Tater tots are one of those things that if I see on a menu anywhere, and I mean anywhere, you better believe I’ll be ordering them. All bets are off. Give me an order of tots immediately or stand back because someone will get hurt. I don’t know what it is about them exactly, but I lose all control. I think part of it is because I loved tots as a kid. I’m pretty sure every child did. It’s that quintessential kid food, but also another part of it is because they’re fried nuggets of potato. What can be better than that (sorry Ina)? Nothing is better, nothing. Maybe doughnuts. Doughnuts might be better. Now, I’m not a tater tot connoisseur or anything, and I’m definitely not above grabbing a bag of frozen tots from the store. I’ll devour them faster than humanly possible. With that being said though, making these homemade from scratch is like an out-of-body experience. You need to jump on this recipe right away. If I couldn’t tempt you enough with these all by themselves, there’s a nice twist at the end of the post that will be sure to hook you.
I’m teaming up with Idaho Potato to bring you four great new recipes revolving around my all-time favorite vegetable, the potato! Starting in July, all month I’ll be sharing a new recipe a week in partnership with Idaho Potato. There’s something for us to look forward to. In the meantime, I thought sharing this TCA Classics post would be fitting and a great way to get you excited. This is also your chance to catch up on these classic posts from my favorite segment on the site. Take a look back at the previous recipes featured in the archives. Earlier in the week I shared these Chocolate Doughnut Twists and should most definitely add them to your must-make list. Give them and these tots a try this weekend. Might as well, since you’ll have the oil already hot. Make it a fried weekend. Let’s all rejoice!
Let’s begin by baking the potatoes in the oven until fork tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Once cooked, remove and let cool slightly until warm enough to handle. Using a pairing knife, peel the potatoes, discard the skin and grate with a box grater.
**Note: Alternatively, you can also cook the potatoes on the stovetop by boiling them or for faster cooking, nuke them in the microwave until fork tender.**
In a large bowl, combine the shredded potatoes, flour, and seasonings until just incorporated. Grab a teaspoon of the mixture and form into a tater tot shape.
**Note: Feel free to make them as big or as little as you’d like. I like a normal tater tot shape and size, so I used about a teaspoon of the mixture. Just make sure they’re all the same size so they cook evenly.**
Fry the tots in hot oil until golden brown and crispy all around. Drain using a slotted spoon and transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil. While the taters are still hot, season with a bit of salt.
**Note: Fry the tots in batches and don’t overcrowd them in the skillet or pot because then the temperature of the oil will drop and they won’t fry evenly.**
Continue frying the rest of the tots and serve warm with ketchup on the side. If you want them simple and classic this is where you stop and you’re happy and content because you’ve just made homemade tater tots and they’re awesome and everything is right in the world.
If you want to take these tots a step further and really just go crazy, well then, let’s proceed to make these over the top and completely unnecessary but totally necessary tater tot nachos. You’ll be surprised how simple it is to make, and once you realize it, you’ll be mad that I taught you this because you’ll want to make and eat them all the time. But don’t let me stop you.
Whip up a quick and easy cheese sauce, by melting butter in a skillet and cooking it together with flour. Then whisk milk and cook until thickened. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded Cheddar cheese until melted.
**Note: This is the same way you’d make a cheese sauce for mac and cheese. So keep that in mind the next time you want to make yourself a treat.**
Pour the sauce over the tots and sprinkle with lots of chopped up crispy bacon and fresh chives for color…also chives count as our healthy vegetable for this meal. We’re doing our part to make healthier choices. Serve immediately and enjoy these tater tot nachos with a cold beer or a cocktail. If you’re in need of a cocktail to pair, try them with these Watermelon Mexican Mules or Spicy Tomato Gin and Tonics.
If you make any recipe from the site, be sure to snap a picture, share it and tag me (@jonjon33 on IG) and tag it with #candidappetite. If you whip up a Classics post tag it with #TCAclassics! Can’t wait to see what you make!
- 4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¼ teaspoon paprika or cayenne pepper
- vegetable or canola oil for frying
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place the potatoes in the oven, directly on the middle rack, and bake until cooked through fork tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. While the potatoes are still warm, but not hot, using a pairing knife, peel the potatoes.
- Shred the potatoes with a box grater and transfer to a large bowl. Combine with the flour, salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, and paprika. Fold until evenly incorporated. Measure out about 1 teaspoon of the potato mixture and form with your fingers into a tot shape. Place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and continue forming the rest.
- Add enough oil to a large frying pan, a cast iron would work great, to reach about ¼ inch up the sides. Set over medium-high heat until hot and the temperature reaches about 360 degrees F with a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Once hot, fry the tater tots in batches until golden brown and crispy all around. Using a slotted spoon drain and transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels, to soak up the excess oil. While the tots are hot, season with a bit of salt, and continue frying the rest. Serve warm with ketchup and enjoy!
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 6 crispy bacon strips, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- Homemade Tater Tots
- Set a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in the milk and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Remove from heat and add the cheese, stirring until melted.
- Arrange the tater tots in a platter or platter, and pour the cheese over the top. Sprinkle with the bacon and chives and enjoy!
- Yield: about 4 servings