Paige’s Tater Tot Casserole

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Tater Tot Casserole

Ramble beginning in 3… 2… 1…  Do me a favor and think back to your most favorite Halloween costume.  What was it?  Was it homemade or store bought?  The other day I was in Wal-Mart adjacent to the aisle with the Halloween costumes when I overheard a conversation between a mother and her son.  I’m guessing he was about 4 years old.  It started with his exclamation about finding the perfect costume.  “Oh, mommy!” he said, “This is the costume I want, mommy!”  I couldn’t see him, but I could hear the excitement in his voice.  I made my way around the aisle to find the little guy clutching a doctor costume complete teal scrubs and a stethoscope.  His mother quickly told him “Put that down. You’re not going to be a doctor.  Nobody dresses like that anymore.  Here, look at this Ninja Turtle costume or this here Superman one,” she said.  As the little boy continued to plead with his mother for the doctor costume, he was consistently told no.    I wanted to plead with her myself, only my reasoning for insisting on the doctor costume was probably a little different than his.  I wanted to remind her that he’ll only be little for a while and that one day, he won’t care anything about dressing up for Halloween.  His agenda on Halloween night will change a great deal in the years to come.  Thinking back on my own childhood, I can so fondly remember my favorite costumes – and they were all ones that I picked out for myself.  For one night of the year, kids can be anything they want to be – be it a ghost, a skeleton, a character from Star Wars or SpongeBob, or yes… even a doctor.  I wanted to ask his mother to let him be little.  But I didn’t.  I minded my own business and went on gathering what I needed.  It reminded me though, that I will always allow my little guy to pick out his Halloween costume (within reason of course – I’m not going to have my 5-year old parading around as a character from Breaking Bad – although he doesn’t even know what that is… and neither do I.)  But I think we don’t often think of our children as people – and even though little and inexperienced they may be, they don’t get to make many decisions for themselves.  In light of that, I think it’s important to let them have some say in things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.  So, just for the record, in the Stacey Little guide to parenting you get an A+ if you let you kid pick out his or her costume – regardless of whether it’s a popular choice or not.  I sure hope that little boy gets to be a doctor for Halloween.  Now back to your regularly schedule programming – already in progress…

Y’all, I have a confession.  Can you believe I have never had Tater Tot Casserole??  I know, right!  And it’s especially crazy being how much I love a tater tot.  Well, a few weeks back that all changed.  My boss shared her Tater Tot Casserole with me and now I’m hooked.  You know how much I love easy recipes and this one surely fits the bill.  It comes together quickly and you can certainly substitute the smoked paprika for regular, if that’s all you have.  Regular tater tots work just as well, too – though you might be sacrificing a little flavor there.  Regardless, I’m sure you’ll love this take on this classic comfort food weeknight dish.  Tater Tot Casserole 2

Paige’s Tater Tot Casserole
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 5 to 6
  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 – 4 cups of frozen onion tater tots
  1. Brown meat and onion together. Drain off fat.
  2. Add ketchup, Wocestshrie, garlic salt and paprika. Spoon into a greased 12x8 inch shallow casserole dish. Spread undiluted soup over beef mixture. Top with cheddar cheese.
  3. Cover top of mixture with tater tots.
  4. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until tater tots are done and browned.

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  1. I totally agree with your Stacey. Our children are only little once and we need to let them be children as well as have a little voice. Once day we will look back at all those Halloween Costumes packed away and wish just one more time they could dress up and we could take them trick or treating. It is so hard to overhear conversations like that and keep our opinions to ourselves. My little guy has been a doctor every year for the last 3 years and I haven’t said a word about it. He even wore the same costume 2 years in a row, because he loved it so much. We shall see this year since we haven’t found a costume yet, but if he wants to wear it again then so be it!!!

  2. Kathy Stephenson says:

    I’ve been making Tator Tot casserole for about 28 years now and mine is real similar. I use 2 pounds of hamburger, 2 cans of cream of chicken and a can of peas that have been drained. My tots don’t look that nice…I just throw them on haphazardly. With all the extra ingredients I have to use a 9×13 pan.

  3. I just love reading your thoughts on life and what’s going on with your family. You have a real gift with words and seem to have a good grasp on what’s really important in life. Thanks for sharing your stories, lessons, and recipes!

  4. I never bought Halloween costumes-hated that sleazy satiny fabric that split and raveled before the evening was even over. We made most of our outfits from old clothes to be hobos, farmers, miners with blackened faces and such. Old sheets made grand ghosts or mummies wrapped. Your recipe looks like a good winter’s night comfort dish and not hard on the budget. I am already thinking I could use it and vary it at times with sausage instead of hamburger. maybe keilbossa sliced into coins. Shredded chicken or pork roast leftovers could be used by changing the soup to cream of chicken/

  5. Great recipe and post. I agree. All too soon the excitement of dressing up is over! I’m for letting the little ones be what they want to be..within reason for sure!!!

  6. I’ve never had tater tot casserole – looks good!

  7. I used to leave out the cheese and add frozen peas. when kids were growing up. One of their favorites still………like having taters & gravy.

  8. Debbie Strum says:

    You are so right about allowing children to dress as they like for Halloween (within reason), Stacey. I sure feel for the little fella you mentioned. As for the Tater Tot Casserole and you never having had it all these years… Well, you had me clutching my chest and gasping in shock! Glad you gave yourself the chance to try it. You know… You liking tater tots and all! LOL This recipe looks like another yummy version that I’ll have to try!

  9. My casserole adds green beans and sour cream to the chop meat, mushroom soup and cheese. Still a favorite with my kids who are in their forties….

  10. LOVE.LOVE.LOVE! I usually make the Duggar’s recipe but I wanted to try something different. My boys told me they were tired of casseroles but I had all of the ingredients for this recipe so I thought I would just try it. They LOVED it and said it was one of the best casseroles they have had. Thank you!!

  11. Wendi Ward says:

    Hey Stacey, thanks for the simple and delicious recipe! My husband and I are stationed in Japan. I am an active duty military member and he is a busy music director, so meals during the week have to be easy for us or we will go hungry 🙂 The only addition we made was to add peas and it turned out great! Thanks for posting recipes that are easy to make and that taste good! God bless!

    • Wendi, you are so welcome!! I’m so glad that these recipes are helping you get a home-cooked meal on the table. Glad to hear y’all are enjoying them, too!

  12. My husband will not eat tater tots. Could you use southern style hash brown potatoes (chunky potatoes)? Just wondering!

  13. I made this for my husband who is a professional chef. He loooved it!! I was never enticed to try a tater tot casserole until I saw your recipe. I will definitely make this again! Your recipes and pics are really user friendly and look delicious.

  14. I plan to try this recipe, but my wife dislikes mushrooms. Any particular suggestions to replace cream/mushroom soup? Maybe cream/onion soup? Open to ideas!


  15. Hi Stacey!
    I’ve been making this casserole for years and years! Only I DON’T cook the meat first. Just get some decent low-fat beef (or turkey), smush it in the pan, sprinkle with the other spices (I use onion powder in lieu of actual onions), then smear over the soup, sprinkle with cheese then potatoes. You do have to cook it for about 45-50 minutes but it comes out more “solid” like a meat loaf rather than crumbly. Delish!!

  16. amanda rauch says:

    I almost always put a layer of veggies in there to add some nutrition. And I have made it with all kinds of different condensed soups. Usually just use what we have in the cupboard. To make the tater tots a little extra crispy bake for a bit first then put on top of casserole and bake in oven. We also have used hash browns or French fries if we don’t have tater tots.

  17. Betsyfartblossom says:

    I usually made my kids costumes. They told me what they wanted to be and I made it. On the subject of kids being people, one cold winter day, when my son was about 4, he wanted to go out and play. It was nearly zero out. I told him that it was too cold to go out. He said “Not for me.” I said “Well, it is for me.” He looked me straight in the eye and said “I didn’t ask you to go out and play.” I said “Go get your boots.” He was right, it was too cold for me, but not for him. That day I learned to listen to what he wanted, not what I wanted. Oh yeah, he lasted about 5 minutes out there, but it was what he wanted and it was no skin off of my nose but a lesson learned;)

  18. I try out new recipes all the time. Sometimes, my family will say, “This is good, Mom”. Often I will get a funny look on their faces and they will ask “Where did you get this recipe again?”. Last night, I decided to make this casserole. It was chilly out and I wanted easy, comfort food. After his first couple of bites, my husband looked up and said, “DON”T lose this recipe”. It was a hit!!! Thanks!

  19. It’s in the oven now. I am my own worst critic and I think this is great. The first time I made it, I had never heard of smoked paprika. Not only does it add a little something to the tater tot casserole, it works in quite a few other recipes I’ve made. I do add a little chopped green bell pepper to the meat mixture. Otherwise, it’s strictly by the recipe. Everyone that I have cooked this for absolutely loves it. It’s so simple to make too. When I told my wife I had just picked up some ground beef, she asked me “how about your tater tot casserole?” Big ole’ smile on her face too. She knows it’s your recipe, not mine (actually your bosses). Like so many of your recipes. Everyone cleans their plates when I serve this one. Thanks Stacey

    • I just love hearing that! That smoked paprika really makes a difference. It’s one of those things that I don’t use a lot of but it really adds a whole new level of flavor in this dish.

  20. I make mine similar, but I have never added the seasonings to the meat, just salt & pepper. I’m going to make it this way this week. Also, I sprinkle a pkg of dry onion soup mix over the mushroom soup. ?

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