If given the choice between french fries or tater tots- I say tater tots!

How about mashed potatoes or tater tots?  That’s a tough one, but you don’t have to choose.

Why, you ask?  Because these taters are made using mashed potatoes!  My family always has too much mashed potato leftover from Thanksgiving dinner.  What better way to use up those potatoes than making these delectable little homemade tater tots?


Fried mashed potatoes is nothing new.  There are all sorts of variations on this genius concept: think of potato croquettes all over the world.

The best part of these tater tots- you can dress them up or dress them down.  With a little sprinkle of parmesan cheese and an herb, say a twig of rosemary, as a garnish, these tater tots look like something you could order at a trendy gastropub- along with a nice garlic chive aioli.  And if you are serving them to children, pile them atop a plastic basket with ketchup and mustard.  One dish served two ways– one sophisticated and the other familiar and simple.

TheChic_tater tots 3

I’m not sure how well this recipe works with instant mashed potatoes.  I used my favorite perfect mashed potato recipe by Simply Recipes.  You could also try Rachel’s garlic rosemary mashed potatoes for extra flavor.


Tater tots are the ultimate fried potato.  They are perfectly crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  Especially with the addition of shredded cheese, it’s as if a tater tot made a baby with a fried mozzarella stick.  Needless to say, the result is amazing.  It’s delicious.  It’s addicting.  It’s borderline dangerous.


Mashed Potato Tater Tots, makes about 3 dozen little taters

{double or triple recipe as needed}


1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes, cold

1 large egg

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese, optional

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, optional

panko bread crumbs, as needed for coating

vegetable oil, or canola oil for frying


TheChic_tater-tots-add-cheese1. In a large bowl, add cold mashed potato, egg, and flour.  Stir to combine using a strong spatula.  Fold in cheeses and mix until incorporated.

TheChic_tater-tot-set-up2. Set up a breading station like the photo above.  Have a tray of panko bread crumbs and a tray to place formed tater tots.  I used a small scooper to evenly portion out the mashed potato mixture.  A regular spoon works fine.

TheChic_tater-tot-roll3. Scoop out little balls of the mashed potato mixture and place them in the panko.  Roll them around the crumbs until the entire surface of the mashed potato ball is covered with panko.

TheChic_tater-tot-shape4. Use your fingers to pinch the ball into a little logs that resemble traditional tater tots.  Place shaped tater tots on parchment lined tray.  Shape all the tater tots before frying.

TheChic_tater-tot-fry5. In a large skillet add about 1/2 inch of oil.  Heat oil until hot.  You will have to sacrifice one tater tot to test if oil is ready.  Oil is perfect when bubbles start to form around tater tot and you hear the sizzling sound.  Cook tater tots in batches.  Turn tater tots every 20-30 seconds to evenly cook.  It should take about 2 minutes to cook a batch.


6.  Once fried, transfer taters tots to a paper towel lined plate to drain and slightly cool.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

These homemade tater tots conclude my cafeteria series.  In the past month we’ve recreated or revamped some of my favorite childhood foods- rectangle (focaccia) pizza, peanut butter and jelly bars, and sloppy joe lasagna.

Which one was your favorite?