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Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole

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Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole is everything you need for a cozy weeknight dinner. Even better, the recipe easily doubles or triples to feed a crowd!

White plate with cheeseburger tater tot casserole next to green beans and salad

When Elle was little, she went through an anti-casserole phase. She would happily eat meals like Homemade Sloppy Joes or Ritz Cracker Chicken, but having all her food in one pot sort of freaked her out.

And man, did I really miss casseroles during that time. 

There’s just something about casseroles that makes them so comforting to me. Plus, casseroles are such a game changer when you’re trying to better your dinner game in the midst of a hectic schedule.

So I was pretty excited when I finally got her to try this Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole and she loved it! It’s been a weeknight dinner go-to around here ever since.

Ground beef in a skillet with ketchup, mustard, and relish being added

WHAT IS TATER TOT CASSEROLE?

If you grew up in the Midwest, chances are good that you have had tater tot casserole (or “tater tot hotdish” as my friends from Minnesota call it) at least once or twice.

The traditional tater tot casserole is a combination of ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, cheese, and tater tots. Sometimes you’ll find recipes that call for canned green beans and/or canned corn as well.

There’s nothing wrong with the traditional version, especially if it’s what you grew up eating, but my family really prefers this cheeseburger twist on the classic.

Hamburger base for tater tot casserole in a white baking dish

Everything you love about a cheeseburger and fries is here – hamburger, delectable homemade cheese sauce, ketchup and mustard, and even dill pickle relish.

It’s topped with plenty of tater tots, because.. well, tots! I personally will take a tot over a fry any day of the week, so I decided that’s how we’d top our casserole.

After I’d made this once for our little family, I was raving about it to the fam and totally got roped into making it again for a whole crowd of people. It’s that good.

Cheese sauce in a saucepot being stirred with a whisk

HOW TO MAKE CHEESEBURGER TATER TOT CASSEROLE

This Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole is a great weeknight dinner. Serve it alongside a salad with homemade ranch dressing and some honey glazed carrots or roasted green beans for a meal that both kids and adults will love.

Ingredients you’ll need

The “burger” part of this recipe comes from:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup diced yellow or sweet onion
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dill or sweet pickle relish
  • ½ teaspoon salt

My family likes to use dill pickle relish, but feel free to use sweet relish if that’s what you prefer!

Cheese sauce poured over ground beef in a white casserole dish

To take this from hamburger casserole to cheeseburger casserole, we’ll add a cheese sauce made from:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Don’t forget to buy a 32-ounce bag of tater tots, too!

Assembled cheeseburger tater tot casserole in a white baking dish, ready to go in the oven

Making this recipe

Start by making your cheeseburger base. 

Brown the beef along with the onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ketchup, mustard, relish, and a bit of salt. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning as you like.

Spoon this mixture into a greased 2-quart casserole dish and set it aside.

Now grab a saucepan and make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat, then slowly whisk in the flour until it is smooth.

Keep whisking for a couple of minutes; the roux you just made will turn a golden color. 

Overhead view of baked cheeseburger tater tot casserole in a white baking dish

Slowly add the milk – keep whisking! Whisk away until the sauce is thick and bubbling. This will take about 5 minutes.

Add some more salt and pepper, then whisk in most of the cheese until it is melted and the sauce is nice and smooth.

Evenly pour the sauce over the meat, then arrange the tater tots in an even layer on top. You may have some extra tots, depending on the width of your baking dish.

Bake for about 35 minutes, then sprinkle on the rest of the cheese and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Now you’re ready to dig in!

Spoon scooping a serving of cheeseburger tater tot casserole out of the baking dish

HOW TO CHANGE UP THIS RECIPE

The recipe as written is how my family likes this Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole, but there are other ways you can enjoy it!

  • Add a can of diced tomatoes to the cheese sauce before adding it to the casserole for some extra tomato flavor.
  • Swap out the ground beef for ground turkey for a turkey burger variation.
  • Use your favorite cheese in place of the cheddar. Pepper jack or even gouda would be delicious!
  • If you like a little spice, try topping it with these candied jalapeños or add several dashes of your favorite hot sauce!
  • If you’re cooking for a crowd, this recipe easily doubles – just grab a second casserole dish or a bigger one.
Serving of cheeseburger tater tot casserole on a white plate next to a salad and steamed green beans

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS

If you want to prep this casserole ahead of time, you totally can.

Assemble the casserole as written, but don’t add the tater tots yet. Cover the pan and refrigerate the casserole for up to 1 day.

When you’re ready to bake it, top it with the tater tots and bake as directed.

Want to make it even further in advance? Try freezing it!

Cheeseburger tater tot casserole in a white baking dish, with a spoon in the corner of the casserole

Assemble the casserole as written; you can go ahead and add the tater tots and the extra cheese this time. Make sure to freeze the casserole in a disposable baking pan so you can put it right from the freezer into the oven.

Cover the pan tightly in at least 1 layer of foil and freeze your Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole for up to 1 month.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven and add the casserole directly from the freezer. Keep it covered with a layer of foil for 20-25 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake for another 30-35 minutes or until it is hot, bubbly, and golden.

This casserole is a great recipe to take to someone in need of a meal. Just pop it into a disposable pan and include instructions for baking right away or freezing for later. They’ll love having a hot Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole to enjoy whenever they’re ready.

Spoon scooping a serving of cheeseburger tater tot casserole out of the baking dish

Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole is everything you need for a cozy weeknight dinner. Even better, the recipe easily doubles or triples to feed a crowd!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup diced yellow or sweet onion
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dill or sweet pickle relish
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the cheese sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

For the topping:

  • 1 (32 ounce) bag tater tots

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef and onion stirring occasionally, until beef is brown; drain.
  3. Stir in ketchup, mustard, relish and ½ teaspoon salt. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Spoon mixture into prepared casserole dish and smooth into an even layer.
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter completely. Slowly whisk in the flour until smooth. Continue to whisk while cooking the roux until it is golden brown.
  5. Slowly whisk in the milk, taking care to fully incorporate it with the roux. Keep whisking until the sauce is thick and bubbling; about 5 minutes. Stir in ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper.
  6. Remove the pan from heat and whisk in 1 1/2 cups of cheese until it is completely melted and the sauce is smooth.
  7. Evenly pour the sauce over the meat mixture.
  8. Arrange the frozen tater tots  in an even layer over the cheese sauce. You may have extra tots.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. Return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
  10. If desired, sprinkle with fresh Italian parsley just before serving.

Notes

  • If you want to prep this casserole ahead of time, you totally can. Assemble the casserole as written, but don’t add the tater tots yet. Cover the pan and refrigerate the casserole for up to 1 day. When you’re ready to bake it, top it with the tater tots and bake as directed.
  • If you’re cooking for a crowd, this recipe easily doubles – just grab a second casserole dish or a bigger one.
Nutrition Information
Yield 8
Amount Per Serving Calories 352Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 90mgSodium 766mgCarbohydrates 15gFiber 1gSugar 8gProtein 25g

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on social! I want to see what you made! @jamiemba

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Becca

Saturday 2nd of April 2022

My son made this for us. It was delicious! He will be making this again son. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. He as already been thinking of things he can change to make other, simular, dishes. For example: barbecue sauce, instead of ketchup, mustard, relish. Or add bacon. Or sautéed onions snd peppers with provolone.

Jamie

Monday 4th of April 2022

I am so glad to hear that your family enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your feedback. Happy baking! -Jamie

Paula

Saturday 2nd of April 2022

Do you use the tater tots frozen?

Jamie

Monday 4th of April 2022

Hi Paula – Yes, the tater tots can be frozen when you add them to the top, although they don't have to be. Hope this helps! Happy baking. Jamie

Bob

Tuesday 16th of November 2021

I doubled everything except the tots & then made 2 dishes, splitting the tots between them. The only other change I made to the recipe was, instead of buying pickle relish, I diced up hamburger dill pickle slices that I had in my refrigerator. The general consensus from all who ate it was that it was not only tasty, but a definite "keeper"! Thanks for sharing!

Jamie

Wednesday 17th of November 2021

So happy to hear this one is a keeper! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback! -Jamie

Dawn

Friday 7th of May 2021

So yummy! I found this recipe because I was looking for a tater tot casserole that didn’t use cream of mushroom soup. My daughter is a picky eater so I had to tweak this a little like not adding the relish but added a little Worcestershire sauce. This was a big hit. I was a little apprehensive about making the cheese sauce but honestly was so easy I’m so happy I tried this recipe.

Dana

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

I stumbled across this recipe a couple of weeks ago while looking for something different for dinner, and it's delicious! I didn't have pickle relish on hand but followed the recipe otherwise. It was really good! Husband is already asking me to make it again so I'm getting relish today and making it again tonight! I am going to double the meat mixture because I'm going to make a large casserole dish full this time. The leftovers last time went too fast! Thanks for a really yummy recipe!

Jamie

Thursday 11th of March 2021

Hi Dana-

So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your feedback!

-Jamie

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