If you haven’t eaten Tater Tots lately, let me refresh your memory: they are delicious. With deeply golden, crispy exteriors that give way to tender, creamy interiors, Tater Tots are not the sort of thing it’s possible to enjoy in moderation. Thanks to today’s lightened-up, homemade, baked Tater Tots recipe, now you can feel good piling them onto your plate!
I also took the liberty of making the Tater Tots with cheese, bacon, and chives. They remind me of mini loaded baked potatoes in a most excellent way. (If you like this idea, you’ll love this Loaded Baked Potato Dip too.)
Unlike frozen tater tots out of a bag, these Tater Tots are made with simple, real ingredients. They’re both kid and adult friendly, and you can enjoy a generous serving and still feel healthy on a weeknight.
Baked homemade tater tots (especially ones with bacon) are also super fun to make! So fun, in fact, that I made a quick video showing these homemade cheesy tots in action. Be sure to watch it below.
How to Make Tater Tots at Home — The EASY Way!
Creating homemade versions of foods that are typically highly processed energizes and inspires me (these Jalapeno Poppers are one of my favorite adaptations). After being hooked on these crispy Baked Fries, I wanted to take my potato prowess to the next level with homemade Tater Tots.
Most of the homemade tater tot recipes I found called for cooking the potatoes into a mushy paste, stuffing the paste into a pastry bag, and then piping it onto a baking sheet or into a deep fryer.
NO, THANK YOU. All of the above is way more of a mess than I’m prepared to handle at home, especially for a side dish or appetizer.
Deep frying also defeated the purpose of making Tater Tots from scratch. I wanted my homemade Tater Tots to be good for you, to have the signature golden, crispy outsides, AND to be reasonably simple to cook at home.
The Easy Tater Tot Solution: Bake the Tater Tots in a mini muffin tin like this one (<—I love this brand). You do still need to fill the tins and flip the tots halfway through, but clean up is a breeze, especially compared to a messy deep fryer.
The Ingredients in Tater Tots are Simple
In addition to a simple cooking method, I also wanted simple ingredients. You’ll love knowing exactly what is in the Tater Tots: just potatoes, olive oil, a bit of flour, spices, and any optional additions, like bacon and cheese. Frozen tater tots contain stabilizers, preservatives, and undisclosed natural flavors. Not this homemade recipe!
- Russet Potatoes. While I am usually more of a fan of buttery Yukon gold potatoes, russet potatoes are what you want here. They hold up well during baking, so your beautiful Tater Tots won’t turn to mush.
- Olive Oil. To help keep the Tater Tots’ interiors moist.
- Flour. To bind the potatoes. If you’d like the Tater Tots gluten free, you can swap a 1:1 GF baking flour like this one.
- Garlic Powder, Salt, and Black Pepper. Seasoning is key for the best Tater Tots taste.
- Bacon. Part of what makes Tater Tots craveable—and probably why I saw them as the base for about 10 different foods at the State Fair last weekend—is that they feel over-the-top. The bacon gives the baked tots richness and keeps their indulgent appeal. Need the Tater Tots vegetarian or just not feeling the bacon? You can certainly leave the bacon out! Or, you could try adding a handful of extra cheese. Speaking of…
- CHEESE. A fully flavored, melty cheese like sharp cheddar rules here.
- Chives + Plain Greek Yogurt. To complete the loaded baked potato theme these Tater Tots have going on, I added chives to the batter, then served them dipped with non-fat plain Greek yogurt, which is tangy like sour cream, but high in protein and low in fat.
The fact that these Tater Tots are not deep fried at any point in the cooking process (unlike frozen tater tots, which are fried before they are frozen) makes these Tater Tots relatively good for you too.
Tips for the Best From-Scratch Tater Tots
- Don’t boil your potatoes all the way. You want them par cooked, (meaning partially cooked). This will ensure that your tots are creamy, not mushy, on the inside.
- Coat the muffin tin generously with nonstick spray. It will keep the Tater Tots from sticking and give them a golden exterior. I like to use an olive-oil type nonstick spray for this recipe.
- You can make these Tater Tots ahead! Scoop the potato mixture into the muffin tins, press it down, then cover the pan with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator up to one day in advance. Let come to room temperature, then bake as directed.
Tater Tot Recipe Twists and Serving Ideas
Feel free to use this Tater Tots recipe as a base for a variety of flavors!
- Cajun Tater Tots. Spice up your Tater Tots! Swap in one teaspoon of Cajun seasoning and either reduce or omit the added salt from the recipe. These would be delicious dipped in my Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip.
- Garlic Black Pepper Tater Tots. A favorite in our household! Double the amount of pepper to one teaspoon and use fresh minced garlic instead of garlic powder.
- Hashbrown Tots. Serve these at brunch in place of hashbrowns. Instead of ketchup, include a side of my delicious Homemade BBQ Sauce. (You can also try my Sweet Potato Hash Browns.)
- Tater Tots and Eggs. Top your Tater Tots with Eggs (poached or fried) and serve them for a rib-sticking breakfast.
- Tater Tot Casserole (or if you are from Minnesota or North Dakota Tater Tot Hotdish). For the ultimate from-scratch Tater Tot hotdish, use these homemade Tater Tots in your favorite hot dish recipe. (My friend Brenda lives in the land of hot dish; this is her recipe for it.)
Whether you need a surprising, gobble-it-up appetizer or a painless way to convince your picky eaters to eat their veggies, these better-for-you Tater Tots will hit the spot. (These Zucchini Fries are another delicious option.)
You’ll feel great knowing you are making a better-for-you batch of Tater Tots that far surpasses anything from a frozen bag!
Recommended Tools to Make Homemade Tater Tots
- Mini muffin pan
- Small scoop
- Grater: I like either a box grater like this or a microplane grater like this
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 6 strips bacon cooked
- 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese about 2 ounces—OK to swap reduced fat, but do not use fat free
- 3 tablespoons chopped chives or green onion
- Nonfat plain Greek yogurt for serving (optional)
- If necessary, cook the bacon according to these easy steps. Once cool, dice into small pieces.
- Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Scrub and peel the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with 1 inch of cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 6 minutes (the potatoes should be about halfway cooked). Drain and let cool for 15 minutes.
- Once cooled, grate the potatoes into a large bowl. Add the olive oil, flour, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Gently combine by hand so that the ingredients are as evenly distributed as possible. Add the bacon, cheese, and chives, then combine again.
- Generously coat two 24-cup mini muffin tins with nonstick spray, or make the tots in two batches. With a small cookie scoop or spoon, scoop about one heaping tablespoon of the potato mixture into each muffin cavity, then with your fingers, press each scoop flat. Bake until the potatoes are brown at the edges, about 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and coat the tops with cooking spray. With a small offset spatula or table knife, flip each tot. Coat tops with nonstick spray once more, then return the pan to the oven and bake until browned, 12 to 15 additional minutes until golden brown. Let cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then serve with sour cream.
- This recipe can easily be halved or doubled.
- Make it ahead: Scoop the potato mixture into the muffin tins, press it down, then cover the pan with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 day in advance. Let come to room temperature, then bake as directed.
- To Reheat: Leftover tater tots can be stored in the refrigerator, then gently reheated in a 350 degree F oven until warm and crispy.
- To Freeze: Fully baked tater tots can be frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze, arrange the baked tater tots on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer until they harden, then transfer to a ziptop bag. To reheat, bake directly from frozen.
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