This loaded twice baked tater tot casserole is a everything you wanted in loaded baked potatoes but even better–layered with a rich béchamel sauce, juicy chicken, cheese and bacon–this is a knockout recipe perfect for a hungry table!
One thing about me, I’m gonna choose potatoes every time. It’s one of my favorite sides and it is so versatile! As you know, I love a good twice baked potato. I’ve done them simple with just cheese and I’ve done them loaded with jumbo lump crab. I saw a twice baked loaded potato with a cheese sauce recently and thought wow that’s a great idea! Never met a creamy cheese sauce I didn’t like and better yet on a twice baked potato? Say less!
As I was developing my recipe, I wanted to change the format of the potato but I wasn’t sure how. I thought, why not cut the time to prepare this dish in half and use something that most people love–tater tots! Now, I’m a tater tot lover because of the crispy exterior and pillowy soft interior. It reminds me of hash browns but better. Anyway, I figured getting some frozen hash browns would make this recipe even easier and what’s not to love about loaded tater tots!
I got to work developing the sauce and decided to go classic here with a traditional béchamel sauce. This is a traditional French sauce with equal parts butter and flour. I then added some cheese to make it a cheese sauce–yum! The thing about this sauce is it doesn’t break easily, which I love since this dish has to finish in the oven. A regular cheese sauce with just milk, butter and cheese might split on you in the oven–it won’t be too cute.
After the cheese sauce, I seasoned some boneless, skinless chicken thighs and put them in the air fryer for about 12 minutes on 400. They came out so JUICY–perfect by themselves but then when I diced it up and topped it on the casserole it was game over.
I finished the casserole with some cheese, bacon and chopped chives. In the oven it went for about 10 minutes until everything was melted together.
It came out better that I could have even imagined. If you read this far then I know you have a serious interest in making this loaded twice baked tater tot casserole–just go for it!
A few tips:
- Pre bake the tater tots to get them a little crispy before assembling the casserole. I baked them for about 10 minutes according to the package instructions
- Use chicken thighs as your topping–chicken breasts will dry out if cooked too long
- Make the béchamel sauce nice and thick so that your casserole doesn’t end up runny–we don’t want a soupy casserole
Let’s jump into the recipe:
For tater tots
- 1/2 a bag of Alexia crispy seasoned potato puffs
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 paprika
- 1/2 tsp all purpose seasoning like Maggie
- Salt and pepper to taste
For béchamel sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup of regular milk
- 1/2 cup of heavy cream
- 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
- Diced chicken thighs
- Chopped chives
- 4 slices of bacon, chopped
- First, season your chicken, then air fry for 12 minutes on 400 degrees flipping half way through
- While chicken is cooking, pre-bake the tater tots in a small casserole dish, for 10 minutes on 400 degrees - do not over pack the dish as you will need space to layer the rest of the ingredients
- While tater tots are cooking, make cheese sauce
- To a skillet, melt butter on medium heat and then whisk in flour
- Slowly add milk while whisking, then add heavy cream
- Don't stop whisking until the sauce begins to thicken
- Once the sauce begins to thicken, turn off the heat and slowly add cheese while whisking
- Once cheese is added, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside
- Sauce should be silky smooth and thick
- Remove potatoes from the oven and top with cheese sauce, diced chicken, chopped bacon, chives and cheese
- Bake casserole for about 10 minutes of until everything is nice and melted together
- Remove casserole from oven and serve warm
Though separate, the cook time for the chicken is included in the total time for the dish--you want to cook the chicken while the tater tots are cooking for the first 10 minutes so it's ready to go when everything goes back in the oven.
If you make this recipe be sure to let me know how you like it in the comments below! Also check my Instagram for daily food inspo!