Spicy, loaded tater tot goodness.
| post and recipe updated on 9.3.2020 |
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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!)
Tips for making the best buffalo tots:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
Other Awesome Recipes with Buffalo Sauce:
- Buffalo Chicken Sliders (forever THE TOP performing recipe on the blog!)
- Buffalo Chicken Dip (SO GOOD.)
- Buffalo Chicken Tacos
- Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Buffalo Chicken Caesar Salad (a MUST try)
- Slow Cooker Shredded Buffalo Chicken (small batch recipe … DELICIOUS).
Loaded Buffalo Tots
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
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.
- 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.
- Top with ranch, chopped bacon, green onion, blue cheese crumbles, and pickled red onion (all optional!), and serve hot!