Time for tater tots!

Published 10:46 am Friday, March 8, 2024

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“In March, winter is holding back and spring is pulling forward.”— Jean Hersey. 

March is a good time for change. The weather is changing, the time changes and it’s time to try some new recipes. A hearty casserole will chase away the chill of a rainy day. Sunny days might call for a fun, easy-to-make recipe.

Linda: I’ve been noticing that “tater tots” have been taking over the usual French fries and potato chip offerings. These puffy potatoes have moved from children’s plates to being served to all ages in trendy restaurants.

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Lucy: Even some pizza take-outs are offering tots to order as a meal or as a side dish with pizza. I did some research and discovered they were invented in 1953. Ore-Ida founders F. Nephi Grigg, Golden Grigg and Ross Erin Butler Sr. were trying to figure out what to do with leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes. They chopped up the slivers, added flour and seasoning, pushed the mash through holes and sliced off pieces of the extruded mixture. The product was first offered commercially in stores in 1956.

Linda: According to Wikipedia, Americans consume approximately 70 million pounds of tater tots, or 3,710,000,000 tots per year. The name “Tater Tot” is a registered trademark of Ore-Ida, but is so widely used, it’s become a generic term.

Lucy: I know they are a popular item because sometimes the grocery store tot shelves are empty. I’ve been looking through some recipes for possibilities of “Tater Tot” casseroles. It will be interesting to see how these potato puffs enhance a recipe. 

Linda: I’ve seen suggestions for “Tater Tot” kebobs. I haven’t tried these, but they do sound tasty. Some suggestions are lobster roll kebobs, shrimp kebobs, kielbasa, and even kebobs made with Spam and “Tater Tots.”

Lucy: How about Chicken Tater Bake? This recipe makes two casseroles so you can freeze one to have when you need a quick meal. It calls for cut-up cooked chicken. Buying a grocery store roasted chicken saves time, making this an easy creation. The tots turn it into a chicken pot pie topped with the taters for a crust.

Linda: I noticed a recipe called Tater Taco Casserole. It’s a fun recipe that is fast to make and delicious. I used the smaller, half-size tots and they crisped up, nice and brown. Also, I added some salsa to the base and will include that in the recipe below. I thought it needed a little more spice and sauce to resemble a taco.

Lucy: I know we have always associated “Tater Tots” with younger eaters and as a side dish for burgers. Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Bake is perfect for a family meal with young children and teenagers. And doesn’t everyone love Velveeta cheese?

Linda: I think these are unusual recipes that our readers will enjoy. And let’s remind them, there will be another “pop up” Landrum Farmers Market, on March 16 from 8-12. We’ll be there with cookies and our popular cookbooks.


Chicken Tater Bake

 2 casseroles (6 servings each).


2 cans 10-3/4 oz each condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1/2 cup 2% milk

1/4 cup butter, cubed

3 cups cubed, cooked chicken

1 16 oz package frozen peas and carrots, thawed

1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

1 32 oz package frozen “Tater Tots”



In a large saucepan, combine the soup, milk and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. Remove from the heat; stir in the chicken, peas and carrots, and one cup cheese. Transfer to two greased 8-in. square baking dishes. Top with Tater Tots. Cover and freeze one casserole for up to three months. Bake the remaining casserole at 400° until bubbling, 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese; bake until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes longer. To use frozen casserole: Remove from the freezer 30 minutes before baking (do not thaw). Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Cover and bake at 350° until heated through, 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours.


Tater Taco Casserole

8 servings.


2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 envelope taco seasoning

2/3 cup water

1 can 11 oz whole kernel corn, drained

1 can 10.75 oz condensed fiesta nacho cheese soup, undiluted (If unavailable use undiluted 

cheese soup)

1 jar Salsa Mild or Hot

1 package 32 oz frozen “Tater Tots”

Optional: Fresh cilantro leaves, diced tomatoes, sour cream



Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in taco seasoning and water. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in corn, soup, and salsa.Transfer to a greased 13×9-in. baking dish. Arrange “Tater Tots” in a single layer over the top. Bake, uncovered, until potatoes are crispy and golden brown, 30-35 minutes. If desired, top with cilantro, tomatoes and sour cream. Can be made ahead of time and frozen for later use. (Optional: Serve with a tossed salad.) 


Bacon Cheeseburger “Tater Tot” Bake

12 servings.


2 pounds ground beef

1 large onion, chopped and divided

1 can 15 oz tomato sauce

1 TBS ground mustard

1 TBS Worcestershire sauce

1 package 8 oz Velveeta cheese

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

12 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

1 package 32 oz frozen “Tater Tots”

1 cup grape tomatoes, chopped

1/3 cup sliced dill pickles



Preheat oven to 400°. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook beef and 1 cup onion, crumbling meat, until beef is no longer pink and onion is tender, 6-8 minutes; crumble meat; drain. Stir in tomato sauce, Velveeta, mustard and Worcestershire sauce until cheese is melted, 4-6 minutes. Transfer to a greased 13×9-in. or 3-1/2-qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bacon. Top with “Tater Tots.” Bake, uncovered, 35-40 minutes or until bubbly. Top with tomatoes, pickles and remaining onion.