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Tater Tot Hot Dish

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2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 (20 ounce) package frozen meatballs
1 (4 ounce) jar mushroom slices, drained
1 (16 ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups shredded Swiss or Havarti or Colby cheese
6 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
1 (16 ounce) package frozen peas
1 (16 ounce) package frozen tater tots

Tater Tot Hot Dish

Now this is classic comfort food for midwesterners. The crispy tater tots add so much to a creamy ground beef casserole.

  • Serves 8
  • Easy

About This Recipe

Okay, this isn’t the prettiest recipe in my collection, but it may be the most satisfying. Tater Tot Hot Dish is a classic Midwestern recipe that usually combines ground beef, canned vegetables, and some type of condensed soup with tater tots.

Don’t sneer. It’s really good!

But there’s always a way to make a classic recipe better. I used meatballs instead of ground beef, added fresh vegetables, used Alfredo sauce, and added cheese, sour cream, and mustard. And bacon. Always, always bacon. Those changes update this recipe and bring it into the 21st century.

You can, of course, use condensed cream of mushroom soup in place of the Alfredo sauce, and add frozen mixed vegetables. I’m certainly not going to stop you. Just make this recipe (or a variation thereof) on a cold winter or spring night when you really need some comfort food.

Because this is it.

Oh – and here’s a great tip for reheating leftovers. The tater tots will not be crisp if you reheat this dish in the microwave oven. So bake some more tater tots. Heat the casserole in the microwave and just mush the old tots in with the rest of the yummy sauce, then top with the crisp tots. Problem solved!

Tips for the best Tater Tot Hot Dish:

  • Cook the onion until it’s tender. It will not soften more when the casserole bakes in the oven.
  • e tater tots must be put onto a hot filling, or the bottoms will be soggy, in the same way that dumplings must be dropped onto hot soup.

Why this recipe works:

  • The Alfredo sauce, cheese, sour cream, and mustard mixture is much more satisfying than condensed soup. You can omit the mustard if you’d like. But why would you?
  • You could use other veggies if you’d like; try adding frozen corn instead of peas, or using sliced zucchini or yellow summer squash in place of the mushrooms.


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Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9" x 13" glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.


In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the red bell peppers and cook for another minute.


Add the frozen meatballs and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the Alfredo sauce and milk and bring to a simmer.


Simmer until the meatballs are thawed, then add the sour cream, mustard, soy sauce, and cheese and heat until the cheese melts. Stir in the bacon and peas.


Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and top with the frozen tater tots. I put the dish on a cookie sheet because it can spill over in the oven. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the casserole is bubbling and the tots are crisp and golden brown.


Linda is a bestselling cookbook author and home economist who has written 54 books (53 cookbooks and Medical Ethics for Dummies) since 2005. She has worked for Pillsbury since 1988, on the Bake-Off and other projects. Linda has been a web presence since 2002, developing recipes and teaching people how to cook.

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