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Sure, these tater tots might not look like traditional tacos; but this brilliant slow cooker dish lets you enjoy cheesy beef tacos in a whole new way. That's because under that layer of crisp-tender tots and gooey, melty cheese is a taco-seasoned mix of ground beef, salsa and beans.
Served straight from the slow cooker, these tater tot tacos are scooped into bowls and finished with a dollop of sour cream and a spicy spoonful of fresh pico de gallo. Who would say no to that?
Slow cooker tots are more tender and fragile than their oven-crisped counterparts, making them the perfect substitute for rice (a grain notoriously tricky to slow cook). Line the bottom of the slow cooker with a layer of tots, and once cooked under the layers of seasoned meat and cheese, the texture of the tots mimics rice.
This slow cooker supper starts on the stovetop, giving the beef the crumbled, caramelized texture and flavor you expect from a classic beef taco. Once the beef browns, you'll add pantry staples like salsa, beans, taco seasoning mix and frozen corn. With the taco filling complete, turn your attention to the slow cooker. Layer half the frozen tots in the bottom of a slow cooker. Top with the beef filling and cheese before adding a final layer of tater tots on top.
The finishing touch is a sprinkling of cheese, which melts in the last 10 minutes of cooking -- just enough time for you to get out the serving bowls and any taco toppings. This slow cooker meal can cook all day on low, or for just a few hours on high, so dinner is ready when you are.
Serves 6 to 8
For the tots:
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 (16-ounce) jar salsa
1 (15.5-ounce) can black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (1-ounce) packet lower-sodium taco seasoning mix
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 (28- to 32-ounce) package frozen tater tots, divided
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (8 ounces), divided
To serve (optional):
Pico de gallo
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Add the beef and onion, and use a wooden spoon to break the beef into smaller pieces. Cook until the beef browns and is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Drain off any fat. Remove from the heat, and stir in the salsa, beans, taco seasoning mix and corn.
Coat the insert of a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Arrange 1/2 of the tater tots in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with the beef mixture and sprinkle with 1/2 the cheese. Arrange the remaining tater tots on top.
Cover and cook until the edges of the tots are crispy and the casserole is hot, 6 to 8 hours on the low setting or 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours on the high setting. Ten minutes before serving, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the tater tots. Cover and cook until cheese melts. Scoop into bowls, and top with pico de gallo, diced avocado, pickled jalapenos, sour cream or cilantro.
Recipe notes: The beef mixture can be cooked up to one day in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use. Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days.
This article is written by Patty Catalano from The Kitchn and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.