You can fry tater tots but can you microwave them? Can you reheat tater tots you’ve already made using the microwave oven? Or can you make a fresh batch of tater tots by microwaving them instead of frying them in the microwave?
Tater tots work like vegetarian or vegan chicken nuggets. You grate potatoes, form them into cylinders, and then deep fry them. Use animal fat or oils for vegetarian tots and olive oil or vegetable oil for vegan tots. They often get served as a side dish.
Ore-Ida has registered the name “Tater Tot” as a trademark but it’s often used as a generic term regardless, like Band-Aid or Xerox Copies. Incidentally, “tater” is a shorthand nickname for “potato” or “potater”, hence the term.
Can You Microwave Tater Tots?
Technically, yes. You can microwave tater tots. Should you? No, it’s not recommended. Frying them offers the best results. You can reheat tater tots you’ve already fried. You can also bake potatoes with a microwave using a preset. However, at most the microwave can warm your grated potato cylinders.
The basic microwave function tends to have limits when it comes to grilling, toasting, frying, and baking anything. Tater tots won’t get as crispy inside the microwave oven when compared to deep-frying them in a stovetop pan full of grease, grilling them on a grill, or baking them in an oven.
How to Microwave Tater Tots
According to experts like the Association of International Metallizers, Coaters, and Laminators, you won’t get your tater tots crispy inside the microwave. On the other hand, you can get ready-made microwaveable tater tots instead if you were to push the issue.
They come with crisping paper attached to the inside of the package. They help make the tots crispy when push comes to shove. Ore-Ida, the makers of the registered trademark Tater Tots, sell look-alikes known as Crispy Crowns (i.e., microwaveable Tater Tots).
Making Microwaveable Tater Tots
To make Crispy Crowns or microwaveable Tater Tots, do the following. Lift up the tab at the backside of the container and tear the top along the corrugated lines then discard. Afterwards, place the Crispy Crowns side-by-side in one layer in the remaining box.
Finally, place the whole thing in the microwave. Microwave them on the highest power level for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Let it stand for 1 minute and 30 seconds. So it should take you about 5 minutes overall to make these microwaveable tots.
Finishing Up and Warnings
The crisping paper that comes with the box is single-use only. The Pennsylvania State University warns against reusing microwaveable packages with crisping paper because the glue that holds the paper to the package will get damaged by the microwave radiation.
You have one shot to make those Crispy Crowns as your Tater Tots microwaveable substitute so do not miss your chance to properly make them in accordance to the instructions on the box. Don’t reuse that box to make more Crispy Crowns or remake badly made Crispy Crowns!
History of Tater Tots and Its Maker Ore-Ida
The founders of the Ore-Ida company first created Tater Tots in 1953 according to the New York Times. Specifically, they were “cooked” up by the brothers F. Nephi and Golden Grigg. They were trying to figure out what to do with their leftover slivers of sliced potatoes.
They proceeded to chop the slivers and added seasoning plus flour onto them. Afterwards, they pushed the mash through holes then sliced off the pieces into cylinders for cooking, as though they’re hash brown variants.
At present, Ore-Ida currently serves as a Kraft Heinz subsidiary. You can find many Tater Tot knock-offs out there as the aisles of many a grocery store with slightly altered names. However, the original ones were made by Ore-Ida.
How to Cook Tater Tots without Microwaving
In regards to how to cook tater tots or the original trademarked Tater Tots, every package contains instructions for deep-frying and oven baking the 32-ounce bag.
Oven Baking and Deep Frying
To bake half a bag of Tater Tots, it should take 20 to 25 minutes. Preheat the oven for 350°F to 400°F for 5-10 minutes first. If you wish to bake the whole bag instead, it should take you 28 to 32 minutes. As for deep-frying them, it only takes about 3-4 minutes.
Most people prefer the deep-fry method because of its quickness. They also wonder if microwaving the tots should take about as long as baking a potato, but the ones that offer desired results involve microwaveable tots or deep-fried Tater Tots.
Fry with the Air Fryer
The Cleveland Clinic says that foods you normally make by deep fryer such as potatoes and Tater Tots should turn out well with the air fryer. You need to know how to properly use the air fryer though so that the tots don’t come out as charcoal when push comes to shove.
Air-frying offers certain advantages, such as requiring less oil compared to deep-frying or even baking. It’s a good option for those on a diet or people keeping track of their fat intake.
Grilling the Tater Tots
You can also cook your tater tots through a grill. Ore-Idea recommends buying a foil pie plate for the grilled tots recipe. To cook your Tater Tots via grill, first spray the foil pie plate with cooking spray. Afterwards, put 4 cups of Tater Tots inside the plate.
From there, grill the tots for 20 to 22 minutes. Check to see if the tots get heated through. Stir the tots halfway through or around 10 to 11 minutes of grilling. Don’t overcook. Take it off the grill as soon as the tots get that crispy brown color and delectable texture.
If you lack a deep-fryer, stove, air fryer, grill, oven, or OTG (Oven, Toaster, Grill) combo appliance then you should consider microwaving the Tater Tots instead (preferably with crisping paper).
The ingenious American invention known as Tater Tots brings a lot of Americana or nostalgic memories of late-night bar snacks, college dorm rooms, and childhood lunches (along with instant noodles and coffee). They’re hash browns you can cook for yourself.
Although microwaving tater tots is possible, we don’t recommend it. Use Crispy Crowns or ready-made variants that could withstand microwaving instead. They won’t get as crispy as baking, deep-frying, or grilling them. You can make a serviceable batch using crisping paper but learn how to use that first.
- Magdalena Slapik, Claudia Thompson, PhD, RD, “How to Cook Tater Tots in the Microwave“, Livestrong.com, December 24, 2019