You should crave these, too: Homemade tater tots

Last week, my coworker Stephanie and I were at David Douglas High School recruiting sophomores to apply for the college access program where we work. Even when it’s not being thrown at us (seriously, this has happened to both me and Stef), the lunches tend to horrify me. Students eat corn chips with a mountain of orange cheese-goo or nothing but chicken nuggets and call it a square meal.

As time wore on, and it got farther and farther from the last time I ate, the smells wafting from the industrial kitchen became sublime.

I smelled tater tots.

They looked tasty, too, all crunchy and golden in their tiny paper boats. I wanted to nab one from the students or ask the super-nice lunch ladies for my own serving.

I didn’t join the lunch queue that day, but my craving didn’t subside. So when some friends came over Friday night, I decided to whip up some homemade tots.

My friend Shannon, who is due the day after me, and I unintentionally match in stripes. There's no photo of the tots because we ate them all. Oops.
My friend Shannon, who is due the day after me, and I unintentionally matched in stripes. There’s no photo of the tots because we ate them all. Oops.

The internet let me down in terms of recipes, so I made one up. (Well, as much as you can call my laziness in terms of measuring a “recipe.” I tend to just dump in a bit of this and that.) The quantities below would make about one sheet of tots – enough for 2-3 people, probably. I doubled it and the four of us ate almost all the tots. (Well, two of us were pregnant, but still.) I served it with these amazing black bean burgers.

So. Go, make these. I dare you not to nom them like a pregnant lady.

Catherine’s Not-Cafeteria Tater Tots


2 large potatoes
A few dashes of milk or milk substitute
Cheddar cheese – about ½ cup grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
Panko bread crumbs (about 1 ½ cups should be enough, but have more on hand in case you need additional)
Nutritional yeast (approx. 1/8 cup)
Seasonings – I used a Mexican spice blend, but you could just as well go with chana masala and cumin, or an Italian blend. You could also mix up the basic potatoes by adding diced jalapeno, for example.

  1. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks and boil until fork-tender. Drain. Mash them with a splash of milk but leave them a bit dry – don’t let them get soupy or overly smooth or else you’ll have a hard time forming them into balls. Let the potatoes cool.
  2. Grate the cheese coarsely. Mix in the potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Break the egg into a bowl and whisk it until the yolk and white are blended. In a different bowl, mix the panko, nutritional yeast and seasoning. Spray a cookie sheet with oil and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350.
  4. Scoop about a tablespoon of potatoes (I use a melon baller for this and it’s perfect!) and roll it between your palms, making a ball. Dip the ball into the egg to coat. Roll the ball in the panko mix to coat. Place the ball onto the cookie sheet.
  5. Continue until you’ve used all the potato mixture. You might need to mix up more panko crust.
  6. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, flipping the tots halfway through. Then eat up!

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