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Frozen tater tots are hands-down my favorite frozen item to make in the air fryer. When prepared right, each bite is crispy-potatoey goodness. Air fryer tater tots are the ideal dipping sauce delivery system – just drag one flat end in ketchup, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing or your favorite condiment and you have the perfect bite. In my book, they beat other fried potato treats like french fries hands down.
How to Air Fry Tater Tots
Great news! Frozen tater tots are super easy to prepare in the air fryer. Truthfully air fryers are perfect for this very use. Foods that have already been fried before freezing (like french fries, nuggets, chicken strips, pizza rolls) are ideal candidates for air frying. No need to fry them again with something like a deep fryer – you can get the same desired crispness just by circulating hot air. Crazy, right?
Of course, you could use an oven to heat these up, but by using your air fryer, you’ll save time AND energy (the gas or electric kind). All you need to know is one important trick to get delicious air fryer tater tots.
How Many Tater Tots Can I Air Fry At Once?
This is the most important question to ask yourself before air frying tater tots. But it’s not about “can” – it’s all about “should”. Even smaller air fryers can hold half of a bag of frozen tater tots, but that doesn’t mean they should. The most important variable to get right for perfect air fried tater tots: the capacity-to-tot ratio. The amount or frozen tater tots a 5.3 quart air fryer cooks perfectly won’t come out as well in a much smaller 1.6 liter air fryer with the same cooking time and temperature. But once you figure out your air fryer’s perfect tot capacity, you’ll never want to be without a bag of frozen tater tots at the ready.
The Secret to Perfect Air Fried Tater Tots
The number one trick to perfect air-fried tater tots is to cook them in a single layer in your air fryer. Yes, you can cook a lot more tater tots in an air fryer if you layer them, but trust me – that’s not the way to go. If you go that route, they will cook, but the crispness will vary from tot to tot. And that’s assuming you’re shaking the basket/mixing them at least once during the cooking time. It’s very likely some will lack any crispness at all even though they are properly heated. Alas, there’s nothing sadder than a tater tot not reaching its full potential!
To get the best results with your air fryer, fill your air fryer basket with a single layer of tots and no more. Even if you have to make multiple batches, it will definitely be worth it.
If you HAVE to cook multiple layers at once (a tater tot emergency?), then be sure to shake/mix/stir the tots multiple times during the cooking time (which you will need to increase a few minutes due to more frozen items in the air fryer basket and opening and closing the air fryer multiple times).
The Steps to Air Fryer Tater Tots
You don’t have to preheat your air fryer, but it’s always a good idea. I usually hit the preheat button on the air fryer while I’m moving around the kitchen getting things ready. On our current air fryer, the preheat button is five minutes at 400 degrees, but that’s adjustable so lower the time according to how long it will take you to get your tots ready for the air fryer.
Once you have your bag of frozen tater tots ready to go, open your air fryer. Now is the time to put in a parchment liner or spritz the air fryer basket with a high smoke point oil, like extra light olive oil or avocado oil (this step is optional but can help with clean up). Next fill your air fryer basket with frozen tater tots, but not more than a single layer. The size and volume of your air fryer basket will dictate how many frozen tater tots you can air fry at once.
About half way through the cooking time, be sure to open the air fryer basket and shake the tater tots around. Many air fryers offer a midway-through-cooking alarm, which is super helpful. If your air fryer doesn’t have a halfway done alarm, be sure to watch the clock and do this on your own. It’s an important step in the air fryer tater tot cooking process!
While these delicious potato puffs are cooking, get your dipping sauce(s) ready! Because once these are done air frying, you’ll want to immediately sit down and enjoy.
Sure, I could mentioned something about what to do with leftovers, but who are we kidding? There won’t be any!
Prepare perfectly crisp tater tots in your air fryer in minutes
- One bag of your favorite frozen tater tots 9 tots are one serving
- Spritz of your favorite air frying oil
Spray basket with oil or use a parchment liner (both are optional)
Pour 1/2 bag of tots in the air fryer basket (one layer for best results - adjust as needed for your air fryer size).
Cook at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, shaking/mixing half way through.
Plate and enjoy!
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