Wondering how to cook frozen tater tots in the air fryer? It's so quick and easy! Here's my foolproof method for making perfect air fryer tater tots every single time.
Y'all, my family LOVES tots. We eat them with veggie burgers, use them as a topper for breakfast casseroles, and make them late night for snacks. And this method for making perfect Air Fryer Tater Tots is how we cook them almost every single time.
Want to learn more about air fryers? Get a helpful FAQ and my favorite vegan air fryer recipes here!
Important dos and don'ts
Before you add the tots to your basket, we need to go over two critical points: one DO and one DON'T. Let's start with the don't, then move on to the do!
- Don't overfill your basket! An air fryer works by circulating hot air, and an overfull basket doesn't allow that to happen. I recommend not filling your basket more than halfway.
- Do shake. Shaking is key to getting even results. When you shake, you move the tots from the center of the basket to the outside and move the outside tots in. That allows everything to get even exposure to that hot air that's doing the cooking.
The more you fill your basket, the more often you ought to shake. If you're just making one to two servings, shaking once should do the trick. Making the whole bag? Shake three or even four times to get even results.
Calculating Cooking Time
OK, so the tl;dr when it comes to cooking time is: 400° F for 10-12 minutes. This cooking time will work almost always, unless you're buying some unusual-sized tots or way overfilling your basket.
The longer answer to the cooking time question is to start by looking on the back of the bag. Any bag of frozen tater tots is going to have baking instructions.
To calculate your air frying time for these frozen tots (or almost any frozen food), take the baking time and cut it in half, and cook by as close to the listed temperature as you can get.
The tots I buy say to cook at 450F for 18-21 minutes. Most air fryers only go up to 400F, so that's the temp to choose.
Since I went down on temp, I'm going to go with the top time recommendation, which is about 20 minutes in the oven. That means around 10 minutes in the air fryer.
Since 450 is so much more than 400, I have started tacking on a couple of extra minutes for good measure.
Voila: 400° F for 10-12 minutes!
If you're ever in doubt or forget the time/temp for a frozen item, you can calculate it on the fly using the baking time and temp listed on the package.
Air fryer tater tots recipe
- 2 servings frozen tater tots - according to the package label (see note)
- Pour the tots into your air fryer basket. Cook at 400F for 10 minutes, shaking every 3-4 minutes.
Bonus tip #1: leave some space between the air fryer and the wall!
The first tip is about air frying in general, but I like to remind people as often as I can. Make sure that your air fryer isn't right up against the wall when it's running!
The vent at the back of the air fryer pushes out hot air, and that air can melt your plastic outlet cover!
Move the air fryer so it's as close to the edge of the counter as you're comfortable with to prevent this from happening. It's an easy step that saves you a headache later.
Bonus tip #2: frozen tots are usually deep fried
The other tip is about the tots themselves. I know that a lot of people use an air fryer to avoid deep fried food. While the air fryer does cook frozen tots without added oil, know that those tater tots were deep fried before the company froze and packaged them.
That said, air frying frozen tots is still better for you than deep frying them a second time! I just don't want you to think of these as health food.
What they are, though, is delicious. And I'm all for crispy, air fryer tater tots.