8 Genius Ways to Cook with Frozen Tater Tots

If you haven’t tried tater tot waffles yet ... you need to.

Tater tots are a near-perfect food. The way the savory, shatter-crisp exterior yields to a soft inside is irresistible, as is the deep-fried potato flavor. While they’re perfectly tasty on their own or dunked into dipping sauce, the little nuggets can also easily be incorporated into other recipes, too, especially if you have a few bags in your freezer you’re looking to get rid of.

Think casseroles, waffles, and tater tot nachos, of course, and even frittatas. Read on to find out how to execute those ideas and more, compiled from our recipes and the Food & Wine test kitchen.

Turn them into waffles

Tater Tot Waffles with Prosciutto and Mustard
© Eva Kolenko

If you’ve got a waffle iron and a bag of tots, you’re well on your way to ultra-crispy, super crunchy waffles. Jen Pelka of The Riddler shared several variations with us, including topping combinations like smoked salmon and caviar, prosciutto and mustard, and truffled eggs, too. But if you want something more low-key, a runny fried egg and hot sauce would work nicely, or grated Parmesan and ground black pepper.

Get the Recipe: Tater Tot Waffles with Truffled Eggs

Get the Recipe: Tater Tot Waffles with Prosciutto and Mustard

Get the Recipe: Tater Tot Waffles with Smoked Salmon and Caviar

Treat them like chips …

Just like chips or popcorn, you can add seasonings to tater tots. Cook them first, and then toss them with seasoned salt, or dip packets like onion dip seasoning, barbecue spice, or curry powder. Sesame seeds and nori would be tasty as well. If you go the curry powder route, we’d recommend sprinkling it on almost-done tater tots and then letting them finish together for another minute or two.

For the ultimate high-low snack, you could also take a cue from the classic potato chip, sour cream (or crème fraîche), and caviar pairing and swap in tater tots for the chips.

… Or a baked potato

You can prepare tater tots in a manner similar to baked potatoes. Cook them and smash them, and then, load them with sour cream, scallions, and bacon crumbles.

Switch up your casserole toppings

Tater Tot Casserole

Casseroles are comforting on their own. Casseroles with tots? Even better. We have one recipe that layers sausage, cheesy creamed spinach, and tater tots into one indulgent meal. Tots also shine as the topping on Andrew Zimmern’s farmhouse turkey hot dish. Hot dish casseroles usually have baked layers of starch, meat (in this case, turkey), vegetable, and typically, canned soup, but here, Zimmern swaps a velouté sauce for the classic condensed mushroom soup.

If you’d prefer breakfast casserole, tater tots can easily be substituted in for bread in our bacon, tomato, and cheddar breakfast bake recipe with eggs.

Get the Recipe: Tater Tot Casserole

Get the Recipe: Farmhouse Turkey Hot Dish

Get the Recipe: Bacon, Tomato and Cheddar Breakfast Bake with Eggs

Add ‘em to frittatas

Tater tots would work in many different frittatas, but these classics are a good place to start—cheddar and bacon; mushroom, spinach, and fontina; goat cheese, spinach, and tomato; pimento cheese; leeks and ham; and ham, cheese, and peppers. Cook the tots first (you can even do it in the same skillet), transfer them to a plate, and then, add them to the frittata mixture.

Get the Recipe: Frittatas

Make “tatchos”

Tater Tot Nachos (Tatchos) with Kimchi Cheese Sauce
Move over Idaho, The Mount Rushmore State could soon be building a monument to these delicious fried bites of potato. Skip to the tortilla chips the next time you’re craving cheese and try a plate of Totchos instead. © Kay Chun

In lieu of chips, “tatchos” use tater tots as the base for all kinds of savory toppings, and you can get creative with what you have on hand. Our recipe from Kay Chun swathes them in a kimchi gravy (kimchi! gravy!), and then, piles on sharp cheddar, chile peppers, cilantro, and more kimchi for an extra kick. You won’t have to wait long to devour them, either—after the tater tots are cooked according to the package instructions, turning them into tatchos only takes another 20 minutes.

Get the Recipe: Tater Tot Nachos (Tatchos) with Kimchi Cheese Sauce

Try tot poutine

Poutine is typically prepared with French fries, gravy, and cheese curds, but tots would definitely work. The same idea applies to disco fries, a diner classic made with mozzarella cheese and gravy.

Press 'em into muffin tins and make cups

Tater tots can also be made into "cups" using muffin tins, as a vehicle for other foods (such as egg, bacon, and cheese breakfast cups). You can smash them up and then bake them into a cup shape—if you do this, bake them a little first to warm them up in a controlled environment. Or, place a few tots in each spot in the tin and bake them until warm, smash them with another muffin tin, and continue to bake until crispy.

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