Gluten-Free Taco Tater Tot Hotdish

By Amanda Paa – Updated April 22, 2023
5 from 5 votes
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What’s better than a melty blanket of cheese underneath golden brown tater tots… combined with zesty Mexican flavors like cumin and chili powder…. are you with me?! This cheesy tater tot hotdish recipe is one of my favorite gluten-free comfort meals.

What is hotdish?

Well, you might call it “casserole”. However as a born and raised Minnesotan, the only word in my vocabulary that describes several thrifty ingredients mixed together, put in a pan, and baked — is “HOTDISH” (our unofficial state cuisine). They originated in Lutheran church basements, and have graced probably every family table of the folks that grew up here. 

It’s the ultimate, “anything goes” comfort food, a nod to nostalgia at its best. 

We grew up eating tater tot hotdish the classic way, with a base of ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, peas, corn, then topped with crispy tater tots. I like to think of it as a lazy cook’s rendition of shepherd’s pie. Despite a completely beige aesthetic, it always filled our tummies with delicious nourishment. 

To match the modern ways we eat now, yet still hold onto the ease and practicality of the one pan meal, I created this Cheesy Taco Tater Tot Hotdish recipe and a Spinach Gruyere Tater Tot Hotdish hat have become one of our favorites in our gluten-free dinner rotation.

This version a mouthwatering combination of taco flavors with crispy potatoes, and as many toppings as you can pile on. Yet it’s not overly heavy – there’s actually equal parts black beans and grassfed beef! It takes less than an hour to make, and the symmetry of the tots gets me every time! 

assembling tater tot hotdish with tillamook cheese
tater tot art

How To Make Taco Tater Tot Casserole

  1. Saute ground beef, garlic, and onion in an oven safe skillet.
  2. Add seasonings (this Whole 30 Taco Seasoning works great), salsa, and black beans. Cook through until warm.
  3. Cover the top of mixture with cheese, and assemble tater tots in fun pattern. Your choice!
  4. Bake! And eat.

A few additional notes:

Can I freeze tater tot hotdish?

Yes! All leftovers will freeze well, or you can assemble and stop at the point where you’d bake. Seal the dish, and freeze until you’re ready to make it. Then pop it in the oven for 20 minutes longer that the recipes calls for! 

Can I use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef?

Yes! Just know that the hotdish will be a little less flavorful. If you do this, I would add two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan when cooking the meat and onion/garlic, to add moisture. And use a homemade taco seasoning for extra spice.

Do I have to make this in a cast iron skillet?

No, you can use any oven safe dish – if that would be rectangle, I’d say a 7×10 inch pan would work best. 

assembling a tater tot hotdish with bowls of fixings around it
tater tot casserole in a cast iron skillet, overhead photograph
person scooping tater tot hotdish out of pan, side angle, cheese pull

What kind of cheese is best for tater tot hotdish?

While I was recipe testing, and really yearning for that perfect circle of tater tots, I was having trouble with the layer of shredded cheese being flat enough to arrange the potatoes. So I grabbed the Tillamook Medium Cheddar Sliced Cheese that we used for burgers earlier in the week, and just like that – a flat, even layer of the best tasting cheddar that’s perfect for tater tot art. ☺️ 

Tillamook’s Medium Cheddar Sliced Cheese is far from anything you remember about those singles wrapped in plastic. Aged for over 60 days, with no preservatives or caking agents added, this cheddar cheese is made with 4 simple ingredients in the time-honored method. 

I mean, is their anything better than a melty, blanket of cheese underneath golden brown tater tots… combined with zesty Mexican flavors like cumin and chili powder…. are you with me?!

More Gluten-Free Dinner Recipes:

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spoonful removed from taco tater tot hotdish in a cast iron skillet

Taco Tater Tot Hotdish Recipe (Gluten Free)

With seasoned ground beef and all of your favorite taco toppings, this taco tater tot hotdish is a delicious twist on the classic! You'll find all the goodness under a blanket of crispy tater tots and cheese.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time :15 minutes
Cook Time :35 minutes
Total Time :50 minutes
Yield: 5 servings
Author: Amanda Paa



  • 3/4 pound grass-fed ground beef 80/20 fat percentage
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt divided
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3/4 cup salsa ( I like to use hot salsa)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can black beans, drained
  • 9 slices Tillamook Farmstyle Thick Cut Medium Cheddar Sliced
  • 1 bag frozen tater tots
  • toppings: sour cream cilantro, tomatoes, radishes, bell peppers, green onions


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Heat 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef, and use a wooden spoon to break up into tiny crumbles. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and chopped onion and garlic. Continue to cook until beef is no longer pink and onion is translucent. 
  • Add cumin, chili powder, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, salsa, and black beans. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Smooth out mixture, then in a circular pattern, layer cheese slices, then tater tots on top. 
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until tater tots are crispy and cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven, and add all the toppings you’d like. Serve. 
  • Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freezes well too! 

Did you make this?

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May 22, 2019


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Recipe Rating

5 from 5 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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  1. Amy

    5 stars
    So good! Made with manchego due to my kids sensitivity to cow dairy.

  2. Patty R

    Your recipes all look so wonderful!
    It would be great if you could post the nutrition info on these, as I must count my fat, protein, etc. Thanks for a great website!

  3. Gene Sannes

    5 stars
    As a vegetarian, I’d leave out the meat but everything else sounds delicious. Could the same recipe work in an Air Fryer?

    • Amanda Paa

      hello gene! i haven’t tested this in an air fryer.

  4. Maureen

    5 stars
    SCORE!!!! Made it for the grandkids (one of whom is GF) and they loved it. Thank you!!