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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

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

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

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Ingredients

Instructions

  • 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.

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. 
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overhead horizontal photo of One Skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole

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Comments

  1. This was delicious, and a definite repeat option. My only thought is, with only 15 minutes it’s not possible to get the onions “deeply caramelized.” I even scrolled up to see if there were photos of yours to see if I was misjudging, but there weren’t. Surprised no one else commented on that; I finally just moved on after another 15 minutes, settling for “fairly golden.” Threw off my timing, is all–will allow more time next round. Thoughts?

    1. Hey Laurie,
      Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for giving it a try! You can definitely add more time to the 15 minutes to get them caramelized to your liking:) 🌸xx

  2. 5 stars
    We loved this recipe and will keep this on our regular rotation! Full of flavor. Even my picky eater enjoyed this.

    1. Hi Diane,
      Wonderful!! Thank you so much for trying this recipe and sharing your feedback! I am so glad it was enjoyed. Have a great week! 🌺xxT

  3. 5 stars
    This is one of my all time favorite recipes I’ve ever made! It is packed with so much flavor! I’m so glad I found it. Being from the Midwest it puts a twist on our classic tater tot hotdish and it’s amazing!

    1. Hey Allison,
      Awesome!! I am thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe, thanks so much for giving it a go! Have a great weekend:) xTieghan

  4. 5 stars
    Minnesotan here… This is my new favorite way to make tater tot hot dish. Ingredients are so much better and the flavor is so good! Even my kids liked it. I opted for apple juice/broth when caramelizing the onions, and it added an interesting sweetness that worked well with the dish. Crunchy tater tots on top with cheese and chives, superb. I literally haven’t met a half baked harvest recipe I didn’t like. You are amazing!

    1. Hi Danielle,
      Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for giving it a try! xx

  5. This looks amazing! How does it do with being reheated? It’s just me and my hubby and wondered if this would be good as leftovers. I’m mainly concerned about the tater tots..

    1. Hey Amy,
      To reheat, I would just pop in the oven on low. You could also just make a smaller serving size. I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

      1. We LOVE this dish! I’ve made it twice now. The first time around I subbed the meat for mushrooms since I was making for family members who don’t eat meat. Second time around, I made it with ground turkey for me and my husband. My husband who loves meat told me that he actually prefers with the mushrooms instead! We had the left overs tonight and I put the dish on the bottom rack and reheated for 10 minutes at 425 and then for another 10 minutes closer to the top coils to get the tots crispy again. We are happy to add this to our dinner rotation!

        1. Hi Amy,
          Awesome!! Thanks so much for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear that it was enjoyed!! xx

  6. Oh my goodness! This was AMAZING! I could’ve eaten the whole skillet on my own! In one sitting! I especially love that I don’t have to use any canned soups like some of the other recipes online ! For anyone who loves tater tots (and who doesn’t??!!) this is a no-brainer, wonderful enough even to serve to guests!😋😋😋😋

    1. Hey Pam,
      Thanks a lot for giving this recipe a try, I am glad to hear that it was enjoyed. Have the best weekend!! xTieghan

  7. Hi Tieghan! I live in a relatively small town in Canada and cannot find Gruyere anywhere. What would be the best substitute?
    Love all your recipes. Thanks in advance!!

    1. Hey Amanda,
      You could do Swiss, provolone fontina, really anything you like will work! Please let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan

  8. 5 stars
    I made this because I had some frozen tots that were taking up space. I was a bit hesitant only because I usually don’t make meals like this. OH MY GOODNESS – I was WRONG! This was so amazing. It was delicious and was an amazing fall comfort meal. I did make a couple switches because of my kiddos… went with mild cheddar cheese because they are weird about cheese, and did a bit of chili powder instead of cayenne to control some of the heat (again, kids!). Huge hit with the boys and me! Thanks so much!

  9. This looks so good! If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, what size baking dish do you recommend? Thinking of transferring the mixture into a dish and then topping it with the cheese/tots. Thanks!

    1. Hey Alyssa,
      I would use a 9×13 baking dish for this recipe. Please let me know if you give it a try, I hope you love the recipe! xTieghan

  10. I haven’t tried this yet but was confused on pushing the onions to the side before adding the other ingredients. When would you incorporate the onions back in? I’m thinking when you add the wine and soy sauce.
    Thanks

    1. Hey Kimberly,
      Once the meat is cooked through you can mix it altogether again:) I hope this recipe turns out amazing for you, please let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

  11. 5 stars
    I just made this, and it tastes amazing. Very well balanced, scrumptious and comforting meal. Thank you so much for this creative but yet simple recipe!

    1. Hey there,
      Wonderful! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a lot for giving it a try. Happy Weekend! xTieghan

    1. Hey there,
      Sure, I don’t see why that wouldn’t work for you! I hope the recipe turns out amazing! Please let me know if you give it a try. xTieghan

  12. Hi!
    Thank you for the recipe, but may I ask if I can substitute the wine with something non alcoholic?

    1. Hey Aisha,
      You can use broth in place of the wine. I hope this recipe turns out amazing for you. Let me know if you give it a try! xTieghan

        1. Hey Aisha,
          Fantastic! I am thrilled that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a bunch for giving it a try! xxTieghan

  13. 5 stars
    This was amazing! I had to make a couple of changes due to what I had on hand, So replaced the bell peppers with a large diced tomato, and replaced the cheddar with Gouda. But left everything else the same. This is a new favorite dinner

    1. Hey Mandi,
      Wonderful!! Thanks a bunch for making this recipe, I am so glad that it was enjoyed! ☀️xTieghan