Skip the spuds and ditch the deep-fryer in favor of this quick and healthy recipe for 5-Ingredient Baked Cauliflower Tots.
There are two things I always scour a restaurant menu for: doughnuts and tater tots. My obsession with the former has been well documented around these parts (See: Easy Glazed Doughnut Holes and Doughnuthon), while the later is just now making its debut. But before you go reaching for the potatoes, can I gently encourage you to make a mad dash for the cauliflower instead?
Yes, indeed. Potato-less cauliflower tots, a.k.a. a veggie-packed, slightly cheesy, absolutely easy alternative to the traditional finger food we all know and love.
Aside from being the ultimate way to sneak veggies into any meal, cauliflower tots have many redeeming qualities:
- They’re made with only five ingredients. Sweet!
- They’re baked, rather than fried.
- They’re a (nearly) starch-free side dish or snack.
Suddenly craving cauliflower? Preheat your oven, grab the veggies and feel free to fancify these tots by tossing in fresh herbs or spices for added zing.
Then all that’s left to do is dip and dunk in your choice of sauces, from ketchup to roasted garlic aioli and beyond. Phew. An entire post about tots and not a single Napoleon Dynamite reference.
(Now give me some of your tots!)
And for all those with even more cauliflower cravings, don’t miss my top-rated recipes for Mashed Cauliflower with Cheese and Chives, Cheesy Roaster Cauliflower Dip and Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Dressing.
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- 2 medium heads cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1/4 cup small diced onion
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup finely ground breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a nonstick baking sheet liberally with cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets to the water and cook them just until fork tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Thoroughly drain the florets and transfer them to a food processor. Pulse the cauliflower for a few seconds just until the it breaks down into small pieces (about the size of grains of rice). (Do not overmix the cauliflower or the mixture will be too wet to form.)
- Measure out 3 packed cups of the cauliflower and add it to a large bowl. (See Kelly's Notes.) Stir in the diced onion, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, mixing until thoroughly combined. (The mixture should be roughly the consistency of mashed potatoes.) Using your hands, scoop up 1- to 2-tablespoons of the mixture and mold it into a tater tot shape. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and repeat the shaping process with the remainder of the mixture, spacing the tots about 1 inch apart.
- Bake the tots for about 20 minutes then flip them and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until crisped. Remove and serve with ketchup, pesto, hummus or your preferred dipping sauce.
- The onion should to be cut small enough so that it’s not too chunky and can be easily mixed into the cauliflower mixture.
- Any extra puréed cauliflower can be turned into my go-to mashed potato substitute, Mashed Cauliflower with Cheese and Chives.
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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.
Tots were a little salty. Will cut back next time and just salt outside after baking if needed. Ended up increasing oven temp to 375 and baking longer to get a nice crispy crust.
Hint: used a 2-Tablespoon cookie scoop to create little round tots then flattened them a little with a spoon. Really saved time!
Thanks for your comment, Wendy!
l made these and they are delicious, but they fall apart too easy! What can I add to make them bind together better?
Hi Debora! Was there any excess moisture in the mixture? It sounds like maybe the cauliflower may have been overcooked or some extra water was in the mix.
Debora, I’d use a cheesecloth. Put small batches in it to drain more excess out. Won’t fall apart easily next time. Haven’t made these, but I love to cook. Trust. It’ll work.
can you use an air fryer rather than baking them?
Hi there! I’ve never tried making these in an air fryer so I’m not sure what the results would be. Let me know if you give it a shot!
I’m sure they’ll work in the air fryer. you might want to put them on a piece of tin foil that’s sprayed with some cooking spray, though, in case they want to sink into the wire rack and stick.
can you use already riced Cauliflower, and if so,, do you have to cook it first before adding it to the mixture?
It’s hard to say without seeing the actual product but if the pieces are about the size of grains of rice, you’re all set to go!
Do you think you could put the “batter” into a mini-muffin tin to bake? I’m kinda lazy… :)
Absolutely! Notes on how to do that are on this recipe for Zucchini Tots: https://www.justataste.com/cheesy-baked-zucchini-tots-recipe/
How long long would these be cook for after being cooked if left in the fridge?
Would be be okay reheated in the microwave?
Hi Rachael! I’d recommend freezing the tots after baking them. They’ll keep in the freezer for several weeks or even a month when stored in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag. Then to reheat, pop the tots back into the oven or microwave and cook them until warmed throughout. Hope that helps!
Thanks for the offer to get more recipes from you
You are so welcome, Judith! I hope you enjoy Just a Taste!
Hard to form tots. They kept falling apart. Stuck to cooking tray so I couldn’t flip them, if I tried they fell apart. Will try again
Hi Rebecca – Was there any excess moisture in the mixture? It sounds like maybe the cauliflower may have been overcooked or some extra water was in the mix?
Can these be frozen after cooking? Or better to freeze before cooking? Or not at all?
Hi Ann! I’d recommend freezing the tots after baking them. They’ll keep in the freezer for several weeks or even a month when stored in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag. :)
For a burger cookout last week, I made these for a friend who’s doing Keto. I substituted finely ground pork rind “bread crumbs” that I ordered online for the regular bread crumbs. I worried that with the parmesan cheese, they would turn out too salty; however, they were great, and my friend truly appreciated having an alternative without having to forego a side to go with the bunless burger. Even those not doing Keto enjoyed them. Thanks for sharing this!
Love hearing this, Bobby! I’m so thrilled the recipe was enjoyed by all!
I just made them using two 12-ounce bags of frozen riced cauliflower (from Trader Joe’s) which I thawed in the microwave, then squeezed out as must moisture as I could (put the thawed cauliflower on a clean towel and wring out the water). I also added 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
They are delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
Awesome! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Allison!
can i use ground almond instead of bread crumbs for keto?
Hi Sarah – Yes, ground almond flour works!
Does the cooked cauliflower need to be squeezed to get extra moisture out? Most other recipes for this do, but I don’t see that in these instructions.
Hi Trish! I do not squeeze out the cauliflower after I’ve processed it.
Just to let you know, you should edit the points on this. Cauliflower and eggs is 0 weight watchers points even when in a recipe. The only points to be counted are for the crumbs and cheese. 1/4 cup parmesan is 3 points, and 1/4 cup bread crumbs is 3 points. The entire recipe is 6 points and you said it makes 35 tots. So 6 tots is 1 freestyle smartpoint not 3. Definitely going to try since it’s low in points and healthy way to eat “tator totally”.
Hi Lindsey! Thanks for your note. The calculations are all just based off of their standard SmartPoints program, not the new Freestyle one. :)
I used raw cauliflower and riced it in my food processor. Froze unbaked tots on a cookie sheet and stored in a ziplock. Cooked in my air fryer from frozen….AWESOME.
I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Nancy!
Attempted this but failed to fully read the instructions. My version turned out better than expected though! Used raw, riced cauliflower (forgot to cook it), subbed cheddar for parm and cheese-its for bread crumbs, added buffalo sauce, and flour (needed more binding agent). Baked for 20 mins at 350 and 30 mins at 375. Came out for cooked, great texture and flavor, and more importantly, husband enjoyed it. I’d call it a success!
Would these be ok texture-wise if I left out the Parmesan?
Yes, feel free to leave out the cheese!
Can ground pork rinds be substituted for the bread crumbs?
Hi Maelynn – I haven’t tried that, but I think it should work!
Could you use the premade cauliflower rice sold in the freezer section for this recipe?
Hi Laurie – It’s hard to say without seeing the actual product but if the pieces are about the size of grains of rice, you’re all set to go!
When you say these can be frozen, do you mean before baking, to bake later, or after baking, to reheat later. Or – does it matter. Thanks. Can’t rate because haven’t made them yet, but will.
Hi Lulu! I’d recommend freezing the tots after baking them. They’ll keep in the freezer for several weeks or even a month when stored in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag. Enjoy!
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