Taco Tater Tot Casserole is an easy taco tater tot casserole recipe layered with ground beef, taco seasoning, corn, chili beans, tater tots, and barbecue sauce, topped with your favorite taco toppings.
Taco Casserole with Tater Tots
Here’s a family-style Mexican casserole that bakes up hot and fresh in just over 30 minutes.
Since I seem to always have a freezer full of ground beef to use up for weeknight meals, I’m always on the lookout for taco meat dinner recipes.
This Taco Tater Tot Casserole with taco seasoning definitely fits the bill.
With simple ingredients like taco meat, crispy tater tots, melted cheese, chili beans, and corn make a delicious casserole.
Top it with your favorite taco toppings, such as tomatoes, lettuce, olives, cilantro, sour cream, and salsa….use what you have on hand.
My family needs a 9×13-inch pan of this casserole, but you could also make two 8×8-inch pans to freeze one to bake later.
I also like that you can make this casserole ahead of time and bake it for dinner when it’s time.
Taco Tater Tot Casserole is very family-friendly and a good casserole to give when somebody needs a hearty meal to bake fresh.
- Ground beef: I use whatever ground meat I have on hand – ground beef, ground turkey, ground venison, or ground bison
- Taco seasoning mix: I used mild taco seasoning, but if you like spicy, you can do so
- Mixed chili beans or plain chili beans: If you don’t have chili beans in the pantry, you can substitute pinto beans or black beans
- Del Monte southwest corn, with poblano and red peppers: You can use just plain canned corn or even frozen corn
- Shredded cheddar cheese: I always shred my own since bag shredded cheese has fillers added to keep the cheese shreds from sticking together.
- Frozen Tater Tots: You could also use potato crowns in this recipe – they would work just fine.
- Barbecue sauce: Use your favorite.
- Optional toppings such as diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro, sliced olives, sour cream, more shredded cheese, as desired
- Add a second can of beans if you’re trying to stretch this recipe to feed more people. This will also add more fiber to the dish!
How to make Taco Tater Tot Casserole
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside.
Preheat your skillet before adding the ground beef.
When the ground beef hits the hot skillet, you want to hear some sizzle!
This means you’ll get some nice browning and caramelization on the meat and that means added FLAVOR.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the ground beef until no pink remains and all the meat is fully browned, about 10 minutes; drain any fats that accumulate.
Stir in the taco seasoning, chili beans, and corn.
Simmer for 5 minutes. Reserve to cool slightly.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the prepared ground beef mixture with 2 cups of the shredded cheese and the potato nuggets, tossing gently to combine.
Combine the bbq sauce with the water and pour one-third of the sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Add the prepared ground beef mixture to the baking dish, lightly pressing it down into an even layer. Drizzle the remaining bbq sauce over the top.
Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.
Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of cheese, then return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted and the casserole is hot and bubbly throughout.
Serve with your favorite toppings, as desired.
If you’re wondering if the center of the taco tater tot casserole is hot once you’ve baked it, you can always check the internal temperature using an instant-read meat thermometer.
Aim for 160-165 degrees F. at the center for a good, hot casserole that’s fully cooked and safe to eat.
Can taco tater tot casserole be made in the slow cooker?
Yes, mix the casserole together just as the recipe directs, then place it into a greased crock pot.
Cook on low until hot and bubbly throughout, about 5-6 hours.
Serve as desired with your favorite taco toppings.
Bake this casserole with more tater tots on the top
If your family enjoys tater tots, spread the ground beef mixture into the pan and top with the cheese.
Then, add a generous sprinkling of tater tots (or tater crowns) over the top.
Spray with a light coat of nonstick spray (this helps them get crispy!) and bake as directed.
How to store tater tot casserole leftovers
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheat individual servings in the microwave, covered, until hot throughout.
Are tater tots and potato crowns the same thing?
They are not TECHNICALLY the same exact thing, but they are definitely interchangeable in this recipe.
I use either one.
How to stretch taco meat casserole
Add more beans, corn, and tater tots, as desired.
You can use any canned (cooked) beans that you’ve got on hand – mixed chili beans (my favorite), plain chili beans, black beans, or pinto beans.
To make this casserole feed more mouths, you can stir in an extra can of drained corn or a can of drained tomatoes and green chilies.
What to serve with taco meat casserole
We love to serve Mexican cheese bread with taco tater tot casserole, even though it’s a big carb load.
If you enjoy a side salad, try Mexican salad with honey-lime dressing...talk about refreshing.
If you need an easy appetizer that goes with taco casserole, try Instant Pot Nacho Dip.
Or freshen everything up with this Easy Cucumber Salad.
More favorite recipes
Looking for another easy Mexican dish your fam will adore? Beef and cheese Mexican sanchiladas are a cross between a sancho and an enchilada, smothered in enchilada sauce and topped with cheese.
When you have a rotisserie chicken to use up or just leftover cooked chicken breast meat, add it to a big pot of creamy chicken enchilada soup. This soup uses ingredients you’ll likely already have right in your pantry, too.
Make an easy weeknight meal using shredded cooked roast beef with tater tots and your favorite cast iron skillet! Shredded tater tot casserole with beef bakes to a golden brown crunchiness.
Taco Tater Tot Casserole
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 oz. pkg. taco seasoning
- 15 oz can mixed chili beans or plain chili beans, rinsed and drained
- 15 oz. can Del Monte southwest corn, with poblano and red peppers, drained well
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 16 oz. frozen potato nuggets (aka tater tots!)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup bbq sauce
- optional toppings such as diced tomatoes, chopped cilantro, sliced olives, sour cream, shredded cheese, as desired
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook and crumble the ground beef until no pink remains and all the meat is fully browned, about 10 minutes; drain any fats that accumulate. Stir in the taco seasoning, chili beans, and corn; simmer for 5 minutes; reserve to cool slightly.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the prepared ground beef mixture with 2 cups of the shredded cheese and the potato nuggets, tossing gently to combine.
- Combine the bbq sauce with the water and pour one-third of the sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
- Add the prepared ground beef mixture to the baking dish, lightly pressing it down into an even layer. Drizzle the remaining bbq sauce over the top.
- Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes; sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of cheese, then return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted and the casserole is hot and bubbly throughout.
- Serve with your favorite toppings, as desired.