Tater tots are a type of food made from grated potatoes that have been shaped into small cylindrical pieces and deep-fried until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They were first created in the United States in the 1950s by the Ore-Ida company as a way to use up leftover bits of potato that were too small to be turned into french fries.
These have since become a popular side dish in the United States and can often be found on the menus of fast food chains and casual restaurants. They are also sometimes used as a topping for hot dogs or as a component in casserole dishes.
The recipe is typically made from a mixture of grated potatoes, flour, and seasonings. Some variations may also include cheese, onions, or other ingredients. They are typically deep-fried until golden brown and served hot.
Ingredients for Tater tots:
- 2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and grated
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- Vegetable oil, for frying
Instructions for Tater tots:
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- In a large bowl, mix together the grated potatoes, flour, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper until well combined.
- Using your hands, shape the potato mixture into small cylindrical pieces, about 1 inch in diameter.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Once the oil is hot, add the pieces to the skillet in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.
- Fry them for 2-3 minutes per side, or until they are golden brown and crispy.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the tots from the skillet and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.
- Once all of the tater tots are fried, transfer them to a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until they are heated through and crispy.
- Serve the tater tots hot and enjoy!
- Tater tots are often served as a side dish to burgers, hot dogs, or sandwiches. Simply serve them hot and crispy on the side of your main dish.
- Use tater tots as a base for a hearty casserole dish. Layer them with ground beef, cheese, and vegetables, and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Serve them as a breakfast side dish, alongside eggs and bacon. You could even top them with scrambled eggs and salsa for a delicious breakfast bowl.
- Serve as an appetizer for a party or game day gathering. Provide dipping sauces like ketchup, mustard, or ranch dressing to make them even more enjoyable.
Tips and Variations
- Use a food processor to grate the potatoes quickly and easily.
- Be sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the grated potatoes before mixing them with the other ingredients.
- Don’t overcrowd the skillet when frying the tater tots. This can cause the oil temperature to drop and result in greasy, soggy tater tots.
- For a healthier version, you can bake them in the oven instead of frying them. Just spray them lightly with cooking spray and bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes, turning once halfway through.
- Cheesy: Mix shredded cheddar cheese into the potato mixture before shaping and frying.
- Sweet potato: Use grated sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes for a sweeter and healthier option.
- Spicy: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or chili powder to the potato mixture for some heat.
- Ranch tater tots: Toss them in a mixture of ranch seasoning and olive oil before baking for a delicious and easy seasoning.
- Loaded breakfast: Top it with scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese for a filling and delicious breakfast dish.
Potential health benefits to consider:
- Source of Potassium: Potatoes are a good source of potassium, a mineral that is important for heart health and blood pressure regulation.
- Source of Fiber: Potatoes also contain some fiber, which can aid digestion and promote feelings of fullness.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Potatoes contain several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, and iron.
- It’s important to note that tater tots are often deep-fried, which can add extra calories and unhealthy fats to the dish. Eating them in moderation and pairing them with healthier options, such as a salad or grilled vegetables, can help balance their nutritional value.
FAQs about Tater tots
- Are tater tots vegan?
Most of them are vegan, but some brands may contain animal products or be cooked in animal fat. Always check the ingredient list to be sure.
- How do you store leftovers?
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, bake them in the oven at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, or until heated and crispy.
- Can you freeze tater tots?
Yes, you can freeze uncooked tater tots for up to 2 months. To cook, simply fry them in hot oil as usual.
- Are tater tots healthy?
While they are not generally considered healthy food, they can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Homemade tater tots can be a healthier option than store-bought ones, and baking instead of frying can also reduce the calorie and fat content.
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