This article was updated on 14/07/2023 for clarity and to incorporate a new method we tested, the skillet.
Leftover tater tots can end up soggy and lifeless.
To try and fix this, I experimented with several different reheating techniques to find one that kept the tater tots soft and moist on the inside, and crunchy on the outside.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best way to reheat tater tots is in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven. Spread the tater tots evenly on a lightly greased baking sheet. Optionally, coat them with cooking spray for extra crunch. Place them in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, turning once halfway. Serve immediately for best results.
How I tested reheating tater tots
I firmly believe that tater tots are tiny pockets of potato goodness we always need in our lives. Last night, however, I got carried away and cooked too many and decided to store the leftovers in the fridge to reheat for lunch the next day.
Determined to restore them to their former glory, I experimented with five different reheating methods, which included:
- In the oven: Best and most convenient method.
- In an air fryer: An excellent option for an even crisp.
- In the microwave: Soggy tater tots with no crisp.
- In a skillet: Use bacon grease!!
- By refrying them: Delicious result but not convenient.
Reheating tater tots in the oven (or toaster oven)
Time: 10-12 minutes
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and lightly grease a baking tray.
- Optionally, spray your tater tots with cooking spray.
- Spread the tater tots out on the baking tray and heat them for 10-12 minutes, turning half way through. If you have a toaster oven, they’ll only need 6-8 minutes.
Some sources suggested using foil to reheat the tater tots, so I tried this too and don’t recommend it! The tater tots ended up soggy from the trapped steam.
Spraying the tater tots with cooking spray will help them crisp up in the oven, but it’s not needed. Especially if the tater tots feel greasy to the touch already.
Results: The oven was the best and most convenient way to reheat my tater tots. They came out crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and they tasted great. The only downside is it’s a bit slower than the other options.
Reheating tater tots in an air fryer
Time: 4-6 minutes
- Set your air fryer to 350°F (180°C).
- Coat your tater tots with cooking spray (optional).
- Spread them out in the air fryer as much as possible and heat them for 4 to 6 minutes, shaking the basket half way through.
Air fryers work by blowing really hot air around the machine, so when you’re heating the tater tots you need to make sure the air can circulate around them efficiently.
If the basket is too crowded and all the tater tots are squished together, they won’t crisp up.
Again, the additional cooking spray is optional but really helps give the tater tots that ‘just fried’ feeling.
Results: The air fryer my personal favorite method. It was fast, and the tater tots’ tasted super fresh. They were moist and fluffy inside and had an all-over crunch on the outside. But not everyone has access to an air fryer.
Reheating tater tots in the microwave
Time: 1 minute
- Place a piece of dry paper towel on a microwave-safe plate and spread the tater tots out on top.
- Microwave the tater tots for 30 seconds, check them as go for another 15-30 seconds if needed.
- Optional: place the tater tots under a hot broiler for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp their exteriors.
- Serve and eat them before they get cold!
The paper towel is there to soak up any grease that leaks out of the tater tots so they don’t sit in a layer of oil!
Once the tots are hot, you’ll want to eat them as soon as possible because as they start to cool down they’ll get very hard and cardboard-like.
Results: Microwaving my tater tots left a lot to be desired. They tasted nice, but they had none of the crunch that tater tots are known for. I enjoyed them once I’d crisped them up with under the broiler, but this kind of cancels out the speed and convenience aspect.
Reheating tater tots in a skillet
Time: 3-4 minutes
- Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.
- When the oil is shimmering, add the tater tots and fry them for 3-4 minutes or until they’re crispy.
Like with the air fryer, it’s crucial not to overload the pan here or the tater tots will start steaming instead of frying. You want to have enough room to move them around.
If you’re feeling extra indulgent, skip the oil and fry the tater tots in bacon grease instead. It’s not healthy, but my god is it good.
Results: The skillet tater tots were tasty and crispy, and some of them had a nice charred effect because I forgot to turn them! The only downside is having an oily pan to wash up afterwards.
Reheating tater tots by refrying them
Time: 30 seconds
- In a heavy-bottomed pot or deep fryer, heat a few inches of oil to 350°F (180°C).
- Place your tater tots into a frying basket or large slotted spoon and lower them into the hot oil for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Remove them from the fryer and drain them on a paper towel or a wire rack.
It’s really important to get the oil temperature right. If the oil is too cold the tater tots will get really greasy, and if it’s too hot they’ll burn.
The best way to monitor the temperature is with a thermometer, but you can also do the wooden spoon trick. Stick a wooden spoon into the oil and if small bubbles form on the surface, the oil is at the right temperature. If the bubbles are vigorous, the oil is too hot.
Results: Refrying gave my tater tots an undeniably tasty freshly fried taste, but I didn’t enjoy how much work it was and how unhealthy it is. Refrying is neither quick nor convenient. It uses a lot of oil and can be pretty messy too.
How to store tater tots
To store leftover tater tots, let them cool to room temperature. Then, line an airtight container with paper towels and spread the tots out inside. Put the tater tots in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. You can also freeze tater tots for 6 months.
It’s important your tater tots are at room temperature before you place them in a container. If you seal up your tater tots in a container while they are still hot, it will cause condensation and make them soggy and possibly mushy.
When storing them, try to space them out as much as possible to keep them crispy. The paper towel also helps keep them crispy by absorbing excess moisture.
Can you freeze tater tots?
First freeze your tater tots individually by laying them out on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and freezing them for one hour. Once hard to the touch, transfer them to a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing it. Use them within 6 months.
Freezing your tater tots individually first makes sure they don’t stick together in the bag. This way, you can take out a few at a time instead of having to defrost the whole lot.
There’s no need to thaw the tater tots before reheating them. You can reheat them straight from frozen in the oven or air fryer.
How to reheat frozen tater tots
To reheat frozen tater tots, preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and spread the tots out on a sheet pan. Cover the tater tots with foil and heat them for 10-15 minutes, removing the foil for the last 5 minutes so they can crisp up.
To reduce oven time, you can blast your frozen tater tots in the microwave for 30 seconds on high beforehand.
How To Reheat Tater Tots [Tested Methods]
- 1 portion tater tots
- 1 spray oil optional
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Lightly grease a baking tray.
- Spray your tater tots with cooking spray (optional).
- Place in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes.
- Turn your tots.
- Return to the oven for a further 5 to 6 minutes.