When it comes to looking for vegan recipes, those that use potato as the main ingredient are generally seen as safe. But the waters of animal product free dining can become muddied when it comes to recipes where the main ingredient is formed into an unnatural shape, like tater tots. So, are tater tots vegan?
Tater tots are generally considered vegan, but there are definitely things to consider before you dive into them!
What's In Tater Tots?
Tater tots in their most basic form are pieces of minced or shredded potato that have been seasoned, formed into nuggets, and fried. But are tater tots vegan?
The first question that is easily answered by anyone preparing tater tots is to find what oils are being used to cook them. It's easy to find out if the frying (or baking) method uses vegetable or animals fats, so avoiding the issue of consuming those products is relatively simple.
When getting the minced potato pieces to stick together, it's important to find out what caking ingredients and flavorings were used in the particular batch.
Tater Tots Ingredients List
In many pre-made and frozen bags of tater tots, it's easy to find out what ingredients were used. The most popular brand of frozen tater tots, Ore Ida, lists 8 ingredients on the bag:
- VEGETABLE OIL (SUNFLOWER, COTTONSEED, SOYBEAN, AND/OR CANOLA)
- YELLOW CORN FLOUR
- DISODIUM DIHYDROGEN PYROPHOSPHATE
- NATURAL FLAVORING
All of these ingredients are considered vegan, although the natural flavoring is not clear on if it is plant or animal based. If you look online, many homemade tater tots follow this basic ingredient list:
- russet potatoes
- spices to taste
- oil (for frying)
There are far fewer ingredients in the home recipe because there is no need to add preservatives to make the tater tots keep. Another added benefit of making tater tots at home is that you can season them as you please, making them flavorful and as interesting as you like.
So Are Tots Vegan?
With the lack of animal products not bearing any weight on making a decent batch of tots, tater tots are usually vegan. Overall, as long as you pay close attention to the oil that the tots are fried in and the seasonings, most tater tots fit vegan criteria. It's very easy to find tater tots that are made without animal products and animal products certainly aren't important to what makes a tater tot a tater tot so homemade ones can be made with no real deviation to the basic recipe.
Vegan Tater Tot Casserole
Now that we've established that tater tots are a comfort food that vegans can eat without worry, it's time to think about what else you can use tater tots in. Plain tots make a nice side dish, but you can make a whole (vegan) meal based around them too, including this great recipe by LaLa's Kitchen for a Vegan Tater Tot casserole (hot dish).
- Homemade or frozen tater tots
- Frozen or fresh vegetables of your choosing
- 1 can Great Northern white Beans (or another bean of your choosing)
- Vegan cheddar "cheese" that will melt well
- Olive oil
- Unsweetened almond milk
- Garlic salt / spices to taste
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Start cooking your vegetables in a pot of water.
3. Line the bottom and sides of a glass casserole dish with tater tots. After oven is preheated, bake the tater tots for 10 minutes. Take them out after they cook and set the dish aside.
4. While the tots are cooking, make a "gravy" with the flour, olive oil, spices, and almond milk.
5. Drain canned beans and add them to the gravy. Add the cooked veggies and cheese to the mixture and combine.
6. Alternate layers of the veggie mixture and shredded cheese to the casserole dish and top with french fried onions.
7. Bake the casserole at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
8. Serve immediately!
Tater tots are a quickly cooked, incredibly satisfying, and yes, generally vegan way to eat a potato. You should still be aware of what makes up the batter for the tater tots you're eating and what oil they are being fried in. Be sure to ask if someone else is cooking them for you! The safest bet is to make your tater tots at home, so here's a great recipe to get you started. Do you have a favorite tater tot recipe or a dish that uses tater tots? Share yours in the comments below!