These Loaded Tater Tots Are the Game Day Must-Have

published Nov 26, 2021
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Loaded Tater Tots Recipe

Transform your favorite childhood frozen snack into these impossibly decadent loaded tater tots.

Serves4 to 6

Prep5 minutes

Cook50 minutes

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Tator tots loaded with melted cheese, bacon, peppers and green onion
Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

Tater tots make the perfect argument in favor of industrialized food. Crunchy, salty, greasy, carby — they’re engineered for you to fall in love with them. This loaded recipe doubles up on the fun by topping a tray of crispy tots with a whole lot of good stuff. To qualify as “loaded,” tots need to have some kind of melty cheese and a sprinkle of bacon, at a bare minimum. While you can go any direction for the rest of the toppings, the fresh accents — fresh scallions, tomatoes, and pickled peppers — in this recipe brighten up the carb-fest. Top and serve the tots right away for the best texture. 

Best Loaded Tater Tot Toppings

The sky’s the limit when it comes to toppings. Keep any wet toppings (such as sour cream) to a minimum, or only add them at the very last minute so the tots stay crispy. Some other garnishes to consider are as follows:

  • Cheddar, sour cream, and chives
  • Jack cheese, canned black beans (well-drained), and salsa
  • Chicken breast (grilled and chopped), sliced celery, blue cheese dressing, and hot sauce
  • BBQ pulled pork (or chicken), pickled onions, cilantro
  •  Feta, thinly sliced sweet onion, oregano

How to Make Crispy Tater Tots

For the crispiest tater tots, use an air fryer if you have one. If, like in the recipe, you’re using the oven, just make sure not to overload the baking sheet with tots. Arranging them in a single layer without overcrowding will ensure they bake evenly and get golden-brown all over. 

Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

How to Make Loaded Tater Tots Vegetarian

Instead of bacon, you could add pre-cooked plant-based meat (just crumble it into small pieces after cooking) or simply leave out the bacon and increase the rest of the toppings by a small amount, if desired. 

Loaded Tater Tots Recipe

Transform your favorite childhood frozen snack into these impossibly decadent loaded tater tots.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 (28 to 32-ounce) bag

    frozen potato tots

  • 8 ounces

    sliced bacon

  • 8 ounces

    Colby Jack cheese

  • 4

    medium scallions

  • 1 cup

    cherry tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup

    pickled jalapeño slices

Instructions

  1. Arrange two racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 425°F.

  2. Arrange 1 (28 to 32-ounce) bag potato tots in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake on the lower rack until golden-brown and crisp, 40 to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, line a second rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (preferably heavy-duty). Arrange 8 ounces sliced bacon in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake on the upper rack until browned and and crisp, about 20 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings: Grate 8 ounces Colby Jack cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 cups). Thinly slice 4 medium scallions. Halve 1 cup cherry tomatoes. Drain 1/4 cup pickled jalapeño slices and blot dry with a paper towel.

  4. When the bacon is ready, transfer to a plate or clean cutting board and let cool completely. Coarsely chop or crumble cooled bacon into bite-sized pieces.

  5. When the tater tots are ready, sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the bacon, scallions, cherry tomatoes, and pickled jalapeños. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

General tips: Loaded tots do not take well to being refrigerated or frozen; they are best eaten right away while they are still crisp and hot.

Air fryer: For even crispier results, cook the tater tots in an air fryer (here's how). Check on them sooner, as they tend to cook more quickly. Transfer the air-fried tots to a rimmed baking sheet before topping and baking as directed.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: Loaded Tater Tots