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 tater 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 our go-to.
Want to learn more about air fryers? Get my favorite vegan air fryer recipes here!
Frequently asked questions
In general, cooking at 400° F for 10-12 minutes, shaking the basket once or twice during cooking, will do the trick. Depending how much you fill the basket, you may need to cook for a few minutes longer.
Yes! Unless your tots are in a single layer, you have to shake, or they won't cook evenly.
For tater tots, there's no need to preheat. Just toss them in, and get cooking! If they're not done when time is up, tack on another minute or two at 400° F for crispy results.
There's no need to add extra oil to frozen tater tots. They are already deep fried before freezing, so they will release plenty of oil to crisp up as they cook.
Tater tots are bite-sized little potatoey pillows made from shredded potatoes. Think of them as one-bite hash browns. They're crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and absolutely addictive!
Air fryer tater tots cook up in about half they time they take in the oven with no added oil! They come out perfectly crispy-crunchy.
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:
- 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
The short answer when it comes to cooking time is: 400° F for 10-12 minutes.
This cooking time will almost always work, 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.
If you're ever in doubt or forget the time/temp for a frozen item, you can calculate it on the fly using half the baking time and the same baking temperature listed on the package.
The tots I buy say to cook at 450° F for 18-21 minutes. Most air fryers only go up to 400° F, 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.
Voila: 400° F for 10-12 minutes!
Depending on how full your basket is, the tots you're using, and your specific model of air fryer, this time can vary, of course. You may need to add a few extra minutes even beyond 12 to get perfectly crunchy tots. 10-12 minutes is a good starting place and works in most instances.
More simple air fryer recipes
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 400° F for 10-12 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.
More tater tot recipes
I'm obsessed with tater tots and love using them in recipes and making my own! If you love tots, try these easy recipes: