The whole family will love this easy Taco Tater Tot Casserole! You can’t go wrong with taco beef, tater tots & your favorite taco toppings!
There are plenty of taco casserole recipes out there, but this one is the best I have tasted so far. I lived in California for many years, so naturally, I have a deep love and appreciation for tacos. In all honesty, I could probably eat Mexican food every day.
Making authentic Mexican food, however, can be very time-consuming. Sometimes you just need to feed a craving for tacos and do it fast. This recipe for Taco Tater Tot Casserole can definitely help scratch that itch.
TACO TATER TOT CASSEROLE
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In addition to my love of tacos, I also have a deeply rooted love of tater tots. I don’t know about you, but I feel very nostalgic about tots! Tater tots were a weekly lunch staple during my junior high and high school days.
I remember sitting down with my friends at lunch, munching on some perfectly crispy and salted tater tots. Now I will probably not admit to my kids what my lunch habits looked like way back when. I do however still get transported back to that school lunch table every time I have a perfectly cooked tot.
Taco Tater Tot Casserole recipes are popular because they’re the perfect meal to throw together when you have a hundred other things to do. If you are among the lucky few who own a large cast iron skillet you can save yourself even more time!
Prepping your tater tot taco casserole in a cast iron skillet is the ultimate clean up hack. You can cook your beef on the stovetop, add your tots, and bake it all together in one dish. Any time I can get away with doing fewer dishes after cooking dinner is a good time for me.
TACO TATER TOT CASSEROLE INGREDIENTS
Queso: This taco tater tot casserole calls for 2 cups of shredded cheese, but that can easily be replaced by your favorite melted queso. Making your taco tater tot casserole with queso instead of the shredded cheddar will definitely enhance the richness of this recipe.
My only warning is that this could interfere with the crispiness of the tater tots in your final product. Both options are cheesy and delicious, but each has its own sacrifice. Choose wisely, my friends.
Beef: I personally prefer to use ground beef for this recipe for taco tater tot casserole. That being said, I have some friends who generally prefer ground turkey to beef. Both types of protein work well for this recipe, so choose what you like!
HOW TO MAKE TACO TATER TOT CASSEROLE
- Start by grabbing a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Then, cook the ground beef and chopped onions in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until the meat is browned and the onions are soft, about 8 minutes. Be sure to break up the beef as it cooks.
- Next, add the tomato sauce, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder to the beef onion mixture. Stir everything together and simmer together for about 2 minutes.
- Now it’s time to pour the taco meat into your prepared baking dish. Then you’ll top it off with a layer of tater tots. Spread them out so you get a single layer of tots for maximum crispiness.
- Pop your casserole dish into the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
- Carefully remove the casserole dish from the oven and sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese all over the top. Return the dish to your oven and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. The casserole is finished when the tots are crispy, the cheese is melted, and the filling is bubbling.
- Remove your casserole dish from the oven and let it cool for about 5-10 minutes.
- Finish off your dinner by topping the Taco Tater Tot Casserole with green onion, red onion, diced tomatoes, and olives. Serve while still warm and enjoy!
If you want to jazz things up a little, you could even stir in black beans and corn to the taco meat before topping with tots. Just be sure to drain the canned corn and drain and rinse the canned beans first.
WHAT SIDES GO WITH TACO TATER TOT CASSEROLE?
Taco Tater Tot Casserole is a whole meal on its own. Everyone in my family, however, has individual preferences on things like olives and onions. Sometimes, I’ll even set up a toppings bar so everyone can make their dinner just as they like it. Sour cream and guacamole are always a must for me if I am adding any extra toppings or sides.
Another great option if you want to add a little green to your dinner plate, would be my southwestern kale salad. The addition of a side dish may help to cut the richness of this dish. It also helps to ensure there are more leftovers for the next day!
HOW DO YOU MAKE TATER TOTS CRISPY?
Crispy tots are achieved by making sure they go straight from the freezer to the casserole dish and into the oven. Be sure not to cook the tots at too high a temperature. Slow and steady wins this race.
My best advice is to trust your instincts. It is pretty difficult to ruin a casserole. So if you think your tots could use another 5 minutes in the oven to crisp, go ahead and leave them in a bit longer. I promise your patience will be rewarded with the first bite of those perfectly baked tots.
TRY THESE OTHER FAMILY FAVORITE RECIPES!
- Taco Salad
- Sweet Bacon Tater Tots
- Loader Tater Tot Bites
- Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole
- Broccoli Tots
- More dinner recipes…
TOOLS USED TO MAKE THIS TACO TATER TOT CASSEROLE
Baking Dish: One advantage of using this glass baking dish is being able to watch the progress of the casserole as it bakes. This dish is also super easy to clean!
Cast Iron Skillet: This life changing skillet has saved me from doing so many dishes. If you spend a reasonable amount of time in the kitchen, I highly recommend the investment.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 cup yellow onion peeled and chopped
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 32 ounces frozen tater tots (1 package)
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- Green onion thinly sliced
- Tomato diced
- Canned black olives sliced and drained
- Red onion peeled and diced
- Sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook ground beef and onions in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until meat browned and onions have softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Pour beef mixture into a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish. Top with tater tots, being sure to spread them out into a single layer.
- Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle cheddar cheese all over the tater tots. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes. The casserole is done when the tots are crispy, cheese is melted, and filling is bubbling.
- Remove from oven and let cool 10 mins. Top with green onion, tomatoes, olives, and red onion. Serve warm.