Here we’ll give you our special recipe for air fryer tater tots, but before that let’s explain what they are and get into the history of tater tots!
Tater Tots are essentially grated potatoes that are deep-fried and eaten as a snack. While Tater is short for potato and is a commonly used term, the American frozen food company Ore-Ida has registered the term “Tater Tots”. Ore-Ida is a subsidiary of the well-known brand Heinz.
However, the name Tater Tots has become so widely used and famous that it has become a generic term associated with the dish. It finds common mention in books, recipes, and normal usage in the food industry without any commercial use.
The History of Tater Tots
The origin of Tater Tots goes back to the early 1950s when two brothers, Nephi and Golden Griggs, developed this product in the hope of making it big in the frozen food industry that was burgeoning in those years.
The brother’s family’s worked on the farm selling corn and potatoes. The Griggs brothers were trying to figure out some use of the leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes which would have been otherwise wasted. They experimented with various methods including chopping them up and adding flour and seasoning to make some product.
Tater Tots happened when this processed potato mash was pushed through holes and sliced off the pieces. It was commercially sold from 1956. That’s some interesting history lesson for you.
What Are Air Fryers?
Air Fryer is the latest innovation in the kitchen appliances world. It effectively mimics the operation and action of deep-frying without submerging the food item into any oil.
It is essentially a small countertop convection oven that uses extremely hot air to do the same job. This radically new convection oven device was introduced by Phillips in 2010 with the patented Rapid Air technology. Ever since the term “air fryer” has become commonplace and used generically.
Air fryer foods are lightly coated in a thin layer of oil. The device works by generating temperatures as high as 250 degrees Celsius in the device and circulating air around it at a very fast speed. The effective result is the same effect as deep-frying the food in oil and almost 20% faster than the conventional process.
You can use this device to air fry to fry French fries, pastries, cheeseburgers, steak, fish, chicken, potato chips, and Tater Tots too.
Air Fryer Tater Tots Recipe
The air fryer is the greatest way to prepare some delicious homemade tater tots. You can buy tater tots from the store and they are readily available off the freezer shelf. You can also make the tater tots fresh at home and experiment with some recipes of your own.
The issue with store-bought ones is that sometimes due to incorrect storage or preparation they have discoloration or black spots. However, when you take over and make them, you can control everything and make them perfect.
The pre-packed tater tots from the grocery store come with around 9 grams of fat per serving, however, when you make them yourself, apart from the oil, there is no other fat in the recipe. So today we will make our tater tots. The list of ingredients is shared below. As is obvious, it’s a pretty easy recipe.
List of Ingredients
Ingredients for the Tater Tots:
- Russet potatoes – 2 pounds
- Oil – Oil spray or 2 to 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon – fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon – garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons – kosher salt (divided)
- 1/2 teaspoon – onion powder
Ingredients for the Spicy Mayo Dip:
- Mayonnaise – 1/2 cup
- A few drops of Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
- Fresh ground black pepper – small quantity
- 1 teaspoon – lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon – Sriracha sauce
Preparation of the Sauce and Tater Tots
The preparation details are shared below, make note of them.
- Preparation time: 20 minutes
- Cooking time: 30 minutes (2 cycles)
- Cooling time: 5 minutes
- Total: 70 minutes
- Overall yields: 30-40 pieces
- Total Servings: 4 servings
For your ease, we broke down the complete recipe into small easy to follow steps so you can follow along without any issue.
Let’s start with the preparation of the dipping sauce since it’s easy. Get a large enough cup to fit all the ingredients. Then simply mix all the ingredients. Mix well the mayonnaise, lemon juice, fresh ground pepper, Sriracha Sauce, and Worcestershire sauce well. This step is easy as all the contents are liquid and mix well. Just refrigerate this mix as it needs to be slightly cold when serving
Tater Tots Preparation
Gather all the ingredients together. Pre-heat the oven to around 200 degrees Celsius so that you can keep the earlier batches hot, while you continue with the rest of the batches.
- Collect the potatoes, peel them clean, place them in a medium-size pan to cook.
- Pour water until it covers the potatoes and let them heat until the water boils.
- Once the boiling point is reached, cover the pan with a lid and lower the flame to a medium-low simmer so that the potatoes get cooked.
- Let this stay only for 7-8 minutes so that the potatoes are semi-cooked, as the rest of the cooking will be in the air fryer. Use a knife to check this. The knife must be able to pierce the outer layer of the potato, but the potato must feel firm.
- So, at this point, turn off the flame and drain all the water.
- Leave the potatoes for a few minutes to cool down so that you can handle them.
Grater the Potatoes and Mix the Ingredients
Use a grater to grate all the potatoes on a box grater or in a food processor. The grated potatoes will be sticky and is a good thing as it will help the tater tots to stick together when you mold them in a shape. The natural stickiness is what will prevent the use of flour. Collect all the grated contents in a large bowl.
Mix the rest of the contents in the grated potato. They will include ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ onion powder, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Mix the contents gently so that the potato grate is not mashed. The preparation is now ready.
Shaping and Putting on a Pan
Scoop a small amount of the mixture we prepared and give it a cylindrical shape. They should look like little cylindrical nuggets. Use 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture to shape it gently into a tot. Gently squeeze as necessary to help retain its shape.
Place this tater tot on a pan with parchment or butter paper on the top. In the same manner, repeat the process till you use up all the contents of the bowl. Due to starch, the contents may stick to your hand and make the mix difficult to work with. To solve this issue, use a little water to lightly moisten your hands and the mixture.
Air Fryer Part
Spray the air fryer with cooking oil, or coat it lightly with 1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Put the tater tots in the air fryer and maintain a distance of 1-2 centimeters between them for the hot air to effectively flow.
Now spray the tater tots with cooking oil or lightly coat them. Set the air fryer to 200 degrees Celsius and 13-15 minutes. As the air frying process starts, give the tater tots a little shake so that they get evenly cooked from all sides.
After around 13 minutes your first round of tater tots will be ready. Inspect the tater tots and see if they need to be more crisp and brown, or if they got burnt. Depending on how the first batch turns out, adjust the time for the rest of the cycles.
Ideally, they should smell wonderful and must look a beautiful golden brown. Remove from the fryer basket and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Additional Tips and Finishing Touches
Add extra time of around 2-3 minutes, if you want them to be crisper in texture. But closely watch them to ensure they do not get burnt. Tater tots are delicate and can get burnt easily.
Place the hot tater tots on a plate along with the sauce we prepared and have them. Tater tots are best served hot and eaten when warm for the best taste. The hot tater tots and the slightly cold sauce make a great combination.
Air Fryer Benefits and Other Info
The most benefitial thing of the air fryer is that it makes the tater tots, even more, crisper and it adds to its wonderful taste and texture. The crumbling bits of brown potato, followed by the soft potato, and the taste of the sauce are heavenly and need to be experienced to understand it.
We always recommend you follow this recipe and do not rely on store-bought frozen ones because the homemade ones taste better and you can prepare them in just a matter of minutes.
You would be wondering why we preheat the air fryer in the cooking process. No, you certainly do not have to preheat your air fryer as is not a mandatory requirement. But, if you preheat the air fryer, overall, it will help you cut down 3-4 minutes of the cooking time, but it all depends on how and what you are cooking.
If you have a family eager to taste the tater tots, there is no alternative to preheating. The wonderful quality of the air fryer is that preheating does not turn into a big deal. As the air fryer has a small space to heat up and a quick heating mechanism the difference is minimal, though noticeable.
Why Our Recipe Using the Air Fryer Is the Best?
- When you make the tater tots yourself, you can control the quantity and quality of all the ingredients.
- You can also experiment with ingredients and give it your little spin.
- Air frying is a healthy alternative to cooking high-carb dishes and very healthy than deep fry cooking.
- It is super quick, taking just 12-15 minutes per batch, depending on the batch size.
- They are extremely delicious, and better tasting than the shallow or deep-fried ones.
- The ingredients need to be closely followed but are quite easy considering the number of ingredients.
- Everyone loves it and is relished by kids and adults alike.
- If you are vegan, they are the perfect vegan recipe you will find.
What Can You Serve With Air Fryer Tater Tots?
The tater tots are unique. You can serve air fryer tater tots as an appetizer and/or starter. You can also have them as you are enjoying beer and other drinks with your friends on a football game night or an in-house party. They can be that perfect side dish to so many meals or your kid’s birthday party.
This recipe is kid-friendly, loved by youngsters and also adults. An easy-to-make snack, this side dish should be your go-to option most of the time. You can serve the tater tots with the following combination.
Air Fryer Tater Tots Combinations
- You can just consume them as they are with some ketchup
- They make a nice combination with tacos or taco salads
- They can complement the taste of fish sandwiches or baked fish (breaded or not)
- You can serve this as the side dish for a chicken Caesar salad
- You can serve them with hotdogs, hamburgers, or paninis in place of French fries
Reheating the Air Fryer Tater Tots
As odd as it may seem, it’s a reality because a lot of the time, you would make more than what is required quantity. It’s so tasty that people tend to easily overheat, leaving you baffled with the number of batches you need. So if you have leftovers, we have a way out for you to use them later on.
- Just add them to the air fryer and heat them at 200 degrees Celsius for around 5-8 minutes.
- Shake the basket halfway through the process of cooking to re-heat them evenly.
- By 7-8 minutes your tots will be done. They will be nice and crispy again and the sogginess would have gone.
That’s it. Grab a sauce and add some seasoning if required and bite into the deliciousness.