When my friend Scott announced he was preparing a tater tot casserole, my ears perked up. Tater tots? As in the crispy, little potato nuggets that I loved as a kid? I begged him to tell me more. A native of Nebraska, Scott says he grew up on tater tot casserole, and prepares the same recipe his mother made, which he happily shared with me. Scott’s tater tot casserole is a playful rendition of shepherd’s pie — ground beef, diced vegetables, canned soup and plenty of tater tots. It’s something the kid in all of us would enjoy… and here is my interpretation of the dish.
I created this recipe using a popular hash brown casserole as an inspiration, then added flavorful chicken sausages and sweet bell peppers to the mix. I used sun-dried tomato smoked sausages, but regular hot dogs or shredded chicken breast will substitute nicely. Serve this casserole with a side of steamed broccoli, lima beans or a fresh salad and you’ll have an easy comfort food favorite.
Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole
6 cups frozen tater tots
1 red bell pepper, diced
4-5 smoked chicken sausages, sliced
2 10-oz cans of cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 F. Spray or grease a 13×9 rectangular baking dish and set aside.
- In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and bell pepper over medium high heat. Add the sausages and saute until peppers are softened and sausages have toasted, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the condensed soup, sour cream and milk. Add the garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Once combined, add all the cheese, tater tots, peas and the sausage mixture. Mix until well combined.
- Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake, uncovered for 30-40 minutes. The casserole is done when the tots are slightly browned and the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.