Tater tots are one of the most popular appetizers in America. They’re one of those treats that are enjoyed by as many kids as they are adults.
I remember my mom used to always microwave a big plate of tots every time I had friends over as a little girl. I also remember eating my fair share of them while tipsy at the bar.
Are tater tots vegan, though?
Yes! Most tater tots are 100% vegan, as they’re made from plant-based ingredients. The main ingredient in tater tots is potatoes. Aside from that, they’re made from a simple recipe of corn flour, starch, vegetable oil, and seasoning.
You mostly have to watch out for the toppings that some people or restaurants put on their tater tots. Below, I’ll show you exactly what tater tots are made of, so you can see for yourself why they’re a vegan-friendly snack!
Do Tater Tots Have Egg In Them?
Tater tots were invented in 1953 by the Ore-Ida company, which was (and is today) one of the country’s largest potato companies. Tater tots were designed to eliminate food waste by using shavings from the company’s frozen French fry production.
Since 1953, Ore-Ida’s original tater tot recipe has remained vegan-friendly and egg-free. That being said, there are a number of other recipes for tater tots that do contain eggs.
Although Ore-Ida owns the trademark for the term “tater tots,” other companies produce the same exact thing under different names. They’re often referred to as “tots,” “taters,” “potato balls,” and more.
If you’re purchasing the original Ore-Ida Tater Tots from the grocery store, they’ll most likely be egg-free. However, if you’re eating out at a restaurant that makes its own homemade tater tots, then you may need to double-check and make sure that the restaurant’s recipe doesn’t use eggs.
Are Tater Tots Fried In Palm Oil?
Generally speaking, tater tots are usually vegan-friendly. They’re made from plant-based ingredients, a bit of flour, starch, oil, and preservatives.
The bigger problem that you have to worry about with tater tots is that they’re often fried in palm oil.
Although palm oil is technically a plant-based cooking oil, it’s a very unethical industry.
Every year, thousands of acres of natural rainforest are burned down to make more room for the palm oil farms in the Amazon and Indonesian rainforests. Indigenous tribes and certain animals often get dragged down as well, and are often threatened or “gotten rid of.”
Ore-Ida’s original tater tot recipe doesn’t contain any palm oil. Instead, it’s made with cottonseed and soybean oil.
However, some restaurants may use palm oil to fry their food in. Often, they’ll take the frozen tater tots and drop them into a big vat of palm oil. This can make an otherwise vegan food not-so-vegan.
Either way, it’s always best to double-check.
If you’re purchasing store-bought tater tots, then make sure that you don’t see palm oil listed on the ingredients list. If you’re eating out, ask your waiter what type of oil the restaurant uses for frying food. If you’re making your own homemade tater tots, just don’t use palm oil.
If you’d rather be in complete control of your tater tots, you can always make your own at home as well:
What Are Tater Tots Made From? Ingredients Analyzed
Tater tots were originally created to get rid of excess potato “waste” leftover from cutting potatoes into French fries. The potato shavings were still perfectly edible and healthy, so Ore-Ida decided to press them into little fried balls that could be eaten as a tasty appetizer.
Since they first created tater tots, their recipe has changed very little. Although the recipe is often imitated by other companies, Ore-Ida Tater Tots are still the best-selling tater tots in the world. So, I figured that I’d use them as an example.
Here’s the short list of the ingredients:
Now, I’ll take a couple of minutes to give you some background on each ingredient, so you better understand why tater tots are vegan-friendly.
The main ingredient in all tater tots is potatoes. Typically, potato shavings are used instead of whole potatoes. These shavings are part of what gives the tater tots their shredded texture.
If you bite into a tater tot, you’ll see that each tot is really just a small ball that consists of multiple small pieces of shredded potatoes.
Potatoes are both vegan and plant-based, as they’re root vegetables that have been consumed for thousands of years. Potatoes are also somewhat nutritious as well.
They’re a good source of carbs, are packed with antioxidants, and also contain valuable vitamins and minerals along with essential amino acids!
2) Vegetable Oil
All tater tots are made with a bit of vegetable oil. Ore-Ida uses soybean oil and/or cottonseed oil. Unlike palm oil, both of these forms of vegetable oil are sustainably sourced and come from natural plant-based sources.
By themselves, potatoes taste a bit bland. That’s why they’re almost always salted before being sold to people. As you’d expect, Ore-Ida adds a bit of lab-synthesized iodized salt to all of their tater tots.
Salt is always a vegan ingredient, though, so it’s nothing to worry about.
4) Corn Flour
Corn flour is added to the tater tots to help them bind together. It’s a very fine flour, so it reacts with the starch in the potatoes to form the sticky balls that tater tots are.
Dextrose is a type of simple starch that’s processed out of corn, potato, or rice flour. This simple sugar serves as both a mild flavor additive (it makes the tater tots sweeter) and as a mild preservative by keeping the tater tots dry and moisture-free.
Although dextrose isn’t healthy to consume in large quantities, it is vegan since it’s plant-based.
6) Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate
Sodium acid pyrophosphate is a color preservative that’s added to lots of fried potato foods. You’ll find it in most brands of hash browns, tater tots, and French fries. It’s even in Burger King fries!
Like dextrose, this acid is not healthy when consumed in large quantities. Preservatives like this are one of the reasons I try to limit my processed food intake.
7) Dehydrated Onion
Tater tots get their signature savory flavor from the added onion powder that’s mixed into each little tot. This small ingredient makes a huge difference and gives the tots a load of flavor, though!
8) Sodium Sulfate
Sodium sulfate is a chemical preservative that’s added to increase the shelf life of the tater tots. It’s basically a super-pure form of salt. It’s FDA-approved, but not healthy. Thankfully, it’s only used in small amounts.
9) Natural Flavors
Tater tots contain added, “natural flavors” that most likely consist of various spices. These are kept secret since they are trade secrets. However, I assume that all of them are vegan-friendly since the packaging doesn’t mention any meat or meat-derived flavors.
The Verdict – Are Tater Tots Vegan-Friendly?
Tater tots are almost always vegan-friendly! They’re very similar to French fries, which are another vegan-friendly snack. Just be careful of the toppings and sauces that some restaurants may serve alongside their tots.
If you like tater tots, then be sure to check out my list of the best vegan potato recipes next! I guarantee you’ll find some awesome inspiration for your next dinner.