How to Make the Best Homemade Tater Tots

How to make tater tots at home without frying. These homemade tater tots are baked, not fried, which means they are easy. So say goodbye to that store-bought bag!

Watch the Video

Tater Tots Recipe Video

These kid-friendly baked tots are so good. They are so good that adults go crazy for them, too. The base recipe is simple. Potatoes + salt + pepper + a touch of cornstarch. You could leave it at that, and everyone will be happy, but we thought a couple of extras wouldn’t hurt. So we added chopped fresh parsley and cheddar cheese! Hello, cheesy baked tots! For more potato recipes, take a look at our Rosemary Baked Potato Wedges, these Sweet Potato Fries, and our Crispy Roasted Potatoes.

Making Delicious Tater Tots in the Oven

These are pretty simple. A microwave and food processor makes quick work of the whole process. Here’s how we do it.

The Best Tater Tots

We start with peeled russet potatoes. Then, after a rough chop, we dunk them in cold water for 10 to 15 seconds, which removes some extra starch. Removing that starch means that our tots will be a little fluffier in the middle and not gummy — We talk more about soaking potatoes in our baked French fries recipe.

After the water, we add the potatoes to a food processor and pulse twenty or so times until they look like little bits of potatoes. Then we wring them out and squeeze as much excess water as possible.

Cooking, processing, and wringing out the potatoes

After a minute or two in the microwave, the potatoes are cooked and tender, but they still have a bit of crunch — perfect for tots!

It’s time for the other ingredients: salt, onion powder, pepper, cornstarch, parsley, and cheese. Feel free to add some more ingredients here, like bacon, basil, and something spicy — there are many options.

Stir in the cheese, parsley, and spices.

Gently mix everything — the potatoes can be a bit sticky, so gentle is best. A rubber spatula works nicely, as well as a fork.

Our recipe makes 24 tater tots. We did our best to get them in the classic tater tot shape. Keeping a bowl of cold water nearby (or a bit of oil) helps when you’re shaping the tots.

Shaping the tater tots before baking.

Since things get a bit sticky, the water keeps the potatoes from sticking to your hands. After a couple of tries, shaping goes quickly.

That’s it. After about 20 minutes in a hot oven, you’ve got crispy, golden brown tater tots ready to be devoured by anyone in a 20-foot radius!

Delicious Oven-Baked Tater Tots

I love dunking them into some ketchup, but we have a variety of dipping sauces you might enjoy:

FAQ: Can I Make These in an Air Fryer?

Yes, absolutely. You can make these tater tots in an air fryer (see our video for proof). We cook them on the air fry setting somewhere between 375° F and 390° F for 10 to 15 minutes. You might find that you need to cook them in two batches.

homemade tater tots

How to Make the Best Homemade Tater Tots

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

Skip buying that bag of store-bought tater tots and make this homemade tater tots recipe. To keep things easy and healthier, we bake the tots instead of frying them. A microwave and food processor makes quick work of the potatoes. Shaping the mixture is a little tricky — but with a bowl of cold water next to you, you’ll quickly get the hang of it (see our notes in the recipe). These tots can be made in advance! Check out our tips below for how.

Makes 6 servings or 24 tater tots

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

2 tablespoons neutral flavored oil, like grapeseed or canola

1 ½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into rough 1-inch chunks (2 medium-to-large potatoes)

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 ounce sharp white cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1/3 cup)

2 tablespoons finely minced parsley, optional

Fresh ground black pepper

Directions

  • Prepare Potatoes
  • 1Heat oven to 400° Fahrenheit — if you have a convection setting, use it. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and grease with half of the oil. If you have a nonstick baking sheet, you can use it without lining it first. The tater tots brown best on a silicone mat or unlined, nonstick baking sheet. They may stick to foil or regular baking sheets.

    2Place the potatoes in a bowl of cold water and agitate for 10 to 15 seconds. Drain in a colander for a minute or two.

    3Transfer half of the potatoes to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until broken down into rough 1/4 to 1/8th inch pieces, about twenty-five 1-second pulses. Transfer to a clean dish towel and repeat with the remaining potatoes.

    4Wrap the dish towel around the processed potatoes and squeeze well to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard the liquid and transfer the potatoes to a medium microwave-safe bowl.

    5Microwave for 1 minute, stir and then microwave for 30 seconds more.

    6Stir the potatoes — they might be a little sticky — then let them cool for 3 to 4 minutes.

    7Sprinkle the salt, onion powder, cornstarch, parsley, cheese, and a few grinds of black pepper over the potatoes. Gently mix in to combine. (The mixture will be sticky, a rubber spatula or fork work well).

  • Bake Tater Tots
  • 1Shape the mixture into cylinders about 3/4-inch wide and 1-inch long. Place shaped tater tots onto the oiled baking sheet. The mixture will be a bit sticky. Slightly damp hands can help.

    2Drizzle the tops of tater tots with the remaining oil, then bake until golden brown on the bottom, about 12 minutes.

    3Carefully flip each tater tot — using two forks helps to wiggle any tots that are more stuck than others — then bake until the second side is golden brown, another 12 to 15 minutes.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Processing the potatoes: Be careful not to over-process potatoes or they will become gummy. If a few large chunks of potatoes remain, remove them and chop them into small pieces with a knife.
  • Shaping: Keep a small bowl of water nearby. Occasionally wetting your fingers keeps the mixture from sticking to your fingers and makes shaping easier. Pressing the potatoes into a tablespoon measure helps to portion out each tater tot.
  • Make-Ahead: To freeze the tots, follow the recipe through shaping then continue to baking. Instead of baking until both sides are golden brown, underbake them slightly. Transfer to a large plate in a single layer and place in the freezer for at least an hour. Transfer the frozen tots to a freezer-safe bag and store them for up to 3 months. To reheat, heat the oven to 400 degrees F and bake until golden brown.
  • Microwave Alternative: If you do not have a microwave, bake the potatoes in a 400°F oven until tender (not mushy or soft), then let them cool. Once cooled, chop into 1-inch chunks, then add them to a food processor and pulse until broken down into rough 1/4 to 1/8th inch pieces, about eight 1-second pulses. Continue with our recipe as written.
  • Food Processor Alternative: If you do not have a food processor, use a box grater to grate the potatoes, then continue with our recipe as written. The texture will be slightly different inside the tots, but they will still taste great!
  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 4 tater tots / Calories 152 / Protein 3 g / Carbohydrate 21 g / Dietary Fiber 3 g / Total Sugars 1 g / Total Fat 6 g / Saturated Fat 2 g / Cholesterol 5 mg
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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17 comments… Leave a Review
  • john cartwright January 9, 2024, 6:47 am

    Didn’t have onion powder so used 2 small pickling onions and chopped them up with the potatoes – Used a Roast potatoe spice, not salt and pepper – and cooked them in my old wood stove oven – hot but no temp control- delicious

    Reply
    • Joanne June 12, 2024, 6:14 pm

      Glad you found us, and thank you for coming back!

      Reply
  • Shaheen October 16, 2023, 10:42 pm

    I recently tried making homemade tater tots, and I must say, it was a delightful culinary adventure.

    Reply
    • Adam October 17, 2023, 12:35 pm

      So happy you loved it and had fun 🙂

      Reply
  • Jennifer September 30, 2023, 11:02 pm

    I found your recipe when I was searching for sides to go with my soup recipe. I love how easy it was to make!

    Reply
  • karen May 2, 2023, 12:28 pm

    I need to make these without the cheese. Should I change or add anything else to compensate for the lack of cheese? Thanks

    Reply
    • Joanne May 3, 2023, 3:11 pm

      You should be able to leave out the cheese without any other modifications.

      Reply
  • Jon Valliere April 9, 2023, 3:59 pm

    These tots really are amazing! Thank you so much for posting! I would not change a thing about them. My family loves them so much that we wanted to create something with them. For Easter, we decided to make them into little patties that were 2 tablespoons each. It made about 22 pieces. We topped each fully cooked patty with some thin sliced medium rare beef fillet, a 1/2 teaspoon of homemade aioli and some chives. Next time we’ve got an even bolder idea with larger patties, more steak and asparagus or broccoli. I’d love to send a pic.

    Reply
  • s December 14, 2020, 8:46 pm

    Soooo good. I used air fryer for 17 minutes … new favorite recipe. I actually doubled up on the cheese and used sesame oil, basil, and followed the recipe otherwise … YUMMY.

    Reply
  • d4v1d September 3, 2019, 5:54 pm

    terrific recipe and came out superbly! – except 400F doesn’t get it done. you want ’em crisp, 450 minimum.

    Reply
  • Chris December 22, 2016, 4:00 pm

    My specialty is a tater tot poutine with fresh curds and demiglace or veal gravy and an egg over easy on top. Will definitely try with homemade tots.

    Reply
    • Lib February 26, 2018, 11:41 pm

      How might one do this? Sounds amazing…

      Reply
  • Mabel Standridge April 2, 2016, 10:42 pm

    I need to try this.

    Reply
  • Benz April 1, 2016, 7:11 pm

    I am one of those Luddites who don’t own a microwave. Any alternative method of cooking the potatoes? These look gorgeous and I would love to try them. Thanks

    Reply
    • Adam April 2, 2016, 11:06 am

      Yes, instead of using a microwave you can bake the potatoes. There are instructions for baking in the note section of the recipe.

      Reply
    • Chris December 7, 2021, 4:04 am

      Our microwave recently broke. I parboiled the potatoes and the tots came out great. I covered the potatoes with cold water and brought to a boil. I left the potatoes in for 10 minutes and then removed them to an ice bath where the cooled until I could handle them to grate them on my box grater. I put my formed tots on a plate and brushed them with olive oil. Then they went in the air fryer for 20 mins at 390 and they were crispy perfection.

      Reply
  • Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon April 1, 2016, 9:00 am

    I need these in my life….and my belly.

    Reply

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