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Healthy Tater Tot Casserole with Veggies (No Canned Soup)

This healthy tater tot casserole (or tater tot hotdish, as we call it in Minnesota!) is an iconic Midwestern comfort food classic. Our take on this traditional casserole is high-protein, packed with veggies, and uses no cream soup. Topped with crispy tater tots, this casserole is a delicious and easy weeknight meal the whole family will love!

white plate of serving of healthy tater tot casserole topped with sourcream and green onion on wooden cutting board

Tater tot hotdish is an old family favorite my mom regularly made growing up, and it’s hands down one of the best casserole recipes. It’s kind of like a shepherd’s pie, but with tater tots instead of mashed potatoes. Tater tots make everything better!

Once I had kids of my own, they all loved it as one of their first foods, too! Before they entered the picky toddler stage, all three of my kids could go to town on this casserole. Once we got into those toddler years, there were more struggles but, hey, this is baby-approved. 😉

However, it’s no secret that most casseroles are higher in calories and lower in protein. They’re often loaded with fat and processed ingredients. This healthier tater tot casserole aims to fix that. Now, you can have one of the most iconic Midwestern comfort meals any time you want without derailing your daily macro targets!

Cleaning Up this Casserole

One of the main fixes I wanted to make to the original recipe my mom made was to eliminate the can of cream of mushroom soup. While these canned soups are convenient, this casserole is certainly easy enough to make without them. Not to mention it shaves off a few hundred calories from the entire dish! This is helpful for those on a reduced-calorie diet.

This classic comfort food is a complete meal. I use lean ground beef to keep this casserole as high-protein as possible for fewer calories. 93/7 or 96/4 ground beef is the perfect choice for this casserole. Ground turkey would also be another lean choice.

To load this casserole with unobtrusive veggies, make sure to finely dice them. Onion, bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, grated carrot, and sweet corn give an amazing flavor profile to this casserole. They not only contribute to the classic flavors, but these veggies add nutrients and fiber to the final dish.

Finely dicing these is key, especially if you have some veggie haters in your family, or if you are trying to replicate the taste and texture of the classic hot dish with this healthy tater tot casserole recipe. I recommend this veggie chopper. It’s cheap and has so many great uses, and it’s what I used to prep all the veggies needed for this recipe. My husband absolutely hates mushrooms, but when I chop them super small with my veggie chopper, he doesn’t even know they’re in there. He requests this for dinner all the time!

overhead view of full tater tot hotdish in blue pan on wooden table

Ingredients

To make this healthy tater tot casserole, gather the following ingredients:

  • Lean Ground Beef – I use 93/7 for most beef dishes.
  • Veggies – Red bell pepper, zucchini, carrot, baby bella mushrooms, frozen sweet corn, garlic, and green onion for garnish.
  • A lot of Tater Tots – Pretty important for a tater tot hotdish! Use whatever brand you like.
  • Roux Ingredients – Olive oil, flour, skim milk, and water replace our need for canned soup concentrate.
  • Better than Bouillon Beef Base – This adds a delicious beef flavor to our roux.
  • Spices & Seasonings – Salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder
all the ingredients for healthy tater tot casserole in a wicker basket against black background

Instructions

To make this healthier tater tot casserole, follow the instructions below:

hand holding diced veggies from veggie chopper over wooden cutting board

1. Chop Veggies

Chop the bell pepper, zucchini, and mushroom into small pieces. I recommend a veggie chopper, but you can also do this by hand with a sharp knife. Finely grate the carrot into small shreds. Mince the garlic cloves.

skillet of browning ground beef and blue spatula

2. Brown Beef

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add 2 lbs lean ground beef. Cook, breaking the meat apart, until it is golden brown. Drain any fat. Remove the beef from the skillet and set aside.

skillet of diced veggies cooking with blue spatula

3. Cook Veggies

Add the diced bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, grated carrot, minced garlic, and frozen sweet corn kernels to the skillet. Cook until soft. While veggies are cooking, you can make the roux.

saucepan of roux with metal whisk

4. Make Roux

Heat a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil and flour. Stir to get all of the flour absorbed in the oil and to keep the flour mixture from burning. Cook for one minute, then add 1 1/2 cups of skim milk and 1 1/2 cups of water, 2 tsp Better than Bouillon Beef Base, and all of the seasonings & spices. Use a whisk to combine, and cook over medium heat until it reaches a low boil, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.

pouring roux over beef and veggies in skillet

5. Make Meat Mixture

After the veggies are soft and the roux is thickened, add the browned meat back to the veggie skillet and pour the roux over top. Stir to combine, and turn off the heat.

assembling tater tots in rows on top of casserole in blue 9x13 dish

6. Assemble Casserole

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray, then pour your meat mixture into the bottom and spread it evenly. Add the tater tots in a single layer on top. Arrange them in even rows. Top the tater tots with a sprinkling of salt to taste if desired.

placing healthy tater tot casserole into the oven

7. Bake

Bake your healthy tater tot casserole for 20-25 minutes, or until your tater tots are golden brown.

white plate of serving of healthy tater tot casserole topped with sourcream and green onion on wooden cutting board

8. Serve

When the casserole is done baking, remove your baking dish from the oven. Your hot dish is ready to serve! Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, slices of green onion, or chopped fresh herbs like parsley if desired.

Tips & Variations

If you’re not up for dicing and slicing a bunch of veggies, you can always use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables in this dish. Choose the variety with the small bites of peas, carrots, corn, and cut green beans. You don’t want to use large veggies in the casserole, or it may not hold together well when dishing it out.

​Cheese or No Cheese?

There is a bit of a debate about whether this hot dish should have cheese or not. The way I grew up eating this was with NO cheese, and I believe that is pretty standard for the classic dish. However, who am I to stop you from adding cheese? Cheese is delicious. If you’d like to add cheese to this casserole, you can add 2 cups of reduced-fat cheddar cheese underneath the tater tot layer.

Serving Suggestions & Comfort Food Classics

Want to try some other healthier comfort food remakes? For dinners, try my ranch chicken poutine, my high-protein pasta bake, or my high-protein pizza recipe!

For some hearty & healthy breakfast remakes, try my healthy biscuits and gravy or my high-protein French toast casserole.

white plate of serving of healthy tater tot casserole topped with sourcream and green onion on wooden cutting board

Nutritional Information

This easy tater tot casserole recipe makes 8 servings. For one serving, the nutritional information is as follows:

  • ​Calories: 469
  • Protein: 30 grams
  • Fat: 21 grams (5.6 grams saturated)
  • Carbs: 40 grams
  • Fiber: 3.8 grams

Recipe Notes

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Leftovers are good for 3-4 days when stored in the fridge.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Please leave a comment and review! It means the world!

white plate of serving of healthy tater tot casserole topped with sourcream and green onion on wooden cutting board
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Healthy Tater Tot Casserole

This healthy remake of the classic casserole is hearty and wholesome, with real ingredients and lots of veggies!
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: casserole, comfort food, healthy comfort food, hot dish, tater tot casserole, tater tot hotdish, without cream of soup
Servings: 8
Calories: 469kcal
Author: Holly Lee
Cost: $25

Ingredients

  • 1 large Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 medium Zucchini
  • 4 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 1 medium Carrot
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 lbs Lean Ground Beef 93/7 or 96/4
  • 1 cup Frozen Sweet Corn Kernels
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Flour Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Skim Milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Water **See Notes
  • 2 tsp Better than Bouillon Beef Base **See Notes
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt more to taste
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 30 ounces Frozen Tater Tots
  • 2 Green Onions for garnish, if desired

Instructions

  • Chop the bell pepper, zucchini, and mushroom into small pieces. Finely grate the carrot into small shreds. Mince the garlic cloves.
  • Heat a skillet to medium heat and add 2 lbs lean ground beef. Cook, breaking the meat apart, until it is golden brown. Drain any fat. Remove the beef from the skillet and set aside.
  • Add the diced bell pepper, zucchini, mushrooms, grated carrot, minced garlic, and frozen sweet corn kernels to the skillet. Cook until soft. While veggies are cooking, you can make the roux.
  • Heat a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil and flour. Stir to get all of the flour absorbed in the oil and to keep the flour mixture from burning. Cook for one minute, then add the skim milk and water, 2 tsp Better than Bouillon Beef Base, and all of the seasonings & spices. Use a whisk to combine, and cook over medium heat until it reaches a low boil, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.
  • After the veggies are soft and the roux is thickened, add the browned meat back to the veggie skillet and pour the roux over top. Stir to combine, and turn off heat.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray, then pour your meat mixture into the bottom and spread it evenly. Add the tater tots in a single layer on top. Arrange them in even rows. Sprinkle a small amount of salt on top of the tater tot rows if desired.
  • Bake your healthy tater tot casserole for 20-25 minutes, or until your tater tots are golden brown.
  • When the casserole is done baking, remove your baking dish from the oven. Your hot dish is ready to serve! Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, slices of green onion, or chopped fresh herbs like parsley if desired.

Video

Notes

If you do not have the Better than Bouillon Beef Base paste, or prefer not to use it, you can omit it but use 1 1/2 cups beef broth INSTEAD of the 1 1/2 cups water.

Nutrition

Calories: 469kcal

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