Potato Puffs {a.k.a. Homemade Baked Tater Tots}

Who are we kidding? Potato puffs is simply a fancy name for a homemade tater tot. And let me tell you, tater tots have never tasted this good.

The secret to success is using panko crumbs, which are a Japanese-type bread crumb and produce a lighty and crispy coating. Panko can be found in most Asian food sections at the grocery store and I love it for it’s crispness even when foods are baked instead of fried – like these little puffs.

Light and creamy on the inside, golden and crunchy on the outside, these baked potato puffs received high praise from the potato-lovers in my house (which incidentally is only 50% of my household but who’s really keeping track, right?). These little beauties would be delicious served with a mouth-watering pork tenderloin, a delicious steak or other grilled entree, with a hamburger or other sandwich or simply as a snack.

Potato Puffs {a.k.a. Homemade Baked Tater Tots}

One Year Ago: Chicken Corn Chowder
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Apple Spice Muffins

Potato Puffs {a.k.a. Homemade Baked Tater Tots}

Yield: Makes about 2 dozen potato puffs

Potato Puffs {a.k.a. Homemade Baked Tater Tots}

Note: the puffs need to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour before baking but they can be made up to 8 hours ahead of time.


  • 1 1/2 pounds russet baking potatoes (about 2-3 large), peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs (found in the Asian-foods aisle)


  1. Boil the potatoes for 12-13 minutes, until they are tender but not overcooked. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Mash them with a potato masher until they are smooth. Over very low heat, add the butter and milk and mash until the potatoes are light and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the pot from the head and add the cheese, salt and pepper. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. You should have a smooth, soft mixture. If it seems a bit too stiff and not creamy enough, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons milk to adjust the consistency. Keep in mind, you’ll be rolling this mixture into balls so you don’t want it so soft it will fall apart while rolling.
  2. Let the mixture cool slightly. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk the eggs until blended and season them lightly with salt and pepper. Place the panko on a large plate or pie dish.
  3. Lightly flour your hands and form a heaping 2 tablespoons of the mashed potato mixture into a ball and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Repeat this process until all of the potato mixture is rolled. You should have 22-28 potato puffs, depending on how big or small you rolled them.
  4. Dip a potato puff into the egg mixture, coating it lightly on all sides then dip it in the panko until it is coated. Place on the cookie sheet and repeat with remaining puffs. Cover the puffs loosely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours before baking.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the potato puffs for about 15 minutes, until light golden brown and heated through.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Stonewall Kitchen Favorites

30 Responses to Potato Puffs {a.k.a. Homemade Baked Tater Tots}

  1. Karen says:

    I think I’ve made these a million times since I found this recipe! My kids ask for these instead of cookies when they have friends over. Just a few tips in case anybody gets distracted and over cooks the potatoes like I’ve done two times in a row now. There is no way you can roll them into balls so I save my sanity and use a spoon to drop them into lumps on a slipat lined cookie sheet and then refrigerate for an hour. After the hour you will have something solid enough to roll in egg and Panko crumbs.
    Also I always double the batch to bake some the next day. They are just as wonderful after 24 hours of refrigeration!

  2. Katie says:

    I just made these and they were so good! I think next time I’ll make them a little smaller (I only got 20 out of my batch) so there is more crunch to them. But regardless, these were so good.The flavor is all there, and they are so fun to eat. I used cheddar cheese and loved it. I’m totally making these all summer long!

  3. Celia Zimmerman says:

    These potato puffs look so good. I will try them with coconut flour instead of the panko bread crumbs to make them gluten free.

  4. Mel says:

    Hi Pau – I usually use 1% because it is what we drink.

  5. Pau says:

    Hi Mel, these look great! I have a question though, what milk do you use for this recipe? Thanks

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  7. Deb says:

    Big hit at dinner last night. Served with your succulent steak. So good. Hubby liked that they were like mashed potatoes and kids liked the crunch.

  8. Tanaya says:

    Just finished the filling when I realized I was out of panko, so I crushed up a can of fried onions to roll them in (the ones for green bean casserole). Holy Cow! Sooooo good!

  9. Mel says:

    Hi Nanci – I haven’t tried these with sweet potatoes but if I did, I’d add some warmer seasonings, like chili powder or cumin, and still keep the salt and pepper the same. Also, I would probably omit the cheese, but that’s probably just a personal preference of not loving sweet potatoes and parmesan together.

  10. Nanci says:

    Just curious… Have you tried these with sweet potatoes? Any different seasonings you might suggest?

  11. grace says:

    potato puff, tater tot–the alliteration-lover in me is fond of either name and the potato-lover in me will devour both. 🙂

  12. Meghan says:

    Do you think these would freeze well? Would you bake them before you freeze them?

    • Mel says:

      Meghan – I haven’t frozen them but I’m guessing they would freeze fine. I would freeze them before baking on a lightly greased baking sheet. When they have completely frozen, I’d remove them from the pan, toss them in a ziploc bag and freeze. Then just add a few minutes onto the baking time and bake them from frozen. Let me know if you try it!

  13. CaSaundra says:

    Yummy!! I love using Panko in alot of different things..I will have to try these sometime soon!

  14. Sarah says:

    Made them tonight and they are SO yummy! My almost 2 year old refuses to eat all forms of potatoes, including fries, but we got her to try a bite and she ate quite a few bites – success!

  15. Lisa says:

    These almost remind me of the potato croquettes my grandma used to make. They sound delicious and great for popping in your mouth anytime.

  16. These look good. I’m going to have to try these when my nephews visit next month!

  17. Julie says:

    Sounds so wonderful and crunchy…yum!

  18. Jen M says:

    I might just have to try these out on my kids! I hate buying the ones from the store that are full of who knows what strange ingredients.

  19. StephenC says:

    Grating the potatoes after par-boiling makes them even more “tot”-like. Wonderful!

  20. Ciara says:

    These sounds great! I love anything with Panko. Can’t wait to try them!

  21. Dianne says:

    These look alot like the potatoes we get in our Omaha Steak gift boxes from our son. 🙂

  22. Jenn says:

    There is absolutely no way these could be bad. They are going on the menu for this week!!

  23. What a great idea! My cowboy loves tater tots, but I hate to buy them pre-made! Thanks 🙂

  24. I never would have thought to make homemade tater tots! What a good idea.

  25. Misty says:

    Must. Make. These.

  26. Kim in MD says:

    Homemade tater tots? Count me in! ! I love potatoes in any way, shape or form! These look fun to make and absolutely delicious!

  27. I think we would devour the entire batch of these. Love potatoes and cheese.

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