Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Tots {Healthier Tater Tots}

Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Tots {Healthier Tater Tots}

I have to be honest about Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Tots {Healthier Tater Tots}. When I first set out to make these, I didn’t know how they would fly at my house. My youngest three boys are historically opposed to cauliflower in all forms except one to two straggly little pieces dunked top to bottom in dip every year. The exception -up until now- has been Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Sauce.

And part of the issue is that I find most cauliflower-potato-substitutes suffer an inferiority issue when it comes to texture and flavour. They’re either too mealy or two watery or -horrors- some combination of the two extremes. They’re also often bland. Guys. I can handle a lot of shortcomings in food, but bland isn’t one of them.

Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Tots solve ALL of those problems. The flavour issues are banished by the presence of almighty bacon and its natural companion Cheddar.

The texture? Well, I’ll get into why it isn’t an issue in the Cook’s Notes, but suffice it to say that these are not suffering from mealiness or wateriness. Let me tell you that I’m a little high-maintenance when it comes to my tots. As much as I love Napoleon Dynamite, I gag a little when I realize he has cold, floppy tots in his pockets for later. In my admittedly opinionated mind, a floppy tot is high treason. A tot should always be perfectly crispy on the outside, sturdy, and fluffy on the inside.

Friends, these Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Tots were a massive hit here. In fact, the child who is a hold-out on the cauliflower sauce adored the Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Tots SO very much that he begged me to make them “all the time!” and even gave me a massive, hand-stinging high five when I agreed to do so. Full disclosure: I did not tell the kids what was in them until after they had devoured the entire pan full and scoped the kitchen to see if there were more tots to be found.

God bless ’em all, they didn’t bat an eye when I told them it was cauliflower. One of my anti-veg kids said, “Well, whaddya know?” The make-them-all-the-time boy paused, looked thoughtful, and said, “I guess I DO like cauliflower then. But only like this.” If you have kids who squawk over vegetables, you know just how thrilling a moment this was. The eldest two will eat nearly any vegetable that passes through our kitchen, so for them it was just another way they dig cauliflower, but boy did they dig it.

Cook’s Notes

I start with a 2-1/2 pound head of cauliflower from the grocery store. By the time I’ve removed the wrapper, the woody stalk, and the leaves, I’m left with 2 pounds of florets. After grating them on the grating disc in my food processor and the preliminary cook in the microwave, this yields 3 cups firmly packed cauliflower.

If you’re not a fan of grating cauliflower, you can definitely take a shortcut and use pre-cut, fresh cauliflower rice. You’ll just want to buy 2 pounds of it.

Please be sure to use a cotton kitchen towel to line your bowl. Cotton won’t melt in the microwave. Other fabrics may.

It may sound odd to put your grated cauliflower in a clean kitchen towel in a bowl and then salt it, but this is one of the keys to the amazing texture in the finished Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Tots. What happens here is that the salt helps draw the moisture out of the cauliflower as it sits and then as it begins cooking. Both the rest period before microwaving and the squeezing of the cauliflower after it cooks are crucial to the finished product, so don’t skip them.

If you have silicone oven mitts, you can squeeze the cauliflower while it is still screaming hot, but I prefer to let the cauliflower cool to a comfortable handling temperature before squeezing it with all my strength. The reason for this is two-fold. First, I don’t run the risk of burning my hands or something else if hot cauliflower juices squirt out at me. Second, and even more importantly, you want the cooked cauliflower to be warm room temperature when you stir in the raw egg and cheese to prevent them from cooking and melting, respectively. They’re not scrambled egg tots! And un-melted cheese makes the tot mixture easier to handle and form into tots.

Use whichever bacon you like best here, but it should be cooked to crispy before being added to the tots.

Likewise, use your favourite Cheddar in the tots. I highly recommend using Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar, which is our family’s favourite.

I highly recommend lining the sheet pan with parchment paper. Because the Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Tots will spread slightly as they bake, you want to leave about 1- to 1 1/2-inches between the tots. If you have a 3/4 or whole sheet pan and an oven that will accommodate it, you can fit the whole batch on one pan. Otherwise, divide it between two half-sheet pans. Don’t have any of those? You can bake the tots in very well greased mini-muffin tins.

I use a spray olive oil to spritz the tops of the tots before baking. You can substitute non-stick cooking spray if that’s all you have handy. Spray coconut oil is another nice choice.

You can DEFINITELY MAKE AND FREEZE these either before or after baking. To freeze before baking: Form tots and place pan in the freezer until frozen solid. Transfer to a resealable zipper-topped bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bake as directed; it may take a couple minutes longer from frozen. To freeze after baking: let the cooked tots cool completely. Place on a plate in a single layer and freeze until frozen solid. Transfer to a resealable zipper-topped bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. They can be reheated in the microwave, but will be best in texture if reheated on a foil or parchment lined pan in a 350°F oven until hot all the way through.

You can use this to make Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Tots {Healthier Tater Tots}

food processor or box grater

microwave safe bowl

cotton kitchen towel

sturdy spatula

half sheet pans

parchment paper

small cookie scoop/disher

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Love cauliflower? Try these other recipes:

The Best Easy Cauliflower Rice with Garlic and Green Onions, Low Carb Cauliflower Tortillas, Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Puree, Chili Lime Cauliflower Popcorn, Cauliflower Bolognese, and Low Carb Pepper Jack Cauliflower.

Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Tots {Healthier Tater Tots}

Baked, crispy, Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Tots {Healthier Tater Tots} are the ultimate in crispy, cheesy perfection. You’d never know they’re lower carb than tater tots and honestly, you’d be hard pressed to know they’re NOT tater tots.

Adapted from Cauli-Tots from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pound head of cauliflower (woody stalk and leaves removed, cut into florets)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (divided)
  • 1/4 cup corn meal
  • 8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 12 strips bacon (cooked until crispy, then crumbled)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Read the whole recipe on Foodie With Family