The days may be rough right now, but I love having the time to relax and enjoy spending time with The Artist and creating fun snack foods to entertain us and keep us full while watching multiple games in one day. Today’s Smashed Tater Tot Nachos are a new creation that I just couldn’t resist.
Football season is here!! I love watching college games on Saturdays and the NFL on Sundays. Sweater weather, ball games, and the brisk chill in the air, this is my favorite season of the year.
With the shortening days and cooler weather, I start thinking about filling and decadent comfort foods, baking for my family, and dreaming of future get togethers with family and friends.
I have loved tater tots since childhood when my mom always served them alongside frozen fish sticks. It is still one of my favorite meals when I’ve had a stressful day. Food memories are incredibly powerful. One bite and we are transported back in time to our childhood, summers at the beach, college days, a favorite party, or holiday traditions. The foods we ate when we were young always seem to be the most soothing and the ones I turn to when I’m worn out, feeling down, or just need a pick-me-up.
For today’s recipe I thought that tater tots would make a really fun foundation for a favorite game day snack. Replacing the traditional tortilla chips with crispy baked and smashed tater tots adds a new dimension and a fun spin. Cook them for about 15 minutes to soften, smash them flat with a drinking glass (see photo above) and then sprinkle with a Mexican-style seasoning blend. Easy peasy. You know I’ve never met a potato that I didn’t love!
Using tater tots to make this casserole appetizer was fabulous. So easy to work with and I still love their flavor. I am so grateful that Ore-Ida makes them gluten-free (look for labeling)!
You can make these nachos as simple or fully-loaded as you like. Add a mix of hot peppers along with the chile flakes if you like spicier foods, increase the amounts of seasonings for stronger flavors, and pile on the toppings if you want. Unlike the traditional tortilla chip version, these are really best when eaten with a fork. To feed a larger crowd, double the amounts and leave the tots in a single layer and spread out the toppings. The nachos will be easier to serve and may be possible to eat with your fingers. Who doesn’t love messy food?!
Grab a big spoon and scoop out a generous serving for each person – ! all the plates will be empty in no time. While I created these with snacking in mind, they are substantial enough for an easy and fun dinner too. Just add a tossed green salad and you’re ready to go!
Have a wonderful weekend ~ see you back here for Chocolate Monday!
Key Ingredients for Smashed Tater Tot Nachos:
- Taco seasoning
- Ground pork, chorizo, beef, or chicken
- Onions, black beans, salsa
- Cilantro, garlic, chile flakes
- Cheddar or Colby cheese
- Tomatoes and green onions
- Sour cream and guacamole (optional)
Could I Use Frozen Hash Browns in Place of the Tater-Tots?
Yes, you can. Thaw for a few minutes and spread into the bottom of the baking pan. Bake until brown and crispy, then create the layers as directed. And be sure they are gluten-free if needed!
This is the kind of recipe where you likely have most if not all of the ingredients on hand, either in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. When you need a quick dinner, look around and see what you have that you can put together – maybe in ways you hadn’t thought of before. If you step out of your comfort zone you may surprise yourself!
How to make Smashed Tater Tot Nachos:
- Partially bake the Tater-Tots, smash them flat and bake until crispy
- Sauté pork and onions, breaking up clumps
- Cook together the drained meat, beans, salsa, cilantro, garlic, and chile flakes
- Layer Tater-Tots, cheese, tomatoes, and green onions; top with the meat and repeat the layers; return pan to oven to melt the cheese
- Scoop servings onto plates and eat with a fork and knife
If you are reheating leftovers (though I doubt there will be any), warm them in the oven and not the microwave to help them stay as crispy as possible.
Recommended Tools (affiliate links; no extra cost to you):
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Baking sheets
- Parchment paper sheets
- Large skillet
- 7×11-inch baking pan
Ore-Ida tater tots are gluten-free (look for labeling on the package) and McCormick’s and Penzey’s both have gluten-free taco seasoning. If you use a bottled salsa, be sure it is a gluten-free version.
If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to follow me on social media so you never miss a post:
- 32 oz bag of large Tater-Tots (Ore-Ida brand is gluten-free)
- 1 (1 oz/31g packet) McCormick GF Taco seasoning mix, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 lb raw ground pork, raw Mexican chorizo, ground beef, or ground chicken
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup rinsed and drained black beans (gluten-free if needed)
- 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp dried chile flakes, or to taste
- 1-1/2 cups (about 6 oz) shredded Cheddar or Colby cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, divided
- 3 to 5 green onions, finely sliced, divided
Toppings and Optional Garnishes
- Remaining chopped green onions
- Remaining chopped cilantro
- Dried Chile Pepper flakes
- Sour cream
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place tater tots in a single layer on the baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes or until thawed and softened. Remove pan from the oven and using a spatula or the bottom of a glass, smash the tater tots flat. Sprinkle evenly with about half the taco seasoning blend and some pepper. Continue baking another 15 to 20 minutes, until browned and crispy.
- Meanwhile, cook the pork and onions in a large skillet over medium heat. If the meat you are using is in links, remove it from the casing and break up. Break up any clumps to get the finest texture possible.
- Transfer the meat to a plate lined with paper towels. Discard the fat in the pan. Return the meat to the skillet. Sprinkle with about 2 tbsp of the remaining taco seasoning. Stir in the beans, salsa, cilantro, garlic, and chile pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- In a 7x11-inch baking dish place half the smashed tater tots. Top with half the cheese, half the tomatoes and half the green onions, and using a slotted spoon, all of the meat. Layer on the remaining tater tots, cheese, tomatoes, and green onions. Put back in the oven for about 10 minutes to melt the cheese.
- Remove from the oven, add a scattering of green onions and cilantro over the top. Scoop servings onto plates and if desired, and a dollop each of sour cream and guacamole on the side. Sprinkle with some chile pepper flakes if you want a pop more of heat. Serve and enjoy!
Adapted from a recipe from United States Potato Board
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 429Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 791mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 28g
Create a New Tradition Today!
This post was first shared in Oct 2015. The article was updated in 2020.