Loaded Tater Tots: Best Varieties, Top Spots, and Health Tips

Loaded Tater Tots: Best Varieties, Top Spots, and Health Tips

Introduced in 1953 by Ore-Ida, tater tots have become a popular side dish and snack in American cuisine. Initially created as a way to utilize leftover potato scraps, tater tots gained immense popularity for their crispy texture and unique shape. With their debut in grocery stores in 1956, tater tots quickly became a household favorite due to their convenience and versatility.

What Makes Them “Loaded”

Loaded tater tots elevate the standard tater tot by adding a variety of savory toppings. These toppings transform plain tater tots into a customizable culinary delight. Common toppings include melted cheese, crispy bacon, sour cream, jalapeños, and chives, but you can get creative and add ingredients like ranch dressing or avocado. The combination of these toppings creates a rich, flavorful dish perfect for satisfying cravings.

Varieties of Loaded Tater Tots

Classic Cheese and Bacon

Classic cheese and bacon offer a traditional, savory flavor combination. Melted cheddar cheese and crispy bacon bits add richness and texture to your tater tots. Top them with fresh chives for an added burst of flavor.

Spicy Jalapeño and Sour Cream

Spicy jalapeño and sour cream provide a tantalizing mix of heat and creaminess. Jalapeño slices introduce a spicy kick, while a dollop of sour cream cools it down. Add pickled red onions to balance and enhance the flavor profile.

Vegan-Friendly Alternatives

Vegan-friendly alternatives accommodate dietary preferences without sacrificing taste. Use vegan cheese and plant-based bacon to create a similar satisfying dish. Add guacamole and pico de gallo for a fresh, vibrant twist.

This section connects seamlessly with the exploration of diverse toppings introduced earlier, encouraging you to try these popular varieties and customize to your liking.

How to Make Loaded Tater Tots at Home

Ingredients Needed

For a batch of loaded tater tots, you’ll gather these ingredients:

  • Frozen Tater Tots: 1 bag (about 16 oz)
  • Cheddar Cheese: 1 cup, shredded
  • Bacon: 4 slices, cooked and crumbled
  • Sour Cream: 1/2 cup
  • Jalapeños: 1-2, sliced
  • Chives: 2 tablespoons, chopped
  • Additional Toppings (Optional): Pickled red onions, guacamole, pico de gallo
  1. Preheat Oven: Set the oven to 425°F (218°C) to ensure it reaches the right temperature before baking.
  2. Bake Tater Tots: Arrange tater tots on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they’re golden and crispy.
  3. Prepare Toppings: While tater tots bake, cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels, then crumble. Slice jalapeños and chop chives.
  4. Assemble Tater Tots: Once tater tots are ready, transfer them to a serving platter. Top evenly with shredded cheddar cheese.
  5. Melt Cheese: Return tater tots to the oven for an additional 3-5 minutes or until cheese melts.
  6. Add Remaining Toppings: Sprinkle crumbled bacon, sliced jalapeños, and chopped chives over the melted cheese.
  7. Serve with Sour Cream: Dollop sour cream on top or serve on the side for dipping.

These steps produce delicious loaded tater tots, but you can customize toppings as desired, such as adding guacamole and pico de gallo for a vegan option.

Where to Find the Best Loaded Tater Tots

Restaurant Recommendations

Some restaurants excel at making loaded tater tots. You can try The Tipsy Pig in San Francisco for their signature “Tipsy Tots” topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, and green onions. In New York City, head to Barka Süt where you’ll find “Loaded Bacon Tots” complete with melted cheese, sour cream, and bits of bacon. For a vegan option, visit Eureka! in Austin; their “Vegan Loaded Tots” come with plant-based cheese, avocado, and jalapeños. These restaurants serve high-quality loaded tater tots, each with a unique twist.

Food Trucks and Festivals

Food trucks often serve innovative versions of loaded tater tots. The Tot Boss in Minneapolis is known for its “Buffalo Chicken Tots” featuring spicy buffalo sauce, blue cheese crumbles, and diced celery. Look for The Loaded Fry Guy in Los Angeles, which offers “Pulled Pork Tots” with BBQ sauce and scallions. During food festivals like the Annual Tater Tot Festival in Oregon, you can explore various loaded tot creations from different vendors, giving you a chance to taste multiple varieties in one place.

By visiting these restaurants and events, you get to experience some of the best loaded tater tots available.

Health and Nutrition Aspects

Caloric and Nutritional Content

Loaded tater tots contain varying caloric and nutritional content depending on the toppings. Tater tots alone provide about 160 calories per 3-ounce (85g) serving, primarily from carbohydrates and fats. Adding cheese (about 113 calories per ounce), bacon (approximately 42 calories per slice), sour cream (around 23 calories per tablespoon), and jalapeños (approximately 4 calories per ounce) increases the overall calorie count. These additions raise the fat and sodium levels significantly. Cheese and bacon contribute saturated fats, potentially impacting heart health. Monitoring portion sizes helps manage caloric intake. According to the USDA, a balanced diet should respect daily caloric requirements, with mindful consideration for loaded tater tots.

Tips for Healthier Alternatives

Opt for healthier alternatives to reduce the caloric impact of loaded tater tots. Bake tater tots instead of frying them, reducing fat content significantly. Use reduced-fat cheese and lean turkey bacon for toppings to lower saturated fat intake. Substitute sour cream with Greek yogurt for added protein and fewer calories. Add vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions to enhance nutritional value without substantially increasing calories. Portion control remains crucial for maintaining a balanced diet. Integrate these healthier options into your loaded tater tots to enjoy the flavors without compromising nutritional values.


Loaded tater tots offer a deliciously versatile snack that can be tailored to suit any palate or dietary preference. Whether you’re indulging in classic cheese and bacon or a spicy jalapeño twist, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy these crispy bites. You can explore some of the best-loaded tater tots at popular restaurants and food trucks across the country or even at food festivals dedicated to this beloved snack.

For those mindful of health and nutrition, there are plenty of tips to make your loaded tots a bit healthier without sacrificing flavor. Baking instead of frying and opting for reduced-fat toppings can make a significant difference. Don’t forget to add some veggies for extra nutrition while keeping portion sizes in check.

Loaded tater tots are more than just a snack; they’re a canvas for culinary creativity. So go ahead and experiment with different toppings and methods to find your perfect loaded tot combination.

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