Air Fryers are a great way to get a crisp almost deep-fried exterior without a lot of oil. Lately we've been air frying everything—and we've especially fallen in love with these air fryer broccoli tater tots. These veggie tots are crispy, cheesy, and addictive. And not to mention...they're literally made of broccoli! The Creamy Buffalo Dip is the perfect partner for dipping: slightly tangy, slightly spicy, and very creamy. It's made with Greek yogurt—not mayo—so it's surprisingly "light".
Since these broccoli tots are so easy to make, we often make a double batch to freeze. These freezer-friendly tots reheat in minutes, making them a great adult and kid-friendly snack on busy weekdays. Or pair them with a fresh veggies sticks, a side salad, or side soup to make a quick meal when you're short on time.
Here are the main ingredients that go into these the Air Fryer Broccoli Tater Tots:
- Broccoli: For this tots recipe you just need the tops (crowns) of the broccoli—not the stalks. Have 2 to 3 heads of broccoli on hand. Keep reading this post for more details on broccoli prep, after lots of testing!
- Shallots: Shallots have a slightly more delicate and milder flavor than onions. But, if you can't find shallots, you could substitute red onion instead (just make sure to mince it very finely!).
- Garlic: Lots of garlic, because, flavor. The broccoli, shallots, and garlic get cooked quickly in a skillet before being added to the tot mixture, so you don't have to worry about any raw garlic flavor.
- Cheddar cheese: Using a smoked cheddar cheese will make these tots extra delicious. But, aged cheddar tastes delicious too (that's our second favorite option)... or mild cheddar if you prefer.
- Eggs: The eggs help bind the mixture so it holds together.
- Breadcrumbs: Use regular dried breadcrumbs here. We tested with panko as well, but much preferred regular breadcrumbs. We found the panko was too big to consistently hold the tots together, so do not recommend substituting it here.
Find the recipe card below for the complete recipe, including all ingredients and instructions.
How to make this recipe
Start by grating broccoli
We tested many methods of prepping the broccoli for these air fryer tots:
- First, we tried chopping the raw broccoli finely with a knife. This was fairly time consuming. And if you're not the most precise with cutting, some tots will up with bigger pieces of broccoli—and that sometimes caused the tot to fall apart.
- Second, we tried steaming the broccoli and then cutting it when soft. This made it more likely that the pieces would be chopped small, but it also meant dirtying another pot and adding more prep time.
- And third, we grated the broccoli on a regular box grater. This method was much faster than chopping. Grating the broccoli makes for teeny tiny broccoli pieces, which consistently holds together! This method also yields the most consistent results because the broccoli is measured after grating. For these reasons, this recipe uses grated broccoli crowns (i.e. just the top of the broccoli, not the stems!).
The shallots, garlic, and broccoli get a quick saute in a skillet. It only takes 5 minutes—but it helps bring out the flavor of the shallots and garlic, and starts to soften the broccoli.
Then, you'll transfer everything to a large bowl and add the salt, pepper, lemon zest (optional), eggs, cheese, and breadcrumbs.
Shape and bake
This is the fun part! You get to use your hands to shape the broccoli cheese tots. We like to start by dividing the mixture into equal portions (using a cookie scoop), then roll them one by one into a cylinder that resembles a tater tot. We recommend dampening your hands with water before rolling the tots—it'll prevent the mixture from sticking.
Then, arrange the broccoli tots in a single layer in the air fryer basket. If you're doubling the recipe, bake the tots in two batches so you don't overfill the basket. It is really important to give the veggie tots a light spray of oil because this is what will make them golden brown and crisp!
Sauce and serve
While the Broccoli Tater Tots bake, you have time to make the Creamy Buffalo Dip. It comes together in minutes and the base is Greek yogurt! You can add as little or as much Frank's as you'd like—so feel free to add only a dash or two if you're serving someone sensitive to spice. (Ketchup also works!)
Frequently asked questions
While many "swear by" preheating an air fryer, it is definitely not necessary to preheat your air fryer for this recipe. (And the same goes for many other air fryer recipes too!). We tested both methods and found that the only difference was that the preheated air fryer cooked the tots about 1 minute faster. But, this is less than the time it took to preheat the air fryer (usually about 5 minutes). So keep it simple and skip preheating the air fryer here.
Yes, you can! See the recipe post for the alternate oven method. For full transparency, the tots won't get as evenly crisp in the oven as they would in an air fryer. But, they are still delicious. If you have a convection setting on your oven, use it and reduce the temperature to 400°F (200°C).
Yes, these broccoli tater tots can be frozen and reheated. To freeze the tots, let them cool completely once they're out of the air fryer. Then, transfer them to a freezer bag and freeze in a single layer.
To reheat frozen broccoli tots, bake them in a single layer in the air fryer, set at 350°F (177°C) until heated through, 6 to 8 minutes.
Air Fryer Broccoli Tater Tots
Broccoli Cheese Tater Tots
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup minced shallot (about 1 large)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups grated broccoli (from the crown, see note 1)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon packed lemon zest (optional)
- 2 large eggs
- ⅔ cup grated cheddar cheese (smoked cheddar recommended, see note 2)
- ⅔ cup breadcrumbs (gluten-free if needed)
- Oil spray (olive oil or neutral oil)
Creamy Buffalo Dip
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon packed lemon zest
- 1 to 2 teaspoon hot sauce (like Frank's)
- Fine sea salt, to taste
- Start cooking: Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli and cook, stirring occasionally, until bright green, about 3 minutes.
- Mix: Transfer broccoli mixture to a large bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, and lemon zest until evenly distributed. Push the mixture to the edges of the bowl to make a well. Crack the eggs into the middle, then beat the eggs until mixed. Stir the beaten eggs into the broccoli mixture. Stir in cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs.
- Shape tots: Scoop the mixture into 20 small balls (about 2 tablespoons each). Lightly dampen your hands with water (to prevent sticking), then shape the balls into small cylinder tots. Arrange the tots in a single layer in an air fryer basket (see note 3).
- Spray and bake: Lightly coat the tots with oil spray. Bake in air fryer (no need to preheat) at 400°F (200°C) for 10 minutes (or until golden brown, see note 4).
- Make dip: Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together Greek yogurt, garlic powder, lemon zest, hot sauce, and salt. Serve with the hot tots, for dipping.
- Grated broccoli: For this recipe, you'll want to grate broccoli crowns (not the stalks) with the large holes of a box grater. See the photo in the post to illustrate. Measure after grating: 3 cups weights 10 ounces / 283 grams. You'll likely need to start with 2 to 3 heads of broccoli to get 3 cups grated.
- Cheddar cheese: If you can find smoked cheddar cheese, it's extra delicious in these tots! We recommend aged cheddar as the "next best" backup, otherwise mild cheddar works too.
- If you double the recipe: A single batch of tots should fit in a single layer of an air fryer basket. If you're doubling the recipe, bake in two batches, otherwise you'll overcrowd the basket.
- Recommended bake time: If after 10 minutes the tots aren't as brown as you'd like, bake for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Storage and reheating tops: These tots can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. For longer storage, let the tots cool, then transfer to an airtight freezer bag. To reheat tots, arrange them in a single layer and bake in an airfryer set at 350°F (177°C) until heated through (about 6-8 mins from frozen, 3-4 mins from refrigerated).
- Alternative baking instructions (oven method) : For best results use an air fryer. If you don't have an air fryer, you can make these tots in the oven. Bake at 425°F (220°C) on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown, shaking the pan halfway through. The tots won't get as crispy as the air fryer method (as photographed), but they'll still taste delicious!
- Nutritional estimate: Nutritional estimate assumes 5 tots and 2 tablespoons of dip per serving.