This healthier tater tot casserole is full of ground turkey, delicious homemade sauce, and easy frozen veggies! This recipe comes together quickly and is a hearty, comforting dinner recipe.
This one is for you, TNNers.
As a born and breed Maine girl, I honestly had never heard about a tater tot casserole until a few years ago. But after I shared with you all on Instagram stories that I bought some frozen tater tot for my daughter to try, the requests for a veggie-loaded healthier tater tot casserole (often called a hot dish…I learned that) recipe came FLOODING in. So many of you asked for it, so I set to work learning about the midwest classic comfort food and figuring out how to put a veggie-loaded twist on it.
This recipe was a team effort with my pal Heather Staller, who helped test and perfect this seriously delicious casserole recipe. What we created together is a healthier version of the classic tater tot casserole. Loaded with frozen mixed veggies and frozen cauliflower rice to make veggie-loading easy breezy for you all, this tot casserole tastes somewhere between a Shepherd’s pie and a potpie and is allllllll the delicious comfort food you TNNers made it out to be. It is easy to make dairy-free and gluten free and works great as leftovers or to feed a crowd.
Why this healthier tator tot casserole is amazing….
- Made with ground turkey. I lightened up the classic tater tot casserole recipe by making this version with ground turkey. If you find ground turkey recipes kinda blah, don’t worry! The seasoning worked into the casserole ensures it is flavorful as well as healthy.
- Packed with frozen veggies. I love fresh veggies, but sometimes I love to learn on the easy of frozen vegetables when making a meal. This healthier tater tot casserole comes together extra fast since it uses mixed frozen veggies and frozen cauliflower rice….meaning there is next to no veggie prep!
- Flavorful. A hearty flavor that just screams cozy and comforting.
- Easy to make. This healthier tater tot casserole is made from lots of fridge and freezer staples. It is prepped and read to go into the oven with just 15 minutes of work and its done cooking in 20 minutes….making it the perfect veggie-loaded weeknight dinner.
- Works great as leftovers. Cook once, eat twice. I love making a sizable casserole for dinner and then know the leftovers will be there to enjoy for lunches or another night. This casserole keeps great, though the tater tots need a little crisping up in the oven when you reheat it!
- It can easily be made gluten free or dairy-free. See the suggested adaptations section below.
Cheese on top? Or under the tots? Both? Maybe not at all?
Thanks to all of you, I learned that there are many many ways to make a tater tot casserole and where the cheese goes (or if there is cheese at all) is a passionate subject.
And seems to be a personal choice!
Many recipes that I found while researching this recipe have the cheese on top of the tots. Which is delicious and melty, but in the TNN version of tater tot casserole, I opted to put the cheese under the tots so that they could get all crisp in the oven.
But you can totally modify the cheese to where YOU and your crew like it best. Put it on the top. Put it under the tots. Or do a little of both. Many of you messaged me that the versions you make don’t have cheese at all….so you can omit if that is what you love or works best for your dietary needs.
Make this with ground beef. Not a fan of turkey? Use a pound of ground beef instead of the ground turkey in this healthier tator tot casserole. If there is a lot of fat in the pan after sautéing the beef, you can drain that before continuing with the rest of the recipe.
Make this tator tot casserole vegetarian. I have not tried any vegetarian subs for this recipe. However, I think cooked lentils, mushrooms, or a combination of both of those would be a great texture and flavor substitute for the ground meat.
Make it dairy free. Use all broth instead of adding milk. For the cheese, you can use a dairy-free cheese or leave out the cheese. Many tator tot casseroles don’t use cheese at all!
Use fresh vegetables instead of froze. Cook a finely diced large carrot with the onion in the beginning of the recipe then you can add peas and corn if you wish. You can get creative and use whatever vegetables you have on hand: mushrooms, peppers, green beans, cauliflower would all be great. Just make sure your vegetables are tender before you bake them with the tater tot topping.
Use sweet potato tater tots. Either store bought or homemade!
Make this gluten free by using gluten free tater tots. Tater tots are made from potatoes, but often contain wheat. If you need gluten free, be sure to read the ingredients on the bag and/or check to make sure they are certified gluten free.
Can I make this casserole ahead of time?
Absolutely! I love to make this healthier tater tot ahead. You can prep in the night before and store it covered in your oven until you are ready to bake it. Or cook it ahead and enjoy it a little at a time for days to come.
To reheat, I liked to throw the casserole dish into a 325℉ oven covered in foil to warm up for about 15 minutes. Take the foil off, and place back into the oven for another 5 to let the tots crisp a bit.
You can microwave the leftovers of this healthier tater tot casserole, but the tots won’t have a crispness to them like it does fresh from the oven.
Other veggie-loaded casserole recipes you will adore
- Veggie-Loaded Quinoa Black Bean Casserole
- Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole
- Baked Pasta with Eggplant
- Vegetarian Breakfast Casserole
- Easy Chicken Broccoli Casserole
- Ranch Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Healthier Tater Tot Casserole (with veggies)
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped, about 1 1/2 cups
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 1 pound ground turkey preferable dark meat
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 12 ounces frozen mixed vegetables
- 1 cup frozen riced cauliflower
- 1 cup milk any kind or additional broth
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper.
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 24-38 ounces frozen tater tots sometimes called potato puffs
- Preheat oven to 400℉. Lightly grease a large casserole dish (about 9-by-12 inch pan) with oil.
- Heat oil in a large pot or skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion then sprinkle with ½ tsp of salt. Saute until onion is soft, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add ground turkey and break up into crumbles while browning. Once turkey is cooked, stir in garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, frozen vegetables, cauliflower rice, and milk.
- In a small bowl or large measuring cup, mix cornstarch with broth, making sure no clumps remain at the bottom. Add the cornstarch-broth mixture into the pot and bring up to a simmer.
- Simmer for 5 minutes to thicken, stirring occasionally. Season with another ¼ tsp of salt and a ¼ tsp ground pepper. Taste and add additional seasoning as desired.
- Spread the turkey and vegetable mixture in the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese then lay the tater tots in rows on the top.
- Bake until tater tots are crispy and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to sit for 5 minutes then serve.
The nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and may vary based on the product type, servings and other factors. If you are following a diet, please consult with a professional nutritionist or your doctor. Stay healthy!