Sound the alarm: Tater Tot Casserole (or Hotdish as my neighbors to the north in Minnesota like to call it!) has been officially updated – make that UPGRADED – to skillet meal status! Oh yes, what you see here is saucy, seasoned ground beef and vegetables topped with the king of the frozen foods aisle – tater tots of course – and everything is simmered then oven-crisped in just one skillet. Comfort food does not get easier than Skillet Tater Tot Casserole!
Tater Tot Casserole is a Midwest classic. Eating it is like getting a big hug from your Mom. Satisfying and comforting. Plus, like the time I shared my Mom’s Maid Rite recipe, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a whole bunch of you who have never even heard of it before! You’re welcome. Go forth and spread the good word.
Tater Tot Casserole usually calls for condensed soup mixed with ground beef and frozen vegetables which are piled into a casserole dish then topped with tater tots and baked. I’m ditching canned soup because it’s usually not gluten-free plus it’s full of unnecessary ingredients. PLUS my homemade version tastes way better.
I’ve also updated the classic to be cooked then baked in just one skillet. From browning the ground beef, to making the flavorful sauce, to crisping up the tots in the oven, all you need is an oven-safe skillet. I use this 10-1/4″ cast iron skillet from Le Creuset – it’s my all-time favorite all-purpose skillet and will literally outlive me.
Skillet Tater Tot Casserole is a meat and potatoes dish that’ll stick to your ribs but since it’s made with mostly homemade ingredients you can feel good about feeding it to your whole family. We scrape the skillet clean anytime I make it for dinner!
How to Make This Recipe
First thing’s first – pretend this is the orange, oven-safe cast iron skillet that you’re going to see in the rest of the pictures. The one time I made this dish with the intent to photograph the steps I was doing approximately 49 other things, including peeling hummus-slathered turkey off the kitchen floor courtesy of Lincoln letting know he was done with dinner. Good times!
Start by browning ground beef, seasoning with salt and pepper then drain and set aside.
Next, melt butter in the skillet over medium heat then add sliced mushrooms and chopped shallot. Saute until the mushrooms are slightly tender, 3-5 minutes, then add minced garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Sprinkle in gluten-free or all-purpose flour (dish will not be GF if using AP flour) then whisk while cooking for 1 more minute.
Now slowly stream in chicken or beef broth and milk (I use skim or unsweetened almond milk) while whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
Add gluten-free tamari or soy sauce (dish will not be GF if using traditional soy sauce), ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, plus smoked paprika then turn the heat up slightly to bring the mixture to a bubble. Turn the heat back down to medium then simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened. Resist the urge to let the sauce reduce down too much as it will reduce in the oven. It will feel watery but trust me – it’s just right!
Stir the ground beef back into the sauce then remove the skillet from the heat and layer frozen tater tots on top. The precise amount will depend on how deep and wide your skillet is. You’ll want at least a 10″ skillet, but I also tried it in our big 12″ cast iron and it worked great too. Like I said, since the sauce is thin the tots will sink down a little bit but it’s fine!
NOTE: If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet you could pour the mixture into a baking dish at this point, top with the tots, and then bake.
Pop the skillet into the oven then bake according to the time/temp indicated on the bag of tater tots. Let the dish sit and cool for about 5 minutes before serving up hot. This dish will be a smash hit with the whole family – the kids (and kids at heart) will adore the crispy tater tots, while the rich and flavor-packed sauce is unbelievably satisfying. Enjoy, enjoy!
More Cozy Skillet Dinners
- Cheesy Chicken Burrito Skillet
- Skillet Shepherd’s Pie
- Cheesy Gnocchi Florentine
- Beef & Veggie Enchilada Skillet
- Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper
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Skillet Tater Tot Casserole (No Condensed Soup!)
Skillet Tater Tot Casserole is an updated childhood classic made in one skillet and without condensed soup! This gluten free dinner recipe is always a smash hit.
- 1lb ground beef
- salt and pepper
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tablespoons gluten-free or all-purpose flour (dish will not be GF if using AP flour)
- 1-1/2 cups chicken or beef broth
- 1 cup milk (I use skim)
- 2 Tablespoons gluten-free tamari or soy sauce (dish will not be GF if using soy sauce)
- 2 Tablespoons ketchup
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2lb bag tater tots
- Preheat oven according to tater tot bag instructions. Brown ground beef in a very large, oven-proof skillet (at least 10" - cast iron works great) seasoning with salt and pepper over medium-high heat. Drain then set aside.
- Turn heat down to medium, melt butter in skillet, and then add mushrooms and shallots. Season with salt and pepper then saute until mushrooms start to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic then saute for 1 more minute. Sprinkle in flour then whisk to combine and cook for 1 minute. Slowly stream in chicken broth and milk a splash at a time, whisking to avoid lumps. Add tamari/soy sauce, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, and smoked paprika, turn heat up slightly to bring mixture to a bubble, then turn heat back down to medium and simmer until just slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes.
- Remove skillet from heat then stir in ground beef and arrange tater tots on top. Place skillet on top of a baking sheet (or place one on the rack below) then bake according to tater tot bag instructions. Let sit and thicken for 5 minutes before serving.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.