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Easy Weeknight Chili Tater Tot Casserole

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Growing up Tater Tot Casserole was a staple and I didn’t exactly love it but as an adult it is a meal I look forward to. Being able to change up the flavors and get creative with this basic casserole has been a total game changer. In fact, now it is one of my family’s all-time favorite weeknight dinners. I love it because it is easy to make and comes together quickly. My family loves it because it tastes amazing and they are always going back for seconds. Add this Chili Tater Tot Casserole to your weekly menu and you won’t be disappointed.

Do you love Tater Tot Casserole? Try this Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole!

A single serving of Chili Tater Tot Casserole with sour cream and green onion toppings.

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Chili Cheese Tater Tot Casserole

Making a Tater Tot Casserole is such a breeze. A quick filling, cheese and tater tots is all you need for a fantastic meal that the whole family will be happy with.

Using chili and cheese in the filling works great because it is like having Chili Cheese French Fries in a casserole form. Who doesn’t love that combination?

What is Tater Tot Casserole

Tater Tot Casserole is a classic casserole made with a meat filling {usually ground beef} and topped with crispy tater tots. Everything in between can be changed and customized to satisfy your tastes.

My mom always made a meatloaf style casserole with a cream of mushroom topping but my kids have grown up on Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole and I can’t get enough of this Chili Cheese version.

Chili Tater Tot Casserole after a serving has been taken out of it and spoon has another helping ready to scoop.

Ingredients Needed

  • Ground Beef- I prefer a lower fat version, so that there is no need to drain any fat while making the filling. This Crockpot Meatloaf is another ground beef option.
  • Chili- Use whatever canned version your family prefers.
  • Rotel- Also known as tomatoes with green chilies. It gives the filling great flavor.
  • Spices- Cumin, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder and Onion Powder.
  • Shredded Cheese- Add whatever you have on hand or whatever variety you love.
  • Frozen Tater Tots- Simple, delicious and when they bake up crispy it gives the top of the casserole great texture.

How to make Easy Chili Tater Tot Casserole

  1. Brown ground beef, then add chili and Rotel. Stir to combine.
  2. Add all of the seasonings and stir until everything is evenly incorporated.
  3. Pour the chili mixture into a 9×13 pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Top with shredded cheese.
  5. Followed by frozen tater tots.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Broil for an additional 3-5 minutes if the tater tots are not crispy enough.
6 steps for making Easy Weeknight Chili Tater Tot Casserole

How to Serve Chili Tater Tot Casserole

Serve Chili Cheese Tater Tot Casserole straight from the oven with chili toppings. Sour cream, additional shredded cheese, green onions, jalapeño, sliced olives and salsa are all excellent topping ideas.

Variations:

  • Use ground turkey, chicken or even pork. Not only will it change up the flavor but using turkey and chicken could also help make this casserole a bit healthier.
  • Add whatever chili you and your family prefer. If you have a favorite brand or prefer a chili with more spice, go with that. You can also use a leftover homemade chili for an extra special touch.
  • Change up the cheese. I normally use a Colby Jack shredded cheese but a pepper jack would be delicious and add a bit of a kick.
  • Adjust the heat by choosing mild or hot versions of the ingredients in this recipe. If you like a lot of spice then add heat with a can of hot chili and pepper jack cheese.

How to Store and Reheat

  • The best way to store Chili Tater Tot Casserole is in the pan you bake it in covered in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • To reheat the Tater Tot Casserole with Chili, cover the pan with foil and place in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until heated through. Remove the foil for 5 minutes to get the tater tots crispy. You can always microwave individual portions for about a minute too. This method will leave you with tater tots that are a bit soggy but the overall flavor will still be awesome.
A serving of Chili Cheese Tater Tot Casserole with sour cream and green onion toppings and the casserole in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How to make the tater tots extra crispy.

The best way to make the tater tots extra crispy is to turn on the broiler for the last few minutes of baking. Just be sure that you watch the casserole closely. It can burn easily.

Is there another name for Tater Tot Casserole?

I have always called it Tater Tot Casserole but I have heard others call it Tater Tot Hotdish.

What food should I serve with Tater Tot Casserole?

Normally I will serve a salad with Tater Tot Casserole but Mexican Street Corn Skillet or another vegetable dish would also be wonderful.

What is the best kind of chili to use?

There isn’t a certain kind of chili that you need to use. The important thing is that you chose a variety that you know you and your family like.

Can I use ground turkey instead of ground beef?

Ground turkey can easily be substituted for ground beef. I have made it this way many times and most times my family never even notices.

Can I make a vegetarian Chili Tater Tot Casserole?

Yes, if you prefer a vegetarian version of this casserole then omit the ground beef and add another can of chili without meat.

Can I use leftover chili?

This Tater Tot Casserole is the perfect way to use up leftover chili. The end product will be extra delicious!

A spoon serving a helping of Chili Tater Tot Casserole with cheese pulling from the pan.

Do you love easy weeknight meals? Try these amazing recipes…

Easy Weeknight Chili Tater Tot Casserole

The perfect weeknight dinner, this Easy Chili Tater Tot Casserole comes together quickly and bakes up in no time.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 626kcal
5 from 3 votes
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Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef {93/7}
  • 28 ounces canned chili
  • 10 ounces Rotel {or canned tomatoes with green chilies}
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt {or to taste}
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper {or to taste}
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 32 ounces tater tots

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Brown ground beef in a nonstick pan over medium high heat, add chili and Rotel. Stir to combine. Add cumin, chili powder garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper and stir until everything is evenly incorporated. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the prepared 9×13 baking dish.
  • Top the meat mixture with 1 ½ cups of the shredded cheese and then top the cheese with a single layer of frozen tater tots. Bake for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, remove from the oven and top with remaining ½ cup of cheese. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. If the top of the tater tots isn't crispy enough, switch the oven over to broil and cook until the top is golden brown. Serve warm with chili toppings if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 626kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 1694mg | Potassium: 879mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 535IU | Vitamin C: 60mg | Calcium: 291mg | Iron: 5mg
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