Air Fryer Recipes

Tater Tots in Air Fryer

air fryer air fried tater tots

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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!

4.86 from 7 votes
Tator Tots in Air Fryer
Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
12 mins

Prepare perfectly crisp tater tots in your air fryer in minutes

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: air fried tater tots, air fryer tater tots, Tater tots in the air fryer
Servings: 4
Calories: 160 kcal
  • One bag of your favorite frozen tater tots 9 tots are one serving
  • Spritz of your favorite air frying oil
  1. Spray basket with oil or use a parchment liner (both are optional)

  2. Pour 1/2 bag of tots in the air fryer basket (one layer for best results - adjust as needed for your air fryer size).

  3. Cook at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, shaking/mixing half way through.

Recipe Notes

Plate and enjoy!

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  1. 1

    Forgot the non-stick spray & added a single layer of Costco frozen fish sticks on top. Shook all 1/2 way through & they turned out perfectly !!

  2. 3

    Just got my air fryer & am so glad I don’t have to heat up the house by turning the oven on! I’m still in the experimental stage, lol

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    • 8

      The whole bag makes it a little trickier because of how thick the tots will be. You will need to shake them more often. I would suggest trying 20 to 24 minutes and stir them 3 times during the cooking.

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    • 11

      Hi, Barbara – We recommend air frying a single layer of tots, so however many that would be for your air fryer. Eight minutes with a shake/mix halfway through is likely all you’ll need.

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    I bought an air fryer last fall, along with a pressure cooker.
    I’ve used the pressure cooker but not the air fryer.

    I recently bought a bag of ‘Tater Tots’ at Costco, so thought
    I would try ‘frying’ them for a real late brunch.

    With all the above suggestions I sure they will turn out great!

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    using the PowerAirFryer Pro here and one bag of tots takes two racks to cook and I ran it for 15 min … top rack was done but bottom one needed more crisping so I switched them and back in for 5 min…Next time I’ll go 10 min, switch the racks around and then 10 more

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    Do you have a recipe to make from instant mashed potatoes? I have a quantity of the instant and am looking for ways to use it. Thanks.

    • 20

      Oh, that’s an interesting idea! I think it would be difficult to make tater tots, but I have been thinking about making air fryer potato cakes from left over mashed potatoes.

  15. 21

    Hi Sarah, going to try some tots tonight. Would it be ok to give them a little spritz of olive oil half way through after shaking? Thanks!

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