Easy Tater Tot Casserole is a cheesy dish made with chili and crispy tater tots on top! You only need a few ingredients to make this recipe making it great for weeknight dinners. It’s the ULTIMATE comfort food!
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Why You’ll LOVE This Recipe
I absolutely love chili, cheese, and tater tots…so this Chili Tater Tot Casserole is the perfect dinner or potluck dish. Whenever I’m craving comfort food, those three things are my go-to!
When it’s cold, all I want to do is enjoy comfort foods like chili and cheese. Making casseroles with chili is one of my favorite ways to make an EASY dinner recipe, like when I make my mom’s Bean Stuff Casserole or my Chili Bubble Bake.
But this easy tater tot casserole is always a go-to. Adding extra beef to the chili makes this a much heartier meal and allows it to feed more people, making it perfect for a large family or a potluck.
Serve it with a simple side salad, and it’s the perfect quick, easy meal. You can even make it ahead of time and add the tater tots just before baking.
If you want a hearty hot dish casserole that you can prep in just minutes, this tater tot casserole is the way to go!
What is Tater Tot Casserole?
It’s a casserole topped with tater tots! Genius, right? This type of dish is popular in the Midwest and is sometimes called a hot dish.
There are all kinds of variations, but they usually have a few things in common: they’re made with some sort of meat, cheese, and sauce and topped with tater tots. Once assembled, you bake it until the tots are golden and crispy and the casserole filling is bubbling hot.
There are so many ways to make tater tot casserole. I’ve seen them made with cream of mushroom soup, taco seasoning, even pasta sauce.
This Mexican tater tot casserole combines beef, chili, cheese, and those crispy little tots on top. It’s serious comfort food and one of my family’s favorite dinners. I love it because this hot dish recipe is so easy!
Ingredients in Chili Tater Tot Hot Dish
- Ground Beef: Or you can use ground turkey or chicken
- Onion and Garlic: For flavor – dice the onion small and mince the garlic
- Canned Chili: Use your favorite kind and brand or use leftover turkey chili.
- Cheese: My favorite to use is shredded cheddar cheese
- Tater Tots: The most important part! Use frozen – name brand or generic are fine. You can also use hash browns.
How to Make Chili Tater Tot Casserole
- Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Break it up as it cooks and, once it starts to brown, add the onions and garlic. Cook them until the onion is soft and the meat is cooked through.
- Drain the fat from the skillet and then transfer the beef mixture to a 9×13” baking dish. Spread the chili over the top in an even layer. Sprinkle the cheese over the chili.
- Arrange the frozen tater tots in a single layer on top of the casserole. Bake the chili casserole at 400°F for about 40 minutes or until the tots are golden brown and hot.
- Serve the hot dish casserole hot from the oven. I like to serve it with sour cream as a topping. Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Not only is this easy tater tot casserole easy, but there are so many ways to switch it up. Here are some swaps you might like to try.
Taco Tater Tot Casserole: Season the ground beef with taco seasoning and use a Southwest-style chili to give it a taco theme. Add sour cream, sliced green onions, and salsa as a topping to finish it.
Turkey Chili Cheese Tater Tots Casserole: Swap the beef for ground turkey and use turkey chili for a leaner casserole.
Cheese Swaps: Any shredded cheese will work in this recipe. Try a Mexican blend or combination of cheddar, pepper jack, and Monterey jack cheese.
Chili Swaps: Any canned chili or your favorite homemade chili will work! There are so many options – you can make it over and over and never have this cheesy tater tot casserole the same way twice.
Make sure they are on top of the casserole and in a single layer. Bake the casserole uncovered – that way, the chili cheese tots will be nice and crispy.
It’s often called a tater tot hot dish.
Any chili you like will work in a hot dish, so feel free to experiment!
Yes, it’s definitely a popular Midwest dish – I think it’s because it gets so cold there, and people love hearty comfort food dishes. Tater tot casserole is definitely that.
You can make it with either!
Yes, just omit the meat and use your favorite canned vegetarian chili.
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Chili Tater Tot Casserole
- 1 pound ground beef 90/10 or similar
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 15 ounce can chili with beans any flavor or brand
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 32 ounce bag tater tots frozen
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Place ground beef in a large skillet over medium high heat. Break up into small chunks and cook until it starts to brown. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the beef is no longer pink and onions are soft. Drain fat.
- Place beef mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish (9×13-inch pan size or similar). Spread chili over the top of the beef mixture. Sprinkle with cheese.
- Top casserole with a single layer of frozen tater tots.
- Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or unit the tots are golden brown and cooked through. Serve hot with sour cream.
- Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
I could eat this kind of casserole every day and not get sick of it, but my body wouldn’t love it because foods like this give me heartburn. Have you ever dealt with heartburn? I’ve had it since I was a kid, and I know that if I avoid spicy foods or lots of butter (I swear, just looking at sugar cookies gives it to me) or foods with acidity (like grapefruit and tomatoes) it won’t bother me but sometimes I just want to eat a casserole for dinner or a cookie for dessert or have a grapefruit cocktail and not worry about heartburn. It’s hard to avoid all foods that give me heartburn, so I have to treat it instead of just avoiding it.
There is no way I’m going through life without enjoying Tater Tot Casserole. What kind of life would that be?! To treat my frequent heartburn, I use Equate Omeprazole Orally Dissolving Tablets (aka Omeprazole ODT).
This post was originally sponsored by Mirum in 2018.
This Easy Tater Tot Casserole is a cheesy dish made with chili and crispy tater tots on top! Enjoy!
Last Updated on January 4, 2022
All text and images © DOROTHY KERN for Crazy for Crust. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Disclaimer: Nutrition information shown is not guaranteed to be accurate.
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Published on: November 1, 2018