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! 😉

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Homemade Crispy Potato Tots (Tater Tots)

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  • 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Yields: 4 dozen

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

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34 Responses to Homemade Crispy Potato Tots (Tater Tots)

  1. 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! 🙂

  2. jennknee says:

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

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

  4. cat3kidsandus says:

    Those look insanely delicious!

  5. This will be a huge hit at home! Thanks 🙂

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

  7. Erin says:

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

  8. I’m so trying these sometime! 🙂

  9. Megan says:

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

  11. ChgoJohn says:

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

  12. Caroline says:

    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. Love the recipe. Perfect for a Week end

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

  15. crustabakes says:

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

  16. Karen says:

    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.

  17. 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!

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

  21. 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!

  22. Mary Beth says:

    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 :).

  23. Lacy says:

    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!

  24. Lily says:

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

  25. iamahoneybee says:

    So cool. yum

  26. Shelby says:

    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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  28. Sharmayne says:

    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!

  29. Viki says:

    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.

  30. joaness says:

    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.

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