Tater Tot Casserole (aka "Hot Dish" in Minnesota and many other midwest states) is a comfort food casserole classic. This easy casserole recipe is a family favorite made with savory ground beef, a creamy sauce, plenty of veggies, and of course, lots of crispy tater tots for the top crust!
Table of Contents
- What is hot dish?
- What You'll Need
- How to Make Tater Tot Casserole
- Tips for Success
- Recipe FAQ's
- How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- Can I freeze this recipe?
- What to Serve with Tater Tot Casserole
- More Casserole Recipes
- Tater Tot Casserole (aka Minnesota Hot Dish) Recipe
- More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
When we visited Minnesota and North Dakota I picked up a couple of those church collection recipe books. You know, the spiral bound kind where women from a community submit their best recipes that are compiled and then sold as a fundraiser?
I love finding those treasures because they are full of classic comfort food and the recipes are typically the best of the best that have been tried and tested by generations. They are also such a fun peek back in time.
This easy tater tot casserole is my favorite version of one of the most popular dinner recipes in those books and of course I had to include it to represent Minnesota and North Dakota for my American Eats series where I'm sharing the foods each state is known for.
What is hot dish?
"Hot dish" is a Midwest term for a hearty casserole that usually has a creamy sauce and is a complete meal with protein, veggies, and some kind of potato, pasta, or rice. It's the original one-dish dinner!
This easy tater tot casserole recipe is one the whole family will love with crispy tots, lots of cheddar cheese, and other simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand. It's even popular with picky eaters! We all need easy dinners like this every now and then!
Rather than use the can of cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken soup that so many casserole recipes call for, we're make a simple sauce in the same pan used for browning the ground beef. It's hardly any extra time and we love the taste.
What You'll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Ground beef - We like to use lean ground beef like 85/15 for this recipe.
- Tater tots
- Garlic - You'll need a couple cloves of minced garlic or garlic powder to season the casserole.
- Chicken broth or beef broth
- Veggies - frozen corn, fresh or frozen green beans...
- Cheese - shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Worcestershire sauce
- Black pepper
How to Make Tater Tot Casserole
Cook ground beef and onions. Start by browning the ground beef and onions in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Break up the meat while cooking until no longer pink, then add the garlic, worcestershire sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to meatmixture to a large 9x13-inch casserole dish.
Make the sauce. In the same pan used for browning the meat, melt the butter, then saute the onion until soft. Add the garlic and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes more until the mushrooms start to release their liquid, then sprinkle with the flour. Continue to cook for 2 minutes so the raw flour taste can cook off.
Thicken. Whisk chicken broth into the mushrooms and flour mixture to make sure there are no lumps. Add the half-and-half and let the sauce come to a simmer for 5-6 minutes until thickened.
Assemble. Sprinkle green beans and corn over the browned ground beef mixture and pour the homemade cream of mushroom soup mixture over the top. Sprinkle with a layer of shredded cheese. Arrange the frozen tater tots in a single layer before baking. You can take the time to set the tots in neat rows or just spread them out in a jumbled even layer.
Bake. Pop the casserole in the oven for 45-50 minutes until it's hot all the way through and the tater tots are crispy and golden brown on top.
- Change the veggies - You can really use any vegetables you like in this dish but other popular choices are broccoli florets, chopped bell peppers, or even just a bag of frozen mixed veggies.
- Use a different protein - Feel free to swap out the ground beef for cooked, shredded chicken (a rotisserie chicken works great) or ground turkey instead.
- Other dairy options - The half-and-half gives a nice silky texture and rich flavor to the homemade cream of mushroom soup, but heavy cream or sour cream can also be used. See recipe notes for suggestions.
- Add additional seasoning - The flavors of this particular casserole are pretty basic but you can jazz it up by sprinkling some Italian seasoning or Creole seasoning over the ground beef while it's browning.
Tips for Success
It doesn't take much to be successful throwing together one of these casseroles. But don't get rid of the yummy brown bits from the bottom of the skillet after browning the ground beef. That's called "fond" and it's loaded with flavor. Just leave it and it will become part of your sauce.
You will get good onion flavor using onion powder, but from a nutritional standpoint I prefer using a whole chopped onion instead of onion powder for this recipe.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
This easy recipe for makes enough to feed a crowd (like most hot dish recipes!) so be sure to store any leftovers in the fridge covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
To reheat, you'll get the best results if you carefully transfer the leftovers to a smaller baking dish that fits in an air fryer, taking care to keep the tater tot layer on top, and reheating at 350°F for 10 minutes until heated through and the tots are crispy on top. Or reheat in a 350°F over for 15-20 minutes until hot. You can also just use the microwave, but the texture won't be quite as good.
Can I freeze this recipe?
Yes! Casseroles make a great freezer meal because you can assemble and bake them later so they are great to have on hand for busy weeknights or taking to a friend in need of a meal. Just assemble and cover with aluminum foil before freezing, then freeze for up to 2 months. You can bake straight from frozen by just adding an extra 30 minutes to the bake time and making sure the tater tot casserole has had a chance to heat all the way through.
What to Serve with Tater Tot Casserole
This beauty of this easy weeknight dinner is that you really don't need to serve anything else with it, but if you want a side dish for tater tot casserole, you can't go wrong with a nice side salad or some fresh fruit like a sliced watermelon. Something like cornbread or crusty garlic bread would also be a delicious option.
And be sure not to forget the ketchup. It might be controversial to serve tater tot casserole with ketchup but kids (and grown-ups) love it!
More Casserole Recipes
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.
Tater Tot Casserole (aka Minnesota Hot Dish)
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 yellow onion, chopped, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons salted butter
- 8 ounces white button or crimini mushrooms, diced
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup beef or chicken broth
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 lb fresh or frozen green beans, thawed if using frozen (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 (32-ounce) pkg. frozen tater tots
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef and half of the chopped onion until cooked through. Add half of the minced garlic, along with the worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Cook another 30-60 seconds, then transfer to a 9x13-inch casserole dish and spread in an even layer.
- Melt the butter in the same pan over medium-high heat. Add the remaining chopped onion, sauteing for 4 to 5 minutes until the onions start to soften. Add the garlic, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and onions. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the flour has been absorbed. Add the beef or chicken broth, whisking well to make sure there are no lumps. Stir in the half and half.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5-6 minutes.
- Layer ground beef mixture. Layer green bean & soup mixture. Top with cheddar cheese. Top with tots arranged in straight lines. Bake 45-50 minutes until tots are golden brown and everything is heated through.
- Make ahead: You can assemble the casserole up through adding the cheese up to 1-2 days in advance and refrigerate. Add the frozen tater tots just before baking.
- Storage: Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. We find that they reheat best in the air fryer or a 350 degree F oven until hot all the way through.
- Freezing: The casserole can be assembled and frozen either before or after baking. To bake from frozen, add an additional 30 minutes to the bake time until cooked all the way through.
- Garlic: You can use ½ teaspoon garlic powder for the minced garlic.
- Vegetable substitutes: Chopped bell peppers, carrots, frozen mixed vegetables, or canned green beans and canned corn are all good substitutes for fresh green beans and corn.
- Half-and-half substitutes: You can use an equal amount of heavy cream for a richer sauce, or all milk for a lighter, thinner sauce. Or replace the half-and-half with sour cream stirred in after simmering for 5-6 minutes once the sauce is removed from the heat so it doesn't curdle.
More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
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