This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
This cheesy tater tot casserole with brisket takes care of your cravings in one dish! Leftover brisket combines with homemade queso for a dish the whole family loves.
Y’all know I follow the 80/20 rule, right? The one where we try to eat nutrient-dense foods, lots of veggies, et cetera, 80 percent of the time, and splurge 20 percent? Well, my friends, this falls squarely on the 20 percent side.
Tater tot casserole (or hotdish if you’re from Minnesota) is one of those comfort-food dishes those of us who hail from the Midwest are pretty familiar with. We had it a lot as a kid and to tell the truth, I was never a fan.
This is mainly due to the fact that the traditional recipe is made with cream of mushroom soup, and I was a staunch opponent of all things mushroom.
Cream of mushroom soup has teeny-tiny pieces of mushroom in it, and yep, I was such a brat that I would pick out all the pieces and set them aside on my plate, forever annoying my parents.
Still, the thought of the dish — a cheesy, saucy dish topped with crispy potatoes — brings forth lots of feelings about growing up in Wisconsin, even if I didn’t eat it back then.
I decided to create my own version, using my favorite things about our time in Texas: brisket and queso. The result? Absolute heaven!
If you love tater tot casserole, you’ve got to give this cheesy tater tot casserole with brisket a try!
Ingredients for tater tot casserole
Cooked brisket: To make this tater tot casserole truly Texas-style, of course you have to start with brisket.
Pick up some extra at your BBQ pit stop and save it for this recipe. Be sure to get a good mix of lean and fatty, as well as some bits that have a good char on them.
You will need about 2 cups of chopped cooked brisket.
Shredded cheese: We’re making a homemade cheese sauce, and you’ll also need some extra cheese for the top. I use a mix of Monterey jack cheese and cheddar cheese.
You can also use pepper jack cheese, extra sharp cheddar, or even a smoked cheese! Choose your favorite.
Flour – A bit of flour helps to create the roux for the cheese sauce. All-purpose flour works great here.
Butter – Use unsalted.
Milk – I use 2% milk when making cheese sauce. If you want a richer sauce, use whole milk.
I have not made this recipe with nondairy milk. If you choose to, make sure it is unflavored and unsweetened.
Tomatoes with diced chiles – You can most often find this combo sold as Rotel brand, but you might also have a store brand available. Or, swap in fresh tomatoes and diced jalapeños or roasted peppers.
Instead of cream of anything soup, we’re mixing up a thinner queso.
Frozen tater tots – To be honest we don’t usually keep tater tots on hand, but they are the only thing that will do for this cheesy casserole! I like the extra crispy variety.
Note that while this recipe calls for the whole bag of tater tots, the size and shape of your pan will determine how many you use.
If you use an enameled cast iron skillet like the one pictured, you will have some tots left over.
You don’t need to thaw the tater tots before assembling the casserole.
Salt and pepper – For seasoning the queso.
Green onion – Also known as scallions, I like to add a bunch of chopped green onion on top before serving.
Cilantro – Optional, for garnish (or you can mix it into the cheese).
Sour cream – For serving.
How to make this recipe
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a casserole or 12-inch oven-safe skillet with nonstick spray.
Add the butter to a medium-size saucepan and melt over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to create a paste and cook until lightly golden brown.
Pour in the milk, whisking the whole time, scraping up and incorporating the roux. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture is visibly thicker and just slightly bubbly.
Be careful here, as it can go from thin to thick quickly. You also don’t want the mixture to boil over.
Remove from heat. Whisk in the salt and pepper, then add 2 cups of the cheese. Whisk until completely melted and smooth.
Stir in the tomatoes and chile peppers. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Spread the chopped brisket on the bottom of the casserole dish. Pour cheese sauce over the top.
Arrange the tots in a single layer over the top of the sauce, fitting in as many as possible with no gaps.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle on the remaining shredded cheese.
Return to the oven for 10 minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. It will be hard to resist, but this step will allow the cheese sauce to thicken while it cools.
Top with chopped green onions, cilantro, and sour cream to serve!
If you don’t have leftover brisket on hand, you have a few options for substitutions!
Swap in browned ground beef seasoned with your favorite taco seasoning, or use cooked shredded chicken. Leftover Thanksgiving turkey is also a great choice!
Tots come in lots of varieties now, so you can give sweet potato tots or even cheesy broccoli tots a try.
Want the dish spicier? Add chile powder, cumin, and garlic powder to the queso mix to taste.
Use your favorite salsa instead of Rotel!
If you want to try a different twist on the classic tater tot casserole recipe, try Big Mac Casserole!
What to serve with cheesy tater tot casserole
Honestly, dishes like these don’t really need much to round them out.
You can add some simple steamed vegetables or make a pan of roasted asparagus while the tater tot casserole is cooking.
You’ll love this twist on the classic tater tot casserole recipe!
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star review below!
It means so much when you enjoy my recipes, so let me know how it goes and leave a comment if you have any questions.
Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole with Brisket
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or mixture of cheeses, divided (about 10 ounces total)
- 10 ounces Ro-Tel style tomatoes, (tomatoes with chiles)
- 2 cups chopped cooked brisket
- 32 ounces frozen tater tots
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Sour cream, to serve
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a casserole dish or enameled cast iron skillet.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour to create a roux and cook, whisking, until golden brown.
- Whisk in milk, scraping up roux and incorporating. Cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in salt and pepper.
- Remove from heat. Whisk in 2 cups of cheese until completely melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in tomatoes.
- Scatter brisket on the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Pour cheese sauce over the top. Arrange tots on top of the sauce; some might sink down a little.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove from oven, scatter remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top. Return to oven for 10 minutes.
- When done, remove from oven and let stand 5-10 minutes before serving to allow the sauce to thicken and the dish to cool slightly. Scatter green onions on top and serve with sour cream, if desired.
Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate based on online calculators. Any nutritional information found on Stetted should be used as a general guideline only.
I focus on fresh ingredients and easy methods, with spins that keep meals interesting. Dinnertime shouldn’t be stressful or complicated, and I’m here to help you enjoy the time spent in the kitchen. Read more…