This casserole is one of those casseroles that my family just can’t get enough of! Oooey~goooey, creamy and delicious. Loaded with chunks of Chicken and Bacon in a super Creamy Sauce then topped with Cheesy Tater Tots!
When I think of tater tot casserole, I think about the dish my mom used to put on the table when I was a kid. We use to call it “chicken tater tot hotdish”—yum! It was quick for her to make, and left a host of friends and I stuffed and smiling. Yes, tater tot casserole is a dish that summons up all kind of nostalgia. And this cheesy chicken tater tot casserole recipe falls right in with the pattern.
Scoop a heaping helping onto your plate and you’ll notice that your mouth is beginning to water. That’s the succulent smell of ooey-gooey cheese and bacon, a creamy ranch sauce, and tender chicken—and crispy tater tots, of course. Sounds pretty good, right?
My mom served this when I had friends over, and I love serving it when my kids have friends over. It’s a crowd pleasure, the whole family loves it. It’s also perfect for a potluck—quick, large, and easy to transport. This is the kind of recipe that sits right in the middle of the potluck line, between the appetizers and the desserts, but is gone in just a few minutes. Scraped clean.
This is the kind of dish that makes people bemoan not having seconds.
When I put this dish down at a potluck, I’ll usually label it “chicken bacon tater tot casserole,” just to highlight the addition of an ingredient not often found in similar dishes. Indeed, the bacon is really key to this version of chicken casserole. It’s the perfect cherry on top of a fantastic blend of homey, rich flavors.
My family loves this casserole as written, and I get a lot of requests for it. Occasionally I like to add 16 ounces of either chopped frozen broccoli (for a delicious chicken broccoli tater tot casserole) or peas and carrots. Adding vegetables is always nice because they’re so darn healthy. And, in this dish, none of my picky eaters will give a second thought to them.
Chicken tater tot casserole is a uniquely handy recipe to have around. Because it’s so popular (and so non-divisive), it’s a pretty safe bet to go with come crunch time. When your kids are fighting about what to eat? Chicken tater tot casserole. When you just can’t decide what to bring to your book club’s potluck? Chicken tater tot casserole. When your mom calls last minute and needs to you bring dinner to the family reunion? Chicken tater tot casserole.
Give it a try. I think you’ll find it as delicious and useful as I have.
Chicken: In chicken tater tot casserole, ingredients sort of blend together, mixing and smooshing into a delicious heap of creamy, cheesy goodness. Because of this, you don’t need to be picky about the kind of chicken you use. Really any cooked chicken you happen to have on hand is perfect for this dish. (Yes, you can use leftovers!)
If you want to be really specific, rotisserie chicken works pretty darn well with this recipe. Of course it goes without saying that I love rotisserie chickens. They’re almost always cooked to near perfection, and the whole of the chicken—all the meat—is seasoned and delicious. (That means that it’s not just the skin that tastes good.) When I’m out shopping, I try to always pick up an extra rotisserie chicken for use in recipes like this one. They’re pretty handy to have around.
Grilled chicken is also delicious in this recipe. I always seem to have some leftover, too. Stocked in some Tupperware or a Ziploc bag in my fridge, just waiting to be used in a chicken dish. This is especially true after a big family barbeque. Whenever I find myself with leftover grilled chicken, I pull out a shortlist of recipes that can use the grilled chicken well. Guess what? This recipe for chicken tater tot casserole is one on that shortlist.
If you’re really ambitious and want to start with uncooked chicken… well, good for you! It’s still pretty easy to use. It doesn’t matter if you poach the chicken, chop it, or shred it. Whatever works for you.
Adding Vegetables: I haven’t added any vegetables in the recipe below, but, adding cooked or thawed frozen veggies makes a great addition to this casserole!!! If you choose to add the extra vegetables, just make sure you thaw them and drain them with extra care. You don’t want any extra water in this dish—it dilutes the cheese and sauce, thinning away that wonderful creaminess that makes this recipe so good.
Adding vegetables has the extra benefit of eliminating the need for a side dish. That’s why I often add them when I’m running short on time. Broccoli especially helps to fill the recipe out in nutrition and substance, making sure no one goes away hungry.
Tater Tots: Kids can be picky sometimes. And irrational. If you’ve had a kid simply decide they don’t like something, then you know how hard it can be to get them to eat anything with that ingredient in it. A friend of mine told me her son decided at a young age that he hated hamburger, and would cry and scream when they tried to give him a cheeseburger or a hamburger pizza. To solve this problem, they simply started referring to the meat as “beef.” They weren’t feeding him hamburger; they were feeding him beef. A similar tactic can be used in this recipe. If you have or know a child that has decided they can’t stand tater tots, getting them to eat a tater tot casserole can be functionally impossible. Instead, just make the recipe with hashbrowns. I’m sure that kid won’t take any issue with chicken hashbrown casserole. Kids are funny that way J
Cooking: When cooking this recipe for chicken tater tot casserole, ovens need to be watched carefully. There are some pretty specific baking instructions in the recipe, and while you won’t ruin the dish by leaving the cover on the whole time (as an example), it certainly won’t have the texture that you’re looking for. Because casseroles are so thick and often have many layers, you want to follow the baking instructions on your recipe as best you can.
Source: Gonna Want Seconds
- Yield: Serves 6
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
Chicken Tater Tot Casserole
- Cream of Chicken Soup - 2 Cans
- Sour Cream - 1 Cup
- Milk - 1/2 Cup
- Worcestershire Sauce - 2 Teaspoons
- Lemon Juice - 1 Tablespoon
- Bacon, Cooked and Chopped - 6-8 Slices
- Ranch Dressing Mix - 1 (1 Ounce) Package
- Black Pepper - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Chicken, Cooked and Cut into Large Cubes - 3 Cups
- Frozen Tater Tots - 1 (32 Ounce) Package
- Cheddar Cheese, Shredded - 1 1/2 Cups
- Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped (Optionsal) - 1/4 Cup
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the soup, sour cream, milk, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, bacon, ranch dressing mix, and black pepper until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chicken and broccoli. Transfer into prepared baking dish. Top with Tater Tots then cheese.
- Cover the casserole and bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes or until heated through and golden.
- Top with parsley and serve.