This easy Jalapeño Tater Tot Casserole recipe will quickly become a family favorite in your household! We love it because it’s a delicious, easy-to-make dish that’s also very budget-friendly. You start by layering tater tots, ground beef, jalapeño, and cheese in a casserole dish. Then, bake in the oven until the tater tots are crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbly. How simple is that?!
The result is a flavorful and filling meal that’s sure to please the entire family. This simple dish is packed full of flavor and texture. The jalapeños give the dish a little kick, while crispy tater tots provide a satisfying crunchy texture, and you can’t forget the gooey cheese to pull everything together. In short, this casserole is a crowd-pleaser. Plus, with just six ingredients, you should be able to make this meal for just a few dollars per serving on even the smallest of budgets.
As a frugal family, we learned that staying within your monthly budget and planning out your meals is one of the best things you can do to not overspend on groceries. If you need more ideas for dirt cheap meals for the family, don’t miss our monthly meal plan on a budget free printable to help you stay on track!
Now, let’s jump into our Jalapeño Tater Tot Casserole recipe! You can read through all of the steps and variations on the dish, or hit the link below to go straight to the recipe for quick access.
How to Make Jalapeño Tater Tot Casserole
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large skillet over medium heat, break apart and brown ground beef. I highly recommend this handy meat chopper to break up the meat with little effort, it’s 100% one of my most used kitchen tools! Next, drain and discard excess fat once the meat is fully cooked.
After you’ve drained the beef, transfer the browned meat back to the skillet. Then add the cream of mushroom soup, diced tomatoes with green chilies, and sliced jalapeños (drain the juice if using jarred jalapeño before adding).
Spread the mixture from the skillet evenly inside a 9×13 casserole dish.
Next, top the skillet mixture with a single layer of cheese.
Sprinkle a few additional jalapeños over the cheese to taste.
Then, you’ll add a single layer of frozen tater tots to completely cover the cheese layer. Place on the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes to bake. The cheese will begin to bubble and the tots will start to brown indicating it is almost ready.
Pull from the oven when ready and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
FAQs for Jalapeño Tater Tot Casserole
Will the jalapeños be too spicy for kids to eat?
Unlike fresh jalapeños, pickled jalapeños add a nice salty/savory flavor to your casserole and tend to be more mild than fresh jalapeños. Every child’s taste preferences are different so use your judgement when planning to serve this and add more or less jalapeños based on your family’s preference!
Can I use fresh jalapeños?
Yes, you can use fresh jalapeños but your casserole will most likely be more spicy. The capsaicin found in jalapeños is much stronger when they are fresh so you will definitely need to adjust the recommended measurements in this recipe so that it is not too spicy to enjoy! I would recommend cutting the recommended jalapeños by half if using fresh jalapeños for this dish.
What is the best way to store Jalapeño Tater Tot Casserole?
You can store this dish in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.
What is the best way to reheat this casserole?
Reheat the entire portion uncovered in the oven at 350 for about 20-30 minutes. If you want to heat a small portion for a quick & easy lunch the next day, pop your desired amount in the microwave. Just place it on a plate for about 1 to 2 minutes on high. Keep in mind your tater tots will likely turn out much softer and lose their crunchy texture.
Can this be frozen and served later?
Absolutely! The optimal way to freeze this recipe is to prepare it ahead of time and then freeze BEFORE cooking it. This locks in the freshness and especially the texture of the tater tots for a crispy top layer upon serving.
However, you can fully cook the casserole in advance and then store it in an air-tight container in the freezer for up to four months. The tater tots may be a bit softer if you go this route but still very tasty to enjoy! Just be sure to allow it to thaw for a full day in the refrigerator before reheating it.
What can you serve with Jalapeño Tater Tot Casserole?
For a complimentary side, plan to add a green salad and/or fresh or frozen vegetables to make an excellent side dish to this comforting meal.
Can this casserole be made in a Slow Cooker, Crock-Pot, or Instant Pot?
You can prepare SOME of this dish in a slow cooker or Instant Pot to cut down on meal prep time at the stove. You can add all of the “skillet” ingredients in the slow cooker or Instant Pot and then finish off the last steps with the cheese and tater tots in the oven for an optimal texture. While it would be safe to add the cheese and tater tots to a slow cooker, the texture will be very different (much softer).
Which ingredients can be substituted?
- Go ahead and swap Ground Turkey beef if desired.
- Feel free to use any cream soup can be substituted for cream of mushroom soup. Or you can go in the direction of a Jalapeño Popper Tater Tot Casserole and replace the soup with a block of cream cheese!
- Shredded cheddar cheese makes a great substitute for sliced cheese, however, the sliced cheese will be just a little melty-er.
- You can use fresh jalapeños instead of jarred jalapeños but plan to add MUCH less for this recipe due to the spice level being higher with fresh jalapeños (aim for about half the recommended amount).
- Use shredded hash browns instead of tater tots.
- Feel free to substitute canned diced tomatoes without chilies. This overall taste will be less mild than using canned tomatoes with chilies as recommended in the recipe.
Jalapeño Tater Tot Casserole
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 1 10.5oz can Cream of Mushroom Soup
- 1 10oz can Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies
- 1 12oz jar Sliced Pickled Jalapeño
- 1 12oz package Sliced American Cheese
- 1 32oz bag Frozen Tater Tots
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, break apart and brown ground beef. Drain and discard excess fat.
- Transfer browned meat back to the skillet. Then add the cream of mushroom soup, diced tomatoes & green chilies, and finally 1/2 cup of sliced jalapeños (drain the juice from the jarred jalapeños before adding).
- Spread the mixture evenly inside a 9×13 casserole dish.
- Top the mixture with a single layer of cheese.
- Sprinkle a few additional jalapeños over the cheese to taste.
- Top with a single layer of frozen tater tots so the cheese is completely covered.
- Place on the center rack of the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
- The cheese will begin to bubble and the tots will start to brown indicating it is almost ready.
- Pull from the oven when ready and let cool for 5-10 minutes then ENJOY!
Are you getting hungry yet? I’m practically drooling over here just typing up this recipe to share with y’all! It’s THAT good! And you may be saying, “I would have never though to add sliced American cheese” to a casserole but I’m telling you: don’t knock it until you try it!
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We love to hear from our readers so be sure to come back and let us know in the comments what you thought of the recipe after you made it!
Kristen Wood says
This was so comforting and flavorful. The whole family loved it! 🙂
Yay! I call that a win. Thanks for sharing!
This was such a easy way to turn a bag of tater tots into dinner! Haha my husband and kiddo loved it too
Who would have thought you could use tater tot in a casserole?! So glad the crew liked it.
This casserole was right up my alley! Comfort food with a bit of spice. Perfect! We ate it all up.
Exactly…we love comfort food with a kick too! Thanks for sharing!
I love that the tater tots in this recipe don’t get soggy! My family wiped the dish clean so I’ll definitely be making this again.
Soggy tater tots remind me of school lunch in the cafeteria…yuck! We definitely had to make sure they were CRISPY in this recipe. So glad you all enjoyed it!
Elizabeth S says
This was really good and EASY! I used fresh jalapeno but did remove the seeds from half the slices (I didn’t want it too spicy). This recipe is definitely a keeper!
Thanks for sharing how that went with the fresh jalapeno! Glad it worked out well!