The Country Cook: Homemade Tater Tots with Chipotle Mayo

Monday, August 22, 2016

Homemade Tater Tots with Chipotle Mayo

Last year I had the opportunity to go to Nashville for a short work trip. I always love visiting Nashville! I especially love all the different places there are to eat! We were taken to a place called Merchant's Restaurant. It was the neatest little hipster joint on the main drag right by all the honky tonks. And that is where I fell in love with homemade tater tots. 
It was like all my childhood dreams coming true except I was a grown up and no one looked at me sideways because I was ordering tater tots. These were truly exceptional. They make them in-house and fry them in duck fat. Yes. Duck fat. They are served with a few dipping options. My personal fave was the chipotle mayo dipping sauce. Oh. My. Stars. I just cannot tell you how something so simple was turned into something so amazing. 
So when I came home from that trip, I knew I had to try something I had never attempted before - making my own homemade tater tots. But I wanted to keep the process as simple as possible and, of course, I wouldn't have duck fat to fry them in so I would have to improvise. 
Enter the Microwave Ready Little Potatoes (with seasoning!) These microwave ready creamer potatoes not only add amazing texture and taste but they make the process even easier and faster because I don't have to do any parboiling (yay for less dirty dishes!) Also, Little Potatoes are already pre-washed so that is another huge time saver. These homemade tater tots turned out even better than I expected. I think these would make an amazing appetizer. It will make everyone feel like a kid again! And that chipotle mayo really takes these to another level! I did add some shredded cheese and green onion to make it just a bit more special but you don't have to add those extras to make these taste good.
for the tots:
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 green onions, finely sliced
vegetable or peanut oil, for frying

for the chipotle mayo:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 chipotle chiles (from can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
lime juice from half a lime (optional)
*Cook's Note: Keep the seasoning packets that come with the microwaveable potatoes. We'll be using those in a later step. This recipe works well with Savory Herb Little Potatoes seasoning or the Garlic Parsley Little Potatoes seasoning. 
Or...if you can't find the microwave ready creamer potatoes, just pick up a bag of Little Potatoes. You'll just need to parboil 2 pounds of the potatoes before shredding them. And for the seasoning - just use salt and pepper or some garlic salt!
Remove cardboard packaging and seasoning packets from packages of Microwave Ready Little Potatoes (save the seasoning packets for later.) Microwave each package of Little Potatoes (one at a time) for three minutes each. Note: We're not following the package directions for cook time. We don't want them fully cooked - just soft enough to chop.
Once they come out of the microwave, remove the plastic wrap (careful! hot steam!) And using a food processor (on the chop setting), begin chopping up the potatoes (chopping only a few at a time.)
I just have a small food processor so I had to do about 5 batches of these. You want the potatoes to be chopped in small pieces. We're not making mashed potatoes here. 
Put the chopped Little Potatoes into a large bowl.
Next, stir in one to two packets of the reserved seasoning (the amount is up to you depending on your tastes.) 
Then stir in sliced green onion.
Finally stir in shredded cheddar cheese. 
Mix well.
Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with parchment paper or wax paper (we'll be placing our prepared tater tots on there.) Next, start scooping up the tater tot mixture (about a tablespoon of the mixture for each one.) The mixture will be sticky but that is what will help keep it together.
And roll the mixture in your hands to get that classic, tube-shaped tater tot. Place them on the baking sheet as you go.
Next, it's time to flash-freeze. Pop the tray into the freezer for about an hour (until very firm to the touch.) There are two benefits to this. It will help them stay together when frying. Or you can store them into a freezer-safe ziploc bag once they've been flash-frozen to make for later!
While tots are in the freezer, start making the chipotle mayo. 
Combine mayo, sour cream and chipotles into a food processor or blender (I just rinsed out my mini food processor after I made the tater tots and re-used it.) Puree the mixture for about 30 seconds until fully combined.
Squeeze a bit of lime juice in and pulse the mixture again.
If you have never tried this mayo - it is going to become your new best friend. You'll want to eat it on everything - burgers, tacos, salads...
Once you are ready to start making the tots, preheat oil in a fryer or large pot to 350f degrees. It's best to use a candy thermometer to get an accurate temperature. But if you don't have one, you can usually tell the oil is ready when you place a wooden spoon or spatula into the oil and you start to see it bubble up around the wood. 
Gently place about 6 tater tots at a time into the oil. If you put too many in, they won't cook evenly and may stick together. When frying, you have to stay close by and monitor the tots. They will need only about a minute or two of frying time. 
They should be a light golden brown when ready. Using a strainer, scoop them out of the oil and place them onto some paper towels to drain and then season lightly with salt. 
Here's a picture where I opened one up for you. Look at that gooey cheese inside! 
Serve while warm with chipotle mayo (or ketchup!)
Cook's Notes: Don't want to fry? Then try baking them! They won't be quite as crispy but they'll still have great flavor. Preheat oven to 425f degrees. Arrange frozen tater tots in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with nonstick aluminum foil. Drizzle the tots lightly with olive oil. Cook in the oven for about 20-25 mins until lightly golden brown (you may need to flip them over once during cooking - be careful - they'll be hot!) Season lightly with salt when done.



  1. How fun are those? What a perfect treat and would make a fun finger food for our football crowd in a couple of weeks!

  2. Brandie these look fabulous!!! I love me some Duck fat Tater Tots.

  3. What a fabulous recipe! Much simpler than I imagined. I've always favored Tater Tots too. Pinned!


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