Tater Tot Hotdish is a comfort food staple in my home state of Minnesota. This version is free of the most common food allergens but every bit as hearty and delicious as the original version. What's even better is it isn't made with canned condensed soup and can be more easily customized.
If you live in Minnesota, there are two things that you must embrace: the cold winters and hotdish (known as casseroles to you non-Minnesotans). Hotdishes, including tater tot hotdish, consist of a protein like chicken or beef and a starch like rice, noodles, or potatoes. The combination is then mixed together with a can or two of condensed cream soup.
DIY Condensed Soup
I have yet to come across a hotdish that doesn't call for cream-of-something condensed soup. When we started eating with food allergies, I figured hotdishes were out of the picture for good. (And, yes, I was sad about that...really!) Then, I tried this cream of mushroom soup recipe and discovered that this stuff doesn't have to come from a can...I can make it!
One night, I wanted to make our family fave, tater tot hotdish. Unfortunately, I didn't have any cream of mushroom soup prepared or stored in the freezer. I decided to go another route to substitute the cream soup. I made a beef gravy with dairy-free margarine, gluten-free all-purpose flour, and gluten-free beef broth. It worked really well and was pretty easy to make!
Easy Dinner After a Little Work Up Front
Even though this dish doesn't take too long to put together, it does need to bake for an hour. I like to prepare this meal the night before we plan to have it. Yes, that usually means making two meals in one night. Yes, it sounds a little crazy but hear me out.
I often make this when I'm cooking something else with ground turkey or beef like Instant Pot Pasta, tacos, or gluten and dairy-free turkey stroganoff. I brown 2 pounds of meat, divide it, and make my two separate dishes.
Then, I assemble my hotdish, cover it with foil, and put it in the refrigerator until we're ready to bake it. Yes, it's work upfront but a time saver in the long run.
This is also a go-to meal strategy when I'm working late and my hubby and kids are fending for themselves. All they have to do is preheat the oven, put the hotdish in, eat...and do the dishes!
Variations of Tator Tot Hotdish
You can vary this recipe quite a bit depending on your individual tastes and allergies. Here are a few ideas for altering it:
Use ground turkey instead of ground beef
If you are allergic to beef but are able to have poultry, go ahead and make that swap. I actually make this most often with ground turkey because that is what I happen to have on hand most of the time. Using ground turkey also means the dish will be lower in saturated fat. That's not always a concern for people with food allergies but if another family member needs to follow a heart-healthy diet, this is a great option!
Add extra vegetables
Some people might say that vegetables are not an important part of a hotdish. I would agree that traditionally, veggies aren't the main event in this type of dish. With that said, I'm a dietitian so I like to figure out ways to get those veggies in. They're so good for you! Yes, even starchy vegetables like corn and peas have beneficial vitamins and minerals. When I make this, I often double the mixed vegetables. I know...crazy! You could also try different types of vegetables.
Now this extra tidbit might get me exiled from Minnesota but...I often have a salad alongside my tater tot hotdish. A green salad with lots of vegetables in it! I've gotta have my veggies.
Minnesota Style Comfort Food
While you won't find tater tot hotdish (or any other hotdish for that matter) suitable for fine dining, it is good old-fashioned comfort food that satisfies a hearty appetite. If you want to eat this dish as Minnesotans do, serve with ketchup (you betcha!)
Tater Tot Hotdish
- Cooking spray
- 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 3 tablespoons "safe" margarine such as Earth Balance
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose gluten free flour
- 2 cups gluten free beef or chicken broth
- 1 12 ounce package frozen mixed vegetables
- 16 ounces frozen tater tots
- Spray a 13x9 inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
- In a skillet, brown the ground beef or turkey over medium-high heat. Drain fat. Add the onion and saute until tender. Place this mixture in the casserole dish.
- In the skillet, melt 3 tablespoons margarine. Sprinkle the flour over it and whisk together for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in half of the broth. Allow mixture to bubble and thicken and add more broth until the mixture is the consistency of thick gravy.
- Pour mixture over beef/turkey mixture in the casserole dish and mix together. Next, cover beef/turkey mixture with frozen mixed vegetables. Then, top with enough tater tots to cover the entire vegetable layer.
- Cover the casserole and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and bake an additional 15 minutes at 425 degrees or until the tater tots are golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately.