The One Thing You Should Be Doing for Even Better Tater Tots

updated May 1, 2019
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After a (much-too-long) hiatus, I’ve reintroduced tater tots to my meal plan. And you know what? I think they taste even more amazing now than they did when I was a kid. All I had to do was change the way I cooked them.

Cook Tater Tots Longer than the Package Instructions

To cook a batch of irresistibly delicious tater tots, you’re going to need more time on the clock than what’s instructed on the bag. The recommended time included on the package instructions is sufficient for thawing these bite-sized spuds and heating them through, but hardly enough for them to reach their full crispy-crusted, creamy-centered potential.

The best indicator of doneness for tater tots isn’t a precise time, but visual cues. You’ll know the tots are done and ready when they have a deep golden-brown color with an outer crust that looks exceptionally crispy.

While the suggested cook time can vary from brand to brand, a good rule of thumb is to start by adding an extra five minutes on the timer. See how they look, and add a few extra minutes if necessary. Ore-Ida is Associate Food Editor Meghan‘s tater tot of choice, and while the brand’s suggested cook time is 25 to 35 minutes, she always plans for at least 40 minutes. And contributing editor and fellow tot-lover, Patty, agrees: “It depends on the brand, but some take up to an hour in the oven, not the nonsensical 20 to 30 minutes they recommend on the bag.”

It’s just a few extra minutes, but these are the minutes that matter most. A slightly longer cook time makes the most delicious difference in both the taste and texture of tater tots. A longer cook time will cause the tots to shrink and dry out a little, which makes them even crispier all around on the outside with a potato-y center that’s more dense and creamy.

Have you tried this before? Let us know in the comments!