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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. 5 stars
    A new family favorite. I prepared it just as written, although I might leave out the Cayenne next time just due to sensitive pallets in my house!

    1. Hey Sue,
      I am so glad this recipe was a winner, thanks a bunch for giving it a try! xxTieghan

  2. 5 stars
    I think this is the third of fourth time I’ve made this. I didn’t have all the ingredients but it adapats so easily with anything. A great dish!!

    1. Hey Hannah,
      Thanks a lot for giving this recipe a go, I am thrilled that it was enjoyed!! xTieghan

  3. 5 stars
    Simply delectable! My husband is requesting that I add it to the monthly rotation. Seriously, try this recipe. It’s such a creative take on tater tot casserole. I used ground beef and it worked out really well. I also used an oven safe stainless steel pan because it was a bit larger than the cast iron that we have. So tasty!

    1. Hey Missy,
      So so glad this recipe was enjoyed, thanks a bunch for giving it a try! Happy Sunday:) xTieghan

  4. 4 stars
    I made it last night. This was the first recipe of yours I have ever tried and it was also the first time I have ever made a tater-to-casserole. I made it with ground beef, and if using ground beef again I would use a dry red wine instead of the white I used last night. When I was simmering I found the flavor a little lacking, so I added a dollop of whole-grain mustard (might try adding a bay leaf next time?). However, when the casserole came out of the oven and I tried it I was surprised by how much flavor it actually had! It was yummy! Other than that the only other modification I made was doing half bell pepper and half asparagus. Next time, I would like it vegetarian style.

    1. Hey there,
      Happy Weekend! Thanks for giving the recipe a try, I am so glad it was enjoyed! xTieghan

  5. This is in my oven right now and I’m so excited. I’ve never had a tâter tot casserole.

    And I just have to say my favorite thing about your recipes (aside from being delicious, obviously) is they take the time you say they will!

    1. Hey Jessica,
      Yes I think red wine would work well here. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  6. 4 stars
    I’ve made this recipe several times and it’s a family favorite!!! A grown up tater tot casserole that everyone loves! A couple of things: if using frozen mixed vegetables, depending on what they are – add those when the heat is off! If you cook them before putting them in the oven the peas and beans will lose that vibrant green color! They heat up just fine in the oven . Also- I did not see water listed in with the ingredients, so the first time I made it I somehow didn’t see it in the instructions. Just need to add water to the list! 🙂 meaty, cheesy, and crispy taters with veggies ,too?.. what’s not to love?! Thanks for the recipe, Tiegan!

  7. 5 stars
    So easy and so delicious. It was a perfect, cozy Sunday dinner and I’m very excited to have leftovers for lunch.

    1. Hey Samantha,
      I am so glad this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for giving it a try! Have the best week. xTieghan

  8. 5 stars
    This is the only recipe I’ve made twice in over 3 years. Even the boyfriend got on board and he always eats the same boring thing every day.

    1. Hey Beatrix,
      I am so glad this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for giving it a try! Have the best week. xTieghan

  9. 5 stars
    Well I’m from Minnesota and I know casseroles, especially tater tot casserole and this is no “you betcha” casserole, it is AMAZING! I’m not going back to the cream of mushroom variety (granted, I did use Pacific brand organic cream of mushroom soup), this is now my go-to recipe. Thank you Tieghan!

  10. I had my husband prepare the One Skillet French Onion Tater Tot Casserole!!! He put all the cheese down before the tots, but it was still YUMMY!

  11. 5 stars
    By far my favorite comfort food dinner ever. I never buy tater tots but this recipe kept popping up.. I’ve made it every month since August! Yum.

  12. It takes an HOUR to caramelize onions!! After your 15 minutes, snapping and spitting well, they’re only limp with no browning AT ALL! So I googled what they’re supposed to look like and how long it’s supposed to take. WHY do you say “deeply caramelized” after only 15 minutes? How can I accomplish this? I turned up the heat (to a 4 on my stove, out of 6), and now they’re burning right away. I turned them back to 3.

    1. Hi Michelle! I am sorry these took longer than expected. It could be the altitude that I am at, because I am in the mountains. xTieghan