I Ate Every Veggie Tot I Could Get My Hands On. Here’s What I Thought.
There’s a special magic to tater tots. Like french fries, they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but their chubby little nugget shape offers an entirely different eating experience. And they’re the key ingredient to my favorite punny snack, tot-chos (nachos made with tots instead of chips).
Adding to the brilliance that is tater tots, some frozen food brands have taken the concept and applied it to veggies with a bit more nutritional oomph than pure potatoes. Green Giant and Birds Eye are the main players, shaping crucifers into crispy, golden tots that even kids can get excited about.
Intrigued by this veggie tot trend, I recently gathered all the options I could find (plus, some very willing tasters) and gave them all a try. Here’s what we thought.
Closest to a regular tater tot: Birds Eye Veggie Made Cauliflower Tots (Cauliflower & Potato Tots)
Everyone loved these the most. They’re gloriously puffy, excellently crispy, and deliciously savory, thanks to a touch of onion. Texture-wise they have a smoother purée inside, so they’re not as hash-brown-y as a regular tater tot. A little potato in the mix means the cauliflower isn’t overpowering. Is it cheating because these aren’t pure cauliflower? That’s for you to decide. But the package says a serving of tots equals a serving of vegetables, so I’m not going to quibble. Plus the ingredient list is short and everything on it is totally recognizable — no hard-to-pronounce additives or preservatives.
Tots with broccoli in disguise: Birds Eye Veggie Made Broccoli Tots (Broccoli, Cauliflower & Potato Tots)
These are very similar to the brand’s cauliflower tots, but the addition of broccoli gives them a slightly stronger cruciferous flavor. It’s definitely not in-your-face, though, so if you’re serving a broccoli-hater they’ll probably still eat these without a problem and might not even know it’s there.
If you love cauliflower: Green Giant Veggie Tots Cauliflower
Cauliflower is the only vegetable and therefore the main flavor, so you’ll either love these or hate them. I love cauliflower, so these ranked high for me. The flavor really comes through with just a touch of sweetness. Green Giant’s tots have a slightly nubby texture that’s similar to regular tater tots, but they’re more pillowy. They’re crispy on the outside but not quite as crackling-crisp as Green Giant, and the long ingredient list is a little eyebrow-raising.
For broccoli lovers and haters: Green Giant Veggie Tots Broccoli and Cheese
We could definitely detect the broccoli, especially since there were little chunks of it in each tot. But the cheese added a complex, tangy balance that helped the vegetable fade into the background for a generally savory flavor.
When you want more protein: Farm Wise Veggie Tots Broccoli (with sweet potatoes and white beans)
A generous helping of sweet potato (it’s the first ingredient) gives these tots the orange hue, soft texture, and sweet flavor of mashed sweet potatoes. They don’t bake up quite as crisp as the others, but the addition of white beans and garbanzo bean flour means these tots have more protein than the rest – 5 grams per three-ounce serving, versus less than 1 gram for Birds Eye and 3 to 4 grams for Green Giant. They also contain about half the salt — but it’s an under-seasoning you can taste.
If you’re feeling corny: Green Giant Veggie Tots Corn
Corn kernels are so delicious on their own, I’m not sure why they need to be mashed up into a veggie tot. Personally I’d rather eat them plain, but if you like corn, you’ll probably like these, too. Each tot is very corn-forward, with whole kernels in the mix. I could see these working best as a topping to a casserole, like a tamale pie.
Do you have a favorite veggie tot?