Eat it like it’s (a sweet potato) TOT! A kitchenlab report

Tater Tots – the potato snack/side so easily found in the grocery store frozen aisle, are not something that really need to be made at home. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun. So I decided to conduct a little experiment subbing sweet potatoes for the more traditional Russets. I’m writing this adventure up as a food experiment* rather than a recipe so I can return to it later in the MoFo with  improvements.

Here’s what went into the tots:

  • 2 lbs sweet garnet sweet potatoes (the really orange ones), peeled, cut into long chunks
  • 2 TBS minced shallots
  • 1 TBS minced fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • generous amount of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 TBS Potato Starch

Here’s what I did:

  1. Steamed sweet potatoes for 10 minutes. I wanted them to be softened a little but not so soft that they would end up being mashed. tots_steaming
  2. Shredded the sweet potato chunks in a food processor with the shredding attachment.
  3. Mixed the shredded sweet potatoes with the remainder of ingredients. tots_mix
  4. Formed into the mixture into cylindrical shapes approximately 3/4” thick.
  5. Chilled the cylinders on a covered baking sheet in the fridge for roughly 2 hours. I felt chilling would help firm up the shapes and make it easier to form the nuggets. *snicker*
  6. Preheated one quart of safflower oil to 375F. I don’t have a fryer so I did this in a regular stainless steel pot, adjusting the oven flame as necessary to maintain temperature.
  7. Cut the cylinders into nuggets and rounded the edges gently with  my fingers.
  8. Fried the nuggets in batches until they browned, roughly 4-5 minutes each batch, checking the temperature of the oil between batches. As each batch finished I scooped out the tots with a slotted spoon and put them in a paper bag lined colander to soak up the excess oil.


What went right:

  • The flavor/ spices/ ingredients – The balance here was great. I tasted shallots and thyme with each bite, but the spices didn’t overpower the sweet potatoes. The only thing I might change here is to add just a smidge of lemon juice to perk things up.
  • The shape – I’m glad these kept a nice tot shape. I saw a lot of blobby looking homemade tots when researching recipes for guidance and I can say with confidence that I succeeded in producing nice round tots.

What went wrong(ish – these were still delish, but here’s what I’d improve):

  • The insides didn’t quite heat up as much as I would have liked. I think the chilling step was probably unnecessary. I’ll skip it next time and see how it goes.
  • The texture – They were a little soft and didn’t get the nubbly-ness that commercial tater tots have. My plan to improve this is to reduce the steaming time to 6-8 minutes and/or give the chunks a quick cold water rinse. Even after shredding the potatoes were at much warmer than room temp and the texture continued to move closer to a mashed potato texture. I wanted to keep the tots a closely knit collective of nubs, rather than a completely unified body.

The final verdict:

I’m looking forward to improving the recipe and finding an appropriate condiment (perhaps cayenne spiked ketchup). Cleanup is always a pain when deep frying, but hey, they’re TOTs.


*Note: I have no idea how actual scientific experiments are written up so please no throwing scientific shade my way. I haven’t taken a lab science class since high school, which was sometime between 4 and 14 years ago (a PINEAPPLE never reveals his age).

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18 Responses to Eat it like it’s (a sweet potato) TOT! A kitchenlab report

  1. Sweet potato tots… I love this idea! Good work, I really can’t wait to see the improved version later.

  2. jaymoh says:

    Nice! What about shredding and then steaming?

  3. Jaymoh, I thought about doing that. I’m worried that the shreds would cook through too much.

  4. Jojo says:

    Oh wow, I’ve never had a tot but I do have sweet potato’s & a fryer…

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  6. Oh my. Oh my.
    Show me your tots!

  7. celyn says:

    Amazing. I am wondering if the nubbly-ness has something to do with the starch content of the white potato? If you make them again, could you do half sweet potato and half russet, and soak the russet shreds to help with texture? Just a thought.

  8. Mo says:

    Yay! So glad you made these!!!! I’m attempting sweet potato tots next week for a Back to the Future inspired dinner and a movie.

  9. Mo – Can’t wait to see
    Celyn – I’m not sure. I don’t know much about food science so it’s all a crap shoot for me. I did find one recipe that suggested baking after frying – I think that might solve some of the issues I was having.
    Jojo – Never?? I guess they’re a US thing. Give them a try!
    Panda – be careful what you wish for!

  10. Melissa says:

    Was this your first time trying out the Sweet Potato Tot experiment? Either way, I’m mighty impressed! Great job!

  11. What about dicing and not shredding? Tots seem to be made of small potato chunks rather than shreds. Or a mixture of both. Shreds to help hold it together, dice for that nubby tot quality.

  12. kittee says:

    hoveringdog has posted a tot recipe that worked for him. try again!!!!!! i want to see success and then make my own!


    • I just checked H-Dog’s post and he did mostly the same thing, except he baked them after frying. I think that’s the way to go. Next time will be a shorter steaming time followed by frying and then baking. He also added some AP flour, but I’ll keep that out for you kittee!! xo
      Should be pretty easy. I’ll try again next weekend.

  13. Um… yum? Do you think they’d be okay tossed in oil and cooked on a baking sheet? Either way… just yum.

  14. PS. Jojo can find UK tater tots in Morrisons. They’re called ‘potato crunchies’ but I can verify with 100% confidence that they are exactly the same thing.

  15. JohnP says:

    I will be watching carefully!

  16. mihl says:

    If you get these right, pandacookie is going to propose to you.

  17. Pingback: Sweet Potato Tots Take Two | MACHO PINEAPPLE

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