Cooking Air Fryer Tater Tots: From Frozen To Crispy Goodness In 20 Minutes!

Classic tater tots hands-down come out perfect in an air fryer each time. When cooked right, every bite is crispy potato-like goodness. These are the ideal dipping sauce delivery foods.

By dragging one end of these treats in barbecue sauce, ketchup, ranch dressing, and other preferred condiments, you have the perfect, mouthwatering bite.

The good news is, they are quite easy to prepare, and we’ll show how. With 20 minutes and one simple ingredient, you’ll be ready to delight in this nostalgic side dish. Read on!

What Are Tater Tots?

These yummy treats are made from grated potato that is then deep-fried. Tater tots are soft in the middle with a crispy exterior. If you follow a strict plant-based diet, you’ll be pleased to learn that tater tots are naturally vegan. Moreover, they are gluten-free, catering to those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Tater Toats

What Do You Serve With Tater Tots?

These crunchy treats are a classic party food or side dish. Therefore, you can serve tater tots as a potato side dish alongside a meat main course or as a party appetizer coupled with your preferred sauces. Furthermore, you can add an array of toppings such as guacamole, cheese, salsa, and Sriracha, to your cooked tots.

Other ways to serve tater tots are:

  • With sandwiches, hot dogs, or burgers
  • With BBQ sauce, mustard, ketchup, ranch, or your preferred dip
  • Add a fried egg to make a filling and mouthwatering breakfast or lunch
  • Make flavored tots with your preferred seasonings such as garlic powder, turmeric, Cajun, salt, and pepper.

What You Need

Here’s a list of the items you’ll need to cook frozen tater tots using an air fryer.

  • Air fryer: Keep in mind that an appliance with superior air frying power ushers in better-fried foods.
  • Spray oil: Such as avocado oil, among other non-stick sprays, are recommended in an air fryer
  • Frozen tater tots: 32 ounces is sufficient for two rounds in your air fryer, whereas 16 ounces is sufficient for one.
  • Salt: It significantly boosts the taste. If you have concerns about sodium, we recommend buying unseasoned frozen tots made from potatoes as the sole ingredient.


We’ve rounded up the step-by-step process to whip up delicious air fryer tater tots.

  1. Start by preheating your air fryer to 400ºF.
  2. Put 16 oz of the frozen tots into the air fryer basket in one layer as you work in batches if you have a small appliance.
  3. Quickly spray the tots with avocado oil.
  4. Sprinkle the tots with salt, then toss them for uniform coating.
  5. Set the air fryer to cook for 15 minutes on 400ºF.
  6. Remember to flip them every 5 minutes to ensure they cook evenly.
  7. You’ll know your air fryer tater tots are ready once they develop a medium to golden brown shade with a crispy texture. If you prefer them crispier, you can let them cook for a few more minutes.

Check out this video for more details: 

Tater Tots: Air Fryer vs. Oven

  • An oven can accommodate more tater tots at a go
    Air fryers cook faster than ovens, even if you exclude the preheat time
    Ovens and air fryers call for at least one component to be washed after use
    While you have the option of preheating an air fryer before use, an oven must be preheated for at least 10 minutes
  • Contrary to an oven, an air fryer must be shaken while it’s in use and requires close monitoring to prevent the risk of burning the food
  • Air fryers have superior energy efficiency compared to ovens
  • Air frying tater tots or potato puffs ushers in an amazing crunch that you won’t get from a generic oven doesn’t

Do You Have to Preheat an Air Fryer?

No! Unlike an oven, preheating an air fryer isn’t mandatory. Preheating your air fryer will only cut down the cooking time by up to 3 minutes, depending on the food being cooked.

In this case, failure to preheat your appliance only implies that your air fryer tater tots will take a couple of minutes longer to cook. Therefore, preheating is not a big deal. Its quick heating capability and small space only imply that the difference in the cooking time is hardly noticeable.

What Is the Most Ideal Temperature to Cook Air Fryer Tater Tots?

While you can cook air fryer tater tots at 400ºF, as per the oven directions, you may notice that the tots brown much faster, making them more susceptible to burning, and that’s the last thing you need.

Therefore, we recommend adding 5 minutes of cooking time at a slightly lower temperature of 350ºF. If you opt to cook at 400ºF, you need to keep a close eye on the tots, monitoring them every 3-5 minutes to ensure they don’t burn.

Seasoning Air Fryer Tater Tots

Granted, these crispy treats are great when served with ketchup and salt to keep things simple. Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to get fancy and drizzle some seasoning on tater tots.

Add about two teaspoons of your favorite seasoning (or combine two seasonings) to 16 ounces of tots right after spraying them oil, then sprinkle salt before air frying them.

Here are few seasoning ideas you can try out on 16 ounces of frozen tater tots alongside salt.

  • Cajun Tots: 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning
  • Garlic Tots: ½ tablespoon of garlic powder coupled with ½ teaspoon of onion powder
  • Seasoned Tots: 2 teaspoons of seasoning salt
  • Taco Tater Tots: ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ tablespoon cumin, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, and ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • Seafood Tots: ½ tablespoon garlic powder and 1½ tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

Reheating Air Fryer Tater Tots

If you end up with additional tots, fret not, as air fryers are a beast at reheating cold, soggy tots. Add leftover frozen tots to your air fryer basket and cook them at 350ºF for up to 8 minutes, remembering to shake the properly basket halfway through. The tots are ready when they’re crispy and hot again.

You’ll enjoy these scrumptious ‘double-fried tater tots’ just as much as the first time cooking. You also have free rein to add more seasoning or salt to your preference.

Tater Toats

Storing Leftover Tater Tots

Place them into a zip lock freezer bag and lay it flat on your kitchen countertop. Gently, shale the tots until they are in a flat layer, then press out all the air before tightly sealing the bag.

Pop the bag in your freezer until you want to cook them again. When that time comes, simply reheat them as described above to ensure they’re crispy again.

Cooking Cheesy Air Fryer Tater Tots

  • Follow the recipe mentioned above
  • Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese on top
  • Allow the tots to cook for an additional 2 minutes in your air fryer at 400ºF
  • Remove them from the basket. You can now indulge in stringy cheese, mouthwatering tots
  • Drizzle ketchup over these yummy treats to elevate the burst of flavor

Tips When Cooking Air Fryer Tater Tots

  • You don’t need to defrost frozen tots before air frying them. Pop them in the basket and let your air fryer work its magic
  • While preheating an air fryer isn’t a requirement, there’s no denying that it speeds up the cooking time and aids the tater tots in getting a uniform crisp all around
  • While they say air fryers don’t require oil, making them the healthier option to deep frying, non-cook spray oil is your holy grail when air frying, so don’t skip it. Not only does it prevent the tots from sticking to the basket, but it also helps them acquire the rich, crispy texture you desire. You can use oil sprays such as avocado, vegetable, coconut, and olive oil, depending on the option that tickles your fancy
  • Aluminum foil comes in handy when air frying for less cleanup. While tots are less messy compared to other foods, you’ll get residual oil spray at the bottom of your air fryer is inevitable. Therefore, we recommend using a small piece of foil to trap as much oil as possible
  • Given that most frozen tater tots are unseasoned remember to grab pepper, salt, and other seasonings you have in your kitchen. Sprinkle them right after pulling your tots from the air fryer basket to ensure they stick to the cooling tots
  • Avoid overcrowding the basket. There’s no need to have a layer at the bottom of the basket with a boatload of tots overlapping into the second layer. As a good measurement, use ½ a packet (500g) of tots in a 3.3 quarts air fryer. If need be, cook in batches if it’s not enough to cover the number of people you’re serving. Overcrowding the basket means the tots won’t cook evenly. Moreover, you may not the desired crispiness
  • Remember to shake the basket vigorously every 5 minutes to ensure your tots cook uniformly

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