No joke, this is the cleanest tater tots recipe out there. It’s Paleo-friendly, Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) compliant, and with the use of avocado or coconut oil, is also vegan. How great!
The method I use to make these will rock your tot world: I par-bake (which means baking it half way so the inside is still firm, but the outer layer is soft) the potato and take advantage of the two textures a half-baked spud offers. Then by shredding the whole thing, both the firm inner-portion and the soft outer-portion work together to create perfect tot texture AND a binder without adding any extra ingredients! It’s kind of amazing.
Now, if you don’t have any particular diet restrictions, then have a little fun with this method. Maybe some cheese, bacon bits, and scallions are in your wheelhouse? Maybe you’d like to spice it up with granulated garlic, black pepper, and a pinch of chili powder? <– you’d better finish that one with lime zest, by the way. Maybe you’ve got a hankering to get cute with some poutine? Sub the fries for these tots and impress your guests!
These tots are yours for the customizing. Have fun! And then come tell me about what you ended up making… Cause sometimes it’s fun to live vicariously through what everyone out there is noshing on.
- 2 to 2.5 lbs (908 g to 1.1 kg) yellow sweet potatoes (not yams)
- ½ cup (118 mL) Paleo-friendly fat (I prefer lard, duck fat, avocado oil or coconut oil)
- pinch of salt (I like coarse-grain Celtic sea salt)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Wash the sweet potatoes and poke a few times with a fork.
- Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature. This will take a few hours, so plan ahead.
- When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin. It should easily slide off when you drag the back of a butter knife across it. Discard the peels.
- Using a box grater, shred the sweet potatoes. The potatoes should be somewhat sticky from having the intrinsic sugars activated from the baking. In fact, it’s the natural sugars from the sweet potatoes that act as the binder for the tot.
- Use a tablespoon or something comparable to scoop out spoonfuls of shredded potato.
- Working one at a time, roll the potatoes back and forth in the palm of your hand a few times, then squish the ends flat to create the classic tater tot shape. Continue working until all the potato is used up.
- Now move to frying the newly formed tots. I like to use an 8-inch (20-cm) cast-iron skillet because it is narrow with high-sides. This means less oil is needed, which saves money.
- There is some flexibility between which Paleo-friendly oil to select, but in general animal-based fats will yield a better flavor, so my vote is for lard from pastured pigs or duck fat. In the event you don’t have these on hand, avocado oil works great—as does coconut oil. Avoid oils with low smoke points like olive or bacon drippings. They won’t fry properly.
- Melt or heat your chosen fat in a small, high-sided pan at just shy of high heat. Don’t max out your dial, but get it pretty close.
- When the oil is hot, fry 5 or 6 tots at a time, working in batches. Frying only a few at a time will keep the oil temperature stable. This means the tots will have a crispy outside and a creamy inside.
- Each side only requires about a minute or so to brown, so keep a close eye on the tots and always be ready to turn and/or remove them. The end caps don’t generally need frying since the oil level is likely high enough to brown the edges.
- Once the Tater Tots are golden brown, remove them from the oil and transfer to a surface lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat until all of the tots are cooked.
- Season with salt (I like coarse-grain Celtic sea salt on these)
A couple things will help this recipe come together
The beauty of this recipe is how simple it is. A few ingredients and some basic kitchen tools get the job done: both a quality fat and a solid pan that are good for frying, and something to grate the sweet potato with. A traditional box grater will work, but I’m a sucker for the food processor shred disk attachment.