This Tater Tot Casserole is loaded with melty cheddar cheese and crispy tater tots. Made without cream of “x” soup, it is comfort food at its best and SO EASY to make.
Tater tot casserole is my weakness. Guys, it’s SO GOOD! I mean, how can you serve anything with crispy, golden tater tots and NOT devour the whole thing? 😉
If you haven’t heard of this comfort food dish, then you must not be from the Midwest because this is a classic and a FAVORITE in Iowa!
What is tater tot casserole?
Tater tot casserole originated in the Midwest and is a version of a “hotdish”. A hotdish is a casserole made with a starch (potatoes or pasta), condensed soup, meat, and vegetables. Hotdishes are popular contributions to gatherings like potlucks!
Today’s casserole is made up of tater tots, a homemade cream soup (broth, milk, and flour), ground beef, onion, and bell peppers!
You won’t see cream of mushroom soup on today’s ingredient list. Instead we’re making our own cream of “x” soup with flour, broth, and milk!
- Ground Beef – I use lean ground beef. You can use a non-lean variety but you may have to drain the oil.
- Yellow Onion and Bell Peppers – give the casserole texture and a subtly sweet flavor. I love using red and green peppers for color.
- Garlic – adds a nuttiness.
- Salt and Pepper – both to taste!
- Unsalted Butter – adds richness to the vegetables and beef.
- All-Purpose Flour – thickens the broth to create the homemade cream of “x” soup.
- Beef Broth – provides flavor to the cream of “x” soup.
- Milk – adds a subtle creaminess to the dish.
- Worcestershire Sauce – adds that vinegary tang.
- Green Beans – use canned green beans for convenience.
- Cheddar Cheese – the perfect topping. Adds a sharp flavor and melts deliciously.
- Frozen Tater Tots – I use mini tater tots but you can use large ones as well.
How to make
Just 3 simple steps to make this recipe!
- Cook beef, veggies, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large skillet. Remove and set aside.
- In the same skillet, melt butter and whisk in flour, broth, milk, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Add the beef/veggie mixture back in.
- Pour into a greased baking dish, layer on green beans, cheese, and tater tots.
- Bake, serve, and enjoy!
How long to cook
Once the beef filling has been made (this takes about 15 minutes on the stove), bake the assembled tater tot casserole in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.
You’ll know your casserole is done when the center is fully heated, the cheese has melted, and the tater tots are golden-brown and crispy!
Can i use fresh green beans?
You can use fresh green beans, but I prefer canned greens beans for convenience. I think the taste is absolutely great!
You can also use frozen green beans, prepared according to package directions.
How to make vegetarian
This easy tater tot casserole recipe is incredibly easy to make vegetarian! Simply sub the ground beef for a meatless variety (you could even try cooked lentils or beans) and use vegetable broth instead of beef broth!
What to serve with tater tot casserole
This tater tot casserole is a full meal (protein, veggies, carbs) BUT I love to offset the heaviness of the casserole with a light side dish! Here are some of my favorites!
Can i make this ahead of time?
You can absolutely make this casserole in advance. Follow the recipe directions right up until you’re ready to bake, but instead of throwing the casserole in the oven, let it come to room temperature (the meat/veggie mixture needs to cool), then cover it tightly and refrigerate the casserole for up to 24 hours or freeze it for up to 3 weeks.
When you’re ready, simply bake as directed – no thawing necessary, but keep in mind, since it’s coming from the refrigerator or freezer, it will take a little extra time to bake.
How to store after baking
This casserole can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month!
Can tater tot casserole be frozen after baking?
To freeze leftovers, let the casserole completely cool then pack it in an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to a month!
How to reheat
If you’re working with a lot of leftovers, place the casserole back in your baking dish and reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F until the casserole is heated through and the tater tots have slightly re-crisped.
You can also reheat single servings in the microwave, although the consistency will be a bit mushier than it would be out of the oven!
Tater Tot Casserole
Equipment for this recipe
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 2 tablespoons milk any milk is fine
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 (15 oz) can green beans
- 1 (8 oz) block cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 (16 oz) package frozen tater tots I used mini
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Heat a large, non-stick sauté pan over medium heat.
- Add in beef, onion, bell peppers, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Cook, breaking up the meat as you go, until the veggies are tender and the meat has cooked through.
- Remove and set aside. If using non-lean beef, you may need to drain and discard the grease.
- Melt butter in the same pan.
- Whisk in flour and cook for 60 seconds.
- Slowly whisk in broth, milk, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Cook until thickened (about 2 minutes) whisking regularly.
- Stir meat and veggies back in, then taste and re-season, if necessary.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan.
- Evenly layer on green beans, then season them with a touch of salt.
- Sprinkle cheese evenly over the green beans.
- Evenly layer on tater tots.
- Bake in preheated oven about 30-45 minutes or until the tater tots are golden brown and hot.
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.