The Best Tater Tot Casserole - NO Condensed Soup

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5 from 3 reviews

This tater tot casserole is a quintessential Midwest comfort food that's layered with tender veggies and ground beef in a creamy gravy topped with melted cheese and tater tots. It's loaded with real ingredients - which means NO CONDENSED SOUP - and it's made all in one pot so it can go from the stove to the oven, right to your dinner table!


  • 1 lb. ground beef (80/20)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2.5 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 32 oz. bag frozen tater tots
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • chives and fresh chopped parsley, for garnish


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Brown ground beef in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Crumbling it with a spatula as it cooks.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to remove beef from the pan and set aside.
  4. Without wiping out the pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion along with a couple large pinches of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes.
  5. Add garlic, oregano, thyme, and a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  6. Add butter to the pan and stir until it melts.
  7. Sprinkle flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for another minute or so, stirring frequently.
  8. Slowly stir in beef stock and Worcestershire until well combined, deglazing the bottom of the pan and scraping all the yummy bits off.
  9. Then stir in heavy cream.
  10. Mix until well combined. Heat for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally, until it JUST comes to a simmer.
  11. Add frozen veggies, cooked ground beef, and a couple pinches salt and pepper to the pan and stir to combine.
  12. Cook for about a minute.
  13. Spread shredded cheddar cheese in an even layer over the meat and veggies.
  14. Then add tater tots in a single layer.
  15. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the tater tots are crispy and the casserole is warmed through and bubbling around the edges. Broil for a couple minutes if desired to get the tater tots a little extra crispy on top.
  16. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
  17. Garnish with chives and fresh chopped parsley and enjoy!



  • You might end up with leftover extra tater tots depending on what size baking dish you use. When I use my favorite large sauté pan, I ended up with maybe 20 or so leftover tater tots. The leftovers can either be frozen or baked on a sheet pan and enjoyed separately. Alternately, you can just pile all the tater tots on top of each other creating a double layer of tots. Depending on what type of casserole dish you use, you might just have room for all the tots on top!
  • The tater tots in this casserole come out tender on the bottom and crispy on the top. If you prefer a super crisp tater tot all the way around, I recommend that you bake them on a baking sheet separately and then add them to the casserole after it's baked in the oven. If you are baking the tots separately, you'll only need to bake the casserole for about 20-30 minutes or until it's warmed through and the frozen veggies are tender.
  • When you make the gravy mixture and add the beef and veggies, don't worry if the mixture looks a bit soupy or thin. As the casserole cooks in the oven the gravy is going to thicken and beautifully coat every bite.
  • Season moderately and season often! Because the ingredient list for this casserole is short and sweet, it's important to add an adequate amount of salt and pepper throughout the cooking process. This will go a long way in boosting the overall flavor of the hotdish.
  • If you don't have a large saute pan that can go from the stove to the oven, you can cook the beef, gravy, and veggie mixture on the stove and then transfer it to a 9x13 baking dish that's sprayed with cooking spray. Then top it with the taters and bake!