Chili Cheese Tater Tot Casserole is a delicious and easy-to-make meal that is perfect for busy weeknights. This versatile dish is made with layers of tater tots, ground beef, chili, and cheese. It's always a family favorite when you need a comforting meal.
❤️ Why You'll Love It
- You can never go wrong with a combination of chili, cheese, and crispy tater tots it's a classic combination.
- All of the ingredients are affordable and easy to find, making this recipe budget-friendly.
- This casserole can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer for a quick meal on hectic days.
Tater tot casseroles have been a total game changer for me. Kids do not give me a hard time eating anything under a crisp layer of tater tots, and let's not forget about the cheese.
If you're looking for a quick and delicious dinner idea, this casserole is the perfect option. It's packed with flavorful ingredients like diced tomatoes, chili powder, and ground cumin that come together to create a mouth-watering meal.
Note: This is an overview of the ingredients. You'll find the full measurements and instructions in the recipe card (printable) at the bottom of the page.
📋 Ingredient Notes
- Olive oil - Look for a high-quality olive oil for the best flavor.
- Diced onion - A yellow onion works best however you can also use a white onion.
- Ground beef - 90% lean beef works best in this tasty casserole.
- Diced tomatoes - You will need a can of your favorite brand of diced tomatoes, I prefer the petite diced.
- Chili powder - This adds a great flavor without being too spicy. You can adjust the amount to your liking.
- Ground cumin - Cumin adds a warm, earthy flavor to the dish.
- Tomato paste - This helps thicken the sauce and add depth to the flavor.
- Granulated sugar - Adds a touch of sweetness to balance out all the acid from the tomatoes.
- Pinto beans - Beans add protein and fiber to the dish.
- Tomato sauce - This adds a smooth, rich texture to the casserole.
- Beef broth or water - You can also use chicken broth if you prefer.
- Salt and black pepper - Add these to taste for an extra burst of flavor.
- Shredded cheddar cheese - Freshly shredded cheese will melt the best, but you can use the pre-shredded stuff in a pinch.
- Frozen tater tots - These crispy potatoes add a fun and tasty twist to the casserole.
Note: This is an overview of the instructions. The detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- In a large skillet over medium heat add olive oil and saute onion until translucent will take about 3 minutes. Add ground beef breaking it apart and cook until browned and no longer pink.
- Add diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, sugar, tomato paste, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, beans and water. Stir everything well to combine and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
- Pour mixture at the bottom of your baking dish topped with cheese.
- Arrange tater tots on top and bake in the center of your oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and the top is crisp and browned.
👍 Amira's Tips
- If you are using a fatty cut of ground beef, be sure to drain off all the excess grease so that your casserole is not overly greasy.
- I've found that using a glass or ceramic casserole dish works best for casserole recipes like this one.
- This casserole tends to stick so for easy clean up grease your casserole dish well with nonstick cooking spray or butter.
- Feel free to adjust the seasonings in your homemade chili to suit your taste buds.
- Add your favorite chili toppings as garnishes, diced onions, green onions, sour cream, shredded cheese or even crushed tortilla chips work great on this recipe.
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Yes, you can freeze this casserole before baking it. Simply assemble the casserole and cover it tightly with plastic wrap or parchment and aluminum foil before placing it in the freezer. When you are ready to bake it, let it thaw overnight in the fridge before baking as directed.
The best way to reheat this casserole is in the oven at 350F for about 15 minutes, or until it is heated through. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
If your tater tots are soggy, it is likely due to excess moisture in the casserole. Be sure to drain all excess grease from the beef. And, don't press the tater tots down into the sauce, place them lightly on top so they can crisp up.
Refrigerate: Store leftover chili tater tot casserole in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. If you don't have a lid for your casserole dish you can cover it with plastic wrap to keep it fresh.
Reheat: simply bake the casserole in a 350-degree oven until heated through.
Freeze: You can freeze this casserole for up to 2 months. I recommend assembling the casserole, covering it with parchment paper then wrap with aluminum foil then freeze before baking. When you're ready to eat, thaw overnight in the fridge and then bake as directed.
⌛ Make Ahead
Want to make dinner time simple? Assemble this casserole up to the baking step, and store it in the fridge covered with plastic wrap or foil for up to 24 hours. Then bake as directed in the recipe card when you are ready to serve.
🍽️ Serve With
- I love to pair a hearty dish like this casserole with a fresh and light side dish like this Air Fryer Broccoli or Arugula salad.
- Be sure to have a bowl of Homemade Doritos chips to pass!
- Want to end your meal with a sweet treat? This Strawberry Pretzel Salad is the perfect blend of sweet and salty plus it's easy to make!
- You can easily customize this casserole to your liking by adding extra veggies like bell peppers, corn, or zucchini.
- Want more heat? Add some diced jalapenos or a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Make it vegetarian by substituting the beef for plant-based ground "meat" and using vegetable broth instead of beef broth.
- Swap out the beef for ground chicken, or ground turkey if you are not a fan of red meat.
📣 Related Recipes
- Hamburger Potato Casserole is cheesy and savory, which makes it perfect for a hearty family dinner.
- Want to try a different twist on this comfort food? Whip up this Taco Tater Tot Casserole for your next Taco Tuesday.
- This Cowboy Tater Tot Casserole is a fun and flavorful variation with corn, beef, and warm spices. It's great for feeding a crowd when you want something different.
- This simple Philly Cheesesteak Casserole, brimming with meat and melted cheese, will completely transform your weeknight meals.
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Chili Tater Tot Casserole
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef 90% lean is better
- 2 cups diced tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoon chili powder
- 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 can Pinto beans drained and rinsed
- 1 can 15 oz tomato sauce
- ½ cup water or beef broth for extra flavor
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 bag frozen tater tot
- Preheat oven to 400F, spray a 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat add olive oil and saute onion until translucent will take about 3 minutes.
- Add ground beef breaking it apart and cook until browned and no longer pink.
- Add diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, sugar, tomato paste, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, beans and water.
- Stir everything well to combine and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
- Pour mixture at the bottom of your baking dish topped with cheese.
- Arrange tater tots on top and bake in the center of your oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and top is crisp and browned.
- Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream, pico de Gallo and chopped green onions.
- Please check the nutrition disclaimer policy.