Fall is is finally here in North Texas, and with the crisp cool weather comes the craving for comfort food. Pot roasts, stews, soups, and of course – the casserole. Casserole is by definition a baked dish consisting of meat, vegetables, a binder, and a cheesy or crunchy topping. And one dish that lives up to this simple definition is the Tater Tot Casserole.
What is a Tater Tot Casserole?
In it’s simplest form, the tater tot casserole combines creamy soup, cheese, and frozen Tater Tots. These three ingredients can form the basis of a meal or a fabulous side dish.
But many variations of the basic recipe exist to mix things up. You can add meat and vegetables for a “one dish meal”. You can add different seasonings to make it a Mexican Tater Tot Casserole, or a Pizza Tater Tot Casserole. You can go lean(er) with ground turkey, light cheese, and a bechamel sauce made with skim milk to help cut calories and fat. Or you can go indulgent, adding sour cream, rich melting cheeses, and topping the already crunchy tots with fried onions.
Can’t decide which version you crave the most? Here are some of my favorite versions of the humble Tater Tot Casserole.
Classic Tater Tot Casserole:
First, let’s start off with the classic recipe for Tater Tot Casserole. The basic recipe features browned ground beef, cream of (your choice) soup, cheese, and Tater Tots. Dana Clover at The Homesteading Housewife has a great post on the classic Tater Tot Casserole recipe. You simply layer the ingredients and bake – easy peasey.
Now let’s try some variations.
Tater Tot Casserole for Breakfast
Why not try Tater Tots for breakfast? Here are two recipes to help you start the day off right? Tater Tots aren’t much different from Hash Brown potatoes, and adding them to the classic breakfast casserole adds a fun twist to a morning dish.
Hanan at Lilac City Momma posted her version of a Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole featuring bacon and eggs topped with cheese and tater tots. Six ingredients, five steps, and fabulous results! This would be a great recipe to take to a brunch, morning baby shower, or just for one of those lazy Sundays when you want to impress your family without too much effort.
For a spicier version, Stephanie from the Cookin’ Cowgirl adds hot sauce and sausage. The result – a spicy, cheesy Turkey Sausage Breakfast Casserole, topped with crunchy Tater Tots. If you really like the heat in the morning, you can substitute spicy Italian sausage for an extra peppery kick. The bonus here – Stephanie adds step by step pictures. My mouth was watering by the end of the post!
Spicy Tater Tot Casserole:
Speaking of spicy, some folks just like it hot! Luckily, the Tater Tot Casserole recipe lends itself well to peppers, Cajun spices, and hot sauce. Mary Foreman of the Deep South Dish blog posted her spicy version of Tater Tot Casserole (a Southern staple dish). As a bonus, you get a little bit of Tater Tot trivia along with the recipe. Did you know that Tater Tots are made up of the leftover potato material? The Griggs’ brothers at the Ore-Ida factory were looking for a way to bits of potato leftover after making French Fries, Hash Browns, and other Ore-Ida goodies. They put all the bits together with a binder, and fried them up. Clever, no?
For a Mexican twist, Lee at the Vegan Version blog created a Mexican Version of Tater Tot Casserole by replacing the meat with refried beans, and the “cream of” soup with salsa. Although the recipe is Vegan, you could easily add shredded chicken or beef to the refried beans for more protein. To kick up the Mexican flavors, you could also add diced green chiles or chipotle peppers for a smoky kick. That’s what Kirby at Dancing on the Table did when she created a smokey Chipotle Tater Tot Taco Bake recipe that just oozes cheese and Mexican flavors!
Finally, lest you think Tater Tot casserole is only beef based, let me share two tasty chicken variations of the classic.
First, there is the Broccoli, Cheddar, and Chicken Tater Tot casserole from Jill at Meet the Dubiens family blog. One of my favorite casseroles of all time is Chicken-Broccoli, and this casserole takes those same classic tastes and tops them with crunchy Tater Tots. One caution – the recipe calls for four cans of creamy and cheesy soup, so the end product may be a bit runnier than some of the other recipes highlighted here.
Finally, I wanted to share a slow cooker version, perfect for busy cooks. Brandie, at the Country Cook, whips up a version with bacon, chicken, cheese, and Tots, all of which blend together in a slow cooker. Throw the ingredients into the cooker in the morning, and savor the comfort food that evening.
So next time you are in the mood for some solid comfort food, why not give one of these Tater Tot Casseroles a try?