Homemade Tater Tots: Simple Recipes and Flavorful Variations for Every Meal

Tater tots, first introduced by Ore-Ida in 1956, derive from the bits of potato left after cutting fries. The creators, Golden and F. Nephi Grigg, found a way to repurpose these scraps by seasoning them and shaping them into small cylinders. Their innovative approach turned waste into a beloved snack. Ore-Ida’s patent on the process helped popularize tater tots in American households. Today, tater tots are not limited to store-bought versions but can be easily made at home.

Nutritional Value and Ingredients

Tater tots primarily consist of grated potatoes, combined with flour or cornstarch, salt, and seasonings. Typical store-bought varieties might contain additional preservatives and oils. Homemade tater tots let you control the ingredients, potentially lowering sodium levels and avoiding artificial additives. One serving of tater tots (approximately 86 grams) generally contains:

NutrientHomemade Tater TotsStore-bought Tater Tots
Carbohydrates (g)~20~22
Protein (g)~2~2.5
Fat (g)~8~9
Sodium (mg)~200~420

Homemade tater tots can include additional vitamins and minerals found in the potatoes, especially if you retain some of the skin. Customizing the recipe lets you cater to dietary restrictions, such as using gluten-free flour or reducing added salt.

Making Homemade Tater Tots

Required Ingredients

To make homemade tater tots, you’ll need:

  1. Potatoes: Use Russet potatoes for the best texture.
  2. Flour: All-purpose flour binds the mixture.
  3. Egg: It helps hold the tots together.
  4. Onion: Adds flavor.
  5. Garlic Powder: Enhances the taste.
  6. Salt and Pepper: Season according to your preference.
  7. Oil: For frying or baking.

Step-by-Step Cooking Guide

Follow these steps to create your homemade tater tots:

  1. Prep Potatoes: Peel and grate the potatoes. Squeeze out excess moisture using a cheesecloth.
  2. Mix Ingredients: Combine grated potatoes, flour, a beaten egg, minced onion, and seasonings in a bowl.
  3. Shape Tots: Scoop small amounts of the mixture and shape them into cylindrical tots.
  4. Fry/bake Tots: Heat oil in a pan and fry tots until golden brown, or bake on a greased baking sheet at 400°F for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Drain Excess Oil: If fried, place them on paper towels to drain excess oil.
  6. Serve Fresh: Enjoy your homemade tater tots hot and fresh.

This guide ensures your tater tots come out crispy and delicious, offering a healthier alternative to store-bought versions.

Tips for the Perfect Tater Tots

Choosing the Right Potatoes

Select starchy potatoes, like Russet or Idaho potatoes, to achieve the best texture for tater tots. Starchy potatoes contain less moisture, resulting in a crispier exterior. Avoid using waxy potatoes (examples: Red or New potatoes) as they hold more water, leading to soggy tots.

Techniques for Crispy Tots

First, parboil the potatoes. Boil them for 5-7 minutes until slightly tender but not fully cooked. Next, grate the parboiled potatoes using a coarse grater. This creates the ideal texture for forming tater tots. Once grated, squeeze out excess moisture using a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth. Removing moisture is crucial for achieving crispiness. Fry tater tots at 375°F (190°C) for optimal results. This temperature ensures a golden-brown exterior while keeping the interior fluffy.

By using these tips, you can make perfect, crispy tater tots that surpass the store-bought versions.

Variations of Homemade Tater Tots

Adding Spices and Herbs

Enhance the flavor of your homemade tater tots by adding spices and herbs. Paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder add a smoky depth. Fresh herbs like parsley, chives, or rosemary contribute freshness and complexity. Try mixing cumin and chili powder for a Southwestern twist. Dried herbs can work too; just use half the amount compared to fresh herbs. Remember, the right blend of spices and herbs can elevate your tater tots beyond the basic recipe.

Cheese and Bacon Infused Tots

Create a richer taste by infusing cheese and bacon into your homemade tater tots. Shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese melts beautifully, integrating into the tots and adding a gooey texture. Small bacon bits mixed into the potato mixture add a savory and crispy element. If using cheese, ensure it’s finely shredded to blend seamlessly. For bacon, cook it until crispy, then crumble it before mixing. Cheese and bacon-infused tater tots provide a delightful variation to the traditional version, making them a crowd-pleaser at any gathering.

Serving Suggestions

Enhance your homemade tater tots with a variety of dipping sauces. Ketchup remains a classic choice, offering a tangy complement. BBQ sauce provides a smoky, sweet flavor that pairs well with the crispy texture. For a rich, creamy option, try ranch dressing or cheese sauce. Spicy aioli adds a zesty kick, while garlic butter offers a savory, indulgent dip. Consider serving multiple sauces to cater to different preferences.

Pairings with Main Dishes

Homemade tater tots serve as an excellent side dish for various main courses. Pair them with burgers for a traditional meal, providing a satisfying crunch. Serve alongside grilled chicken for a balanced plate. For a hearty option, include them with meatloaf. For a lighter meal, pair tater tots with a fresh salad. Breakfast enthusiasts can enjoy tater tots with scrambled eggs and bacon, creating a delightful brunch option.


Making homemade tater tots not only gives you control over ingredients but also lets you customize flavors to suit your preferences. Whether you’re aiming for a healthier snack or a gourmet side dish, homemade tater tots offer versatility and satisfaction. With endless variations and serving options, they’re a delightful addition to any meal. So, gather your ingredients, follow the steps, and enjoy the crispy, flavorful goodness of homemade tater tots. Your taste buds will thank you!

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