Frozen Tater Tots Ranked From Worst To Best

How different can frozen tater tots really be? With so many brands out there, this is a fair question and one we asked ourselves before embarking on this tater journey. The answer? Very. Truth be told, we were pretty shocked by just how much variety in taste and quality there was among products that all more or less contained the same ingredients.

While this is a list of tater tots, if we were to rank only products technically named tater tots, we would be comparing Ore-Ida's assorted products. That's because while tater tots is often used as a generic term, the name is actually a registered trademark, first logged in 1957. So, other brands have gotten creative (or, in some cases, really uncreative) in how they name their tater tots. And it makes sense that so many brands have gotten in on the tater tot game, seeing as Americans eat so many of them on their own and in a variety of unique dishes. Since it would not be much fun to rank only Ore-Ida tots, we have gone with the generic usage of the term. 

As for how we determined our ranking, we prepared each tot according to the package oven directions. Then, we tried each sans accoutrements before dipping each in ketchup and then in ranch. Each tot's final score and placement are holistic, factoring in taste, texture, and condiment compatibility. Without further "spudo," these are 12 frozen tater tots, ranked from worst to best.

12. TJ Farms Select® Tater Rounds

With a brand slogan promising "Where great taste is expected," we are disappointed to give these a rating of 2 out of 10. The bottom line is that TJ Farms Select® Tater Rounds are dead last because they taste like they are fried in the same oil as fish. Beyond that, the seasoning the brand uses is salt, and these tots are not super flavorful, nor did they brown up. And, unfortunately, the condiments did nothing to improve that fishy fragrance. And not that nutrition is something we care that much about when it comes to tater tots, but just 3 ounces of tots has 10 grams of fat and 170 calories. We are not sure such a bland-yet-nasty tot ought to be worth the 15 minutes of "vigorous jumping jacks" it would take to burn them off.

These tater rounds do have some things going for them, though. They come in a 2-pound bag, so if you need to serve up a large quantity (of mediocre tots), they're an affordable option. We picked up a bag at our local Lucky Supermarket (Albertsons) for $4.99, meaning these were under $0.16 an ounce. On top of that, the interior texture was decent, neither too mushy nor hash-brown-like.

11. Signature Select Tater Puffs™

This brand's slogan is Signature Select quality guaranteed, which does not bode well for its other products, considering we give these a rating of 3 out of 10. Another tot with an inexplicable aftertaste, the Signature Select Tater Puffs™ are reminiscent of plastic. We are unsure whether something from the packaging leaked into the tater puff or that's just its natural state, but whatever it is, it is just unpleasant. These contain onion powder, salt, and spice, but those flavors don't come through. 

The only saving grace is that the sweetness of ketchup somewhat masks that off-putting taste, and a strong ranch dressing completely overtakes the plastic flavor. Even though there are added spices in the ingredient list, we couldn't discern them. So, if you are stuck with these, do not forget the condiments. Texturally, these remind us of hash browns. That is not what we are looking for in tater tots. We want a noticeable difference between the exterior and the interior, which is just not there.

Because we do not want to be totally negative, we can tell you the few pros these tots have. Being a store brand at a national chain, these are pretty widely available and even come in an 80-ounce bag. So, if you need a lot of tots on the cheap and do not particularly care whether they taste great, these still might be a good option. They're also certified kosher.

10. Lamb Weston® Tater Puffs®

Lamb Weston claims that it is "seeing possibilities in potatoes." The reason that Lamb Weston® Tater Puffs® are ranked so low — we give them 3.5 out of 10 — is their weird texture. Seasoned with salt, these are somewhat reminiscent of a croquette but not in a good way. The exterior is super crispy and golden in the way that a tater tot should be, but the interior is mushy like mashed potatoes. When both textures hit our tongues, it creates a very displeasing dichotomy. That said, the light, salty flavor is pleasant and complements the ketchup just fine. These spuds are better with ranch, though — probably because they are so similar to mashed potatoes.

The brand advertises its product to restaurants, saying they are microwave reheatable and will retain their crispiness even after being nuked. We did not try it, so we cannot verify that, but we do know we would be displeased to be served these in a restaurant. These tater puffs are certified halal. 

At the end of the day, the only reason these tater tots did not lose this entire ranking is that the other two products that fared below this one had super funky aftertastes. Otherwise, these are some of the worst tots we have ever had.

9. Happy Belly Tater Bites

Happy Belly's slogans are "A tasty way to save" and "Feed every day with joy." Do these tots live up to that? Though they ranked low and are seasoned with onion powder and salt, these are some flavorful tater tots. The spices that Happy Belly (Amazon Fresh's store brand) uses to season these Frozen Tater Bites are robust but not overpowering and complement the potato really well. Unfortunately, these are some soft and mushy tots, leading to us giving them a rating of 5 out of 10. They do not crisp up nearly enough in the recommended cooking time. They are too mushy to make sense with ketchup but are slightly better with ranch.

In our area these were $0.12 per ounce, making them one of the more affordable options on this list. They are also certified kosher. Perhaps if you give them a deep fry or prepare them in the air fryer, you would have better luck with crispiness (or try using them as a shortcut for mini latkes). But since we wanted to try everything on a level playing field, that is not how we graded; as it stands, these were just slightly worse than middle-of-the-road tater tots.

8. Trader Joe's Trader Potato Tots

Even though some Redditors think Trader Joe's missed the mark when naming its potato tots, we are more concerned that it missed the mark when making them. We give these tots a 6 out of 10. The preeminent thought we have when eating these? Dry. The next is salty (which is the only seasoning these tots have). Considering the high fat content and calorie count (11 grams and 190 calories for 10 tots), we are surprised by how dry they are. Maybe the salt sucked up all the oil. Is that even scientifically possible? On top of those texture issues, these are more like hash browns. Hash browns are more or less the same on the inside and outside. These tots did improve with ketchup and ranch but not enough to rank higher on the list.

Of note, these are some of the few tots on the list to be labeled vegan and/or gluten-free, even if none of the others have any ostensible animal or gluten ingredients. However, that is just not enough to earn Trader Joe's Trader Potato Tots a higher ranking. People who follow special diets deserve good food, too. And we know that Trader Joe's can put out some of the best vegan foods. Try harder, Joe.

7. 365 Tater Puffs®

The 365 by Whole Foods Tater Puffs® are just fine, which is why they rank in the middle of our taste test at a 6 out of 10. The texture is a bit too hash-brown-like for us, but the small size and subtle flavor of sea salt make us think these would be good for children. They are especially good with ketchup, another point in their kid-friendly favor. Unfortunately, they are a little bland for our adult taste buds (though the small size is fun).

If you are looking for an adorably petite tater tot, this would be a good choice, but if you seek something tastier, these are not worth it. Even if you are searching for a product without genetically modified organisms (GMO), there are better options. That said, with Whole Foods in nearly every state and delivery available through Amazon, these may be easier to procure than other non-GMO options. We just believe that non-GMO should not equate to less flavor. In addition to being labeled non-GMO, these are labeled vegan and USDA Organic.

6. Cascadian Farm Organic Spud Puppies

Of its tots, Cascadian Farm Organic says, "​Kids love 'em, and adults crave 'em!" But availability is the deciding factor that puts Cascadian Farm Organic Spud Puppies™ in sixth place instead of fifth, with a rating of 7 out of 10. You may not be able to find these at your neighborhood supermarket chain. And while they are good, we are not sure they are good enough to warrant a trip to the next town over to pick them up. If you happen upon them and they are on sale, they won't do you wrong.

These certified USDA Organic Spud Puppies have a cute name and a crispy exterior. They brown up pretty nicely but don't have quite as much flavor as we would like (they are seasoned only with salt). Because they are primarily organic, we were expecting a very potato-forward tot, but these just don't deliver. And not to put too fine a point on it, while they are perfectly serviceable, we won't be craving them any time soon.

Started in 1972 and now owned by General Mills, Cascadian Farm Organic makes a lot of different products, not limited to potatoes or even frozen fruits and veggies. The company specializes in granola and cereal-based foods.

5. Ore-Ida Golden Extra Crispy Tater Tots™

Ore-Ida is the O.G. of tater tots. Its slogan is, "Potatoes done perfect since 1952." We decided to go with the Extra Crispy Tater Tots™ because that is what we could find. Though these tots have more seasonings — dehydrated onion, garlic powder, salt, and celery seed — than many of the other ones we tried, the prominent flavor we taste is salt. Although not as extra crispy as promised, the interior texture on these spuds is great. It is smooth but not mushy. The tater tots also complement both the ketchup and the ranch really well. We give them a 7.5 out of 10. 

Any of the top five on our list should be crowd-pleasers. What Ore-Ida has going for it is brand recognition. And if you like trivia, there's probably plenty you didn't know about its tots, such as the fact that they didn't start selling well until the company increased the price (these days Ore-Ida is pretty much middle of the pack in terms of pricing). Tater Tots™ are also pretty low calorie when compared to competitors. Twelve pieces contain 130 calories and 9 grams of fat. These are labeled as gluten-free and kosher. 

4. Great Value Taters (Seasoned Shredded Potatoes)

Walmart was not kidding when it named its store brand Great Value. Or, at the very least, that is true for its Great Value Taters (Seasoned Shredded Potatoes). We paid $2.82 for a 2-pound bag — that is just under $0.09 per ounce. But the low price is not why we are saying these are a great value or why they ended up at No. 4 on our list. No, these tots are great — a solid 8 out of 10.

When eaten plain, the tots have an onion and white pepper flavor that is subtle, but having these taters with ketchup brings that to the forefront. Ranch neither enhances nor detracts from their taste, as the dressing already has its own intense aromatics. But where these taters genuinely shine is the texture. The outside is wonderfully crispy, while the inside is fluffy and smooth without being overly creamy.

You honestly could feed a crowd some wonderfully tasting spuds for not a lot of money with these guys. They are almost perfect. The only reason they did not rank higher is that the top three potatoes tasted better.

3. McCain Quick Cook Tasti Taters®

McCain says, "Serve our Tasti Taters®, made from 100% real potatoes, and watch your tots gobble them up!" Tasty indeed! Out of 10, we give them an 8.5. McCain Quick Cook Tasti Taters® are super potato-forward, making them great with ketchup. From the tagline, it's clear that kids are the target Tasti Tater® audience, and the flavor backs that up. That's not to say adults will not like them — we obviously did. Just don't expect any bold seasonings here, only salt. Texturally, these are also winners; they are wonderfully crispy on the outside and not too smooth or creamy on the inside. These are not hash browns or mashed potatoes masquerading as tater tots.

McCain products are widely available throughout the United States and the world. The company states on its website, "Today, with the hard work of over 20,000 employees across six continents, one in every three fries in the world is a McCain fry." You can find a local retailer using the company's website, which is good because McCain makes nearly two dozen products, and we can't wait to try them all. On its FAQ page, McCain states it does not use any hydrogenated oils, so if that concerns you, Tasti Taters® are an excellent choice. They are also certified kosher.

2. Sprouts Organic Potato Bites

Coming in at No. 2 are Sprouts Organic Potato Bites with a rating of 9 out of 10. These tater tots are so delicious that the taste compensates for their slightly hash-browny texture. These reminded us almost of fresh potatoes, and they cooked up a nice golden color. Seasoned with sea salt, Sprouts Organic Potato Bites are not too salty and are great with ketchup and ranch. If you are feeding tots to your kiddos and looking for a USDA Organic option, these are excellent. They have that familiar taste and texture and would be great in an easy tater-tot casserole recipe, too.

The biggest downside to these potato bites is availability. Founded in 2002, Sprouts Famers Market has fewer than 400 locations across 23 states, mainly across the southern half of the country. If you're lucky enough to live near a store, you should definitely run to pick up a bag.

1. Alexia Organic Yukon Select Puffs

Alexia describes its product as "Organic Yukon Select potatoes in a delicious lightly seasoned bite-sized puff." These were hands down the best, with a 9.5 out of 10. Alexia Organic Yukon Select Puffs taste rich and buttery, no doubt due to using Yukon gold potatoes and sea salt. It's a bold choice that leads to a substantial payoff. These potato-forward, "grown-up" tater tots may not be as pleasing to your little ones as they are for our palates. But hey, we all have to grow up sometime, and who says tater tots can't be a part of that journey?

The exterior of these tots is crispy and turns a gorgeous gold color. The inside is fluffy with a hint of smoothness. Ketchup complements them nicely. But one word of warning: Don't eat these with ranch; it totally kills the sophisticated flavor the tots have going on. As a nice, surprising bonus, these are the healthiest tater tots of the bunch nutrition-wise. Fourteen pieces contain 100 calories and 4 grams of fat. They are also USDA Organic, non-GMO, and kosher.

Alexia makes a swathe of potato products including sweet potato puffs and waffle-cut fries that we can't wait to try. While Alexia products are widely available throughout the country, the stores where you can get them vary, so check out the company website before embarking on your tater journey. The company also states that it produces its products sustainably, which is awesome.