Tater tots are a favorite of kids and kids at heart alike, but lots of people who eat gluten-free want to know, are tater tots gluten-free? And which options taste best? Thankfully, we’re here to answer this burning question and give you some options and best practices for eating tater tots.
Searching for gluten-free tater tots is surprisingly difficult, for a couple of reasons. Did you know, the name “tater tots” is actually a trademark of the Ore-Ida brand? So technically, only Ore-Ida brand taters are “tots.” An internet search yielded only the Ore-Ida brand initially. Thankfully, Ore-Ida has put us at ease, labeling its tots as “gluten-free” right on the bag. Their site also states that they are produced in a wheat-free facility. We warmed up the frozen tots in a toaster oven, and we made sure to follow the best practices when it comes to using shared toasters and other appliances. We used a pan covered with a fresh layer of aluminum foil because we’d hate to cross contaminate a tot that Ore-Ida assures us is safe. And just to make sure we were using best practices, we tested with Nima, and sure enough got the coveted smile!
But are other “tots” out there also gluten-free? Since these are in theory no more than frozen potatoes, there shouldn’t be a gluten worry with what most brands call “potato puffs,” but what about the facilities where they are made? Or extra ingredients added for color, freshness or the like? Checking the ingredients list is a good way to detect extra ingredients that might be troubling. One of the other brands we looked at was the popular Whole Foods 365 brand, and we were nervous to find the following warning on the ingredient label: “Produced in a facility that processes Milk, Wheat and Soy.” This set off alarm bells, but again we used a freshly lined pan and warmed them up, they DID test gluten-free on Nima. This might not always be the case with this brand, due to that note about the facility, but you can use Nima to help you make a better informed decision.
We came across another widely available brand, the Lamb Weston Grown in Idaho Crispy Potato Puffs. They’re found at Safeway and Whole Foods, among others. While the package doesn’t label these gluten-free, it also does not carry the warning about the production facility, and the ingredients don’t show anything that might be a worry. Sure enough, we tested them (again, in a freshly lined toaster pan), and got a gluten-free smile.
As a side note, we WERE able to find a brand listed specifically as gluten-free, Ian’s Organic Gluten-Free Potato Puffs. However, even in the depths of the Internet, we weren’t able to find out where to purchase them in anything other than bulk quantities. That said, if you have small children, bulk quantities of tots might not be a big deal. If you’re interested in large quantities, check them out.
But how about taste? We compared the three brands we were able to get, and honestly the Ore-Ida brand came out on top. They have a slightly saltier flavor than the LandWesson brand, whereas the Whole Foods 365 brand was decidedly more bland than either of the other two. However, they are all so close to each other in flavor that these differences are minor. The best thing to know is, if you keep gluten-free and test carefully with Nima, tater tots are a delicious option you won’t have to worry about.