I was at The Cheesecake Factory with some family recently, and we were deciding on appetizers. We ended up ordering their loaded baked potato tots… and I ended up completely rethinking tater tots. I don’t typically order or cook tater tots, as I find the flavor and texture less appealing than that of french fries. Why even bother with tots when fries are so readily available? Those tots were a completely different experience. They were the complete opposite of the lumpy, bland tater tots I was expecting. Smooth and creamy on the inside and crunchy on the outside, with a delicious loaded baked potato flavor, I had to figure out how to make them myself.
I came home from dinner and immediately started researching loaded baked potato tot recipes. I found a lot of versions that were really just cheese-y tater tots, and some leftover-mashed-potato tots, but none of them looked right. Finally, my search led me to a Cheesecake Factory copycat recipe.
I tinkered with the ingredients and quantities a bit, adding smoked paprika, salt, and cream cheese to achieve the flavor I was looking for. I honestly think what I ended up with is better than the Cheesecake Factory version. They have all the cheese-y, bacon, scallion flavor of a loaded baked potato, with the texture of a perfect mashed potato, all encapsulated in a crispy little bite. All they need is a side of sour cream for dipping.
These tots can be customized to your taste, or to the ingredients you have on hand. You can omit the bacon, use onion powder in place of the scallions, or add a dash of cayenne powder or Tabasco to give them some heat. I can’t wait to play around with more flavor combinations for these babies.
I’m testing this weekend whether these loaded baked potato tots can be frozen and reheated in the oven, and will update this post soon with the answer! I’m hoping they’ll be that wonderful kind of appetizer that can be made ahead of time for parties, or just to have on hand. And speaking of parties, these are perfect Super Bowl Party food. Whether you’re a fan of the Falcons, the Patriots, or the commercials, you will be a fan of these for sure.
Loaded Baked Potato Tots
Loaded Baked Potato Tots
- 2 cups mashed potatoes 415g
- 1 cup medium cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup sour cream 60g
- 1/4 cup cream cheese 60g
- 1/3 cup chopped green onions
- 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp chopped bacon crumbles
- 1/4 cup milk (I used whole milk)
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1/2 cup sour cream
Step 1: Make mashed potatoes: peel 6 russet potatoes. Slice into quarters and boil for 15-20 minutes. When potatoes are soft all the way through, pour into a colander to drain. Put potatoes through a ricer, or hand-mash them until smooth. Some small chunks are fine.
Step 2: Stir together mashed potatoes, sour cream, and cream cheese. Add milk, shredded cheddar, bacon, green onion, paprika, and salt and stir until well combined.
Step 3: Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. With your hands, shape the potato mixture into small, tater-top shaped clumps, and set on the baking sheet. When the sheet is full, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 20 minutes. If you find that the potato mixture is too soft for you to work with, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (up to a few hours).
Step 5: Remove formed tots from the freezer. Crack two eggs into a dish - I just used cereal bowls - and beat until combined. Pour breadcrumbs into a second dish. Dip each tot in the egg, and then into the breadcrumbs until well-coated.
Step 4: Pour vegetable oil into a frying pan, about an inch and a half deep. Get it to 350 degrees and start adding your breaded tots, a few at a time. Be careful to keep an eye on the temperature, so that the oil doesn't get too hot - I used an instant-read thermometer to check mine.
Step 7: When the tots are getting golden brown, remove from oil and place onto a plate (lined with paper towel to soak up the excess oil). Be gentle when handling these, because the insides are very soft, and you will squish them if you're not careful.
Step 8: In a small bowl, mix together the 2 Tbsps of milk and the 1/2 cup of sour cream. Dip your tots and enjoy!