Dirty Horchata Tres Leches Cake.
This simple one skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole is the perfect pantry staple recipe to make any time of year. It’s a cross between french onion soup and a classic midwest style tater tot casserole. Slowly caramelized onions, white wine, vegetables, and beef or chicken…all cooked together in one skillet. Then topped off with plenty of cheese, tater tots, and fresh herbs. Simply toss the skillet in the oven to create the perfect cheesy, one skillet dinner. There’s nothing not to love. This dish is easy, takes just about an hour to make, is cheesy, heavy on the potatoes, and all-around delicious!
You guys, this quarantine cooking is getting, well…it’s getting interesting. The honest truth? I have mixed feelings about this recipe. Yes, this is delicious, it’s hearty, it’s cozy, it’s easy, and it’s full of pantry and freezer staples. It’s is THE “quarantined” dinner.
But? It’s also not my usual style of cooking. Or at least not the usual type of recipe I share here on HBH. When my brothers are in Colorado, I cook them their favorites…chicken noodle casserole, potato chip chicken, and basically all the old school Gerard family childhood favorites of our midwest roots. However, I don’t usually share these recipes. But times are a little different right now. I know everyone is in the same boat…cooking with what we’ve got on hand. Using pantry staples and creating simple but delicious recipes for our families during this time.
And that’s where this casserole comes into the story. A week or so ago, I shared on my Instagram stories that I had a bag of frozen tater tots in my freezer. Immediately our Instagram direct messages were flooded with requests for tater tot recipes. And the most requested?
A classic tater tot casserole, also known as tater tot hot dish. Soooo…this is my spin. And although I’m nervous to share it…it is different, it’s also so delicious. My oldest brother, Creighton, a tater tot loving kind of guy fully approves. So you know this is good.
As always, step one is finding yourself a great skillet. This is the exact matte black one I am using in these photos. But as I’ve mentioned before, it also comes in this pretty blue color. I love the slightly larger and deeper eleven-inch skillet, but any oven-safe skillet will work great for this recipe. And if you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, just cook everything on the stove, then transfer the food to a baking dish. Use what you’ve got and make it work!
Start with the onions. They need to be deeply caramelized, just as you do when making French onion soup. My secret to the best caramelized onions…butter. And in today’s case…some dry white wine too.
The butter is used for obvious reasons – fat, flavor, and deliciousness. The wine is pretty traditional in most French onion soups, so I wanted to carry those flavors over into this casserole. You’ll cook about half of the wine into the onions. This not only helps the onions to caramelize quickly and evenly, it also infuses the onions with incredibly rich flavor.
If you prefer not to cook with wine, I recommend using about half a cup of apple juice or apple cider when caramelizing the onions. If you don’t have either of those, use broth. As for the remaining amount of wine (another half cup), use chicken or vegetable broth.
Once the onions have caramelized, push them to one side of the pan, add the meat, bell pepper (or mixed frozen vegetables), garlic, and seasonings. Allow the meat to brown, then add the remaining wine and a splash the soy sauce. The soy sauce may seem odd, but just trust me on this, it adds a layer of salty savory flavor.
Next, add a touch of flour, this helps thicken the sauce and make it almost gravy-like.
Remove from the heat and top the skillet with cheese, preferably Gruyere, which makes this similar in flavor to the classic bowl of french onion soup. If you don’t have Gruyere, use Swiss, cheddar, mozzarella, or whatever else you’ve got on hand. All cheese is delicious.
Here’s the KEY to this dish. I knew that if I was going to cook tater tots, they needed to be extra crispy, not soft and soggy.
So, first…keep those tots frozen until the directions say to place them over top of the cheese.
Second…you need to add that layer of cheese over the meat before adding the tots. The cheese acts as a barrier between the sauce and the tots preventing the tots from getting soggy.
At this point transfer the skillet to the oven, bake until the tater tots are golden. Remove and add the remaining cheese. About fifteen minutes later, you’ll have tater tot casserole with extra crispy, cheesy tater tots sizzling away on op.
It. Is. Good.
And that’s it. Simple right? This dish smells incredible as it bakes away in the oven, but it tastes even better.
This brings me right to the toppings, which I actually kept kind of simple. But sometimes simple is really all you need.
I topped this cheesy bake with fresh chives and thyme. That’s it, I know, it’s shocking, but tater tots are not fancy food, so you know? I skipped the fancy toppings and it’s OK.
What’s great about this one skillet cheesy tater tot casserole is that it incorporates a variety of flavors and textures. Yet it’s all made simply in ONE skillet, using all pantry staple ingredients.
Well, almost all pantry staples. If you don’t have a fresh bell pepper on hand, use a mix of frozen vegetables. Or anything from your fridge that you need to use up.
My only suggestion? Add a fun cocktail to livin’ up your Thursday night. This blueberry lemon thyme smash from last week is my current pick.
Looking for other skillet and or casserole dinners? I have a few to pick from….
One Skillet Saucy Chicken Tortilla Enchilada Rice Bake
One Skillet Cheesy Cuban Chicken and Rice Bake
Broccoli Cheddar Chicken and Rice Casserole
Lastly, if you make this one skillet french onion tater tot casserole, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
This is a great go-to, and is mostly gluten free already, just be mindful of the sauces and flour. I do bake it with ground turkey or chicken, and in a casserole pan. It holds up pretty well for leftovers. Simple and satisfying!
I meant to give it five stars!
This recipe is SO good! It is my go-to dish when hosting anyone for the first time, since everyone seems to love it! Perfect cozy dish for the cool-weather months.
Happy Sunday!😃 Thanks so much for trying this recipe and sharing your review, so glad to hear it was enjoyed:) xT
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve made this recipe! It’s always DELICIOUS. I love that it’s usually a recipe where I have most of the ingredients on hand already – sometimes I end up switching up the veggies to whatever we happen to have (usually add kale, corn, carrots, and green peppers!) This recipe also freezes beautifully (I just wait to add the tater tots until there is about 20 min left of bake time when we decide to eat it)! It’s my go to recipe to make when I’m going to be bringing a freezer meal to someone who just had a baby! I made 4 while I was pregnant and they have been lifesavers for after baby arrived!
Wonderful!! I love to hear that this recipe always turns out well for you, thanks so much for making it so often! Have a great weekend:)
We generally liked this, but the prep/cooking time was seriously understated. Otherwise, I thought it was a little heavy on both the soy and thyme, so I’ll cut back on those when I make this again. You suggested using beer in place of the soy sauce to one of the other commenters, and that sounds like a great idea! I think a 13″ x 9″ pan might be better for the final bake. I also ended up adding some Wondra to thicken the sauce more. I live in the desert, so not at high altitude. Some commenters added mushrooms, and that could be a tasty addition. Anyway, that’s my report.
Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your feedback! Sorry to hear it wasn’t your fave, but let me know if you give it another try using your adjustments. xx
Best tater tot casserole EVER! I don’t understand how anyone could give this fewer than 5 stars. This is one of my favorite meals!
Happy Friday!! I appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad to hear this was enjoyed! xT
Amazing!! I love to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks so much for making it! Have the best weekend!❄️
I would give this 10 stars if I could!!!!
This is probably one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten, anywhere! I could scarf down that whole skillet on my own in one sitting! Thank you so much for sharing this, it is a WINNER!😋😋
Love it!!🤩 So glad to hear that this recipe was a hit, thanks so much for making it! xx
I make this vegetarian and replace the meat with lentils! I often use Chao vegan cheese as well- delicious recipe! So comforting. Thank you 🙂
Happy Monday!! 👻 I am so glad this recipe was tasty for you, thanks a lot for trying it out! xT