My favorite breakfast casserole! Made with perfectly seasoned maple sage breakfast sausage, peppers, onions, eggs, crispy tater tots and, the best part, cheddar cheese sauce!
Breakfast tater tot casserole was inspired by one of my absolute favorite meals, tater tot hotdish. My mom made tater tot hotdish a lot growing up and I continued to make it throughout my college and adult life. There's just something about crispy tater tots and how easily they allow you to make a casserole (aka hotdish). Tater tots are so versatile that they can be incorporated into appetizers, dinner, lunch and breakfast... hello, Extra Cheesy Breakfast Tater Tot Casserole!
How it's made.
Just like tater tot hotdish, I wanted the breakfast version to have layers. To start, I brown and season ground pork with sage, thyme and maple syrup.. my favorite breakfast flavors! I also use this method when making my easy, homemade maple sage breakfast sausage patties! Next up, cook bell peppers and onions until they are soft then mix them with the breakfast sausage. Set the sausage, pepper and onion mixture aside.
When it comes to the eggs, I soft scramble them before adding them to the casserole. I like to go this route because, like I said above, I like the layers. This also allows you to pour the cheese sauce (yes, this recipe has cheese sauce) over the casserole. If you mixed the uncooked eggs the sausage and vegetables and then poured the cheese sauce over that, everything would bake together. I just don't think that would taste as good!
Onto the star of this casserole, cheese sauce! This is where the "extra cheesy" part comes into play. I start by making a roux with butter and flour, add milk and cook until thickened, mix in lots of cheddar cheese! Pour this heavenly cheese sauce over the eggs.
Lastly, top with tater tots and bake! I start by baking the casserole covered to lock in the moisture so the delicious cheese sauce doesn't dry out. For the last 15 minutes, I uncover the casserole so the tater tots can get crispy. I also add more cheddar cheese at this point and let that bake until melty.
Ground pork & seasonings. I like to start with ground pork and season it myself versus buying pre-seasoned breakfast sausage. I season the pork with sage, thyme and maple syrup - the perfect breakfast sausage trio!
Bell peppers & onions. For added flavor and a pop of color.
Butter & flour. These two ingredients are used to make a roux. You start by melting the butter over medium-high heat then mix in the flour. This is what thickens the sauce.
Milk. Whole or 2%. Anything less just won't be creamy enough. The milk gets poured into the roux to create a base for the cheese sauce. Milk also gets mixed in with eggs.
Eggs. The eggs get soft scrambled until just set, as they will bake more in the oven.
Cheddar cheese. Lots of it. Two cups of cheddar cheese get mixed into the milk/roux mixture to create the most creamy, cheesy sauce. I also like to sprinkle more cheddar cheese over the tater tots.
Tater tots. Depending on the size of your skillet or baking dish, you will need about a full bag.
Tips & Tricks.
Double the recipe. If you're feeding more than 5-6 people I suggest doubling the recipe and making the casserole in a 9x13 inch baking dish. It will probably also need to bake a little longer. I suggest baking an extra 10-12 minutes until the sauce is bubbling in the center. Then uncover and bake till the tots are crispy. Add the cheese and bake till melted. Enjoy!
Can you make the casserole ahead of time? Yes! Prepare the casserole up through the cheese sauce then cover and store in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the casserole from the fridge while the oven preheats. Top with frozen tater tots, cover and bake. You may need to bake the casserole an extra 10 minutes or so since it will be a little cold when it goes into the oven.
Extra Cheesy Breakfast Tater Tot Casserole
Pork, vegetables and eggs
- 1 lb ground pork
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground sage
- 1 teaspoon ground thyme
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 bell peppers, finely chopped
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 6 eggs
- ¼ cup milk (whole or 2%)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 ½ tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded (6 ounces)
Assemble and bake
- 1 bag frozen tatar tots
- ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded (2 ounces)
Pork, vegetables and eggs
- Heat a large oven safe skillet to medium-high heat. Add ground pork to skillet and season with salt, pepper, sage and thyme. Cook the ground pork for about 5-7 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Drizzle with maple syrup and mix together. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Add olive oil, peppers and onions to the same skillet that you cooked the pork. Cook over medium-high heat until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the pork back to the skillet with the peppers and onions; mix to combine. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and ¼ cup of milk. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a non-stick over medium heat. Add eggs and scramble until just set (they will cook more in the oven). Evenly spread scrambled eggs over the pork and vegetables in the skillet. If your skillet isn't oven safe, transfer the pork and vegetables to an oven safe baking dish then add the eggs.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk until fully combined with the melted butter; let cook for 1 minute.
- Gradually pour in the milk while whisking. Continuing whisking until sauce is bubbling and slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Sauce should be about the consistency of heavy whipping cream.
- Remove from heat and whisk in cheddar cheese until melted. Evenly drizzle cheese sauce over eggs in the skillet.
Assemble and bake
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Add frozen tater tots in a single layer over the cheese sauce. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes, or until bubbling through the center. Uncover and back an additional 10 minutes, or until the tater tots are crispy. Sprinkle with ½ cup cheddar cheese and bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.