Tater Tot Hotdish {2 ways…with and withOUT canned soup!}

Tater Tot Hotdish is one of my husband’s top dinner requests, and a classic comfort food meal here in Minnesota. Here is my tried and true recipe, featuring two different ways to make it – with and withOUT canned soup!

Tater Tot Hotdish {2 ways...with and withOUT canned soup!} from afarmgirlsdabbles.com - Tater Tot Hotdish is a classic comfort food meal here in Minnesota. This is my tried and true recipe, featuring two different ways to make it - with and withOUT canned soup! #hotdish #casserole #tatertot #tatertots #onepan #cheese #beef #gravy #comfortfood

If Blake were to create a Top Ten list of favorite meals that I make, I’m 100% positive this Tater Tot Hotdish would be included. And it would probably rank in one of the highest spots.

A number of years ago, I posted a photo of my homemade tater tot hotdish on Instagram and Facebook. And I was inundated with requests for my recipe.

Up until that point, I had never relied on a recipe for this favored dish of Minnesota culture. I had just used a few basic ingredients and thrown it all together, a little bit different each time.

But I promised those readers that I’d get serious and write it down to share with them. It’s been a hugely popular recipe ever since.

I’ve included two ways to make this tater tot hotdish. One is the much more traditional way, using canned soup. And the other – our family’s favorite – features a gravy made from scratch. Don’t worry, it’s easy to make. And it’s SO AWESOME GOOD!

Tater Tot Hotdish {2 ways...with and withOUT canned soup!} from afarmgirlsdabbles.com - Tater Tot Hotdish is a classic comfort food meal here in Minnesota. This is my tried and true recipe, featuring two different ways to make it - with and withOUT canned soup! #hotdish #casserole #tatertot #tatertots #onepan #cheese #beef #gravy #comfortfood

What is hotdish?

I often field this question from people who don’t live in our part of the country.

Hotdish is the quintessential one-dish meal found at most any family reunion, funeral lunch, church supper, or potluck in the Upper Midwest. This dish, humble in appearance, is especially beloved in Minnesota, with whole sections of small town church cookbooks dedicated to the many ways one could be assembled.

Hotdish is basically Minnesotan for “casserole”. It’s a well-rounded meal consisting of meat (usually ground beef, but also chicken, turkey, or tuna), carbs (usually pasta, potatoes, or rice), and veggies (canned or frozen), cooked all together in one big vessel. And, oh yeh, hotdish usually incorporates cream of mushroom soup, often referred to as “Lutheran binder” in these parts.

I’ll never forget the first time our youngest daughter Tessa sat down to tater tot hotdish at our table. She took a few bites, laid down her fork, and asked, “So is this basically a whole bunch of different things thrown together in one pan?” Ha!

Tater Tot Hotdish {2 ways...with and withOUT canned soup!} from afarmgirlsdabbles.com - Tater Tot Hotdish is a classic comfort food meal here in Minnesota. This casserole is my tried and true recipe, featuring two different ways to make it - with and withOUT canned soup! #hotdish #casserole #tatertot #tatertots #onepan #cheese #beef #gravy #comfortfood

Tater Tot Hotdish

Blake was admittedly skeptical when I told him I was going to create a homemade gravy base for my tater tot hotdish. He questioned, “Why mess with a good thing?”

Because, I told him, I was convinced that I could create a tater tot hotdish recipe that tasted even more amazing than the one I had always made with canned cream of mushroom soup.

His skepticism fueled my fire.

I was going to do this!

Feel free to use my recipe that utilizes the canned soup, it will save some time – and it’s still very good. But I beg you to try my version with gravy made from scratch.

The gravy’s texture is perfectly creamy, less oddly gelatinous than the canned soup version, with a cleaner, richer flavor. Hatti, Tessa, and I all agreed that the hotdish with the homemade gravy was indeed superior to the canned version, as our family scrutinized both compositions side by side in a weekday supper taste test.

But Blake, holding fast to his love for canned tradition, said that he’d eat either one just the same. I think he was secretly surprised that I actually made his beloved tater tot hotdish without opening a can, and got it to taste that good!!

Tater Tot Hotdish {2 ways...with and withOUT canned soup!} from afarmgirlsdabbles.com - Tater Tot Hotdish is a classic comfort food meal here in Minnesota. This is my tried and true recipe, featuring two different ways to make it - with and withOUT canned soup! #hotdish #casserole #tatertot #tatertots #onepan #cheese #beef #gravy #comfortfood

Tater Tot Hotdish with cheese

I give Blake credit for all the cheese you see melted over the top of the tater tot hotdish. It was his only suggestion when I was creating this recipe.

His motto in the kitchen could very well be:

“Cheese makes everything better.”

Now I always add a good helping of sharp cheddar to the top of the tater tots. Because it IS pretty darn good, I have to admit.

Tater Tot Hotdish {2 ways...with and withOUT canned soup!} from afarmgirlsdabbles.com - Tater Tot Hotdish is a classic comfort food meal here in Minnesota. This is my tried and true recipe, featuring two different ways to make it - with and withOUT canned soup! #hotdish #casserole #tatertot #tatertots #onepan #cheese #beef #gravy #comfortfood

Now please be kind and don’t judge.

But I always, always, always eat my tater tot hotdish with ketchup. It just seems natural with all those awesome crispy tater tots for dippin’. But to each his own; enjoy this dish any way you see fit!

 

Break out your recipes for your best Jello salads and pans of bars, and let’s have some fun with this, Minnesota style. Be sure to check out a few of my renditions to the classic tater tot hotdish recipe, with the flavors of bacon cheeseburgers, tacos, and this kicked-up version with top sirloin and some heat!

 

Like this Tater Tot Hotdish recipe? Pin it!

Tater Tot Hotdish {2 ways...with and withOUT canned soup!} from afarmgirlsdabbles.com - Tater Tot Hotdish is a classic comfort food meal here in Minnesota. This is my tried and true recipe, featuring two different ways to make it - with and withOUT canned soup! #hotdish #casserole #tatertot #tatertots #onepan #cheese #beef #gravy #comfortfood

Tater Tot Hotdish {2 ways...with and without canned soup!}

Tater Tot Hotdish is a classic comfort food meal here in Minnesota. This is my tried and true recipe, featuring two different ways to make it - with and withOUT canned soup!
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

Recipe #1 - tater tot hotdish with homemade gravy:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 4 T. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 c. diced yellow onion (about 1/2 of a large onion)
  • 8 oz. chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1 T. Frank's Red Hot Sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I like to add quite a bit!)
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 2 T. chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 16 oz. frozen mixed vegetables (I like to use a mix of corn, carrots, green beans, and peas)
  • 2 lbs. frozen tator tots
  • 6 to 8 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded

Recipe #2 - tater tot hotdish with canned soup:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 c. diced yellow onion (about 1/2 of a large onion)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (10-oz. size) Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup (I prefer the regular soup for this, not the reduced fat or sodium)
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. Frank's RedHot Sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley, divided
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme, divided
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 16 oz. frozen mixed vegetables (I like to use a mix of corn, carrots, green beans, and peas)
  • 2 lbs. frozen tator tots (I usually use just a bit less)
  • 6 to 8 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded

Instructions

Recipe #1 - tater tot hotdish with homemade gravy:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a 12" cast iron skillet, brown beef over medium to medium-high heat, breaking up any large chunks. Once beef is browned, remove it to a plate with a slotted spoon. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the beef fat, and then add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the beef fat in the skillet. Turn heat to medium. Once butter is melted, add the onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Stir to incorporate. Cook until the onions are transparent and the mushrooms are nicely softened, about 6 to 10 minutes.
  3. Now slide everything in the skillet to one side. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to other side of skillet. When the butter is melted, sprinkle the flour over the butter, whisking all the while (a flat whisk works awesome here!). Draw in as much butter, beef fat, and juices from the vegetables as you can, into the flour. Cook for a couple minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and slightly browned.
  4. Add soy sauce, Frank's Red Hot Sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper to the gravy side of the pan. Whisk and cook for 1 minute. Then slowly add the milk while you whisk and scrape the bottom of the skillet. Once this mixture is smoothed out, bring the mushroom mixture into the milk mixture, and then add the reserved cooked beef. Stir to incorporate. Cook until thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Then stir in sour cream, plus 1 tablespoon of parsley and 1 tablespoon of thyme. Next add the frozen vegetables and stir to incorporate. Level mixture out in the skillet. Then top with frozen tater tots.
  5. Place skillet in the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes. Move skillet up a bit higher in the oven and broil until tater tots are nicely browned - this can take up to 10 minutes, depending on your broiler. Remove skillet from oven and sprinkle tater tots with cheese and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Place skillet back in the oven and cook for an additional 6 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and gravy is bubbling. If desired, place skillet underneath the broiler for a few more minutes to brown the cheese just a bit. Remove skillet from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley and 1 tablespoon of thyme. Serve hot. I like to eat mine with ketchup and/or Frank's Red Hot Sauce.

Recipe #2 - tator tot hotdish with canned soup:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large cast iron skillet, brown beef over medium to medium-high heat, breaking up any large chunks. Once beef is browned, remove it to a plate with a slotted spoon. Discard beef fat and then add butter to the pan. Once butter is melted, add the onion and garlic. Stir to incorporate. Cook until the onions are transparent and nicely softened, about 6 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add cream of mushroom soup, soy sauce, Frank's RedHot Sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, stirring to fully incorporate. Fold beef into the mixture and then cook until it is warmed and bubbling, stirring regularly. Add sour cream, half of the parsley and thyme, and the salt and pepper. Stir to incorporate. Then stir in the frozen vegetables. Level mixture out in the pan. Then top with frozen tater tots. 
  4. Place skillet in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Move skillet up a bit higher in the oven and broil until tater tots are nicely browned - this can take up to 10 minutes, depending on your broiler. Remove skillet from oven and sprinkle tater tots with cheese and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Place skillet back in the oven and bake for an additional 6 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and gravy is bubbling. If desired, place skillet underneath the broiler for a few more minutes to brown the cheese just a bit. Remove skillet from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley and 1 tablespoon of thyme. Serve hot. I like to eat mine with ketchup and/or Frank's Red Hot Sauce.

Notes

both recipe versions from a farmgirl's dabbles

Nutrition Information:


Amount Per Serving:Calories: 519

Did you make this recipe?

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More Hotdish Recipes

Here are more casserole and hotdish recipes for you!  Hamburger Hotdish from Melanie Makes. Our family loves sweet bell peppers, so I know this Stuffed Pepper Casserole would be a hit, recipe from Rachel Cooks. And I’m loving this Ramen Noodle Casserole from Amanda’s Cookin’!

This post was previously published in 2014. Photographs and some of the text were updated in 2018.

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