looking for a longer term option, we’ve got you covered with these pointers.

  • Day before: To prepare this casserole up to 24 hours before baking, fully assemble it, cover the dish, and store it in the fridge until you are ready to bake.
  • Months before: To prepare this casserole up to four months in advance, fully assemble it, cover the dish, and place it in the freezer. Bake the casserole straight from the freezer when you are ready to enjoy it! You’ll need to add an extra 5-10 minutes of cooking time.

Storage & Reheating

Are you wondering what to do with the leftovers? Listen up to these storage and reheating tips for the tastiest leftover casserole experience.

  • Refrigerator: To store for up to four days, cover the baking dish with a lid or foil and refrigerate. For easier reheating, divide the cooled casserole into pieces and refrigerate in an airtight container.
  • Freezer: To store for up to four months, place sections of the cooled casserole in a freezer-safe container and freeze. Allow the casserole to thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
  • Reheating: For the crispiest tots, cover the baking dish with foil and reheat the leftover casserole in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes. For a quicker option, reheat the leftover casserole in the microwave or on the stovetop until it’s heated through.

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About Author

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Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya founded Momsdish to demonstrate that placing a homemade meal on the table is not hard at all. Natalya makes cooking easier and approachable, by simplifying the ingredients, while still producing the same great taste.