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This tater tot casserole recipe is a cozy classic with crispy tater tots, tender ground beef, and plenty of cheddar cheese! It has just 10 minutes of prep time for a hassle-free family meal.
Why you’ll love it
If you didn’t grow up eating casseroles, this tater tot casserole will really make you wish that you did. There’s hardly any prep, it’s hot and cheesy, and tater tots give it the ideal crunch. Maybe my favorite part is how affordable to make it is. A few pantry ingredients come together to create something magical!
The heart of this recipe really lies in the Midwest. They perfected casseroles like this for economical meals that are perfect for bringing along to events where you need to feed a crowd like potlucks and family reunions. It’s a kid-friendly recipe as well for those picky eaters in your life.
Is this the same as a tater tot hotdish?
- Honestly, it depends who you ask! You’ll find casseroles like this across the Midwest, especially in Minnesota. A hotdish generally has a starch, meat, canned or frozen veggie, and canned soup, so this fits the bill, but specific recipes of course vary from family to family, which is totally ok.
- I’m not here to relitigate what a hotdish is; I’m just here to bring you a really delicious casserole with my own spin, whatever you call it!
What you’ll need
- Ground beef – I like to use at least 90% lean
- Onion and garlic – our tasty aromatic base. I used Vidalia (sweet) onion, but yellow works. And use more garlic if you wish!
- Worcestershire sauce – it adds a savory quality that’s delicious and you won’t want to skip
- Italian seasoning – it’s a dried herb blend that you’ll find in the spice aisle of your grocery store in a single convenient jar
- Sour cream – for a slight tang and creaminess
- Condensed mushroom soup – it’s a tried and true shortcut to bind everything and add flavor. Add it as-is to the dish.
- Corn – I use canned corn for convenience
- Cheddar cheese – grate your own cheddar for best results. I love this grater.
- Tater tots – use a package of your favorite brand
- Tater tot package sizes vary, and depending on the exact size/shape of your baking dish, you may not use them all (or if you decide to space them out more than I did), so be sure to keep the original packaging and pop the rest back in the freezer to use another day.
How to make tater tot casserole
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Sauté the onion and beef until browned. Add the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and Italian seasoning. Reduce heat and stir in the sour cream, mushroom soup, corn, and a 1/2 cup of the cheddar.
Stir well, and let it heat through for a minute or two. Transfer the skillet mixture to a 9×13 casserole dish and smooth in a uniform layer.
Sprinkle with the remainder of the cheddar cheese, then add the tater tots. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the tater tots are golden. Garnish with scallions if desired. That’s it!
Can I make it ahead?
- You bet! I’d prepare everything up until adding the tater tots.
- Refrigerate overnight, and add them just before baking so they don’t get soggy. Bake for a few more minutes if it’s coming straight from the fridge.
- You can also make ahead and freeze for up to three months, but again I’d add the tater tots when you’re ready to cook it.
Substitutions and variations
- Cream of mushroom soup is typically used, but you can swap it with cream of chicken if you prefer or any “cream of” soup.
- I’ve seen similar recipes use canned green beans either instead of or in addition to the canned corn, so feel free to add/swap a can of those here if you like.
- Frozen mixed veggies work as well, the kind that are chopped small. If using, I recommend thawing them first, and you may need to add additional baking time.
- You could swap the ground beef with ground turkey or even ground pork. Or go all-out and use ground sausage meat.
- Switch up the cheese if you like. Monterey Jack or a Tex-Mex blend would work great for a twist!
What to serve with this recipe
- Tater tot casserole is often enjoyed with some ketchup on the side/over top.
- I like sprinkling chopped scallions on top when it’s hot out of the oven.
- This dish is fairly rich, so serving it with a side salad is never a bad idea. Try mixed greens, tomatoes, and cucumber with homemade ranch dressing!
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge.
- Keep in mind that the tater tots will soften up, so you may want to reheat in the oven vs. the microwave to crisp them up. You could even use an air fryer.
- Freeze leftovers for up to 3 months, and simply thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat.
Did you make this simple casserole? Have any questions? Let me hear from you in the comments below!
Tater Tot Casserole
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
- 1 (12 ounce) can corn drained
- 2 cups shredded cheddar divided
- 32 ounces frozen tater tots see note
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Chopped scallions for serving (optional, to taste)
- Preheat your oven to 375F and move the rack to the top third of the oven.
- Add the beef and onions to a skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and breaking the beef up with your spoon, until it's browned and the onions have softened (about 7-8 minutes). If there's a lot of excess fat, spoon most of it out.
- Add the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and Italian seasoning to the skillet and cook for about a minute.
- Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the sour cream, condensed soup, corn, and about a 1/2 cup of the cheddar. Stir well and let it heat through for a minute or two.
- Transfer the skillet mixture to a 9×13 casserole dish and smooth in an even layer. Optional: if you have a large oven-safe skillet, feel free to make the casserole entirely in the skillet.
- Sprinkle the casserole with the rest of the cheese, and then top it with the tater tots.
- Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the tater tots are nicely browned and the cheese is hot and bubbly. Serve with chopped scallions and salt & pepper if needed.
- Tater tot package sizes vary, so anything in the 32 oz. ballpark will work (you may use a bit less depending how you space/arrange them in your baking dish).
- Some of the ingredients in this dish can be quite salty, so use low-sodium options wherever possible if sensitive to salt.
- Serves 6-8 depending on how much people eat.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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