Dish of tater tot casserole

Can-Free Tater Tot Casserole

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Tater tot casserole is a Midwest staple, and every family in my area has their own take on it. Here’s MY version: a can-free tater tot casserole made with a full-flavored beef and mushroom gravy and lots of veggies.

This tater tot casserole recipe may not be the exact version you grew up with, but it makes a flavorful, delish casserole that’s gluten free, dairy free, paleo-friendly, and makes awesome leftovers.

Bird's eye view of tater tot casserole with text overlay

Can you make tater tot casserole without cream of mushroom?


This take on the classic has you making your own creamy mushroom gravy instead of using cream of mushroom from a can. The result is a “grown up” version of what I remember as kid — this has a fuller rustic, beefy flavor.

To make this recipe dairy free, I used coconut milk to make the gravy creamy. (Don’t worry, you can’t taste the coconut). However, if you want to use dairy, you can definitely swap it for cream!

Can tater tot casserole be made ahead of time?

Yes! You can prep the whole casserole, tater tots and all, and leave it in the fridge overnight before you bake it. However, make sure to take the dish out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature while the oven is preheating.

Likewise, you can prep the innards of the casserole, without the tater tots, and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. When you’re ready to make the casserole, just spread the meat mixture into the dish, arrange the tater tots on top as you normally would, and bake as directed.

After cooked, tater tot casserole keeps well for leftovers. Just store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Best if eaten reheated.

The ingredients you need for this casserole

  • ground beef
  • ghee or butter
  • yellow onion
  • crimini mushrooms
  • dijon mustard
  • coconut aminos
  • red wine vinegar
  • fresh or dried thyme
  • fresh or dried sage
  • garlic
  • cassava flour
  • full-fat coconut milk
  • beef broth
  • frozen peas
  • frozen green beans
  • frozen corn (optional)
  • frozen tater tots

I know that LOOKS like a lot but we’re talking about a casserole here! It’s one dish for your whole meal.

A lot of the ingredients listed are used to make the mushroom gravy base flavorful and full. Midwestern cooking is sometimes known for being somewhat…bland… but that’s not how I roll in this household. By adding a bit of mustard, coconut aminos (or soy sauce), red wine vinegar, and fresh herbs, we’ll establish a great foundation for the meal!

What to serve as a side dish

Great news — for a casserole like this, you probably don’t need to serve a side dish! I intentionally packed this recipe with veggies to help bulk it up AND provide a more well-rounded meal, so you don’t really need to do more cooking.

If you’re overwhelmed with the heaviness of Midwest cooking (trust me, it gets to me sometimes too), you can serve this with a simple, light salad of fresh greens and a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

More delicious casserole recipes

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear what you think! Comment below or tag me on Instagram.

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Tater tot casserole in a cast iron skillet

Can-Free Tater Tot Casserole

  • Author: Chelsea Joy
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Midwestern
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Every Midwest family has their own take, but my version is a can-free tater tot casserole that’s dairy free and gluten free!


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups crimini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme OR 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage OR 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup cassava flour
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups bone broth or chicken broth
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 bag frozen green beans
  • 1 bag frozen corn (optional)
  • 2 bags frozen tater tots


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and brown, breaking into small pieces with a spatula. Transfer the cooked beef to a plate and set aside.
  2. In the same dutch oven, add 1 tablespoon of ghee. Add the onions, mushrooms, thyme, sage, and garlic. Cook for 6 to 10 minutes, until the onions are transparent and the mushrooms have softened. Add the salt and pepper and stir.
  3. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons ghee. Once the ghee has melted, add the cassava flour and stir until the vegetables are coated and no dry flour remains. While stirring, add the red wine vinegar and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Slowly pour in the beef broth and coconut milk. Once the mixture has thickened into a gravy, add the reserved ground beef. Add the frozen peas, green beans, and corn (if using), stirring to incorporate.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Top with an even layer of frozen tater tots.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.


To keep this paleo, pay close attention to the ingredients list on the tater tots. Some brands are made with seed oils.

Keywords: gluten free, paleo, tater tot casserole


I'm Chelsea, the author behind Chelsea Joy Eats! I believe life should be full of flavor. I enjoy creating recipes that are nourishing, flavorful, and satisfying. When not experimenting in the kitchen, I usually have a camera, barbell, or mug of coffee in hand. My posts may include affiliate links, which means if you click through a purchase something, I make a small commission at no cost to you. It helps me fuel my coffee habit and pay rent!

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