Bacon Cheeseburger Sweet Potato Tater Tot Casserole is an easy weeknight one-skillet dinner inspired by our favorite cheat day meal. Everyone will love that it tastes like a bacon cheeseburger with sweet potato fries, and you’ll be pretty happy that you only have to clean one pan.
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You’re going to love this
Cast iron skillet recipe. The workhorse of this recipe is the cast iron skillet. It does everything from crisp the bacon, brown the hamburger, and bake the hotdish in the oven. No additional pans needed so clean-up is a snap.
Easy weeknight dinner. This is a super easy recipe to throw together on a weeknight, but fun and flavorful enough for a Friday night.
Super comforting. This may not be a classic Minnesota tater tot hotdish, but a bubbling skillet of ground beef, bacon, gooey cheese, and crispy tater tots is still pretty comforting.
Tater tot hotdish without condensed soup. If you know anything about the Midwest, then you might know about tater tot hotdish -- or what the rest of you call a casserole. Traditionally, it includes 3 non-negotiable ingredients: meat, condensed soup, and tater tots, baked in a 9x13 pan. Canned vegetables and cheese, optional. In this recipe, I skipped the condensed soup and baked it in a cast iron skillet. And called it a casserole. I may get kicked out of the state.
Bacon cheeseburger hotdish. So the inspiration for this recipe came from my husband’s favorite cheat day meal: a bacon cheeseburger with pepper jack cheese and sweet potato fries. So to make this more cheeseburger-esque, you’ll find tomato sauce & paste (standing in for ketchup) and Dijon mustard mixed in with the ground beef.
Sweet potato tater tots. Sweet potato fries are just so darned delicious. And thankfully they’re available in tot form. You could use regular tater tots, of course, but the sweet potato tater tots bring sweetness to the dish. And a creamier texture — which is nice when you’re making a comforting hot dish.
How to make Bacon Cheeseburger Sweet Potato Tater Tot Casserole
Cut the bacon into 1” pieces. Heat a 10 ½ inch cast iron skillet over medium heat and fry the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Keep 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the pan.
Next, brown the ground beef and onion in the bacon drippings in the cast iron skillet. Drain. Add 2 sliced green onions, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (optional), and salt and pepper. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until thickened.
Place ½ of the bacon over the ground beef mixture. Layer 1 cup of cheese over the bacon. Arrange the sweet potato tater tots over the cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Add one more cup of cheese over the tater tots and bake for 15-20 more minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
Top your sweet potato tater tot casserole with the remaining bacon and green onions. Serve and enjoy!
Bacon Cheeseburger Sweet Potato Tater Tot Casserole
- 12 oz. bacon, cut into 1" pieces
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 green onions, sliced -- divided
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- several dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 1 ½ bags sweet potato tater tots
- Cut the bacon into 1” pieces. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and fry the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Keep 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the pan.
- Next, brown the ground beef and onion in the bacon drippings in the cast iron skillet. Drain. Add 2 sliced green onions, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (optional), and salt and pepper. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until thickened.
- Place ½ of the bacon over the ground beef mixture. Layer 1 cup of cheese over the bacon. Arrange the sweet potato tater tots over the cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Add one more cup of cheese over the tater tots and bake for 15-20 more minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
- Top your sweet potato tater tot hotdish with the remaining bacon and green onions. Serve and enjoy!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Bacon. If you prefer not to use bacon, you could use pancetta, smoked sausage, ham, or Canadian bacon.
Tater tots. You can definitely substitute regular tater tots for the sweet potato tater tots in this hotdish.
Ground beef. Any kind of ground meat will taste delicious in this tater tot hotdish recipe. You can use ground pork, turkey, or chicken. A lot of people worry about using ground turkey or chicken in recipes because they think it will be dry or flavorless. Since the ground meat is browned in bacon fat, and then simmered in a rich sauce, your result should be plenty moist and flavorful.
Dijon mustard. I use Dijon mustard because that’s what I always have. But yellow or spicy brown mustard will absolutely work. So will dry mustard powder. Just use 1 teaspoon of dry for every tablespoon of prepared mustard.
Worcestershire sauce. Worcestershire sauce is one of those things that you might think is always in the door of the fridge, even if it isn’t. Or wait, is that just me? I’ve used soy sauce as a replacement before in this tater tot recipe, which added the rich umami flavor I was going for. Check out even more substitutes for Worcestershire sauce here.
Pepper jack cheese. Whatever kind of cheese you love on your cheeseburger will be great on this sweet potato tater tot casserole. Just pick a melty one, like American, cheddar, provolone, Gouda, brie, or Monterey Jack. I went with pepper jack because it’s what Mr. Lanz prefers on his bacon cheeseburgers :). By the way, if anyone else is a word nerd like me and wondering why Monterey Jack is capitalized, but pepper jack is not, read this article that clears it up.
Green onions. I love the freshness that green onions add to any savory cooked dish. And I use them a lot. But there are other things you can add to the top of your sweet potato tater tot casserole that would also taste really great, such as sliced jalapenos, cilantro or parsley, chives, or sour cream. Or you could continue on the whole “cheeseburger” theme and add chopped lettuce, tomato, and pickles — or whatever you would normally put on your cheeseburger bun.
A typical tater tot hotdish has a layer of condensed soup — or a creamy sauce of some sort. And sometimes, this can cause the tater tots to get soggy on the bottom. By replacing the sauce with a layer of cheese, you increase your chances of crispy tots and no soggy bottoms.
To understand the origin of tater tot hotdish, we should first start with the origin of hotdish itself. This ubiquitous Midwestern dish, aka casserole to the rest of the country, is believed to have gotten its first mention in a 1930 Minnesota church cookbook. Sounds right. It was a baked dish of ground beef, onions, canned vegetables, canned soup, and macaroni. Again, sounds right.
While this may be the first mention of the word hotdish, it is likely Midwestern families have been feasting on these thrifty one-dish wonders since the 1910s as a way to stretch a pound of meat in support of WW1 food conservation efforts.
Then in the 1950s, the tater tot was invented, and hotdish never looked the same. Sure, we still top our hotdishes with crushed up potato chips or crispy canned onion rings, but nothing will measure up to the tater tot. But why? Is it the crunchy softness? The satisfyingly symmetrical rows? A reason to put ketchup on our hotdish? I’d say it’s all of the above. But more than anything, it’s the soul-comforting feels baked in that bubbly-hot 9x13 pan that makes a good ol’ tater tot hotdish a Minnesota dinnertime staple.
Growing up, our version of tater tot hotdish consisted of hamburger, cream of mushroom soup, and tater tots. Some people put canned vegetables in theirs. We did not. So a fresh salad and vegetable side dish would round out the meal and add some crunch and color to your plate. Because I think we can all agree that as delicious as hotdish is, it ain’t pretty.
You sure can! You can freeze the assembled hotdish before you bake it — right in the cast iron skillet, if you want — or freeze your leftovers. Here’s how.
To freeze before baking, prepare this hotdish recipe through simmering the hamburger mixture. If you are freezing it in the cast iron skillet, let it cool completely in the skillet. Otherwise, place the hamburger mixture in a 9x9 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Once the ground beef mixture has cooled, add the bacon, cheese, and sweet potato tater tots. Tightly wrap it in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and freeze it for up to three months. When it’s time to bake, remove the foil and plastic wrap and bake it from frozen (you don’t want the tots to thaw), so allow extra time to bake. Check that the internal temperature reaches 165.
To freeze after baking, tightly wrap your cooled leftovers in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and freeze for 2-3 months.
You can reheat your tater tot hotdish in the oven— which is the recommended method, to keep your tater tots nice and crispy. Just heat the oven to 350, cover the hotdish with foil, and heat for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165.
You can also reheat it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes per serving, depending on the settings on your microwave. Just know that your tater tots will lose their crispiness in the microwave. Again, make sure it reaches the internal temperature of 165.
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
Get a good cast iron skillet and it will last longer than you will. They're great for searing meats, baking cobblers, or cooking veggies on the grill. Or making bacon cheeseburger sweet potato tater tot casserole :).
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