Homemade Crispy Potato Tots (Tater Tots)

I went to a Sonic Drive In for the first time a few weeks ago and was surprised to see that they served tater tots. I just had to order some, and believe me I enjoyed every last tot. I knew then and there that I needed to make a homemade version in my own kitchen.

So when the recent issue of Cook’s Country arrived in the mail, this recipe was the first one I bookmarked. Crunchy on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside. These tater tots are perfect anytime of day.

Serve for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even an afternoon snack. There really is no bad time for tater tots! 😉 I added a dash of cayenne pepper because I like things spicy, but feel free to leave it out. Go ahead, pop one of these babies in your mouth…you know you want to! 😉

Homemade Crispy Potato Tots (Tater Tots)

Crunchy on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside. These tater tots are perfect anytime of day.

Yield: 4 dozen


1 cup water
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
4 cups peanut oil or vegetable oil


In a small bowl, whisk water and salt together until salt dissolves. Transfer salt water and potatoes to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process until coarsely ground, 10 to 12 pulses, stirring occasionally.
Drain potato mixture in fine-mesh strainer, pressing potatoes with a spoon until dry (liquid should measure about 1½ cups); discard liquid. Transfer potatoes to a microwave safe bowl and microwave, uncovered, until dry and sticky, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.
Stir flour, black pepper and cayenne pepper into potatoes. Spread potato mixture into thin layer over large sheet of aluminum foil and let cool for 10 minutes. Push potatoes to center of foil and place foil and potatoes in 8-inch square baking pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing it flush to pan. Press potato mixture tightly and evenly into pan. Freeze, uncovered, until firm, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Heat oil in a saucepan over high heat until 375 degrees. Using foil overhang, lift potatoes from pan and cut into 1¼ by 1-inch pieces (6 cuts in 1 direction and 8 in other). Fry half of potato tots, until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally once they begin to brown. Drain prepared baking sheet, season to taste and place in oven. Bring oil back to 375 degrees and repeat with remaining potato tots. Serve warm.

Recipe Notes:
If your food processor has a capacity of less than 11 cups, you’ll need to process the potatoes in two batches.
If any large pieces of potato remain after processing, chop them coarsely by hand.
To make handling the uncooked tots easier, use a wet knife blade and wet hands.
To Make Ahead: Cool fried potato tots, transfer to zipper-lock bag, and freeze for up to 1 month. To serve, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Place potato tots on rimmed baking sheet and bake until heated through, 12 to 15 minutes.

Source: adapted from Cook's Country, October/November 2011

One Year Ago: Sweet Dinner Rolls with Honey Butter 

37 Responses to “Homemade Crispy Potato Tots (Tater Tots)”

  1. #
    Stephanie Russell (@StephRussell26) — October 27, 2011 @ 12:22 pm

    Yum! I’ve been to Sonic a couple times. Fun atmosphere for sure. I just made some homemade ketchup and mustard — these would go great with them! 🙂

    • Dawn replied: — November 8th, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

      Would you be willing to share your homemade ketchup and mustard recipes?

  2. #
    jennknee — October 27, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

    mm! I DO want one!! This brings back childhood memories..loved tater tots!

  3. #
    Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide — October 27, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

    I love that you went to a Sonic and were inspired to cook something. You really are a foodie! These look great.

  4. #
    cat3kidsandus — October 27, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

    Those look insanely delicious!

  5. #
    Mari @ Mari's Cakes — October 27, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

    This will be a huge hit at home! Thanks 🙂

  6. #
    Just A Smidgen — October 27, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

    These would be so much healthier than Sonic! I wish my son were home to try…

  7. #
    Erin — October 27, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

    I like that you cut these up from a large sheet. Seems much easier than forming each one separately.

  8. #
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — October 27, 2011 @ 1:40 pm

    I’m so trying these sometime! 🙂

  9. #
    Megan — October 27, 2011 @ 2:41 pm

    This recipe is awesome (and not just saying that b/c I work at America’s Test Kitchen)! I made a rosemary-truffle version of them… so good!

  10. #
    Michael Ann Riley — October 27, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

    Oh yes, I do want one now! These are totally making my mouth water. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. #
    ChgoJohn — October 27, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

    These look so good. I just have to give ’em a try.

  12. #
    Caroline — October 27, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

    These couldn’t look any better…yum! Now any time I think of tater tots, I’m reminded of Napoleon Dynamite, haha. I just imagine him stuffing them in his pants pockets. Oh, and your tater tots look eons better than those at Sonic. 🙂

  13. #
    Sylvia@bascooking — October 27, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

    Love the recipe. Perfect for a Week end

  14. #
    Rach @ This Italian Family — October 27, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

    These look ah-mazing!

  15. #
    Kim @ Eat What You've Got — October 28, 2011 @ 5:30 am

    Those look delicious! I can’t wait to try them with some chili and cheese on top!

  16. #
    crustabakes — October 28, 2011 @ 8:24 am

    I didnt even know you can make your own tater tots at home! thanks for sharing!

  17. #
    Karen — October 28, 2011 @ 8:33 am

    I have enjoyed catching up with the posts I have missed while on vacation. I’m sure these tater tots were great. They look so crispy. Hot and sour soup is one of my favorites and now I can make my own. Thanks for finding a good recipe.

  18. #
    Christine @ The Savoury Traveller — October 28, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

    What a great technique! I am curious to try with sweet potato or yam. Great photos too! For someone who spends so much time in the kitchen, you keep a very nice manicure going!

  19. #
    chicaandaluza — October 29, 2011 @ 3:51 am

    Have never heard of these, but they look wonderful. Will be giving them a go as I have a load of potatoes at home to get through!

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  21. #
    Cathy @ Savory Notes — October 30, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

    These sounds soooo good. I’ll have to hide these from my room mates after I make them…

  22. #
    Barbara | Creative Culinary — October 31, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

    One of only two things I crave at a fast food joint is Sonic Tater Tots. I’ve never made my own…these look good. Sonic doesn’t have to worry though…my trip to the bank would not be the same without a drive thru Sonic!

  23. #
    canstopbaking — October 31, 2011 @ 9:25 pm

    This is too cute! I remember having tater tots when i was a kid, and loving them. Cant wait to try them for my kids!

  24. #
    Kris @ spabettie — November 1, 2011 @ 5:26 am

    we finally have one of those in our area, after being teased by the commercials for years!! 🙂

    these look SO good, I want them for breakfast right now! great post, great photos!

  25. #
    Mary Beth — November 1, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

    I’m a huge Sonic lover so I know what you mean about the tator tots! I now know what I’m doing with those potatoes I need to use up :).

  26. #
    Lacy — November 2, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

    It’s funny I was actually saying the other day ‘how do you make homemade tater tots!’. How ironic, now I know, these look amazing!

  27. #
    Lily — November 9, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

    Yum! These looks awesome. A different way to make potatoes at home and vegan too!

  28. #
    iamahoneybee — November 12, 2011 @ 9:55 am

    So cool. yum

  29. #
    Shelby — November 25, 2011 @ 3:10 am

    I’ve never been to a Sonic, but Grumpy LOVES tater tots. I’ve pinned this – they look so good! I’ll bet they would be good with sweet potatoes and that cayenne too!

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  31. #
    Sharmayne — January 20, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

    Thank you! We are dairy allergic, I know this recipe will be one of my son’s fave’s since he can’t have commercial tater tots like his friends!

    • Christina replied: — January 31st, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

      I hope your son enjoys the tater tots! Let me know how they turn out for you! 🙂

  32. #
    Viki — January 29, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

    I wonder if you could make a bunch and then freeze them for later? I know they probably wont make it into the freezer but it would be nice if they could.

    • Christina replied: — February 15th, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

      Yes you can store them in the freezer until ready to bake. Let me know how they turn out for you! 🙂

  33. #
    joaness — February 1, 2012 @ 11:42 am

    Those look tasty. Will get my daughter to make these. 🙂 Unfortunately my sonic closed. They were gone over night. I was heart broken. You can also get tater tots at a Crystal Burger during breakfast hours.

  34. #
    Darcie R. — March 11, 2013 @ 11:58 am

    I made these this weekend to pair with my smoked ribs. Although they are a lil time comsuming to make, I must say they were a huge it! Everyone loved them! They were worth it! Thanks for the recipe… 🙂

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