Who says kids get to have all the fun? Next time you whip out a bag of tater tots for the little ones, give yourself Parmesan tater tots. Julie Crist of The Tot Cart food truck in Philadelphia takes this already popular menu item to the next level with her creative, elaborate tot dishes. These Parmesan tater tots, dusted with garlic and Parmesan cheese, is one of their most popular recipes. “These tots are simple and delicious,” says Julie, “although you may need a breath mint after eating them!” [Editor’s Note: The original recipe includes a sprinkling of granulated garlic along with the Parmesan, though we like them just dandy without it.]–Kim Pham and Philip Shen

LC Leftover Tater Tots Note

Know how sometimes, for whatever godforsaken reason, the kids don’t devour all their tater tots and you end up snitching them cold off their plates rather than throwing them out while cursing yourself? (Oh stop. We’ve been there.) This Parmesan tater tots recipe is a revelation in those moments. Just toss the tots—well, the ones not smothered with ketchup—back in the oven to reheat and then sprinkle with Parmesan as the recipe instructs.

Two hands holding a paper container of tater tots sprinkled with Parmesan cheese

Parmesan Tater Tots

5 / 2 votes
These Parmesan tater tots are made by tossing those nuggets of potato-ey goodness in Parmesan cheese. What’s not to love?
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories429 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


  • One (2-to 2 1/2-pound) bag frozen tater tots
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, (the real stuff, not the kind that comes in a green canister)


  • Prepare the tater tots in the oven according to the package instructions.
  • When the tater tots come out of the oven, place about 1/4 of them in a largish bowl. (Careful! They're hot!) Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese and gently toss to swirl the tots and cheese in the bowl a few times. Dump the Parmesan tater tots into a serving dish. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and grab some napkins.
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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 429 kcalCarbohydrates: 58 gProtein: 6 gFat: 21 gSaturated Fat: 4 gMonounsaturated Fat: 10 gCholesterol: 4 mgSodium: 1061 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 1 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2014 Kim Pham | Philip Shen. Photo © 2014 KIM+PHIL Photography. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These were great! Tater tots are wonderful on their own, but the addition of cheese put them over the top. This Parmesan tater tots recipe is super easy. Another night I had a few plain tater tots leftover and reheated them in the oven and sprinkled them with cheese, and they were great, too. This one’s a slam dunk with kids and adults alike. I used a store brand of tater tots, which was a 2-pound bag.

This Parmesan tater tots recipe is the easiest and fastest recipe I have ever made. This was not just eaten by kids but by adults too. We all loved them. A fun way to eat tater tots. Right away I started thinking what about adding spices next time—garlic, onion, nutmeg, dried herbs perhaps? We DID have some left over, so this morning I reheated them in the oven at about 425ºF for about 7 minutes and added more Parmesan once out of the oven. They were cheesier and perfect (and the leftovers were also good cold).

I hesitate to even call these Parmesan tater tots a recipe, but I suppose it could be considered one if you want to get technical. (Although you’d have to get really technical, in my opinion.) I made these tots for a Sunday of watching football with friends, as I don’t have any children around as an excuse. Not to my surprise, you don’t need kids nor an excuse to enjoy oven-baked tots, and they were consumed rather quickly. That said, the Parmesan wasn’t quite enough for the number of tots in the bag (store brand “potato bites”), and I felt like they begged for salt. We added additional sprinkles of sea salt to the bowl of finished tots and topped them with more freshly grated aged Parm and some chopped chives. We’ll make them again with our modifications.

I had some tots left over from a previous meal, so I tried out this very simple Parmesan tots recipe to reuse them. I reheated the tots in the oven, in a single layer on a baking sheet for a couple minutes at 350°F, than I tried 2 batches of this recipe. The first one with just freshly grated Parmesan, the second one with Parmesan and freshly minced garlic. They tasted great, like a new dish. I liked the garlic ones better, although most of the other eaters preferred the Parmesan only ones. This is a great idea to use up leftover tots. Maybe I’ll try French fries next time?

Should I confess I’ve never had a tater tot till I tested this recipe?! Here’s a great use of a half hour! Potatoes + cheese + garlic. If you think tater tots are the ultimate potato experience, give these a try! My tater tot tasting friends went for the granulated garlic + Parmesan variation as the hands-down winner. In fact, I located a roasted granulated garlic, that scored even higher than the plain granulated garlic. After the success of the garlic, we also tried Parmesan + minced fresh herbs (one batch with rosemary, one with oregano), which we found to be also tasty, but not the clear winner. The next step would be to make your own tater tots, add some fresh herbs (chives!) to the tots before baking, then add the garlic + Parmesan after baking, and we think you’d have the best possible variation! I used the store brand Essential Everyday, which already has onion powder in it, and this may be what led to the idea of the chives inside of the make-your-own variation. Additionally, while theoretically the recipe “serves 4,” there’s nothing stopping you from making up an individual serving of 15 tots when the idea of cheesy, crispy, garlicky, potato deliciousness strikes! And then, of course, there’s also nothing stopping you from making up a full batch and devouring them solo! Enjoy!

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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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I’ve discovered that Aldi Potato Puffs cooked in the air fryer are quick, easy & delicious–takes just 10 minutes. Adding parm is genius. They turned out great. Next time I’ll try adding garlic as suggested.

  2. OMG I so love tater tots! When I was a kid my Dad made dinner on Saturday nights and nine times out of ten it was scrambled eggs, bacon, and tater tots. It never got old. We clamored for it, all seven of us! Tots are truly the ultimate comfort food for me. Can’t believe I never thought adding Parm but of course now I will. Breakfast for dinner is my husband’s favorite thing. Time to fill the freezer with tots.

    1. Wow, Lisa, seven of you? That would have been a lot of tater tots!! You are so right though, they are supremely comforting. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the Parmesan variation!