We can’t get enough of this chili tater tot casserole with cheese! It’s a one-skillet meal loaded with simple but bold homemade ground beef chili. But, then we added creamy melted cheese and crisp potato tots to make it amazing. Make this tasty chili casserole with tater tots as a quick and easy dinner tonight or any weeknight.
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure policy here.
Why We Love This Recipe
Everyone loves this recipe because it mixes loaded tater tots hotdish and cheesy chili burger. After all, this fun and cheesy chili cheese tater tot casserole recipe is a one-pan dinner that’s sure to please!
This yummy hot dish is similar to our green bean tater tot casserole, turkey tater tot, and chicken tater tot casserole. So, now we’ve turned chili cheese tater tots into a hearty main meal.
This easy chili cheese tater tots casserole is made without soup. Instead, it uses simple pantry ingredients. Serve it tonight as a “stick to your bones” dinner that’s ready in under an hour. Or, make ahead this dish and freeze it for later!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Meat – We used ground beef for this recipe for more flavor. However, you can use ground turkey or chicken for a leaner protein.
- Frozen tater tots – These are a must for this recipe. We love the tots because they stay crispy and they add delicious potato flavor to the mix.
- Tomatoes – Can of diced tomatoes is used as it adds juiciness and flavor to this casserole. But you can use fire-roasted diced tomatoes for more smokiness.
- Cheese – We used cheddar cheese as it gives the best flavor to the casserole recipe. But you can substitute them for pepper jack cheese. It gives the casserole some serious pep. Or, do half of each for a mix of cheeses!
- Tomato paste – This helps to thicken the chili and adds a ton of flavor.
- Spices – chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, kosher salt, pepper. You can also add a teaspoon of ground red pepper for a kick of heat.
Kitchen Tools Needed
- 10-12″ oven-safe skillet (like a cast-iron skillet), or an oven-safe casserole dish
Shop This Post
How to Make Chili Cheese Tater Tot Casserole
This cheesy tater tots casserole starts with a rich beefy chili with diced onions, tomatoes, and bold spices.
Cook the onions and ground beef in a skillet. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, and spices. Then, you’re ready to add the tater topping.
No oven-safe skillet? It’s not a problem! Just transfer the chili to a baking dish and continue with the recipe.
Sprinkle the chili with cheese, and top with frozen shredded potato tots. And, then bake it in the same skillet.
Then, just 30 minutes later it’s ready to top with your favorite chili toppings.
What Food Goes with tater tot casserole?
This hotdish can be enjoyed on its own as a one-skillet dinner. But, you might want a veggie side dish. Try our favorite griddle or skillet sauteed vegetables. Or, a fresh green salad is also a great idea.
And, anytime that chili is involved, you really ought to have thick slices of homemade cornbread on the table, too!
Can you prepare this as a make-ahead dish?
You can easily prep ahead and keep the casserole unbaked in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Just make the recipe as shown in a casserole dish. Then, let cool and cover the dish before putting it in the fridge. When you are ready, bake it at 400° F for about 30 minutes.
How do you make ahead and freeze a tater tot casserole?
Having a ready-made dinner in the freezer is a great idea. First, follow steps 2-4 and prepare the chili in the skillet. Then, add it to an aluminum pan, sprinkle on the cheese, and add the frozen tater tots. Let it cool completely. To store, wrap the casserole in aluminum foil and freeze it for up to 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Cover with foil and bake from frozen in a preheated 350°F oven for 40-50 minutes.
2. Uncover the tater tots dish for the last 15-20 minutes.
Left over beefy chili casserole with tater tots will keep well for up to 3 to 4 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Get the Best Chili Cheese Casserole with tater tots recipe Here:
Chili Tater Tot Casserole
- 11-12" oven-safe skillet (like a cast-iron skillet)
- OR large baking dish
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 pound lean ground beef (I prefer 85/15 lean ground beef)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
- 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes (undrained)
- 1 cup (4 ounces) cheddar cheese, shredded or grated
- 1 package (30 ounces) frozen tater tots
optional (for a bit of heat)
- 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. If using a casserole dish, spray it with non-stick cooking oil and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onions and sauté, stirring occasionally until they are translucent.
- Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a hamburger chopper or wooden spoon over medium heat until it is no longer pink. Drain any excess fat from the pan.
- Add seasonings, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes, mixing together. If your skillet is oven-safe, continue on to the next step. Otherwise, add the mixture to a round or oblong casserole dish.
- Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly across the top. Then top the casserole with a layer of tater tots.
- Bake at 400ºF uncovered for 25-30 minutes until the tater tots are golden brown and the edges of the casserole are bubbly.
- Remove casserole from the oven and let cool at least 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with sour cream, sliced green onion, or parsley.