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How long to air fry Tater Tots at 400?

Tater tots are a beloved freezer aisle staple, favored for their crispy outside and fluffy interior. Air frying is a popular cooking method that uses hot air to quickly cook food with little to no oil. Many people wonder how long you should air fry tater tots at 400 degrees Fahrenheit to achieve the perfect balance of crispy and tender.

The answer depends on several factors, including the size of your air fryer, how full you pack the basket, and your desired level of crispiness. Air frying tater tots generally takes 10-20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Smaller air fryer baskets and more loosely packed tots will cook faster. For the crispiest tots, shake the basket midway and cook a few minutes longer. Read on for more details on air frying times, tips, and how air frying compares to baking or deep frying tater tots.

Air Fryer Size and Capacity

One of the most important factors in determining air fry times is the size of your air fryer. Air fryers come in a range of sizes from 2-7 quarts or more. The smaller the air fryer basket, the less time required. Here are some general air frying guidelines based on capacity:

2-3 Quart Air Fryer

– 1 layer of tater tots: 10-13 minutes
– 2 layers of tater tots: 13-16 minutes

4-5 Quart Air Fryer

– 1 layer of tater tots: 12-15 minutes
– 2 layers of tater tots: 15-18 minutes

5-7 Quart Air Fryer

– 1 layer of tater tots: 14-17 minutes
– 2 layers of tater tots: 18-22 minutes

The more tater tots you pack into the air fryer, the longer they will take to cook. For a single layer, allow at least 1 inch of space between each tot. For two layers, arrange tots in overlapping rows. Avoid overcrowding the air fryer, which can lead to uneven cooking.

Amount of Tater Tots

Unsurprisingly, the more tater tots you cook, the longer they will need in the air fryer. Here are some general guidelines for air frying times based on quantity:

– 6-8 tater tots: 8-10 minutes
– 1 pound (15-20 tots): 10-13 minutes
– 2 pounds (30-40 tots): 13-16 minutes
– 3 pounds (45-60 tots): 16-20 minutes

These times are based on a standard 4 quart air fryer and assume the tots are arranged in a single layer with some space between them. For larger batches, work in batches to avoid crowding the air fryer. When in doubt, check a few minutes early and adjust cook time as needed.

Desired Crispiness

If you like your tater tots crispy on the outside, allow a couple extra minutes. For crispiest results, shake the air fryer basket midway during cooking to redistribute and ensure the tots brown evenly.

Here are some adjustments to the cook times based on desired texture:

– For soft, tender insides: Cook 1-2 minutes less
– For crispy outside, fluffy inside: Follow recommended time
– For extra crispy outside: Cook 2-3 minutes longer

The outer crispiness will continue to develop as the tots cool slightly after cooking. You can also transfer the cooked tots to a baking sheet and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes if you want an extra crunchy exterior.

Preheating and Shaking

Always preheat your air fryer fully before adding the tater tots. Most air fryers take 3-5 minutes to preheat at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Gently shaking the air fryer basket midway during cooking can help ensure even browning. Use tongs to carefully toss the tater tots. Shaking is especially helpful when cooking large batches.

Air Fryer vs. Oven Baking

Air frying and oven baking tater tots produce slightly different results in terms of texture. Here’s how they compare:

Air Fryer Tater Tots

– Cooks faster: 10-20 minutes at 400°F
– Crispier exterior from hot air circulating
– Fluffier interior since less surface is in contact with basket
– Can cook from frozen without preheating oven
– Smaller batches unless you have a large air fryer

Oven Baked Tater Tots

– Takes 25-35 minutes at 425°F
– Less crispy exterior since air doesn’t circulate as well
– Denser interior as more surface is in contact with pan
– Must preheat oven fully to bake
– Can make larger batches by using multiple pans

If you prefer a crispier exterior, air frying is the better choice. However, baking can accommodate cooking more tater tots at once.

Air Fryer vs. Deep Frying

While nothing truly compares to deep fried tater tots, air frying comes surprisingly close with a fraction of the oil. Here are some differences:

Air Fried Tater Tots

– Use only 1-2 tsp oil to lightly grease basket
– Crispy exterior from hot circulating air
– Fluffier interior with less oil absorption
– Lower in calories and fat vs. deep fried
– Healthier cooking method without submerging in oil

Deep Fried Tater Tots

– Fully submerged and cooked in hot oil
– Very crispy, crunchy exterior
– More dense, oily interior
– Absorbs more oil, higher in fat and calories
– Need large pot, thermometer, and lots of oil

For the health-conscious, air frying is the clear winner. But for occasional indulgence, deep fried still provides unmatched crunch.

Tips for the Best Air Fried Tater Tots

Follow these tips for irresistibly crispy, golden air fried tater tots:

– Use completely frozen tots – do not thaw first.
– Allow space between tots for air circulation.
– Grease basket with 1-2 tsp oil using cooking spray or brush.
– Preheat air fryer fully before cooking.
– Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding.
– Shake basket gently midway through cooking.
– Check frequently and adjust cook time as needed.
– Let cool 1-2 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Common Air Fryer Tater Tot Questions

Should you preheat air fryer before tater tots?

Yes, always preheat your air fryer fully before cooking tater tots. This allows the air inside to come up to the target temperature. Most air fryers take 3-5 minutes to preheat at 400°F.

Can you cook frozen tater tots in an air fryer?

Absolutely! Air fryers are great for cooking frozen foods like tater tots with no need to defrost. The hot circulating air will quickly crisp the outside while cooking the inside. Cooking times may be slightly longer than from fresh.

How do you flip tater tots in an air fryer?

You don’t need to individually flip each tot. About midway during cooking, gently shake the air fryer basket using tongs. This redistributes them for even browning. Be cautious not to overfill basket.

Air Fryer Tater Tot Cooking Chart

Amount of Tater Tots Cook Time at 400°F
6-8 tots 8-10 minutes
1 pound (15-20 tots) 10-13 minutes
2 pounds (30-40 tots) 13-16 minutes
3 pounds (45-60 tots) 16-20 minutes

*Times based on a standard 4 quart air fryer. Adjust as needed for different sizes.


Air frying tater tots at 400°F gives you crispy, crunchy results without the mess and excess oil of deep frying. Cooking times depend on your air fryer size and batch amount, but generally range from 10-20 minutes. For ultimate crispy yet fluffy tots, preheat your air fryer, don’t overcrowd, and shake the basket midway. Follow these tips and times for perfectly air fried tater tots every time.