Cheesy Tater Tot Meatloaf Casserole


Ultimate Comfort Meatloaf Topped with Tater Tots and Cheese


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory & Brown Sugar barbecue sauce
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 30 Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 2 oz Lipton onion soup mix
  • 2 large eggs
  • 24 oz frozen tater tots
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese blend
  • 1/4 cup real bacon bits


  1. Preheat and Prepare Sauce:
    • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
    • In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of ketchup and 1 cup of Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory & Brown Sugar barbecue sauce. Stir well and set aside.
  2. Prepare Meatloaf Mixture:
    • In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 lbs of lean ground beef, 30 crushed Ritz crackers, 2 oz Lipton onion soup mix, 2 large eggs, and 1/2 cup of the ketchup and barbecue sauce mixture. Mix thoroughly with your hands until all ingredients are well combined.
  3. Assemble in Baking Dish:
    • Press the meatloaf mixture evenly into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
    • Spread the remaining ketchup and barbecue sauce mixture evenly over the meatloaf.
  4. Add Tater Tots and Cheese:
    • Arrange 24 oz of frozen tater tots in a single layer on top of the sauce-covered meatloaf.
    • Sprinkle 2 cups of shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese blend and 1/4 cup of real bacon bits over the tater tots.
  5. Bake:
    • Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes.
    • Remove the foil and continue baking for an additional 40 minutes, or until the ground beef is thoroughly cooked and the tater tots are crispy and golden.
  6. Rest and Serve:
    • Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing.
    • Serve hot.

Nutritional Information:

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 75 minutes
  • Total Time: 95 minutes
  • Estimated Calories: 540 kcal per serving
  • Servings: 6 servings

20 Most Popular Questions and Their Answers Related to Cheesy Tater Tot Meatloaf Casserole

  1. Can I use a different type of ground meat?
    • Yes, you can substitute ground turkey, chicken, or pork for the ground beef.
  2. Can I use a different type of cheese?
    • Absolutely! Use any cheese that melts well, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican blend.
  3. Can I make this casserole ahead of time?
    • Yes, you can prepare the casserole and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours before baking.
  4. Can I freeze this casserole?
    • Yes, you can freeze the assembled casserole before baking. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before baking.
  5. What can I use instead of Ritz crackers?
    • Substitute with breadcrumbs, crushed cornflakes, or crushed tortilla chips.
  6. Can I add vegetables to the meatloaf mixture?
    • Yes, finely chopped onions, bell peppers, or grated carrots can be added to the meatloaf mixture.
  7. How do I know when the meatloaf is done?
    • The internal temperature of the meatloaf should reach 160°F (71°C).
  8. Can I use a different barbecue sauce?
    • Yes, use your favorite barbecue sauce if you prefer a different flavor.
  9. What can I serve with this casserole?
    • Serve with a green salad, steamed vegetables, or mashed potatoes.
  10. Can I use fresh potatoes instead of tater tots?
    • Yes, thinly sliced or diced potatoes can be used but may require a longer baking time.
  11. Can I omit the bacon bits?
    • Yes, the bacon bits are optional and can be omitted if desired.
  12. Is it necessary to cover the casserole with foil while baking?
    • Covering with foil helps to cook the meatloaf evenly and prevents the cheese from burning. Remove the foil to crisp the tater tots.
  13. Can I add more spices to the meatloaf mixture?
    • Yes, feel free to add garlic powder, paprika, or any other preferred spices.
  14. Can I make individual portions instead of one large casserole?
    • Yes, you can divide the mixture into muffin tins or smaller baking dishes for individual servings.
  15. How long can leftovers be stored in the refrigerator?
    • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  16. How can I reheat leftovers?
    • Reheat in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through, or in the microwave.
  17. Can I use instant mashed potatoes instead of tater tots?
    • Yes, spread prepared instant mashed potatoes on top of the meatloaf instead of tater tots.
  18. Can I add a sauce on top of the tater tots?
    • Yes, a drizzle of additional barbecue sauce or a cheese sauce can be added on top.
  19. Can I use egg substitutes?
    • Yes, you can use egg substitutes or flax eggs if you have dietary restrictions.
  20. Can I cook this casserole in a slow cooker?
    • Yes, you can cook the meatloaf mixture in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours, then transfer to an oven-safe dish to add tater tots and cheese and bake until golden.

Secrets to Achieve the Perfect Cheesy Tater Tot Meatloaf Casserole

  1. Use Fresh Ingredients:
    • Fresh ground beef and quality cheese can make a significant difference in flavor and texture.
  2. Season Generously:
    • Don’t skimp on the seasoning. Add extra spices like garlic powder, onion powder, or smoked paprika for enhanced flavor.
  3. Crush Crackers Well:
    • Ensure the Ritz crackers are finely crushed to help bind the meatloaf mixture uniformly.
  4. Blend Ingredients Thoroughly:
    • Mix the ground beef, seasonings, and other ingredients well to ensure even distribution of flavors.
  5. Chill the Mixture:
    • Let the meatloaf mixture chill in the fridge for 15-30 minutes before baking. This helps the flavors meld together and the mixture to firm up.
  6. Use a Meat Thermometer:
    • Ensure the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) to guarantee it’s fully cooked without drying out.
  7. Choose High-Quality Cheese:
    • Use a good quality cheese blend like a mix of mozzarella and sharp cheddar for the best melting and flavor.
  8. Pre-Bake Tater Tots:
    • For extra crispy tater tots, pre-bake them for a few minutes before placing them on top of the casserole.
  9. Layer Flavors:
    • Spread half of the sauce mixture in the meatloaf mixture and reserve the rest to spread on top. This layers the flavor throughout.
  10. Use Thick-Cut Bacon Bits:
    • If adding bacon bits, use thick-cut bacon for a heartier, more flavorful bite.
  11. Drain Excess Fat:
    • If your ground beef releases a lot of fat during baking, carefully drain it off halfway through cooking to avoid a greasy casserole.
  12. Add Vegetables:
    • Finely chopped vegetables like bell peppers, onions, or carrots can be mixed into the meatloaf for extra nutrition and flavor.
  13. Rest Before Slicing:
    • Let the casserole rest for 10 minutes after baking to allow the juices to redistribute, making it easier to slice.
  14. Crisp the Top:
    • For an extra crispy top, broil the casserole for the last 2-3 minutes of baking.
  15. Double the Cheese:
    • For cheese lovers, add an extra layer of cheese in the middle of the casserole.
  16. Even Layer of Tater Tots:
    • Arrange the tater tots in a single, even layer to ensure they cook evenly and get crispy.
  17. Use a Deep Dish:
    • A deep 9×13-inch dish can help accommodate all the layers without overflow.
  18. Add a Tangy Kick:
    • Mix a tablespoon of mustard or Worcestershire sauce into the meatloaf mixture for a tangy depth of flavor.
  19. Top with Fresh Herbs:
    • Garnish the finished casserole with fresh herbs like parsley or chives for a pop of color and freshness.
  20. Serve with Dipping Sauce:
    • Serve with additional barbecue sauce or a creamy ranch dip on the side for extra flavor.

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