Totchos (Tater Tot Nachos) are a crowd pleasing appetizer or fun dinner made with crispy baked tater tots, seasoned ground beef, all-natural nacho cheese sauce and your favorite toppings such as pico de gallo, guacamole and more!
If you’re on the hunt for a crowd-pleasing snack, tasty appetizer or fun dinner, look no further than these Totchos (perfect for Game Day or Cinco de Mayo!)! This easy-to-follow recipe swaps the tortilla chips in traditional nachos with mouthwatering tater tots that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The tater tot nachos are layered with juicy, seasoned ground beef and luxuriously creamy, punchy, homemade nacho cheese sauce, then finished with your choice of topping such as guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, olives, pickled jalapenos, etc. They’re the ultimate crowd-pleasing, customizable, sharable comfort food that can be whipped up in no time and are guaranteed to be a hit!
how to make Totchos video
Totchos are the ridiculously delicious appetizer that uses tater tots in place of tortilla chips to make nachos. The tater tots (small, cylindrical pieces of deep-fried grated potatoes sometimes referred to as “potato gems,” “potato crunchies,” or “tasti taters’” depending on where you live) are baked or fried until crispy, then topped with classic nacho toppings, such as cheese, salsa, guacamole, jalapenos, and sour cream.
This dish has become popular in recent years as a tasty and creative alternative to traditional nachos. Totchos are mainly served as an appetizer and are particularly popular at sports bars, casual restaurants, food trucks, and sporting events. Additionally, totchos can be prepared at home and enjoyed as a fun and tasty snack or appetizer using the recipe I’m sharing with you today!
The name “totchos” is a portmanteau of “tater tots” and “nachos,” used to describe nachos made with tater tots instead of tortilla chips.
The exact origin of totchos is unclear, but they are believed to have originated in the United States in the early 2000s. The dish is thought to have emerged as a creative twist on classic nachos, which have been popular in the US since the 1940s. Tater tots themselves have been a popular snack food since the 1950s, and it is likely that someone had the idea to combine them with nacho toppings at some point in the early 2000s.
The dish gained popularity in the early 2010s and has since become a common menu item at many bars and restaurants across the United States. Totchos have also been featured on several food-related television shows, including “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” The dish has even inspired variations, such as sweet potato totchos or totchos made with different types of cheese or toppings. Overall, totchos have become a beloved and fun twist on classic nachos, and they continue to be enjoyed by people all over the United States.
Ingredients for the ground beef
Cheese sauce: If you don’t have time, ingredients or the desire to make your own nacho sauce, it’s also sold in the jar. I particularly like the Tostitos brand queso. It comes in a variety of flavors such as salsa con queso, queso blanco and southwest cheese corn dip.
Cheese varieties: Feel free to mix and match cheeses for your homemade nacho cheese sauce, or if using shredded cheese. Keep in mind, I always recommend at least two different kinds of cheese for optimal flavor. If you swap the nacho cheese for shredded cheese, you’ll need about 8 ounces of freshly shredded cheese (4 cups). Here are some cheesy ideas to mix:
- Monterrey Jack
- Pepper Jack
- Colby Jack
- Sharp cheddar
- Habañero cheese
the Best Toppings for TOTCHOS
While our seasoned ground beef and nacho cheese make for irresistible tater tot nachos, they are further elevated with TOPPINGS! You can load your Totchos with as little or as many toppings as you like. Classic toppings (highly recommend) include: sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, olives, and pickled jalapenos. But don’t let that limit your imagination! Here’s the breakdown:
Essential nacho toppings
- Guacamole: is lusciously creamy, tangy, salty and fresh. I use my favorite guacamole recipe made with avocados, lime juice, cilantro, jalapenos, red onions, and juicy tomatoes. When I am feeling lazy, I will even omit the red onions and garlic and substitute with garlic and onion powder. You may also use your favorite recipe or store bought guacamole is a handy shortcut, usually found in the deli section.
- Sour cream: a must in my book for every nacho recipe! Its bright refreshing, silky creaminess compliments and cuts through the richness of the Totchos and marries all of the flavors and textures together.
- Pico de gallo: is fresh tomato salsa that adds a vibrant, punchy freshness. You can use my homemade pico de gallo recipe or store bought usually found in the deli section. You can make the pico de gallo ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Jalapenos: are used to amp up the heat. Pickled jalapenos are preferred over fresh due to their fabulous pickled tang which compliments the richness of the appetizer. Bonus, pickled jalapenos are also easier to use – simply open the can, drain and use!
Nacho topping substitutes
- Tomatoes: quartered cherry tomatoes or seeded, chopped Roma tomatoes can be used if you skip the pico de gallo. Combine the tomatoes with some fresh cilantro.
- Cilantro: add in addition to or instead of the pico de gallo for a fresh, zesty flair.
- Avocados: chopped or sliced avocados are the easiest avocado option instead of guacamole. Toss them with a splash of lime juice and some freshly cracked salt and pepper.
- Greek yogurt: is a great creamy alternative to sour cream.
- Hot Sauce: spice up your dish with hot sauce instead of jalapenos.
More nacho topping options
- Green onions: especially important if you skip the pico de gallo for their mild onion-y flavor.
- Black olives: are a favorite for their salty bite.
- Pickle onions: are tangy, punchy fantastic. Use my super simple pickled red onions recipe and they’ll be ready in 30 minutes!
- Radishes: thinly sliced add a spicy, zesty, crispy crunch.
- Corn: sweet drained canned corn or corn straight off of the cob. You can also grill or char your corn like I do in my corn salsa for a tantalizing charred smokiness.
- Beans: black beans, pinto beans or refried beans would be a tasty addition.
- Lettuce: chopped Romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce – anything with a nice crunch and neutral flavor to add a fresh contrasting crunch.
- Cotija cheese: a showering of Cotija for a salty finish.
- Salsa: completely change the flavor profile of your recipe with a salsa! Choose from store bought salsas (I love Mateos from Costco) or get fancy with my homemade restaurant salsa, salsa verde, black bean corn salsa, avocado salsa, charred corn salsa, mango salsa, or pineapple salsa.
how to make Totchos
Totchos are easy to make from scratch! You’ll start by prepping the toppings, then pop the tater tots in the oven. While they’re baking, make the cheese sauce and ground beef so you can assemble the recipe as soon as the tater tots come out of the oven.
Let’s take a closer look at how to make these tater tot nachos (full recipe with measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):
Step 1: Prepare the toppings
Step 2: Bake the Tater Tots
Step 3: Make the Cheese SAuce
If you don’t want to make the cheese sauce from scratch, warm up your favorite store-bought sauce. To make from scratch:
Step 4: make ground beef
Step 5: Assemble
You have three options when it comes to assembly:
- Create a toppings bar and let everyone assemble their own Totchos.
2. Spread the tater tots in a single layer on a large baking sheet and top with ground beef, followed by cheese and desired toppings; serve immediately.
3. Layer: Spread half the tater tots in a single layer on a large platter or baking pan. Drizzle about ⅓ of the cheese sauce over top; top with half of the beef. Repeat with the remaining tater tots, ⅓ cheese sauce and remaining beef mixture; top with remaining cheese sauce followed with desired toppings; serve immediately.
Totchos are best enjoyed when the tater tots are still warm and crispy instead of cold and/or soggy. Here’s how to make them perfectly every time:
more tips for the best Totcho recipe
Here’s a few tips and tricks to ensure your tater tot nachos are a homerun every time:
WHAT OTHER PROTEIN CAN I USE FOR TOTCHOS?
This Totchos recipe doesn’t have to be made with ground beef – that’s the beauty of making them from scratch! You can use any protein you like such as:
- Ground turkey or ground chicken: can be evenly swapped for the ground beef. If you really want the ground turkey to taste like beef, I suggest adding 2 teaspoons beef bouillon while cooking and crumbling. I use this trick in my turkey tacos, turkey chili and turkey meatballs and it is AMAZING! It infuses the turkey with rich, beefy flavor that will blow your mind! If you do use beef bouillon, omit the salt called for in the Totchos recipe and add salt to taste to the filling. Beef bouillon contains salt so you will likely need less salt than the nacho recipe calls for.
- Shredded Mexican Chicken (Crockpot): simmered with Mexican spices, salsa and green chilies for chicken that’s dripping with flavor and SO tender.
- Mexican shredded chicken: shortcut chicken with robust fiesta seasonings made with rotisserie chicken.
- Chipotle chicken: smoky, robust and spicy.
- Chili lime chicken: smoky, robust and tangy.
beef and pork options
- Mexican Shredded Beef: spoon tender braised beef (in the crockpot, oven, stove or instant pot) with a caravan of rich, earthy, fiesta seasonings, punchy salsa, tangy green chilies, savory beef broth and smoky liquid smoke.
- Beef Barbacoa (Crockpot): crazy juicy beef slow cooked until melt-in-your-mouth tender infused with a tangy, chipotle sauce. Barbacoa Beef is known for its intense flavor and perfect balance of chipotle peppers, cumin, oregano and lime juice.
- Carne Asada: is the quintessential Mexican steak marinated in orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce and a splash of liquid smoke then spice rubbed with cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic and onion. It’s juicy, flavorful and crazy good.
- Carnitas (Crockpot): juicy pork smothered in a dynamic fiesta spice rub then slow cooked with orange juice and lime juice then finished in the oven to create glorious caramelized crispy burnt ends.
- Chipotle Sweet Pulled Pork: a Cafe Rio Copycat that’s juicy, tender, melt-in-your-mouth with the perfect balance of saucy sweet heat.
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Totchos (Tater Tot Nachos)
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TOTS AND CHEESE
- 1 32 oz. bag tater tots (unseasoned)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- freshly cracked salt
- 1 recipe Queso Blanco or favorite store-bought cheese sauce, warmed
- Sour cream
- Pico de gallo or chopped tomatoes and cilantro
- Sliced olives
- Pickled jalapenos
- Green onions
- See post for tons more ideas!
- Prepare toppings: Have all the toppings ready to go so you can quickly assemble the Totchos as soon as you add the cheese sauce. If serving toppings bar style, add to serving dishes.
- Cook tater tots: Add tater tots to a large baking sheet and toss with ½ teaspoon chili powder and freshly cracked salt to taste. Bake according to package directions, adding 5-10 minutes to the cooking time so they’re extra crispy. While the tater tots are baking, make the cheese sauce and brown the beef:
- Cheese Sauce: Prepare Queso Blanco (click HERE) according to recipe directions; remove from heat. It will thicken as it cools. When ready to use, gently reheat on the stove, stirring in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time if needed to thin.
- Brown beef: Brown beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, crumbling as you cook, until almost cooked through; drain grease. Stir in the salsa and all spices/seasonings until well incorporated. Continue to cook until the beef is completely cooked through.
Assemble – You can either:
- Create a toppings bar and let everyone assemble their own Totchos.
- Spread the tater tots in a single layer on a large baking sheet and top with ground beef, followed by cheese and desired toppings; serve immediately.
- Layer: Spread half the tater tots in a single layer on a large platter or baking pan. Drizzle about ⅓ of the cheese sauce over top; top with half of the beef. Repeat with the remaining tater tots, ⅓ cheese sauce and remaining beef mixture; top with remaining cheese sauce followed with desired toppings; serve immediately.
How to avoid soggy Totchos
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