This Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole is a winner for busy mornings, entertaining or holidays, because it’s prep ahead friendly, feeds a crowd, easy to make AND is “absolutely delicious,” a “keeper” and “our favorite” (read the reviews)! It can be prepped in less than 20 minutes and baked immediately OR refrigerated until ready to serve (instructions included). Best of all, this warm, creamy, cheesy, crispy recipe is elevated by using tater tots in both the filling AND the topping for textural bliss, adept seasonings, green chilies, and both cheddar and pepper Jack – no bland casserole here!
tater tot breakfast casserole video
- Tater tots: everyone’s favorite potato puff is the star of this breakfast casserole. You’ll want to use one 32-ounce package of tater tots found in the freezer section. DON’T thaw them first or they won’t bake up as crispy.
- Sausage: use bulk sausage, which is simply sausage that that has not been put into a natural casing, so it’s easy to cook and crumble. Jimmy Dean is an example of bulk sausage. I recommend hot bulk sausage for the best flavor. It will not make your Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole hot, but will add a little kick to wake things up a bit. If you use plain sausage, you’ll want to add some red pepper flakes.
- Aromatics: one yellow onion and a few garlic cloves build the flavor base.
- Bell peppers: one red bell pepper for sweetness and one green bell pepper for earthiness. You may also substitute with other vegetables. If they are a longer cooking vegetable, you will want to cook them longer with the sausage to soften.
- Cheese: always two cheeses please! I use sharp cheddar and Pepper Jack but you may also use sharp and either Monterrey Jack or mozzarella. Sharp cheese boasts enough flavor to cut through the richness of the casserole and pepper Jack melts beautifully to add delightful creaminess with a sassy kick.
- Eggs: 8 eggs! We need a significant number of eggs to envelop all of the ingredients and bind them together.
- Half and half: is crucial to create a luscious and creamy egg mixture that won’t dry out once baked. You can combine 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup milk to make half and half if that’s what you have on hand.
- Green chiles: you will need one 4 oz. can mild diced green chiles. They are not spicy, just add tangy flavor, just take care you get the MILD vs HOT. I have mistakenly purchased the hot diced green chiles before and they will knock your socks off!
- Seasonings: parsley, paprika, ground mustard, salt and pepper round out the flavor profile – no bland breakfast casserole here!
- Step 1: Cook sausage and veggies. It’s important to cook the sausage first to render the fat. We also cook the onions and peppers with the sausage to save time and to infuse them with flavor. If you decide to use other veggies, add them with the sausage as well. Transfer the sausage mixture to a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish and allow to cool slightly – otherwise if you stir in the cheese immediately, you’ll end up with a clumpy mess.
- Step 2: Whisk egg mixture. Whisk together eggs, half and half, and seasonings. I like to whisk them together in a large liquid measuring cup so it is easy to pour.
- Step 3: Assemble. Add half of the tater tots to the baking dish with the sausage and half of both cheeses – ¾ cup cheddar and ¾ pepper Jack. You’ll use the rest of the cheese to top the casserole later. Stir everything to evenly combine then spread into an even layer. Pour Egg Mixture over the sausage mixture, then sprinkle remaining tater tots over top.
- Step 4: Bake. Bake the Tater Tot Casserole uncovered at 350 degrees F until the eggs are set. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Return to the oven and bake an additional 5-10 minutes to melt the cheese.
You can prep this Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole in steps if you prefer. This is helpful if you want to prep more than 24 hours in advance:
- Sausage: brown the sausage, bell peppers and onions, cool, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
- Cheese: shred and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
- Egg mixture: whisk the egg mixture together, cover, and store in an airtight container for up to 48 hours. Give the mixture a whisk before using.
Now all that’s left to do is mix the sausage mixture with the tater tots/cheese and then stir in the egg mixture. Easy peasy!
- Don’t thaw the tater tots. The tater tots will have the best texture if they aren’t thawed first. If you are making ahead, keep the half of the tater tots for the topping in the freezer until ready to pop the casserole in the oven.
- Freshly grated cheese please. Use only freshly grated cheeses as packaged cheeses contain anti-clumping chemicals which inhibits their melting ability.
- Keep proportions. Although you can swap out the meat and vegetables in this breakfast casserole recipe, you will want to keep the proportions the same so there is enough egg mixture to envelop the filling.
- Bake uncovered. This will allow the tater tots to brown and get crispy!
- Don’t overcook. Keep an eye on the Tater Tot Casserole and don’t overbake. The casserole is forgiving but it won’t be as creamy if overbaked.
- Make ahead or freeze. You can make the breakfast casserole ahead of time and just pop in the oven in the morning or freeze before or after baking. Instructions to follow.
- Make it vegetarian: if you are vegetarian, then omit the sausage and replace it with an equal number of vegetables or your favorite non-meat substitute. Season with some salt and pepper and a dash of red pepper flakes.
- Choose meat: I love hot bulk sausage but you can use breakfast sausage, Italian sausage, turkey sausage, bacon, turkey bacon or ham. You will want to cook any raw protein first before adding it to the egg mixture. I suggest adding a dash of red pepper flakes if not using hot sausage. You can also use chorizo without any additional seasonings.
- Choose vegetables: the possibilities are endless! You may swap the red and green bell peppers for sautéed corn, mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, artichokes, roasted bell peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, etc. There are 2 important factors to keep in mind when customizing veggies: 1) sauté the vegetables first – don’t add raw vegetables to the casserole or they will remain raw when baked; 2) keep the ratios the same. You don’t want to add additional vegetables without subtracting vegetables or tater tots or there won’t be enough creamy eggs to envelop the veggies.
- Choose cheese: use the suggested sharp cheddar and pepper Jack or swap the pepper Jack for another cheese that melts well such as Mozzarella, Gruyere, Swiss, Monterrey Jack, Colby Jack, Fontina, or Gouda. You can also add some other non-melting cheeses in addition just for flavor such as Parmesan or feta.
- Choose add-ins: in additional to different vegetables, you can also add jarred jalapenos, olives and additional fresh herbs such as fresh chives, basil, parsley, oregano, etc.
Toppings for Breakfast Casserole with Tater Tots
- Fruit: acai bowls, fruit salad, winter fruit salad, cranberry ambrosia salad, yogurt fruit salad.
- Bread: simple toast, or avocado toast, cinnamon roll monkey bread, sweet orange roll bread twists, lemon bread, cornbread.
- Muffins: French toast muffins, blueberry muffins, cornbread muffins, chocolate zucchini muffins, pumpkin muffins, Nutella snickerdoodle muffins.
- Coffee cake: cream cheese banana coffee cake, blueberry coffee cake, strawberry coffee cake, cream cheese strawberry coffee cake.
- Waffles: gingerbread waffles, Hawaiian waffles, chocolate waffles.
- Pancakes & crepes: Nutella pumpkin crepes, carrot cake crepes, sweet potato pancakes, mini German apple pancakes.
Tater Tot Casserole Breakfast FAQs
This Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole can be gluten free if you double check the ingredient labels. Some ingredients you think are gluten free may not be.
The sausage doesn’t contain any gluten but not all manufacturers meet USDA standards for “gluten-free” because they are cross contaminated by either using shared equipment or by being made in the same facility as gluten grains. Some sausages even contain rusk made from wheat. Jimmy Dean Sausage is an example of sausage that is not gluten free. You can check out this Gluten Free Sausage Brand list or double check the packaging to ensure your sausage is certified gluten free.
The tater tots are another ingredient to look out for. You would think they would all be gluten free, but some actually contain gluten! Look for certified gluten free tater tots which should be easy to find and clearly labeled.
A tater tot casserole may turn out soggy if milk is used instead of half and half. Milk will not thicken like half and half while baking, leading to excess moisture that never gets absorbed. Additionally, sogginess can occur if the vegetables are not well sautéed before adding to the casserole to reduce moisture. Lastly, make sure the eggs are fully cooked through before removing the casserole from the oven.
Remember that the key is to reheat gradually and to monitor the process to avoid overcooking. The method you choose may depend on the type of casserole and your kitchen equipment.
The key is to reheat the tater tot casserole gradually and to monitor closely to avoid overcooking. To reheat in the oven, cover the casserole dish with foil to trap moisture and heat it gradually until warmed through at 325 degrees F. If reheating in the microwave, place a damp paper towel over the casserole to help prevent drying. This creates a steamy environment.
Tools Used in This Recipe
Breakfast Tater Tot Casserole
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- 1 32-ounce bag frozen Tater Tots®, divided (DON'T THAW)
- 1 pound hot bulk pork sausage (see notes for turkey)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 ½ cup freshly grated pepper Jack cheese
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 4 ounces diced green chilies
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp EACH paprika, ground mustard, dried oregano, salt, pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
- Add half of the tater tots to the baking dish with the sausage and half of both cheeses (¾ cup each cheese). Stir everything to combine then spread into an even layer.
- Pour Egg Mixture over the sausage mixture, then sprinkle remaining tater tots over top.
- Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 70-80 minutes or until eggs are set. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Return to the oven and bake an additional 5-10 minutes to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped chives or green onions if desired.
- Turkey: you can swap with turkey sausage and a 1/8-¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper. I also like to add 1 teaspoon beef bouillon.
- Cheese: use the suggested sharp cheddar and pepper Jack or swap the pepper Jack for another cheese that melts well such as Mozzarella, Gruyere, Swiss, Monterrey Jack, Colby Jack, Fontina, or Gouda. Use only freshly grated cheeses as packaged cheeses contain anti-clumping chemicals which inhibits their melting ability.
- Variations: you can swap out the meat and vegetables for your favorites but keep the proportions the same so there is enough egg mixture to envelop the filling.
- Storage: cover tightly or transfer to an airtight container in the refrigerator. Store for up to 5 days.
HOW TO REHEAT
- Microwave: warm individual servings on a microwave safe plate in the microwave for about a minute or until warmed though. I like to cut my slice in half before microwaving so it warms evenly.
- Oven: you can reheat the entire pan by covering with foil and baking at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes or until heated through (will depend on number of servings left).
OVERNIGHT BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
- Assemble the breakfast casserole according to recipe instructions but DON’T add the tater tops on top. Keep this half of the tater tots frozen until ready to use.
- Tightly cover with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate unbaked casserole a few hours up to 24.
- When ready to bake, remove plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.
- Add the remaining half of frozen tater tots and bake according to recipe directions, adding an additional 10-15 minutes as needed.
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