Homemade Tater Tots

Ever think of making your own Tater Tots from scratch? It is a process that is surprisingly easy! And once you get the hang of it, you can snack on the homemade tots anytime or, of course, use them as a crunchy topping for Tater Tot hot dish and Tater Tot casserole.

What are homemade Tater Tots?
Homemade Tater Tots replicate the look and texture of the official brand created by Ore-Ida. Originally, the company came up with the idea to use the bits of potatoes left behind after cutting french fries, turning the scraps into Tater Tots. In a home kitchen, you’re unlikely to have so many leftover potato bits, so just start with peeled whole potatoes.

The trick to getting the potatoes to hold together with a fluffy center, rather than the mashed middle of a potato croquette, is to fry them twice. It might sound counterintuitive that starchy potato flesh cooked in oil would stick together, but the initial dunk in the fryer creates Tater Tots’ quintessential texture: soft inside and crunchy outside.

Homemade Tater Tot Ingredients
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Oil for deep-frying
Russet potatoes
Minced fresh parsley or dried parsley flakes
Cornstarch
Kosher salt
Onion powder
Pepper

Directions
Step 1: Remove extra moisture
Place the potatoes in a bowl of cold water and stir them for 15 seconds. Drain the potatoes through a colander until they stop dripping. Pat them dry with paper towels, removing as much moisture as possible.

Step 2: Fry the raw potatoes
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In an electric skillet or deep fryer, heat the oil to 350°F.

Fry the potatoes in the oil in batches for six to eight minutes, until lightly browned. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and let it drain on paper towels.

Editor’s Tip: For deep-frying, choose an oil with a high smoking point, like peanut or sunflower oil. Use enough oil to fully submerge the potatoes, with a few extra inches between the oil surface and the cooker’s rim to accommodate bubbling.

Step 3: Mix the ingredients
In batches, place the fried potatoes in a food processor. Pulse just until the potatoes are in 1/8- to 1/4-inch pieces, stopping before they become gummy. Transfer them to a large bowl and gently stir in the parsley, cornstarch, salt, onion powder and pepper until just combined.

Step 4: Shape the Tater Tots
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Using about 1 tablespoon potato mixture for each Tater Tot, create 1-inch-long cylinders.

Editor’s Tip: To make the tots easy to handle for the second fry, lay each tot on a baking sheet as you shape it, leaving space so that the tots don’t touch.

Step 5: Fry the Tater Tots
Increase the heat of the oil to 375°.

Fry the cylinders in batches for four to five minutes, turning frequently, until crisp and golden brown. Remove the finished Tater Tots with a slotted spoon and let them drain on paper towels.

Serve immediately. If desired, sprinkle with additional salt and minced parsley, and serve with Sriracha mayonnaise or ranch dressing.

Editor’s Tip: It’s tempting to skimp on oil when frying, but that second fry is key to cooking the outer layer to a crisp in seconds and sealing off the soft center. Foods deep-fried at a high temperature actually absorb less oil than those fried at a lower temperature.

Can you freeze homemade Tator Tots?
Yes, you can! Freeze unfried, shaped tots on a baking sheet for at least one hour, until firm. Then, transfer them to a freezer-safe container and store them for up to three months. Fry them from frozen in 375° oil for six to eight minutes, until golden brown, or use them in a favorite recipe that calls for frozen Tater Tots.

Homemade Tater Tot Tips
How can you shape homemade Tater Tots?
You can make homemade Tater Tots any shape you want. Keeping them small and similar in size lets them cook rapidly and evenly. For the traditional barrel shape, scoop about 1 tablespoon precooked potato mixture into one hand, curling your fingers to round the sides, and then use the fingertips of your other hand to flatten the ends. Press each one just enough that it holds the shape.

Can you make frozen Tater Tots in an air fryer?
Homemade Tater Tots can go straight from the freezer to the basket or trays of a preheated air fryer and they’ll be ready to serve in less than 15 minutes. You can cut back on the oil if you crisp frozen homemade Tater Tots in an air fryer. Instead of plopping them into a second round of deep oil, they need just a little spritz with cooking spray for a crunchy air-fryer finish. You’ll still want to first fry the raw potatoes in a deep fryer or electric skillet to avoid mushy centers though!

Test Kitchen Approved

Prep Time
20 min

Cook Time
5 min

Yield
6 servings.

Ingredients

Oil for deep-fat frying 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-in. pieces 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/4 teaspoon pepper Optional: Sriracha mayonnaise or ranch dressing

Directions
In an electric skillet or deep fryer, heat oil to 350°. Place potatoes in a bowl of cold water and stir for 15 seconds. Drain potatoes; pat dry with paper towels. Fry potatoes in batches in oil until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Increase heat of oil to 375°. In batches, place potatoes in a food processor. Pulse until potatoes are 1/8- to 1/4- inch pieces. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Shape 1 tablespoon of potato mixture into 1-inch long cylinders. Fry tater tots in oil in batches until crisp and golden brown, 4-5 minutes, turning frequently. Drain on paper towels; serve immediately. If desired, sprinkle with additional salt and minced parsley and serve with sriracha mayonnaise or ranch dressing.

Nutrition Facts
3/4 cup (6 tots): 173 calories, 9g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 324mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 2g fiber), 2g protein.

If you love Tater Tots and use them as a crunchy topping for Tater Tot hot dish and casseroles, the next step is making your own from scratch. It’s a surprisingly simple process, and once you master the basic technique, you can make these homemade Tater Tots your own! —Taste of Home Test Kitchen

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