This simple recipe will teach you how to air fry frozen tater tots and bacon together, which is the perfect base for melty cheese and other loaded tots toppings. You’ll never want to make air fryer tater tots any other way after trying these!
How to Make Loaded Frozen Tater Tots in an Air Fryer
This is an ultra simple recipe, but I’ve included a visual recipe walkthrough below with additional notes on ingredient substitutions, air fryer notes, and more. If you’re just wondering how long to cook frozen tater tots in an air fryer, you’ll find a simplified printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Air fry frozen tater tots topped with bacon strips for 12-15 minutes at 350ºF until the bacon is crispy.
Did you know tater tots were invented by Ore-Ida? That’s why you’ll see most other brands label their tots things like “tater treats” or “potato puffs” instead of tater tots. Fun fact aside, you can use any form of frozen tater tots or potato puffs for this recipe. Same goes for the bacon.
Since no air fryer is the same, you may need to modify the recipe on your first trial run. I used a 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi for air frying. If you have a larger air fryer, you may need to add more tater tots and bacon to fill the basket. Larger air fryer will also likely cook the bacon and tater tots faster.
Just check on the bacon early and often if it’s your first time making bacon in an air fryer. It can go from perfect to burned in the blink of an eye!
Air fry the tater tots on their own for an additional 5 minutes at 400ºF before topping with shredded cheddar.
Once the bacon is good to go, give the tater tots another quick stint in the air fryer to get nice and golden. Similar to my note about the bacon, if you think your tater tots need more or less time after the bacon is cooked, feel free to stray from my recommendations.
Add the cooked bacon pieces, sour cream, chives, or your choice of toppings.
The world is your oyster when it comes to fixin’s. I’ve seen loaded tots with all kinds of toppings. A restaurant here in Austin makes loaded tots with brisket, goat cheese, avocado, and a chipotle aioli. So if you have leftover brisket, that might be a great addition. You could also make our leftover brisket fried rice while you’re at it.
All that being said, I kept it simple with some ranch seasoning mixed into sour cream, the chopped air fried bacon, and some fresh chives.
Tips for Healthier Loaded Tater Tots
These days you can find healthier frozen options like broccoli and cauliflower tots that would work for this recipe.
You could also make your own with recipes like these broccoli cheddar tots or baked zucchini tots. (I’m thinking you could either try making them in the air fryer or bake big batches and freeze for later uses like these loaded tots.) And there are always alternative tot options like air fried cauliflower gnocchi or “keto potatoes” aka air fryer roasted radishes.
As for the bacon, most center cut bacon is a worthy substitute with a better nutrition profile than you’d think. Turkey bacon and chicken bacon might also be lower fat options worth considering.
And one of the easiest calorie reducing substitutions out there is using fat free Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. It’s barely noticeable when used as a topping like with these loaded air fryer tater tots.
I hope you feel confident in cooking frozen tater tots in your air fryer after reading this recipe. And hopefully I’ve inspired you to play around with other toppings and maybe healthier tater tot creations.
If you come up with anything great, I’d love to hear about it. Come back and let me know in the comments. And recipe reviews are always appreciated!
- 1 pound Frozen Tater Tots
- 3 slices Bacon, cut in half
- 1/2 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese*
- 1/4 cup (60g) Sour Cream
- 1/2-1 teaspoon Ranch Seasoning (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Chopped Chives or Scallions
- Place the frozen tater tots in an even layer inside an air fryer basket.
- Add the bacon on top of the tots and air fry for 12-15 minutes at 350ºF or until the bacon is fully cooked and as crispy as you'd like. Be sure to check on the bacon early to avoid burning, as every air fryer is different.
- Set the cooked bacon aside, give the tater tots a shake, and air fry an additional 5 minutes or so at 400ºF until the tots are a crispy golden brown.
- Add the shredded cheddar on top of the tots and close the air fryer lid for 30-60 seconds to melt the cheese with residual heat.
- Crumble or chop the cooked bacon and add to the top of the cheesy tater tots with the sour cream and chives. (If you want to add ranch seasoning, mix it into the sour cream before adding.) Serve immediately.
* American cheese also makes great cheese tots. For more ingredient substitution notes and tips for making healthier tots, see the post above.
Making Larger Batches
To use an entire bag of tots, keep the bacon on top for the first stint in the air fryer. Once the bacon cooks, extend the cook time for the tots at 400ºF as needed to get the entire batch golden brown. You'll want to be sure to shake several times for even cooking.
I would increase the amount of cheese used and possibly create layers by removing some of the tots, adding cheese and crumbled bacon, and adding the remaining tots before topping with cheese.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 325Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 833mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 9g