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Chili cheese tater tots always hit the spot when you're craving comfort food. Crispy tater tots are topped with homemade chili and melted cheddar cheese for a snack the whole family can enjoy!
Watch how to make this
What makes this dish special
Years ago, my friend took me to a restaurant that had the biggest portion of chili cheese fries known to man for only $4. We were only able to finish ¼ of the serving, but I enjoyed every bite immensely. How can you resist freshly fried french fries topped with savory beef chili and tons of shredded cheddar? I've been going to the same establishment ever since whenever I want a good helping of chili cheese fries. That craving struck again today but I decided to make my own at home with tater tots instead of french fries. Tater tots with chili cheese? How can you go wrong?
- Ground beef: Beef is the classic meat choice for chili but you can also use ground turkey, ground chicken, or a combination of ground beef and ground pork.
- Spices: I use a combination of chili powder, paprika, cumin, and coriander to season the chili. You can also use chipotle powder instead of chili powder.
- Canned crushed tomatoes: For a smoother chili, use canned crushed tomatoes. You can use canned chopped tomatoes as well but will have chunks of tomatoes in the chili.
- Tater tots: I used store-bought frozen tater tots for this dish but you can also serve this dish with french fries.
- Cheddar cheese: You can use either sharp or mild cheddar cheese or use another shredded cheese such as Colby Jack, or Mexican cheese.
How to make chili cheese tater tots
Step 1: Make the Chili
Since we're using store-bought tater tots, the only part of this dish we really have to prepare is the chili. Start by browning the ground beef. I like to use lean ground beef but you can use an 80/20 mixture as well. Just make to drain the fat before adding the liquids.
Add the chopped onion and garlic and saute them until softened. Then, add the spices and stir to combine everything together. Add the remaining ingredients including the canned crushed tomatoes and beef stock and bring the chili to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated.
The secret to making the best chili is to cook the stew over low heat for a long period of time. I remember watching an episode of Top Chef where the challenge was to cook the best chili. All of the chefs stayed up during the entire night to cook their chili, stirring as needed. I cooked my chili for only 1 hour since I was limited on time. But even after one hour, the chili had developed great flavor from the spices and tomatoes.
Step 2: Cook Tater Tots
Since I was making the chili, I decided to just buy tater tots instead of making them myself. I reheated mine in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F until crispy. Another great way to reheat tater tots is to use the air fryer.
Top the crispy tater tots with chili and top with shredded cheddar cheese. The heat from the chili will be hot enough to melt the cheese.
The chili seems so simple but it really makes the dish! The crispy tater tots with hot chili and gooey cheese...all the reasons why I love chili with potatoes come rushing back as I indulged in this dish. Plenty of leftover chili and tater tots mean I'll be having this again...probably tomorrow!
Frequently asked questions
Absolutely! In fact, chili is better the next day. Just reheat the chili on the stovetop over medium heat until hot and serve it on the crispy tater tots when ready to serve.
Yes, you can double or triple this recipe to make enough chili for a larger serving.
More snack recipes
Looking for more snack ideas? Try these:
Chili Cheese Tater Tots
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 8 ounces ground beef
- ½ onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 10 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup beef broth
- salt and pepper
- 4 cups tater tots
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Heat 1 teaspoon oil in medium stockpot over medium heat. Add ground beef and crumble. Add onion and garlic and cook until the onion has softened and beef has browned. Drain excess oil.
- Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, crushed tomatoes, and beef broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until almost all of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat tater tots according to directions on package. Top with chili and cheese. Serve.