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Loaded Buffalo Tots

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A small cast iron skillet filled with buffalo tater tots, melted cheese, crispy bacon, ranch dressing, and green onions.
Cruncy, spicy, bold and awesome. Tater tots coated in buffalo sauce, drizzled with ranch (or blue cheese), and topped with bacon and green onion. buffalo tots | a flavor journal small batch recipe

Spicy, loaded tater tot goodness.

| post and recipe updated on 9.3.2020 |

pin these buffalo tots

Buffalo tots are my life.  Spicy potatoes in any form are my whole life.  These particular nuggets of heaven just do so many things for me; there’s no way I could picture my life without them.  Dramatic?  Yes.  But it’s fitting … and now that these buffalo tater tots have been upgraded into loaded buffalo tots, things just got more serious between us.

A small cast iron skillet filled with buffalo tater tots, melted cheese, crispy bacon, ranch dressing, green onions, and pickled red onions.

This recipe is an ode to one of my all-time favorite beer bars in Kansas City that no longer exists.  *RIP The Foundry*.   They used to serve buffalo tots for happy hour (and all hours, really), and they quickly became my number one happy hour destination when I moved to KC in 2009.  Do you ever imagine yourself in your happy place?  My happy place is at that bar, with notebooks in front of me, making lists of things I’ll probably never do, and having a couple of local beers while eating buffalo tots. *lofty fat kid dreams*

Therefore, these things are what my dreams are made of.  I hope you’re ready to run a few extra miles at the gym tonight, because buffalo tots are sooooo worth it.

A small cast iron skillet filled with buffalo tater tots, melted cheese, crispy bacon, ranch dressing, and green onions.

What Ingredients do I need?

  • Frozen Tots
  • Buffalo Sauce (wing sauce)
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Garlic Powder (or fresh garlic)
  • Salt & Freshly Cracked Pepper
  • Gooey, Melty Cheese (I suggest Pepperjack, Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, or a soft Cheddar!)
  • Crispy Bacon
  • Green Onions
  • Pickled Red Onions (These are so easy and worth it — the recipe is in the recipe card below!)

A photo of the ingredients needed to make buffalo tots: tater tots, butter, green onion, buffalo sauce, shredded cheese, bacon, pickled onions, blue cheese crumbles, and ranch dressing

How do I make these Buffalo Tots?

Buffalo tots start with a basic butter and hot sauce combination with a kick of garlic powder and freshly cracked pepper.  The buffalo sauce just needs to be warmed enough so it’s easy to toss with the tots.  Be sure your tots are nice and crispy, and once you remove them from the oven, gently place them into the pan with the buffalo and butter sauce.  Toss gently, and use a pair of tongs if you need to flip over individual tots that are being stubborn.

If you used an oven-safe pan, you can pop them right back into the oven.  Otherwise, transfer them to an oven-safe dish, and pop them back into the oven for 3-4 minutes to crisp up a final time.  Carefully remove them from the oven, cover them in cheese, and put them in the oven so the cheese melts. 

Crispy tater tots tossed in a garlicky buffalo sauce, covered in shredded cheese, and placed inside a small cast iron pan.

Once the cheese is melted, drizzle your favorite ranch dressing over the top, then sprinkle on crumbled bacon, green onion, and pickled red onion.  (Trust me on the pickled red onion part – its’ soooo good.  But you can try the tots without it first if you’re skeptical!)

A small cast iron skillet filled with buffalo tater tots, melted cheese, crispy bacon, ranch dressing, and green onions.

Tips for making the best buffalo tots:

  1. Cook frozen tots at a high temperature.  If you want your tater tots to be nice and crunchy, you need to cook them at 425 F.  Be sure the tots are coming straight out of the freezer, and pop them right into the hot oven.  
  2. Toss the tots in a little olive oil and salt before baking.  Seasoning from the start helps the flavors stick to the tots.  Toss them in a little oil to help their crunch factor, and season them with a pinch of salt so these loaded tots will be flavorful all the way through.
  3. Spread the tots out on the baking sheet.  If the tots are too close together, they’ll just steam.  Steaming will typically result in a sad, mushy tot.  Spread the tots out (at least an inch or so apart) so they have room to crispy up evenly.
  4. Cook the tots for a couple of minutes after they’re coated in buttered buffalo sauce.  The tots have to be tossed in buttered buffalo sauce, which will cause them to lose some of their crunchiness.  Cooking them for a couple of minutes after that helps them cling to that crispy crunch a little longer.
  5. Use your favorite buffalo sauce and ranch (or blue cheese) dressing.  This is your loaded tot creation, so make it with your favorite ingredients!  Use your favorite buffalo sauce (Frank’s wing sauce is really good!), and definitely use your favorite ranch or blue cheese dressing.  You can use any variation of creamy ranch dressing, and it will be delicious.
  6. Use soft, melty cheese.  Honestly, you could use Velveeta here if you like.  It would be delicious.  Just don’t use any fancy, hard cheeses (even fancier cheddar), because they won’t melt very well.  Stick with the basic store brand or soft, squishy cheeses that you know and love.  You want them to melt and spread out over the tots, so choose your cheese based on that!
  7. Don’t skimp on the toppings, but only use what you like!  Use what you love!  I recommend the bacon, ranch, green onion, and pickled onion because they all play into a really delicious balance of flavors.  But if you’re really anti-onion, that’s okay!  Extra bacon?  Sure!  Feel empowered to make this into a recipe you’ll come back to again and again.

A small cast iron skillet filled with buffalo tater tots, melted cheese, crispy bacon, ranch dressing, and green onions.

Other Awesome Recipes with Buffalo Sauce:

A small cast iron skillet filled with buffalo tater tots, melted cheese, crispy bacon, ranch dressing, green onions, and pickled red onions.

If you make your own loaded buffalo tots, I would love to see it on Instagram!  If you have ANY questions at all, please reach out to me via email so I can help!  I hope you enjoy! <3

xx Sara

A small cast iron skillet filled with buffalo tater tots, melted cheese, crispy bacon, ranch dressing, green onions, and pickled red onions.
Print Recipe
4.41 from 10 votes

Loaded Buffalo Tots

An awesome buffalo tot recipe that is LOADED with cheese, bacon, green onion, pickled red onion, and blue cheese crumbles (if you like!) So easy to make and a huge crowd pleaser.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: buffalo tots
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 432kcal
Author: sara a.
Cost: $4

Ingredients

For Pickled Red Onions: (makes about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/4 large red onion very thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. hot water
  • 1 tsp. sugar or honey
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

For Buffalo Tots:

  • 4 servings frozen tots about 36 tots
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup buffalo sauce such as Frank's wing sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder or 1 clove fresh garlic
  • pinch freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded jack cheese such as Monterey, Colby, or Pepperjack
  • 1/2 cup soft, shredded cheddar cheese mild or sharp
  • your favorite ranch or blue cheese dressing
  • chopped green onion
  • blue cheese crumbles optional
  • pickled red onions

Instructions

For Pickled Red Onions:

  • Place all ingredients into a mason jar. Shake to combine, and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Strain the onions and use for tots, or keep leftover onions in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

For Buffalo Tots:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  • Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with foil or a wire baking rack. Place bacon strips onto the prepared baking sheet.
  • Toss frozen tots in olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet (separate from the one with the bacon) with baking spray. Spread the tots across this baking sheet.
  • Bake the tots and bacon at 425 F. Once the bacon is crispy (about 13-15 minutes), remove it from the oven and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to cool. Continue baking tots according to the package directions, or about another 7-8 minutes until browned and crispy.
  • While the tots finish baking, melt the butter over low heat in a small sauté pan. Add the hot sauce and combine with the butter. Stir in garlic powder and freshly cracked black pepper, and turn off the heat.
  • Toss the cooked tots in the buttered buffalo sauce. Once the tots are evenly coated, transfer them to an oven-safe baking dish. Bake for 2-3 minutes in the oven to re-crisp them.
    Crispy tater tots tossed in a garlicky buffalo sauce, placed inside a small cast iron pan.
  • Carefully remove them from the oven, and cover them with shredded cheese. Place back in the oven until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Go ahead and chop the bacon while the cheese melts.
    Crispy tater tots tossed in a garlicky buffalo sauce, covered in shredded cheese, and placed inside a small cast iron pan.
  • Top with ranch, chopped bacon, green onion, blue cheese crumbles, and pickled red onion (all optional!), and serve hot!
    A small cast iron skillet filled with buffalo tater tots, melted cheese, crispy bacon, ranch dressing, and green onions.
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 432kcal
Loaded Buffalo Tots
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check the "about me" page for more information on Sara.
  1. Reply

    My god! This has me slapping my forehead like, “why didn’t I think of that??” Brilliant!

    1. Reply

      Haha, I’m so with you. I ate these at the restaurant I mentioned and I was like “it’s so easy!? why haven’t I done this?!” – I hope you try it soon!

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