Tater Tot Hotdish Recipe: Easy but from Scratch

Last Updated on August 30, 2023 by TheFarmChicken

Tater Tot Hotdish in a low bowl

Tater Tot Hotdish is a classic hotdish. Hotdish is very much, an upper Midwest thing. Most people are more used to it being called casserole but here in ND as well as some of our neighboring states we call it Hotdish. And that is just what it is, a hot dish. Usually consisting of a kind of meat, a kind of starch, and a vegetable, it is the complete one-pot meal. It is both convenient and filling. I have taken what I used to know Tater Tot Hotdish as and made it more from scratch. I also include the original way to make Tater Tot Hotdish with cream of mushroom soup but now that I have made it this way I probably won’t go back… Here we go! Tater Tot Hotdish Recipe: Easy but from Scratch.

Let’s look at what is in Tater Tot Hotdish and of course the recipe. It is perfect for a quick, simple, and hearty meal. I love how it can be made all in the same pan if you use cast iron.  A classic comfort food, family favorite, and it is a staple farm food in our home.

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The Meat:

Chopped fresh basil
Chopped Fresh Basil

I use good old hamburger for this recipe which is also the traditional meat to use. I’m sure you could use sausage too if you wanted to try something different. It takes 1 pound of ground beef. I fry the hamburger in seasonings, drain the fat off and then you add the ingredients for the sauce/gravy to that. I like using fresh herbs like basil and fresh garlic for a fuller flavor, but this recipe would also be good with their dry counterparts.

The meat, sauce and vegetables.

The Vegetables:

You can really go so many ways with Tater Tot Hotdish and the vegetables that go in it. Some people will just use corn, some just green beans. My personal favorite is frozen vegetables, a medley with corn, carrots, peas, and beans. Good for you and it just makes it so colorful! Just check for them in your grocery store in the frozen food section. I use the brand Birds Eye. You could use fresh veggies if you want to but it would take some more prep work and time in the oven.

The Sauce/Gravy:

Here is where you can go two different ways:

First Way (canned soup):

More traditional but in my opinion not quite as good- a can of cream of mushroom soup with a can of milk. Works if you are in a hurry.

Second Way (from scratch):

A thick creamy sauce that is made from flour and milk with a little bit, a dollop, of sour cream for flavor. You still only need one pan to do it this way and it is better in my opinion than the canned soup option.

I like using milk and not heavy cream in this recipe for two reasons. One because it is a lot less saturated fat and two because milk leaves it lighter and not so heavy.

A stack of shredded cheddar cheese

The Cheese:

In this recipe I use shredded cheddar cheese just for the top of the gravy, meat, and vegetable mixture. I use just enough to cover the top, but I don’t like to do a thick layer. Some people like to put the cheese on the very top, but I think that takes away from the crispiness of the Tater Tots.

The Tater Tots:

Apparently, the star of the recipe – the tater tots. I love it when they are crispy and golden brown. Usually, I just buy the frozen tater tots Great Value brand at Walmart. I feel like they are less salty than the Ore-Ida tater tots. I decided to do a comparison to see and after looking at the nutrition facts for both it turns out the Great Value brand does have a fair amount less sodium per serving.

Comparison of Sodium Levels Between Two Common Tater Brands
Great Value Brand Taters (Serving Size of 3 oz)310 mg
Ore-Ida Tater Tots (Serving Size of 3 oz)450 mg

I like to use the convection oven setting when I make Tater Tot Hotdish. It seems to help them crisp up better!

Hotdish vs Casserole: What are the differences?

Tater Tot Hotdish in a Cast Iron pan

Regionally the name differs, and the ingredients make a difference when it comes to which is which.

  • Hotdish is defined by having starch and meat while usually also having a frozen or canned vegetable.
  • Casserole, which is more of a southern thing, consists of basically anything under the sun. It also refers to the casserole dish it is served in.

To sum it up best, all hotdishes are casseroles but not all casseroles are hotdishes.

Tater Tot Hotdish Recipe

  • 1 lb. of hamburger
  • 3 leaves basil or ½ tsp dried basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 ¾ cup milk whole or 2%
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 4 cups vegetable medley
  • 2 pounds Tater Tots

First, in a large skillet, I like to use cast iron, on medium heat, brown the hamburger in the pan and add the seasonings, pepper, salt, basil, and garlic to the frying hamburger. Once it is cooked through drain the grease from the pan and discard the grease.

Next add the flour on top of the beef mixture and cook for 2 minutes on medium-high heat; stirring occasionally. Then at the same temperature add the milk and let simmer and thicken, stirring occasionally. Once it has thickened add the sour cream and vegetables. Cook for 5 more minutes then sprinkle with shredded cheese in an even layer and line the tater tots in a single layer or dump the tater tots onto the filling mixture.

You can either bake the hotdish in a baking dish (9”x13”), casserole dish or a 12 in cast iron skillet (I linked our favorite below in “Shop this Post”).

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until heated through and you have crispy tater tots. If you want your Tater Tots to be even more crispy you can broil them for 5-10 minutes. Also, you can bake the tater tots before you place them on top of the hotdish. This would make them even crispier.

Makes great leftovers. You can store leftovers covered with plastic wrap in the fridge.

Plated hotdish in a low bowl

Perfect for Church Potluck:

When I make this for church potluck, I will make the filling/veggie/meat mixture the night before. Then the next day I will put aluminum foil on the 9”x13” pans (I double it) and then bake until warmed through. Then I will remove it layer with cheese and tater tots and bake again with no lid until tater tots are golden brown.

Pin it for Later:

pin image for tater tot hotdish

Tater Tot Hotdish Recipe: Easy but from Scratch

It is perfect for a quick, simple, and hearty meal. I love how it can be made all in the same pan if you use cast iron.  A classic comfort food, family favorite, and it is a staple farm food in our home.
Print Recipe
Tater tot hotdish close up

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 leaves basil or ½ tsp dried basil chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 ¾ cup milk whole or 2%
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 4 cups vegetable medley
  • 1/2 cup cheese, shredded I like cheddar best for this.
  • 2 pounds Tater Tots

Instructions

  • First, in a large skillet, I like to use cast iron, on medium heat, brown the hamburger in the pan and add the seasonings, pepper, salt, basil, and garlic to the frying hamburger.
  • Once it is cooked through drain the grease from the pan and discard the grease.
  • Next add the flour on top of the beef mixture and cook for 2 minutes on medium-high heat; stirring occasionally.
  • Then at the same temperature add the milk and let boil and thicken. Once it has thickened add the sour cream and vegetables, stirring occasionally.
  • Cook for 5 more minutes then sprinkle (if using a 9×13 transfer to that before adding the cheese) with shredded cheese in an even layer and line the tater tots in a single layer or dump the tater tots onto the filling mixture.
  • You can either bake the hotdish in a baking dish (9”x13”), casserole dish or a 12 in cast iron skillet.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until heated through and you have crispy tater tots.

Notes

-If you want your Tater Tots to be even more crispy you can broil them for 5-10 minutes.
-Also, you can bake the tater tots before you place them on top of the hotdish. This would make them even crispier.
-Makes great leftovers. You can store leftovers covered with plastic wrap in the fridge.

Shop this Post:

Other recipes to try for Dinner or Supper:

Tell me how you liked the Tater Tot Hotdish Recipe: Easy but from Scratch below or pin it for later! Thanks for reading!

Mariah | TheFarmChicken
...for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10
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12 Comments

  1. Oh yum! I’ve been wanting to find a tater tot hot dish recipe without all the canned soups. Definitely giving this one a try!

    1. Yay! It really is so good with the from scratch sauce and you don’t have to dirty another pan to make it either! Let me know how you liked it!

  2. 5 stars
    My mom is a hoot. She used to make a casserole similar to this one, and she called it “death casserole” because it showed up often at the funeral lunches in our area. It’s a favorite of my kiddos! I’m happy to run across your recipe!

  3. I was looking for some comfort food and came across this recipe.
    It was so easy to put together and so delicious! It checks all the boxes!
    I baked the tots separately as I needed the hotdish (I’m from MN, don’t cha know) to be done quicker and added them on top of the hamburger/vegetable mixture and voila! Dinner is served!

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