Jalapeño Parmesan Quinoa Tater Tots

January 14, 2015



The other day I tried to figure out what cooking skill I perfected the most in 2014. And I’m not sure if I should be proud to say it or not, but it was totally frying. From doughnuts to fritters to chicken, I spent a decent amount of time waiting for pots full of oil to hit the right temperature. I also set off the smoke detectors a time or two (or 34). And learned that there’s literally no way to turn them off in our house. And they’re obnoxiously loud. And say things in a creepy voice, like “smoke in the kitchen. Evacuate now!” Except you can’t really hear the voice because the alarm noise is so freaking loud. I also set them off when blowing out candles sometimes. Which is always a nice way to fully wake up again when you’re getting ready to go to bed.

But back to the frying. I’ve historically had a tough time frying because I’ve been really bad at getting the oil to the proper temperature and then understanding how to keep it there. But I fried so much in 2014 that I actually got pretty good at it. So good that this new recipe, my first frying recipe of 2015, was a breeze. Which is going to make for a very dangerous year. You’ve been warned.

I know tater tots are like a major food trend right now. Which is probably why I started craving them. But every time I order them out, they’re a major flavorless disappointment. Which is why I decided to make my own. I added lots of flavor in the form of parmesan cheese and jalapeños. I also thought the addition of quinoa would do a nice job of bulking the tots up and um, adding a little protein. Because that’s obviously what you’re thinking about when eating tater tots. Whatever.


These are actually super easy to make so long as you’re not afraid of bringing a little oil up to 350 degrees. Which you’re not, right??

First, you’ll want to bake the potatoes a bit to soften them. I baked them for 25 minutes at 375 degrees so they were tender, but still a little hard in the middle.

Once out of the oven and cool enough to touch, you’ll peel them (the skin should slide right off!) and then use a box grader to shred them into a bowl.

This was the best arm workout I’ve had all year. Cooking is exercise!


I mixed the jalapeño, quinoa, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper in with the grated potatoes.

And then formed the potato mixture into little cylinders that I placed on a foil-lined baking sheet.

I got a late start on these, so I popped them in the fridge overnight… I recommend doing so for at least an hour.


Before you’re ready to fry, put the panko in a bowl and roll the potato cylinders around in it to fully coat.


Here comes the frying! Bring about two inches of oil up to between 350-375 degrees. And then whatever you do, try to keep the oil within that range the whole time you’re frying.


And fry the tots in batches, keeping them in the oil for about 3-4 minutes, until they’re golden brown. With a slotted spoon, move them to a paper towel-lined plate.


Keep going until they’re all fried up.


These are best served hot. With a deliciously simple dipping sauce if you can. Mine involved Greek yogurt, lime juice, and cumin.

It complemented the tater tots perfectly and was light enough that the flavor of the tots could shine through. “Flavor of the tots…” Wow, I’m really analyzing this, huh? It’s worth it.


It’s being said that tater tots are going to be one of the next big food trends. And I’m excited about this only because I expect to see lots of fun flavor variations.


After these ones, I kinda sorta think regular tater tots are super boring… Unless they’re drowning in ketchup. Which will also be the name of my someday band… Drowning in Ketchup. Except I have no musical talent whatsoever.

And I mean, can we talk about what a good snack these would be for the Super Bowl?


I ate way too many of these. Though they’re obviously fried, they’re not at all heavy. Just crispy. I’m not trying to tell you they’re healthy, but you do know that when you fry food at the proper temperature, not a lot of the oil actually gets trapped in the food, right? That’s just one reason why it pays to become a frying pro. Totally appropriate for a 2015 resolution.


Also, it’s not too late to make resolutions like these. You’ll thank yourself in January, 2016. I think? Or maybe you’ll just be really angry at me.


Something tells me I’ll be getting a lot more practice in 2015. I can think of about 50 billion more tater tot recipes I want to make. Which means I need to start putting my Fitbit into more action…. those 10,00 steps/day aren’t quite going to do it anymore.

But for these? I’d walk 10 miles. So worth it.

Will you be jumping on the tater tot trend of do you think it will disappear very quickly?

Jalapeño Parmesan Quinoa Tater Tots
They may be all the rage right now, but with jalapeño, quinoa, and parmesan cheese, these tater tots are way more fun and flavorful than the average tot!
Recipe type: Appetizer
Makes: About 40 tater tots
  • 2½ lbs. russet potatoes
  • 1½ T minced jalapeño peppers
  • 1 C cooked quinoa
  • ½ C shredded parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ C panko
  • Canola Oil
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Prick potatoes all over with a fork and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake for about 25 minutes, until they're starting to get tender, but are still hard in the middle.
  4. When potatoes are cool enough to touch, peel them and then shred them with a grater into a bowl.
  5. Mix minced jalapeños, quinoa, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper into the grated potatoes.
  6. Using your hands, form the potato mixture into small cylinders. Place on a baking sheet and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
  7. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat about two inches of oil until it reaches 350-375 degrees.
  8. Put panko in a bowl and roll potato cylinders in it to fully coat.
  9. Fry tater tots in batches until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  10. With a slotted spoon, move fried tater tots to a paper towel-covered plate.
  11. Before frying next batch of tots, make sure oil is still between 350-375 degrees.


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25 Responses to "Jalapeño Parmesan Quinoa Tater Tots"

  1. OMG these look crazy delicious! I adore spicy & I bet they would pair nicely with a bright & fruity Pinot Grigio. Can’t wait to try this recipe – thanks for sharing!

  2. Juliana says:

    Delicious looking these tater tots…I love the idea of jalapeño and quinoa…great as appetizer…
    Hope you are having a great week 🙂

  3. Catherine says:

    What a delicious appetizer or snack treat. xo Catherine

  4. Amanda says:

    Stars in Hingham makes bacon cheddar tater tots and serves them with spicy ketchup. Highly recommend!

  5. I could do some damage to those! I tend to shy away from home frying anything because I’m convinced I won’t get the temperature right and have a soggy mess on my hands. I think I’ll give it a shot this year!

  6. Monica says:

    I think you’ve perfected the frying for sure…these look perfectly done and what a great finger-food!

  7. Pam says:

    So fun & tasty!

  8. Mary Frances says:

    These look so spicy and delicious, perfect for beating the cold!

  9. So the quinoa in here pretty much makes these health food I think. 😉 You’ve got me craving some crispy tater tots big time now!

  10. I have never tried tater tots before! I find it easier to deep fry on my electric hob, but I don’t do it often 🙂

  11. Joanne says:

    I need to come visit you and get a lesson in frying. I am pretty good at getting the oil to the right temperature, but keeping it there is a whole other story!

    Also, I need ALL THE TOTS. I hope this is a trend FOREVER.

  12. The voice on the smoke detector is creepy, I agree! These quinoa tater tos look fantastic! I love your creativity. I think I could eat a whole batch of these in one sitting!

  13. Gingi says:

    Can you believe I still have not cooked with quinoa yet?! I need to fix that, soon! You make these look so yummy!! – http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

  14. As someone who always asks for dishes at restaurants to be “extra spicy,” I totally get you! I love anything jalapeno and these tots look great 🙂

  15. These tater tots look so very crunchy and moreish!

  16. I am absolutely TERRIFIED of frying things! I am glad someone mastered it :p
    These tater tots look too good!

  17. Odetta says:

    This is amazing!!! I’m so doing these for Super Bowl Sunday though frying makes me a little scared too.

  18. I think you can safely say 2014 was a success! Frying is a critical skill to master. And I don’t even like to watch the big game but I would totally do it if these tots were around 🙂

  19. Victoria says:

    These definitely put other tator tots to shame! Love the cheese and spice here. These would be a great snack to munch on during a football game 😉

  20. I am TOTALLY impressed. What gorgeous little nuggets you made. Perfectly crispy. Perfectly brown. Ya know maybe you are Martha.

  21. Wow! I love how simple and tasty these look!!

  22. Wow, these look absolutely beautiful and delicious. I love tater tots. Definitely a recipe I will have to try sometime soon.

  23. These tater tots look incredible.. all that crisp and golden, chees-y coating is definitely making my mouth water!

  24. Molly Galler says:

    Bravo, frying queen! You are a total pro. These sounds so delicious. I am definitely going to try this recipe!

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