Crispy (No-Fry) Potato Pancake Poppers


These might only be half as tall as Tater Tots®, but personally I think they're twice as good! With just a handful of ingredients and no messy stovetop frying, get ready to enjoy these crispy, caramelized potato pancake poppers. Pipe sour cream on top and sprinkle with chives to serve, or arrange on a platter and serve alongside an amazing dip, like a garlicky pesto aioli. They also make for truly fantastic breakfast potatoes to serve with bacon and eggs.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
40 mins
Additional Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins
24 poppers

I think I've given up on trying to make amazing potato tots at home. I've tried a few different methods, and with a lot of effort and mess you can make a mediocre batch, but they're just not worth all the work, when you can just tear open a bag of frozen tots. However, as far as I know, they don't sell frozen Crispy Potato Pancake Poppers, which are amazing, and were "invented" during one of these failed tot attempts.

Besides grating some potatoes and mixing a few ingredients in a bowl, there's not much work involved in creating these crispy, crusty beauties. Plus, we're cooking them in the oven, so not only are they pretty easy, there's very little mess. Beyond how simple, delicious, and texturally exciting these are, they're also very versatile.

As you can see in the video, they're great simply dunked in your favorite potato-friendly dip and make a perfect base for all sorts of one-bite snacks. These also shine as a side dish next to anything that works with fries or tots and would make a fantastic change-of-pace alternative to your usual breakfast potato. But, no matter how you enjoy these, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!


  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled

  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Very generously brush melted butter into the bottom and sides of 24 mini muffin cups. Place the tin(s) on a baking sheet and set aside until needed.

  2. Add cold water to a large bowl until 1/3 full. Grate potatoes into the cold water, then fill the bowl almost to the top with more cold water. Swish the potatoes around with your hands to rinse off the starch, then pour off most of the water and refill with more cold water. Continue this process until the water runs almost clear. Pour potatoes into a colander and let drain for a few minutes.

  3. Transfer grated potatoes to a clean kitchen towel. Wrap potatoes in the towel and squeeze over a bowl until no more liquid comes out.

  4. Transfer potatoes to a clean bowl and add garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne, and olive oil. Sprinkle flour over top, then add Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix and toss gently with your hands until thoroughly combined and mixture feels damp.

  5. Grab potato mixture from the bottom of the bowl to get as much moisture as possible, and fill the prepared muffin cups. It's okay if the mixture comes up above the pan by 1/2 to 1 inch.

  6. Bake in the center of the preheated oven until golden brown on top, caramelized on the bottom, and crispy all over, 40 to 45 minutes.

  7. Remove from the oven and let sit in the pan for 5 minutes before flipping them over onto the baking sheet.

    Crispy Potato Pancake Poppers
    Chef John

Chef's Notes:

You can use standard-sized muffin pans, but if you do, only fill them halfway so the potatoes cook all the way through.

Make sure you add the flour and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to the potatoes in the order listed in the recipe so you don't get any clumping.

If some of the poppers are not as browned on the bottoms, you can put them back in the tins and bake for another 5 or 10 minutes.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

204 Calories
10g Fat
24g Carbs
6g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 204
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 21mg 7%
Sodium 629mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 6g
Potassium 534mg 11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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