This Tater Tot casserole recipe is comfort food with a Tex-Mex flare. Cheesy taco flavored ground beef covered with crispy tater tots. Even your picky eaters will love this one pot easy dinner.
What is it about tater tots that make them so amazing! So much better than French fries in my book, it’s just a childhood classic. You can get them as a side at one of our local restaurants, Lindley Park Filling Station, and everyone raves about them. Add them to the top of a cheesy hamburger filling and you have a family favorite dinner.
My go-to for tater tots are frozen Alexia Tater Tots, they always turn out crispy and they make both sweet potato and regular. However, now that we have a Trader Joe’s I’ve tried their potato tots and they are just as good.
Taylor loves the sweet potato puffs and Natalie the regular tots, so if they’re both home, I use both to top the tater tot casserole. Everyone is happy.
The base is a spicy Tex-Mex hamburger mixture with some corn and a bit of pepper jack cheese mixed in. You need the tots to cool down the jalapeños. We loved the hamburger mixture as much as the potato topping, but combine the two and it’s awesome.
What you’ll need for Tater Tot Casserole
- Tater tots – you can use regular or sweet potato. You’ll need one 28 oz bag.
- Ground beef – you can substitute ground chicken or turkey. If doing so, add a little olive oil to the pan before adding the chicken and onions.
- Onion and garlic – they add so much flavor to almost any dish.
- Red, yellow or orange peppers – these are a little sweeter than green peppers. They are all the same pepper, they start out green and as they ripen change colors.
- Jalapeño pepper – I like things spicy but not too spicy, so I use one pepper with the seeds removed. Love the spicy, add the seeds. If you don’t want it spicy at all, leave out the pepper.
- Taco seasoning – you can make your own with this recipe, or use your favorite packet. You’ll need about 4 tablespoons or 1 packet.
- Corn – fresh or frozen, if frozen, you don’t need to thaw it.
- Pepper jack cheese – If you want a milder version use Monterey jack cheese instead.
- Milk and flour- to make a creamy sauce.
How do you make a tater tot casserole
This is such an easy recipe to put together, and one you will want to add to your weeknight rotation.
Step 1: First, brown your hamburger with onions and peppers and add some flour and taco seasoning. Add milk and let it simmer until it thickens. Add half the cheese and corn.
Step 2: Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and add the tater tots and bake.
Apparently in the Midwest folks make tater tot casseroles all the time using canned soup. This version does not have canned soup but still has a creamy hamburger base.
Seriously, give this a try, even your pickiest eater will love it. If you have a favorite tater tot casserole, send me your version, I’ld love to see what variations someone who grew up with this has. If you prefer ground chicken, I’m loving this Buffalo Chicken Hotdish.
If you’re serving this to kids, or don’t like spicy food, it’s easy to tone this down, just leave out the jalapeño peppers and use a mild taco seasoning.
I love sweet potato puffs and they’ll work instead or in combination with regular tater tots.
You can easily leave out the jalapeño pepper and use Monterey Jack instead of Pepper Jack cheese.
Prepare the meat mixture and let it cool, then add the tater tots and refrigerate until ready to bake. Let it come to room temperature before baking.
To get nice and crispy tater tots, this will need to bake for about 30 minutes.
If you love casseroles, here are some of our favorites
- Brisket topped with mac & cheese
- Hamburger helper
- Sloppy Joes and cornbread
- Chicken tamale pie
- Cheesy broccoli casserole
- Green Bean casserole
- Sweet potato casserole
- Squash casserole
- Chicken and rice casserole
- Spaghetti casserole
- Cauliflower pasta casserole
What should you serve with a potato casserole
Since you have all the food groups in tater tot casserole, veggies, potatoes and meat, all you really need is dessert! Here are some quick and easy favorites.
Tater Tot Casserole
- 1 lb ground beef
- ½ cup onion
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 jalapeno diced
- 2 red or yellow pepper diced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 package taco seasoning 4 tablespoons
- ¾ cup milk
- 8 ounces pepper jack cheese shredded
- 1 cup frozen or fresh corn
- 28 ounces frozen tater tots 1 bag
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- In an oven proof skillet over medium heat, add ground beef and onion and cook until no longer pink. Add peppers and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute.
- Add flour and taco seasoning and cook until incorporated about 2 minutes. Stir in milk and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Add half of the cheese along with the corn and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the hamburger mixture and top with tater tots.
- Place skillet in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until tater tots are golden brown and crispy. Let stand for at least 5 minutes to cool before serving.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- You can substitute ground chicken or turkey for hamburger, if doing so, you will need to add a little olive oil to the skillet before adding the ground chicken.
- To prepare this in advance, let the hamburger mixture cool before adding the tater tots. Then cover and refrigerate.
- If you don’t have an oven proof skillet you can make this in a 9 x 13 baking dish.