Sweet Tater Tater Tots

It’s Day 9 of the Paleo Iron Chef competition.  Today’s not-so-secret ingredient is Sweet Potatoes.

Oh, be still my heart.

Sweet potatoes are my favorite tubers and, as you know if you’ve been reading here any time at all, Japanese sweets are my favorite of my favorite.  Japanese sweet potatoes are characterized by purple skin, yellow flesh, a very starchy texture and a rich, yet exceptionally sweet, taste.

Gawd help me, I love ’em.

At any rate, I’ve been intrigued with the idea of making homemade tater tots for quite some time.  There are actually a ton of recipes for them on the internet – mostly for white potatoes, although there are some using sweet potatoes, and most of those recipes call for significant amounts of wheat flour as a binder.  I already knew I was going to use the Japanese sweets (since they’re the kind I buy these days), and since they have a pretty starchy texture when they’re cooked, figured I wouldn’t have to use much in the way of a binder.  In hindsight, I probably could have left out the small amount of tapioca starch I used.  I don’t know how using a regular sweet potato would work, so if that’s all you have, you may want to keep the starch and even increase the amount if you need to.

Oh, and these?  Were marvelous – I haven’t enjoyed tater tots as much as I did these since I was a kid.

Notes:  I used one large potato that weighed just over a pound for 3 servings (no, the servings are not huge, but these are tater tots, after all).  I used a measuring spoon to scoop the potato mixture – each tot was a heaping tablespoon.

Sweet Tater Tater Tots
Sweet Tater Tater Tots
Serves: 3
  • 1 large Japanese sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • few grinds black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 – 3 cups lard or tallow
  1. Bring 2 quarts water to a boil; add the potato and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the potato and add to a large bowl of ice water for 5 minutes. Transfer to a colander and allow to drain for 10 minutes.
  2. Transfer half the potato to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until broken down into small, rough pieces (about eight 1-second pulses). The mixture will be sticky; scrape into a large mixing bowl and repeat with the remaining potato. Add to the first batch in the mixing bowl.
  3. Gently stir the onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder and tapioca starch into the potato until well combined. With lightly oiled hands, shape the mixture into 21 cylinders about 3/4″ wide and 1″ long. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet or dish until ready to fry.
  4. In a medium-sized, heavy skillet heat the lard to 350 F. Add half the tater tots to the hot fat and fry until golden brown and crisp, turning as needed. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; repeat with the remaining tater tots. Season immediately with salt and serve hot.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 208 calories, 17.1g total fat, 16.2mg cholesterol, 495mg sodium, 168.2mg potassium, 12.5g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, 2.1g sugar, <1g protein


24 thoughts on “Sweet Tater Tater Tots”

  1. Sweet potatoes are mine and Princess Nagger’s favorites, too – and oh, oh, OH! I’m going to have to make these. We’ll both be in seventh heaven. 🙂

  2. Ore-ida has nothing on you! Frankly, they should pay you a million dollars to NOT publish this because they are now officially redundant!


  3. I’ve never cooked a tater tot – homemade or otherwise. In fact, I think the only time I’ve even tasted one was while visiting my brother. At the time, his kids were young and he made a tater tot casserole for them and some gourmet meal for the adults ….

  4. Nice addition of the onion – I bet that keeps them moist. These look fantastic and because the Japanese sweet potatoes are much lighter colored, you could probably fool anyone with these. Is using lard or tallow a Paleo thing? Or could you use vegetable oil?

    1. Val, I don’t use vegetable oils at all, even canola – they’re all highly processed and full of inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids (most of the beneficial Omega 3s in canola are destroyed or oxidized in the refining process). If you don’t have, or don’t want to use, tallow or lard, I recommend non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening.

      1. Jan, on that point, what’s your advice on re-using these fats? Do you strain and keep? 3 servings of tater tots, while delicious, start looking rather expensive if I have to budget in single-use of the frying fats.

        If you do re-use, what’s your process for straining, storage, and how long you keep a fat once used initially?

        1. Eric, I try to fry with tallow if I can – my fallback these days is non-hydrogenated palm shortening, since these are the most stable fats to fry with at high temps with – and try not to heat the fat up to the point where it turns dark. I’ll allow it to cool enough to strain, usually through a double ply of cheesecloth, into a sterile glass jar. I’ll cap it tightly and refrigerate it, to try to avoid any further oxidation of the fat – stable fats like tallow will keep refrigerated, even used, for at least a month. I usually only reuse it once before discarding it.

          You can, of course, double or triple recipes such as this and freeze the extras to get the most out of your frying fats if you’re hesitant to reuse them.

  5. I’m newly (mostly) Paleo. I’m probably more “Primal” since I still enjoy some dairy. Are you against using ghee? Is it worse than tallow or lard?

    1. Not at all – I love ghee. It’s just that while you can cook with it at higher temps than butter, it’s not the best for fried foods like french fries or fried chicken. Potato chips and tater tots both fall into that category, as well.

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