The Easy Cooking Method That Will Take Frozen Tater Tots To The Next Level

Tater tots are accustomed to playing co-star to the hamburger, hot dog, or a variety of other main acts — but one cooking method will make tater tots the star of the show. Even the origin of the tater tot isn't glamorous. The nugget-shaped potatoes were first created out of the scraps that were the result of making french fries for the Ore-Ida brand in the 1950s. After being brought to market, tater tots found a fan following as a french fry alternative — or to be incorporated into a comforting tater tot casserole.

While buying a bag of frozen tots is the easier route to go, if you make them from scratch, you'll never want to go back to buying the frozen variety — and it's easier than you think with a few shortcuts.

To make the crispy treat, start by making your standard mashed potatoes. Add eggs, flour, and a dash of salt, and then roll them into small balls. The potato mixture then needs to be coated with a crumb (like panko) and fried to create a crispy ball of deliciousness (per The Daily Meal). Finally, serve with ketchup (or a good substitute) for dipping.

While delicious on their own, there is a way to transform the tater tot (frozen or homemade) into something new and fun that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Try savory or sweet potato waffles

The secret to an exciting tater tot recipe lies with the waffle iron. By using tater tots instead of traditional batter, you will get a crispy, flavorful potato waffle that can be topped with sweet or savory ingredients.

A recipe from Ree Drummond for Food Network calls for mixing the thawed tater tots with grated pepper jack cheese and Tex-Mex seasoning in a bowl. The mixture is then placed on the waffle iron and cooked until crispy, which takes about seven minutes. Drummond suggests topping the tater tot waffle with a fried egg, bacon, salsa, sour cream, avocado, and cilantro. Food & Wine shares some other topping suggestions courtesy of Jen Pelka of The Riddler: smoked salmon, prosciutto, and truffled eggs. The really crispy tater tot waffles are also a great bed for a runny fried egg and hot sauce, per Food & Wine. 

Just like tater tots were a way to originally reduce french fry waste, tater tot waffles are a great way to use leftover takeout tater tots, per Dinner Then Dessert. And while they can be eaten with a variety of toppings for any meal of the day, Dinner Then Dessert says the waffles also make for a yummy side for chili or turned into an ultimate grilled cheese sandwich.

For a sweet dessert option, it's a good idea to omit the cheese and savory seasoning. Top with fresh fruit, charred rhubarb, or even cream for a delicious treat. Next time you are looking to make tater tots, think outside the plastic bag and have fun with the waffle iron.