If you don’t happen to have any Veggie Chili, a 15 oz [430 g] can of chili or any leftover chili that you’ve got on hand works great! I really like the Stagg brand Vegetarian Garden 4-Bean Chili in a pinch. And Heinz chili sauce is my favorite brand of chili sauce. I think this chili is best made the day before. Simply reheat on low when you’re ready to serve it.–Kelley Epstein

A large rectangle casserole pan, filled with tater tot nachos topped with sour cream, tomatoes, sour cream, and jalapeños. A wooden serving spoon lays beside the dish.

Tater Tot Nachos ~ Totchos

5 from 1 vote
Tater Tot nachos takes one of the most loved, and easiest, dinners and gives it a crispy, crunchy, potato-filled boost. Topped with chili–vegetarian or filled with beef, it's up to you–and loads of tomatoes, sour cream, and jalapeños, Totchos might be everyone's perfect meal.
David Leite
CourseMains
CuisineAmerican
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories818 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds frozen tater tots
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning blend
  • 2 cups leftover chili*
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 cup diced Roma tomatoes
  • 4 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, preferably full fat
  • 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade pickled jalapeños (optional)

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, toss frozen tater tots with taco seasoning. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake until very crispy, 28 to 35 minutes, turning once during baking. This is key to the success of this dish!
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, reheat chili.
  • Remove tater tots from oven. Spoon warm chili over top and sprinkle evenly with cheese. Return to oven just until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and top with tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, sour cream, and pickled jalapeños, if using. Serve immediately.

Notes

*Can I make Tater Tot Nachos without chili?

If you don’t have leftover chili on hand or don’t want to make a batch, you can swap in 8 ounces (227 g) of cooked ground beef seasoned with 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, or try 8 ounces (227 g) of cooked ground chorizo sausage to top your Totchos.
Après All Day

Adapted From

Après All Day

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 818 kcalCarbohydrates: 78 gProtein: 26 gFat: 48 gSaturated Fat: 19 gMonounsaturated Fat: 18 gCholesterol: 90 mgSodium: 2203 mgFiber: 11 gSugar: 6 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Kelley Epstein. Photo © 2021 Ren Fuller. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I admit it, I’m a tater tot fanatic. They must be a part of my birthday celebration dinner, every year, and my children know that a pile of tater tots and a bottle of ketchup will fix anything that’s gone wrong with my day. So, when I was having a terrible day and this recipe crossed my desk, I knew what I was making for dinner. Tater tot nachos.

As much as I love my tater tots, I did have to wonder about the list of ingredients. I was totally on board with the cheese, but taco seasoning? Canned chili? Tomatoes? I worried that my beloved tots would be lost in the kerfuffle. Nope, this was a massive pile of junky comfort goodness that fixed everything that was wrong in my world. Well almost.

I did make a few adjustments just to appease different palates in my home. I replaced the jalapenos with diced avocados (a nod to healthy eating) and cilantro was noticeably absent due to a soapy son. I’m looking forward to my next bad day and tot attitude adjustment. 

Tater tot nachos…or Totchos, as my favorite local bar calls them. How could this be wrong? You bake tater tots–one of the few truly great finds in the freezer section–until extra-crispy and then top them with delicious things. This is a no-brainer.

I’ll never say no to tater tots, especially when smothered in cheese and chili. I baked mine for a full forty minutes before loading them with leftover Texas-style chili with pork and brisket. The optional pickled jalapeños add some welcome heat and tang to offset this rich, salty dish, which I finished with a generous squeeze of lime.

This is perfect Friday night, end-of-the-week fare! Who doesn’t love tater tots? And nachos? This recipe is perfect for a relaxing, casual dinner or as an appetizer. It goes together easily and it’s a hit with kids, too. I never buy canned chili and I don’t make chili in the summer, but the suggestion of browning and seasoning ground beef gave me the idea to use fresh homemade chorizo instead. It was wonderful! And I’ll definitely make this again, but next time to share it with friends!

I find myself gravitating to easy peasy dishes this summer season. My motivation for elaborate meals has dwindled and I hope to be re-inspired with the change of seasons around the corner. But in the meantime, this meal of Tater Tot nachos is perfect to throw together on a weeknight, you will most likely have the ingredients on hand or will be able to improvise or substitute to your own tastes.

I do recommend using ground beef in place of veggie chili, although the veggie chili would be tasty, I always have beef in the freezer ready to toss into a main dish. I have used tater tots for nachos on a random weeknight in the past, so I was eager to see if this recipe offered a new variation. It is quite similar to what I had done, the main difference would be the use of taco seasoning – even if you did not have the exact spices, you could pull this off. Also, using whatever canned beans or canned tomatoes you might have if you do not have any fresh ingredients would be possible. I live in Minnesota, land of the tater tot dish – which truthfully has never been my favorite, but I can definitely get on board with Tater Tot Nachos any night of the week!

These totchos are a playful and delicious dish, perfect for serving to friends coming over to watch a basketball game, or as a side at a casual potluck. The ingredients come together nicely and the final dish is strangely addicting. I highly recommend quick-pickling your own jalapeños! Their texture and brightness elevate the other ingredients and make the dish seem a bit fancier and fresher.

I omitted the vegetarian chili and replaced it with 8 ounces of ground beef cooked with taco seasoning. I baked the tater tots for 25 minutes on convection at 425°F and they were deep brown and perfectly crisped. After sprinkling the shredded cheese I returned dish to the oven for 4 additional minutes, after which the cheese was melted and bubbling.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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5 Comments

  1. Would you believe it? Went to 3 different stores today and not a bag of tater tots to be had.
    Being the person I am, I just cooked up some crispy hash browns and went on with the rest of the recipe. Turned out surprisingly good. Of course I had some leftover homemade chili and had to skip the cilantro, (Grandson won’t touch it) but it was still good.

  2. Looking forward to trying this but until I do, can I make a suggestion about crisping the tater tots. An airfryer would be ideal but as I don’t have one I put the frozen tots on a wire grid sprayed or rubbed with a bit of oil. I put the wire rack in the oven on the convection setting.

    No turning required. They come out beautifully browned and crispy.