This recipe takes all the satisfying flavors of a cheeseburger and bakes it into a comforting dinner casserole. Also known as cheeseburger hot dish, this recipe layers ground beef and crispy bacon with frozen tater tots, and cheddar cheese. Dinner is ready in 1 hour, with minimal hands-on time!
Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
An easy tater tot casserole, also known as a hot dish, are huge weeknight dinner hits in our family. I love how the ground beef filling takes on the classic cheeseburger flavor in an easy-to-assemble hamburger casserole.
Similar to Mexican-Style Tater Tot Casserole, you can never go wrong when layering crispy tots and cheese on anything! And similarly, this cheesy hamburger casserole’s flavor only gets more enhanced when piling on the optional fixings, like shredded lettuce, pickles, and tomatoes.
The bottom layer consists of all the cheeseburger makings, with ground beef and crispy bacon mixed in an easy burger sauce. Layer that in the bottom of a casserole dish, top with a package of frozen tater tots until they are browned and crispy. Finally, sprinkle on a layer of gooey cheddar cheese and watch it disappear!
Below I will share not only how to make easy cheeseburger casserole, but freezer, meal prep instructions, alternative toppings besides tater tots and how to modify ingredients to fit your family’s preference and dietary needs. Just like old fashioned tuna casserole, this recipe is guaranteed to be requested frequently!
Just like an all-American cheeseburger, the ingredients are simple but comforting and delicious. Typically I have most of the ingredients on hand, so this makes a great recipe for weeknight dinners.
If you love the taste of cheeseburgers, check out these family-friendly burger bowls as well!
- Bacon – If you are not a fan or prefer to not buy an extra ingredient, the bacon may be omitted. Simply start the recipe by browning the ground beef.
- Ground sirloin – Any preferred ground beef or ground turkey may be substituted. However, using ground sirloin lightens the dish and saves a step of draining the excess grease.
- Worcestershire sauce – If making this for a gluten-free dinner recipe, be careful choosing your brand because some contain wheat starch. I recommend Lea & Perrin’s Original, but for other brands read the label to make sure it’s safe.
- Cheddar cheese – I prefer freshly grated cheese off the block because it melts smoother. Sharp cheddar will have a more enhanced flavor, while mild cheddar or colby jack will be smoother.
- Frozen tater tots – Use Ore-Ida brand for gluten-free, but any preferred tot may be used if you do not have dietary restrictions.
How to make cheeseburger casserole
(Below shows step-by-step photos and modified instructions. For the complete recipe, along with ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card.)
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Grease a casserole dish and set aside.
- First, chop the bacon into smaller pieces and cook over medium heat, in a large skillet, until crisp. After the bacon has cooked, remove and place on a plate lined with paper towel to soak up excess grease.
- Next, add ground beef and chopped onion to the same skillet where the bacon was cooked. Cook until the beef is no longer pink and then add the minced garlic to cook for 1 minute longer.
- Add half of the cooked bacon, drained diced tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, relish, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and 1 cup of the grated cheddar cheese to the ground beef and onion mixture. Stir the ingredients to combine and spread them onto your prepared casserole dish.
- Lastly, arrange the frozen tater tots on top of the ingredients in a single layer. Bake until the tater tots are nice and crisp.
- Remove the cheeseburger casserole from the oven and sprinkle the remaining cheese and bacon on top. Bake your cheeseburger casserole with tots for an additional 5 minutes. After you pull your tasty dish out of the oven, serve immediately with chopped tomatoes, lettuce and pickles.
Best Type of Ground Beef to Use
When asked what type of ground beef to use, I suggest using ground sirloin to make cheeseburger casserole leaner and avoid draining excess grease.
Ground round, ground chuck, ground pork, or ground turkey may also be used, depending on your preference and what you have on hand. Here are some of the differences between the various forms of ground beef:
- Ground sirloin comes from the sirloin area where some of the most tender and expensive steaks come from, such as Porterhouse and Filet Mignon. Because it is a more desirable meat, it can be more expensive than ground chuck or round. Because it is a leaner meat, it can dry out more quickly, so you need to be sure not to overcook.
- Ground round comes from near the rump of the animal and is made from trimmings from the round steak and primal round. It is seen as a overall healthier choice because of the natural fat content found in the round cuts of beef.
- Ground chuck is cut from the shoulder, which contains enough fat to add flavor and juiciness. It is not as fatty as regular ground beef and can be labeled as lean ground beef.
- Ground beef is labeled by its fat content. If it has 15% fat, then it will be labeled 85-15, if it has 10% fat, it will be labeled 90-10. When a beef is labeled as ground beef, it is unsure where on the cow the meat has come from, so it is usually more affordable.
If you are a bacon cheeseburger lover you are in luck! Bacon makes everything better, and this bacon cheeseburger casserole calls for bacon in both the mix and the topping.
If you don’t have bacon on hand, or don’t want to take the extra time it takes to make the bacon, you can make a simple cheeseburger casserole by omitting the bacon. Just start the recipe by sautéing the beef and onion and go from there.
Tater Tot Alternatives
When making bacon cheeseburger casserole, replacing the tater tots is an option. You will need to keep in mind the consistency of toppings are different, so baking the casserole a bit longer may be necessary for a crispy texture.
To make something besides tater tot casserole topping, consider using one of the ideas below.
- Frozen french fries – Use steak fries, waffle fries, or seasoned curly fries. Bake as you would with tater tot topping. For gluten free casseroles, read ingredient list carefully.
- Hash browns – Refrigerated will require less time to bake than frozen, but either will work.
- Biscuits – They won’t take as long to cook as tots, so bake the casserole for 25-30 minutes and then place the biscuit dough on top. Finish baking according to biscuit package instructions, or until they appear golden brown and cooked through.
- Elbow macaroni or other pasta of choice – Cook pasta according to the package instructions and drain. Mix with ground beef casserole ingredients and bake in 350ºF oven for 40-45 minutes. Add bacon and additional cheese and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Crispy french fried onions – Bake the cheeseburger casserole for 40 minutes and add the crispy onions, cheese and bacon. Bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- Onion rings – Bake as you would with tater tot topping.
- Doritos or plain potato chips – Add these the last 5 minutes, cheese and bacon.
The good news is because most of the ingredients used are naturally gluten free, you can most definitely enjoy a gluten free version of this tasty dish.
Two of the ingredients you will want to be cautious of are the Worcestershire sauce and tater tots. French’s, Lea and Perrin’s (United States only) and The Wizard’s organic sauce are all gluten free brands of Worcestershire.
As for the tater tots, not all brands are gluten free. I use Ore-Ida brand tater tots since they are labeled “gluten free” on the package.
Other potato puff brands may add wheat flour or gluten containing additives. Even if the tots are labeled “organic,” still read the label to double check.
Freezer and make-ahead tips
Whether you want to make a day ahead, or weeks ahead, this casserole can be stored both in the fridge and the freezer to save you time on a busy day.
Make-Ahead: Prepare ground beef filling up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate in an airtight container. Assemble casserole with frozen tater tots when ready to bake and serve. Bake as directed, but add an additional 5-10 minutes to cooking time.
This casserole is perfect for freezing. Either double the recipe and freeze one in a disposable aluminum pan or make ahead to freeze and enjoy at a later date. Use these easy tips for how to reheat a casserole for best results.
- Prepare the ground beef mixture and spread on the bottom of a greased 9X13 baking dish. Sprinkle the top with tater tots. You will want to be sure you have allowed the meat enough time to cool so that the tater tots do not thaw when placed on top.
- Cover the tots with cheese and bacon topping, or wait and add the topping when you are ready to bake.
- Cover the dish with foil and then wrap with plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn. Make sure to label the dish with the recipe name and baking instructions. You can freeze this dish for up to 4 months.
- When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and foil. Bake from frozen so the tater tots don’t thaw before. Plan to add an additional 30-35 minutes to the baking time for the ground beef to heat completely through.
Just like your favorite bacon cheeseburger, the topping ideas are whatever the heart desires. These are a few of our favorite toppings for cheeseburger tater tot casserole. Usually I set them out in small bowls and let the kids pile on whatever they like.
- Shredded lettuce
- Chopped tomatoes
- Mayonnaise or sour cream
Since the dish is rather filling, we usually pair it with a lighter dish. Any veggies, salads, or dishes you would serve up with a hamburger will go great!
Suggested Side Dishes:
- Green bean salad
- Roasted zucchini
- Chips and French onion dip
- 7 layer salad
- Macaroni salad
- Strawberry salad
- Grilled corn on the cob
- Deviled eggs
- Fruit Salad
Expert Baking Tips
- For extra crispy tots, broil for 1-2 minutes before adding cheese to melt.
- Arrange tots in a single layer. Either pour them on and spread out or lay them side by side like pictured.
- Remember to not add the cheese until the last 5 minutes or it will become overly browned.
- Use freshly grated cheese off the block for a melty, gooey, cheese topping.
- Any preferred cheese will work, but I like using sharp cheddar because it gives a more enhanced cheese flavor than medium cheddar.
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Cheeseburger Casserole with Crispy Bacon & Tater Tots
- 6 slices bacon chopped
- 1 ½ pounds ground sirloin
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 14 ounce can diced tomatoes drained
- ⅔ cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 3 tablespoons sweet relish
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (read label for gluten-free)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese divided
- 32 ounce frozen tater tots (Ore-Ida brand for gluten free)
- optional toppings: chopped tomatoes, lettuce, pickles
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a 9X13 inch casserole dish. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat cook chopped bacon until crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Drain grease and remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.6 slices bacon
- Add ground beef and onion to the skillet. Cook until beef is no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Drain grease, if necessary.1 ½ pounds ground sirloin,1 medium onion,1 clove garlic
- To the ground beef add half cooked bacon, drained diced tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, relish, worcestershire, salt, pepper, and 1 cup grated cheese. Stir to combine and spread in prepared baking dish.14 ounce can diced tomatoes,⅔ cup ketchup,3 tablespoons yellow mustard,3 tablespoons sweet relish,1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce,¼ teaspoon salt,⅛ teaspoon pepper,3 cups sharp cheddar cheese
- Top with frozen tater tots in a single layer, so the tots become crisp during baking. If you have a few minutes, line them up in rows to make sure the full package fits on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until tater tots are crisp. Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining cheese and bacon on top. Bake for 5 additional minutes. Serve immediately with optional toppings.32 ounce frozen tater tots
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Make-Ahead / Freezer Directions:Make-Ahead: Prepare ground beef filling up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate in an airtight container. Assemble casserole with frozen tater tots when ready to bake and serve. Bake as directed, but add an additional 5-10 minutes to cooking time. Freezer Meal: Either double the recipe and freeze one in a disposable aluminum pan or make ahead to freeze and enjoy at a later date. Prepare the ground beef mixture and spread on the bottom of a greased 9X13 baking dish. Sprinkle the top with tater tots. You will want to be sure you have allowed the meat enough time to cool so that the tater tots do not thaw when placed on top. Cover the tots with cheese and bacon topping, or wait and add the topping when you are ready to bake. Cover the dish with foil and then wrap with plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn. Make sure to label the dish with the recipe name and baking instructions. You can freeze this dish for up to 4 months. When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and foil. Bake from frozen so the tater tots don’t thaw before. Plan to add an additional 30-35 minutes to the baking time for the ground beef to heat completely through.
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