Quick and easy meals are becoming more and more desirable among families. Life gets busy and there are times when spending hours in the kitchen is simply not an option. Being able to prep a meal in minimal time and dirty few dishes is ideal. This tater tot casserole recipe is the perfect option for those nights when time is limited, but the family still needs to eat.
The comfort feeling this food has makes it a great dish for the cold season. Warm up with family dinner while enjoying this filling meal that only requires two dishes to make! Dinner will be delicious and cleanup will be a breeze. This means less time prepping, cleaning and cooking, and more time spent with the family. This meal will become a family favorite that is requested often.
This recipe resembles a shepherd’s pie, but with less prep and cook time. There are many ways to make this recipe your own and personalize it to your family’s needs and tastes.
Tater tot casserole is originally from the Midwest. This comfort food is said to have originated from Minnesota because it is typically referred to as the tater tot hotdish. A hotdish is common in the Midwest, but is especially a favorite in Minnesota and North Dakota. A hotdish is an anything goes meal that can be thrown into one dish. They are desirable meals for the ease and convenience. When doing dishes is not an option, a hotdish might be the right option for you.
Tater Tot Casserole Recipe
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese (8 ounce bag)
- 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup (10.75 ounce can)
- 1 package of frozen tater tots (16 ounce bag)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to the temperature required on the tater tot bag. Usually 450 degrees F.
- Brown the lean ground beef in a skillet until fully cooked. Stir while cooking to ensure there are no large clumps of meat. Stirring will also help the meat cook faster. This will take approximately 7-10 minutes. Drain and discard the grease from the skillet. Add salt and pepper to the ground beef to taste.
- Combine the cream of mushroom soup and the ground beef into the skillet. Stir until fully mixed. Pour the ground beef and soup mixture into a baking dish. 9x13 inch dish preferred, or a dish of similar size. Try not to use a dish that is much bigger or there may not be enough tater tots to cover the entire dish. Use a spoon to spread the mixture evenly throughout the baking dish
- Layer the tater tots evenly on top of the mixture until the entire dish is covered.
- Bake uncovered until the tater tots are golden brown and the mixture is bubbling on the sides. Follow the time requirements on the back of the tater tot bag. Usually about 28 to 35 minutes.
- Add the cheddar cheese to the top of the tater tots. Place into the oven to melt the cheese. Approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
Tater Tot Casserole FAQ
What goes well with Tater Tot Casserole?
Tater tot casserole is a meal all by itself. It is a very filling dish that does not require being paired with anything else. However, adding a side salad would be a good choice to add some vegetables into this meal for balance purposes. Another great option would be adding some steamed broccoli or cauliflower to the side for some extra vegetables.
For drink choices, try a glass of Cabernet Franc. The fruit and acidity in a Cabernet Franc would pair well with the cream sauce flavor of the dish. A glass of chardonnay would also pair nicely with this dish. If reds are preferred, then a lighter red such as a Pinot Noir would pair nicely. An ice-cold beer would also go very well with this dish.
Can vegetables be added to the dish?
There are many variations of this hotdish and some of them do have vegetables in the dish. While the dish does not need them to be complete, they do go well in the dish. Adding the vegetables does make this dish a bit more balanced and would allow for the meal to not need a side of vegetables.
Tater tot casserole would be delicious with some corn, peas or green beans added to the dish. To do this just add them into step 3 and mix them into the mixture of beef and soup. Canned vegetables or frozen vegetables would be the easiest way to incorporate some nutrients into the dish without making the prep time longer.
Can tater tot casserole be frozen?
This is a great meal to prep ahead of time and cook later. Simply cook the ground beef first and layer the casserole accordingly. Once the casserole is ready to be put in the oven, cover it for freezer storage. A well stored casserole can be left in the freezer for three months. To cook the frozen casserole, simply pull the dish out of the freezer and let it thaw overnight. Once the casserole has thawed put it in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Until the tater tots have turned golden brown and are hot.
The easiest way to store this casserole in the freezer is with a tin foil pan. This would allow the tin foil to be easily wrapped around the top to get a nice seal on the dish. When the time comes to cook the meal simply thaw it overnight and put it into the oven uncovered.
Can I add anything to enhance the casserole’s flavor?
Some suggestions to help the flavor of the casserole would be garlic, onion, or Worcestershire sauce. Any of these would be great options to add to the ground beef while it is browning. This would add some amazing flavor to the meat without having to increase the prep time of the dish. Two garlic cloves, half an onion or a Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce would be plenty. Feel free to add any or all of these to give your dish a bit more flavor.
Could this be made with a leaner meat?
While the recipe calls for ground beef and is preferred that way, there can absolutely be substitutions to the meat to make the dish leaner. Using ground turkey or ground chicken would be a great way to add a leaner meat to the dish without changing the consistency of the casserole. If keeping the consistency the same is not an issue, then adding some shredded chicken breast would also be an option to make the dish leaner.