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Homemade Tater Tots | Taste and Tell
Please don’t tell me I’m the only one. You have a fridge full of groceries, and a full pantry. Your husband casually goes over to the fridge to look for something to snack on.

“We don’t have anything to eat,” he says.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this. And let me tell you – with the amount of cooking I do, there is always food in the fridge and pantry. In fact, they are usually so full that it’s hard to fit anything new. So really, it’s not a lack of food. My husband just doesn’t like leftovers.

I like them ok, and I’ll usually have them for lunches during the week. Not my husband.

So what I’m learning to do is repurpose them. I’m not always the best at it, and it is a learning process, but it’s sometimes fun to see what you can create out of the leftovers at the back of the fridge. And sometimes, the leftover creation can be even better than the original dish!

Enter tater tots. Did you know that you could make tater tots at home? You can, with one secret ingredient:

Leftover mashed potatoes.

Yep. No fancy equipment, no fancy techniques. Simply take leftover mashed potatoes – which usually aren’t even good as leftovers because they start to dry out – and turn them into everyone’s favorite fast food treat!

Wanna see how easy they are?
Homemade Tater Tots | Taste and Tell
It’s just mashed potatoes, eggs, flour and panko breadcrumbs. I’m guessing most of you have these on hand most of the time. (Minus the mashed potatoes, of course.) Just take the cold mashed potatoes and mix in the eggs and the flour. The mixture will be a little bit sticky, but it should mostly be thick.
Homemade Tater Tots | Taste and Tell
I use a regular kitchen spoon and take a dollop of the potato mixture and drop it into my breadcrumbs.
Homemade Tater Tots | Taste and Tell
Roll it around to coat it, and then shape it into that recognizable tater tot shape. I shaped all of mine before I even started frying so that I could keep an eye on them while they were cooking. Believe me, you don’t want to get distracted and let any of these burn!
Homemade Tater Tots | Taste and Tell
Heat an inch or so of oil (I used vegetable) in a heavy skillet. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the temperature by dropping one of the tater tots in. It should take 2-3 minutes to turn golden brown.  Any faster, and the inside won’t cook through. Cook the tots in batches, and then enjoy.

And don’t blame me if you gain about 10 pounds. I made these on a Sunday afternoon when my son and husband were both taking naps, which left my daughter and me faced with a bunch of fresh tater tots. We did some serious damage! I would dare to say that I liked these even better than the ones you can get from fast food restaurants. The texture is different, but they were seriously that good. I will never look at a tater tot the same again!!

Homemade Tater Tots | Taste and Tell

Homemade Tater Tots
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Tater tots aren't just for eating out! Use leftover mashed potatoes to make this homemade version that just may be better than the fast food version!
Serves: 40-50 tater tots
  • 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes (cold)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup flour
  • panko bread crumbs
  • vegetable oil (or other frying oil)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, eggs and flour. Stir to combine.
  2. Drop about a tablespoon of the potato mixture into the panko bread crumbs. Roll to coat. Use your hands to shape into a tater tot shape. Place on a baking sheet or plate. Continue with the remainder of the potatoes.
  3. Heat about an inch of oil in a heavy duty skillet over medium heat. (If you have a thermometer, you want the oil at about 350F.) Test the oil by dropping one tater tot in the oil. It should take about 2-3 minutes to cook. If it cooks too fast, turn the temperature down. If it takes too long, turn the temperature up. Cook the tots in batches until they are golden brown. Salt immediatley after removing from the oil to drain on a paper towel lined plate.


This postis part of the BlogHer Leftover Makeovers editorial series. Our advertisers do not produce or review editorial content. This post is made possible by Bank of America and BlogHer.

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55 Responses to Homemade Tater Tots

  1. Rosa says:

    Mmmhh, what a delicious speciality! Those tater tots look amazing.



  2. What a great way to use leftovers!!! This homemade version looks WAY better than any store-bought variety!

  3. bellini says:

    I do love tater tots!!!

  4. Wow – so fun! I’ve never tried these before, but now I’m inspired. Would really love to try this with sweet potatoes!! 🙂

  5. Well aren’t these just the best looking little tater tots ever! NICE!

  6. Maria says:

    Josh loves tots. We will have to try these!

  7. Ashley says:

    Oh maaaaaan these look fabulous! I wish my husband wasn’t on a low carb kick right now… 😉

  8. I’m thinking that homemeade tater tots would be my new favorite food!

  9. Makes me want to make mashed potatoes so I can have the leftovers to make these. Look terrific!

  10. Cecilia says:

    Here in Argentina we call them “bombas de papa”, potato bombs, and we put a dice of mozzarella cheese in the middle so it melts when you fry them. So yummy!

  11. Jen says:

    I get the “there’s nothing to eat” thing all the time too…..with the full fridge and pantry too….as a matter of fact I got it last saturday with a 9×13 pan of brownies and monkey bread sitting on the counter….

    and he never eats the leftovers either, even though he swears he’s going to eat them for lunch the next day… never does….

    You are not alone….

  12. I LOVE this! I live in Germany where we don’t have tater tots (which is a tragedy, I know) and have tried making the bake / potato chip version before, but it took forever. I will definitely try these at some point! Like when I have leftover mashed potatoes. Which I hate. My husband and I actually have reverse roles over here. He happily eats all the leftovers, I don’t. 🙂

    • benu says:

      Sure we have tater tots in germany… they are called kroketten… not always tasty but İt’s ok. 😉

  13. OH. MY. GOSH! This is just awesome! I am now regretting throwing out last night’s mashed potato leftovers… 😛

  14. teresa says:

    yes! this happens to us all the time, or i come home from a huge grocery trip and we decide to eat out that night, go figure.

    i LOVE these. it so happens that i have leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge today, guess what i’m making 😉

  15. Joanne says:

    I actually ADORE leftovers! But I also adore tater tots. Need these.

  16. What a great idea, these look so golden and delish!

  17. Jenny Flake says:

    I will be making these asap! How yum!!!

  18. Sasha says:

    This is pretty genius. I had no idea it was this easy. I make similar things except I pan-fry them instead, and add cheese sometimes.

  19. Blond Duck says:

    These look so much better than frozen ones! And I hate it that an hour I get back from the store Ben’s whining there’s no food!

  20. Tracy says:

    You are definitely not the only one hearing complaints about “no food,” lol. I love that these are made with leftover mashed potatoes. I can’t wait to try them!

  21. Deborah, don’t take this the wrong way, but…I love you. This is incredible! We love tater tots, and what a great way to use up the leftover mashed potatoes!

  22. Emily says:

    These look so good but I have such a fear of frying. I fry something maybe once a year. Could I maybe pay for your leftovers-turned-tater-tots? 😉

  23. Monet says:

    Yes! I think repurposing leftovers is key! These tater tots look heavenly. Along with a big squirt of ketchup. I would love to have these for dinner tomorrow night. Thank you for sharing! Now off to dream delicious dreams!

  24. I’m not much of a leftover person either but I hate wasting food. But this is the absolute perfect way to use up some leftover mashed potatoes. Everyone loves tater tots, and you could stuff so many at one sitting 🙂

  25. Sweetsugarbelle says:

    TATERTOTS are my FAVE!!! I had no idea uncoils make them!

  26. Cassie says:

    You definitley aren’t alone…my husband does that to me all the time. And I’m definitely using this recipe. It’s so innovative!

  27. I love tater tots. I’ll have to try this recipe. Thanks.

  28. Madeleine says:

    Yummy! Mashed potatoes are on the menu for tonight – maybe we’ll just have to make a double batch so I can make these!

  29. Tracey says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown away mashed potatoes. This is a brilliant idea. Thanks!

  30. What a fabulous idea! I have leftover mashed potatoes from last night! I’m so making these!

  31. I love that you made these from scratch – and so easy! They look so tasty and such a great alternative to the pre-packaged stuff… I’m featuring this post in today’s Food Fetish Friday (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and thanks always for keeping me inspired with new ideas…

  32. Liz says:

    I never thought of making my own tator tots! My family would LOVE these 🙂

  33. Eric says that all the time! I think because he doesn’t want to make anything and is so used to me cooking all the time, because like you it is rare if I don’t got to the store at least once a week! I always make homemade French fries but never think to make homemade tater tots this is on the list next time I have leftover mashed potatoes lying around!

  34. I’ve never tried this recipes but I really like it! I will put this meal on my bucket list 🙂

  35. kellypea says:

    Ha! All husbands must be related! I keep a jar of peanuts in our cupboard so he thinks there’s “something to eat.” Cute tots — my mother used to make patties with our left over mashed taters and we loved them. These sound so tasty 🙂

  36. Aly says:

    What fun! These look so cute and might get me to try deep frying. 🙂

  37. I’ve been wanting to try these – saw something similar on the Pioneer Woman – they look amazing!

  38. Deborah, my bf would go NUTS if I showed him this recipe. I’d be making tater tots everyday for dinner. Which… well… wouldn’t be so bad. LOVE IT!

  39. Emma S. says:

    Just tried this recipe. Got very frustrated with the texture of the mixture and the time it took to shape it. I stopped half way through and threw the batter away. It is not a recipe I would try again and not something I would share with friends.

  40. Kim Naik says:

    My Gramma is Czech. They pretty much only eat potatoes and cabbage there, and beets (or so it seems, based on the recipes!). She used to make these patties that reminded me of tater tots – she used mashed potatoes, just like this recipe, but she shredded a raw potato and mixed it into the mashed ones. Might have to give that a shot to see how they come out! Thanks for reminding me of that dish! My kids will love them!

  41. Judy says:

    I have made a similiar version of this little gems for my family for many years, and if you don’t mind a few suggestions.
    You can add lots of different extras to “kick it up a notch” like these

  42. Abby says:

    These are so great! So delicious that i personally think they dont need catsup.(: Thanks for the great recipe.

  43. Cassy says:

    Have you tried freezing these? I love the concept but really need them to freeze well. I do OAMC so dinner always comes from the freezer. Thank you for a great looking recipe.

  44. Danielle Lawrence says:

    These were so good… I used sour cream, bacon bits, cheese, and garlic (because I can’t ever cook without it) and they turned out delicious. I felt like I was eating at a restaurant or something, lol..
    Thanks for the awesome idea

  45. I usually use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato cakes. I add an egg, some chopped onions and some flour and drop a huge tablespoon full into the oil/bacon drippings and mash it down to form a patty. We all love them. I am, however, going to try your Tater Tots and see how they float. Thank you.

  46. Patti says:

    any chance these could be made in the oven instead of deep frying them? Any suggestions to try?

    • Deborah says:

      I haven’t tried baking them. If you do try, I would suggest spraying them with cooking spray so that they can crisp up on the outside, and probably bake them at a pretty high temperature. If you try, please let me know how they turn out!

  47. Oh my gosh, I love tator tots. These look so good!

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