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Vegan Tater Tot Casserole

Tater Tot Casserole – or Tater Tot Hot Dish as my friend who hails from Minnesota calls it – is every bit as delicious as it sounds 😋

The traditional, non-vegan version, is typically made by mixing seasoned ground beef with canned peas, corn, and green beans, and tossing it together with a condensed cream of mushroom soup. The mixture is then transferred to a baking dish and topped with copious amounts of tater tots and baked until golden brown. And although this theory has not been authenticated, my feeling is that this midwestern specialty is a distant relative of Shepard’s Pie and the like.

My version, now vegan-a-fied and amped up with flavorful roasted root vegetables smothered in a silky cashew cream sauce, is the result of many back-and-forth conversations with the same friend I referenced above about the dish we now fondly refer to as #TTHD (tater tot hot dish)

I asked a lot of (probably annoying 😬) questions to make sure that I was keeping my version as close to the OG as possible, and tested this hot dish (casserole) recipe until I finally came up with a vegan version that is as richly flavorful and hearty as it is extremely easy to make!

My version of #TTHD really checks all the boxes too: Easy enough for a weeknight dinner? Yep! Comforting and cozy? Yup! Hearty, satisfying, and packed with plant-based protein? Yes, yes, yes!

It’s also meal-prep and freezer friendly and made up of familiar, comfort-food flavors that everyone seems to enjoy (Even picky eaters can’t resist this one!)

In honor of this recipe going live today, I’m probably going to defrost some TTHD for dinner tonight because, life is just better when crispy, warm, straight-from-the-oven tater tots are involved, am I right?

I can’t wait for you guys to dig into this recipe! I really think you’re going to love it. Make sure you read the notes below for helpful tips and feel free to leave your questions in the comments below.

Happy cooking!

SERVES 4

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2/3 cup raw cashews 
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (I use + LOVE Eden Foods or Silk’s Organic Soy Milks)
  • 4 garlic cloves 
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp light miso paste (I use this chickpea miso)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 10-12 grinds of black pepper 

FOR THE FILLING

  • 2 medium yellow potatoes
  • 2 medium carrots 
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 1 cup vegan ground beef (I used the Trader Joes Beef-less Crumbles)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen green beans

TOPPING:

  • frozen tater tots 
  • red pepper flakes 
  • freshly chopped chives

You will also need additional sea salt and vegetable oil or spray (I used one similar to this)

Start by placing the cashews in a bowl and covering them with boiling water. Set aside to soften. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Dice the potatoes and carrots into small bite-sized pieces. Then transfer to lined baking tray along with the unpeeled garlic cloves. Spray lightly with avocado oil spray and season generously with a few good pinches of sea salt. Toss to coat evenly and then spread the veggies into a single layer for even roasting.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and fork-tender in the centers. 

In the meantime, chop your mushrooms.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, spray or pour in some avocado oil and then add your mushrooms once the pan is warm.

After 3-4 minutes, add a big pinch or two of sea salt and deglaze the pan with a splash of water if needed. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Next add the beef-less crumbles and the frozen peas, corn, and green beans. Sauté on low heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the veggies are mostly thawed (but not cooked all the way through) and there is no moisture in the bottom of the pan, then turn off the heat and set aside.

Remove the potatoes and carrots from the oven and place the garlic cloves off to the side. Add the potatoes and carrots to the frying pan (which is now just hanging out while we make the sauce 🙂

For the sauce:

Squeeze the now softened garlic into a blender to remove the peels. This might be a little sticky, so use a butter knife if needed.

Then drain the water from the cashews and add them to a blender along with the soy milk, and the remaining sauce ingredients, and blend until the sauce is silky smooth. 

Pour the sauce into the frying pan and toss to coat the “meat” and veggies. Be careful not to over mix or else you might make the mixture too mushy.

Then transfer the mixture to an oven safe dish and top with frozen tater tots until the entire surface of the casserole is covered. Make sure to leave a little space in-between each one to make sure the tater tots get nice and crispy 😋

Spray or drizzle a touch of avocado oil spray on top of the tater tots to encourage browning and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling around the edges. 

Remove from the oven – and this is the hard part, let the casserole rest for about 10 minutes. It’s hard to resist diving straight in but giving it time to cool slightly will make it easier to slice and serve.

After 10ish minutes, top with freshly chopped chives, and DEVOUR! 

  1. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, Gardein, Beyond Beef, Simple Truth, Morning Star, and LightLife make similar vegan beed products. Keep in mind that you may need to add or subtract some salt depending on how much the product you bought is seasoned. If the version you have doesn’t have enough flavor you can add additional spices like salt-free steak seasoning or just some garlic powder if desired. Adjust to your taste preference but remember the sauce also has seasoning, so taste as you go 🙂
  2. If you’re using lentils instead of “beef” opt for green or brown lentils since they tend to hold their shape better than red. You will also want to season the lentils like you would ground beef, so maybe sauté with some onions, garlic, and dried Italian herbs, or with one crumbled vegan sausage for a fun twist and extra savory goodness!
  3. The key to this recipe, since it is quite simple in terms of the spices, is to season as you go! The potatoes and carrots get a sprinkle of salt and pepper, so do the mushrooms, and so do the frozen veggies when they’re added to the pan. It’s all about building and layering flavors and textures with this dish.
  4. Keep in mind, if you’re using a different miso paste it may be more intensely flavored or salty than the one I used when developing this recipe. Because of this, you may want to go easy on the salt in the sauce recipe and adjust it after tasting, adding a little salt at a time until it tastes perfect to you. To keep it easy though, opt for using the chickpea I used in the video or another light miso paste. I linked the one I like here.
  5. This is a great meal prep item because the flavors only intensify and become more delicious overnight. I would recommend doubling or tripling the recipe and then freezing leftovers in airtight containers for those days when you’re short on time. It makes for a quick and comforting lunch or a heat-and-serve weeknight dinner.
  6. When reheating, you may need to add a little splash of soy milk to make it creamy again, or double the sauce recipe to pour over leftovers the follow day.
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Nicole Vranjican

Hey! I’m Nicole and I make practical vegan recipes for REAL life. I cook with simple, easy to find ingredients and I’m passionate about creating delicious plant-based meals that everyone will love!

I hope you enjoy my recipes and videos :) Happy Cooking!

Find me on: Instagram

10 Comments

  1. Sonia
    February 17, 2020 / 11:00 pm

    You’re so creative and your genuine passion of cooking and creating is so admirable! You are doing a great, great job adding something so unique to our universe!! Xoxo

    • Nicole
      Author
      March 12, 2020 / 7:39 pm

      Aw thank you Sonia! That’s so sweet 🙂 I hope you’re having a great day today! Thanks for spreading the love!

  2. Morgan
    February 20, 2020 / 10:22 pm

    This sounds so delicious! My grocery store doesn’t really carry mock meats that I know of. I was curious if you have any recommendations for substitutions for that aspect of the recipe? Thank you!

    • Mary
      March 8, 2020 / 4:39 pm

      Nikki recommends lentils as an alternative.

      • Nicole
        Author
        March 12, 2020 / 7:34 pm

        Yep! Thanks for helping me answer! So thoughtful of you! For the lentils, season them well and they’ll be a delicious addition to this recipe! Plus they’re a great source of plant protein and fiber 🙂

    • Nicole
      Author
      March 12, 2020 / 7:37 pm

      Hey Morgan, lentils seasoned with dried Italian herb or sausage seasoning would be great! Even poultry seasoning or steak rub would make the lentils very flavorful and delicious! See the notes for more info! 🙂

    • Nicole
      Author
      March 12, 2020 / 7:36 pm

      Thank you Yuko! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this article and that you like my recipe! That means the absolute world 🙂

  3. Sherry
    June 10, 2024 / 12:15 am

    This looks amazing! Can’t wait to make it. I will just increase the veg and leave out the “meat”. If I didn’t add miso, would it change the flavor alot? What if I added a little liquid amino instead? I am from MN, so am all too familiar with tator tot hotdish. 😀 Thanks for the recipe.

    • Nicole Vranjican
      Author
      June 17, 2024 / 1:56 pm

      Thanks Sherry! I’m so glad you like the look of this recipe! I’d recommend adding some cooked lentils or chickpeas in place of the vegan beef to keep the ratios accurate. And yes, you can add some liquid aminos instead of the miso, just a little dash should be fine. You don’t need the same amount of as the miso. Add a little, and then taste and add more as you see fit 🙂 Hope you enjoy!

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