This casserole combines a love of crispy tater tots, bbq pulled pork, and creamy mac ‘n cheese topped with a cheesy herb pretzel crumble.
It’s the end of 2020 and that means out with the old and in with the new. For me, that includes out with the leftovers and in with new delicious recipes.
This recipe is actually one that is made up of all leftovers or half bags of stuff. You see, I do a deep clean out of my freezer (and fridge) every quarter. For as much as I cook and bake, leftovers are something we are never without. And even though I give away so much food, I still find I have a lot on hand.
The thing about leftovers, I almost never eat them like that, a leftover. Growing up as poor as we did, the variety wasn’t an option so Mom had to become a kitchen magician and transform leftovers into new and exciting dishes.
So for this recipe, I channeled my Mom.
As I said above, all of these items are either from the freezer as leftovers, in the fridge from an earlier meal that week, OR opened bags of stuff.
- BBQ Pulled Pork – I used this recipe for the pork and bbq sauce
- Tater Tots – I had about a half of a bag in the freezer
- Creamy Mac ‘n Cheese – I had about 3 cups of this recipe left in the fridge
- Cheese – Shredded Cheddar and Cubed Velveeta
- Crushed Pretzels – It was the end of a bag of pretzels that weren’t that fresh anymore
- Herbed Butter – just butter with some parsley
Let’s Make Deliciousness!
- While the oven is preheating, lightly spray a 9″ pie pan. You can also use a 9×9″ baking dish too.
- Place the thawed tater tots in the pan.
- Using the back of a lightly sprayed measuring cup (can use flat bottom glass), press the tots into an even layer on the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.
- Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
Let’s Assemble The Tater Tot Casserole
The trick here is you want to par-bake the tater tot crust as this will help them get crispy and stay crispy as the casserole bakes.
- To the par-baked tater tot crust, add 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheddar.
- Next, spread out the warmed pulled pork over top.
- Drizzle over the bbq sauce and then add the warmed mac ‘n cheese.
- Spread out the mac ‘n cheese to the edges.
- Sprinkle on cubed Velveeta and 2 Tbl of shredded cheddar.
- To a bowl add the butter and parsley, melt, and mix.
- Pour the mixture over top of the pretzel crumbs and mix until evenly coated.
Top it off!
- Evenly sprinkle the herb pretzel crumble over top, gently pressing into the mac ‘n cheese.
- Add the remaining shredded cheddar over the top of the pretzel crumble and bake.
Since the pork and mac ‘n cheese is already warmed through, you really only need to bake it until the cheese is fully melted and the tots are crisped to perfection. ~15-20 minutes.
Resist the urge
Once the dish is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes or until it goes from volcano-molten lava cheesy hot to okay, this is perfect temp!
To serve you can use a pie server to cut it into rustic slices OR just use a large spoon and scoop everyone up some!
Since I’m a sauce lover, I made sure to serve some extra, warmed bbq sauce on the side. I just drizzled over some sauce and added some green onions.
The onions not only add color but add great flavor!
This dish is definitely great comfort food. It’s hearty, filling, and perfect for weekend eats. Because tots, pulled pork, and mac ‘n cheese are any time of the year dish, this dish works for cookouts, holiday feasts, weekend feasts, or a killer game day dish.
Seriously, this is total MVP food!
How to Store & Reheat
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, covered for a few days. Obviously, the age of your pulled pork will dictate this. Frozen leftover pulled pork will last about 5 days in the fridge.
To reheat, heat the oven up to 350F. Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until warmed through. You can also microwave this but keep in mind the tots will not be crispy.
So. while you’re doing your fridge (or pantry) raid for the ingredients you may spy some other stuff and wonder what else you could put in this. Fear not, I got’chu on some things I know that work super well with this dish!
- Crispy Bacon – seriously, it’s bacon. OF COURSE, it goes into this dish!
- Onions – I’m that weirdo that has a container of caramelized onions/shallots in her fridge at all times. I LOVE the flavors they impart in dishes.
- Other Veggies – sauteed spinach, roasted broccoli (chop it small)
- Chorizo – some sauteed, crumbled chorizo is killer in this
- Tots – you could use crispy potato crowns, hash brown patties, or veggie tots!
- Pulled Pork – Chicken Barbacoa, Beef Barbacoa, pulled chicken
- Mac ‘n Cheese – you can totally use cauliflower “mac” and cheese
- Cheese – any melty cheese
- Pretzels – crushed potato chips, corn chips, Doritos… you get the idea! Go with what’s in your pantry!
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. While the oven is preheating, lightly spray a 9″ pie pan. You can also use a 9×9″ baking dish too.
- Place the thawed tater tots in the pan. Using the back of a lightly sprayed measuring cup (can use flat bottom glass), press the tots into an even layer on the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- To the par-baked tater tot crust, add 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheddar. Next, spread out the warmed pulled pork over top. Drizzle over the bbq sauce and then add the warmed mac ‘n cheese. Spread out the mac ‘n cheese to the edges. Sprinkle on cubed Velveeta and 2 Tbl of shredded cheddar.
- Make the Herb Pretzel Crumble. To a bowl add the butter and parsley, melt and mix. Pour the mixture over top of the pretzel crumbs and mix until evenly coated.
- Evenly sprinkle the herb pretzel crumble over top, gently pressing into the mac ‘n cheese. Add the remaining shredded cheddar over top of the pretzel crumble and bake.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted all the way through and the tots are golden brown and crispy.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serve.
- Serve with extra bbq sauce and chopped green onions.
This recipe assumes you are using already made (leftover) pulled pork and mac ‘n cheese. The original recipes for these items are linked in the post and recipe itself
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