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!

overhead photo of One Skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole with spoon in skillet

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.

overhead photo of One Skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole before adding the tater tots

The details on this one skillet french onion tater tot casserole…

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.

overhead photo of One Skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole

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.

overhead close up photo of One Skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole

Onto the tater tots.

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.

overhead photo of One Skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole with spoon in skillet

The toppings.

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.

One Skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole with spoon in skillet and portions of casserole removed from skillet

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!

One Skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole | halfbakedharvest.com
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4.44 from 169 votes

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

The Recipe

One Skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole

This dish is easy, takes just about an hour to make, is cheesy, heavy on the potatoes, and all-around delicious!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6
Calories 575 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey, chicken, or beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped (or 16 ounces mixed frozen vegetables)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper using more or less to your taste
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 2 pounds frozen tater tots
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • fresh chives, for topping (optional)

Instructions

  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

    2. In a large oven safe skillet, melt the butter, olive oil, and onions together. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. At this point, you want to slowly add 1/2 cup of the wine, 1/4 cup at a time, until the wine cooks into the onions. Continue to cook another 8-10 minutes until you've used the 1/2 cup of wine and the onions are deeply caramelized. Push the onions to the side of the pan and stir in the meat, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, parsley, cayenne, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat as it cooks, another 5 minutes until the meat is browned. Stir in the flour and cook another minute. Add the remaining 1/2 cup wine, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened 3-5 minutes.

    3. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the Gruyere cheese overtop the meat. Arrange the tater tots on top of the cheese. Transfer to the oven and bake 20 minutes, until the tots are golden. Sprinkle the cheddar over the tater tots, return to the oven. Bake another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

    4. Serve topped as desired with fresh thyme and chives.

Recipe Notes

To Make Vegetarian: Instead of using 1 pound of meat, use 3 cups of finely chopped mushrooms (can be any variety or a mix of varieties) plus 1 cup of finely chopped cauliflower (or use an additional cup of mushrooms). Sauté the vegetables as directed to do so for the meat. The cooking times should be very similar, if not the same. 

overhead horizontal photo of One Skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole