Tater Tots vs. Hash Browns: Differences & Which Is Better?

Tater Tots vs. Hash Browns

Tater tots and hash browns are both American potato fast food delicacies that are traditionally served as breakfast or snacks. Many mix them up because they tend to appear similar, mainly because hash browns can be found in many shapes of tater tots among them. So, are tater tots and hash browns the same thing?

Tater tots and hash browns are not the same things. Tater tots are grated potatoes mixed with flour, made into balls, and deep-fried. Hash browns are grated potatoes fried, resembling a flat cake. 

No matter how similar, tater tots and hash browns are two different meals using the same base ingredient- potatoes. They have different appearances, flavors, and nutritional values. In the following paragraphs, I will explain the differences between them so that you can choose which is better for you.

Are Tater Tots and Hash Browns the Same Thing?

Tater tots and hash browns are not the same things. Tater tots are ball-shaped deep-fried grated potatoes, while hash browns are grated fried potatoes. Despite them sharing the same base ingredient, potatoes, they are different meals. 

Origin

In 1953 F. Nephi Grigg from Ore- Ida created tater tots to use up leftover potato shavings. Since the Ore-Ida food company specializes in potato foods, you can imagine how many leftover potato shavings they had. 

At first, they sold them as livestock feed, but then they figured that they could make an even bigger profit if they sold them as snacks. Thus, they created tater tots. Tater tots are a proprietary brand, and although the name is for the brand, tater tots are today regarded as a type of food.

“Tater” is slang for potatoes, and the “tot” is for the last part of the word potato.

Ever since their conception, tater tots have become an iconic snack food in America and a beloved member of the American breakfast table. 

On the other hand, hash browns are significantly older than tater tots. They are assumed to have appeared first in the 1890s, whereby they made their way to the American breakfast table somewhere around 1900. 

Since then, they have become a staple breakfast in North America, beloved by everyone. 

Taste and Ingredients

Both hash browns and tater tots are made with potatoes. Traditionally, hash browns don’t contain any additional ingredients except for spices. However, often they are made with flour and eggs to bond the potato shreds better. 

Tater tots are made with potatoes, chopped onions, and flour. Of course, there are as many variations as people make them, but the classic recipes don’t call for any ingredients other than your common everyday foods. 

Tater tots have expressive potato flavor, which is to be expected since potatoes are their base ingredient. They are also salty and very crispy. Since they have a crunchy exterior, the smooth potato filling inside feels even smoother because of the contrast in textures.

This texture contrast impacts the flavor, making it even more intense. Depending on which other spices you use, they can also taste slightly garlicky. Onion is another mandatory part of tater tots, so you can also feel a very discrete whiff of it. 

Hash browns have somewhat of a simpler flavor than tater tots. They are even crispier than tater tots. Hash browns are best described as crispy, salty, and potato flavored. 

Neither hash browns nor tater tots require anything for pairing because they are both full-flavored and lack nothing. Still, they work great when dipped in ketchup or mayo dips or paired with traditional breakfast foods such as eggs, bacon strips, sausages, pancakes, or bread. 

Tater Tots vs. Hash Browns

Preparation 

Both tater tots and hash browns are very easy to prepare, though hash browns are slightly simpler. All you need to do to make hash browns is grate the potatoes, butter the pan, and let them sizzle until they become brown. 

Meanwhile, while the hash browns are frying, season them with your favorite spices and flip them over. The frying process will turn the hash browns into a fat cake, sticking the potato sherds onto each other. 

Other hash brown recipes call for flour and eggs to make the potato shreds bond better. 

Tater tots, on the other hand, require boiling the potatoes. They also contain chopped onions and some flour. Therefore they are slightly more complex to make and a bit more flavorful. 

Once the potatoes are fully boiled, they must be cooled in cold salty water. The salt in the water allows the potatoes to retain their consistency so that you can shred them. The shredded potatoes are mixed with flour and then made into balls.

While you regularly fry the hash browns, you need to deep-fry the tater tots. 

Both tater tots and browns turn out perfectly delicious, each bringing its own magic. 

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Nutrition 

Tater tots and hash browns have very similar nutritional values. Since they contain four, they are high in carbs, especially tater tots. They are also pretty fatty because they are oil-fried. Again, the tater tots win the battle as they are dip-fried.

In addition, they are high in starch and low in sugar. Hash browns and tater tots are both caloric and low in protein and nutrients. [1]

Overall, they are not highly nutritious and basically empty calories. In addition to being exceptionally delicious, they hardly have anything else to offer, nutrition-wise. 

Serving 

Tater tots and hash browns are very versatile dishes. Even though they are known as breakfast foods, they work great in other combinations as well. They work excellent when combined with classic breakfast sides such as bacon, sausages, wieners, eggs, grilled cheese, pancakes, bread, or bagels. 

However, they make excellent movie snacks. You can combine them with mayo, ketchup, or cheese dips or pair them with deli meats, meatballs, chicken shreds, mixed vegetables, fresh or cooked mozzarella sticks, grilled mushrooms, or plain salad. 

Tater Tots vs. Hash Browns

Tater Tots vs. Hash Browns: Which Is Better?

It is impossible to decide whether tater tots are better than hash browns or the other way around. They are very similar and different at the same time. Both are excellent snack foods and breakfast additions. 

The one you choose depends on what you prefer. If you like something crispier, drier, more expressive, and crunchy, then hash browns are for you. On the other hand, if you want something between crispy and creamy and more full-flavored, then tater tots are the right option for you. 

They work excellently on any occasion, from breakfast to a nice relaxing evening, to a fun night with friends combined with beer or another beverage. 

Are Tater Tots and Hash Browns Bad for You?

Although they are not the healthiest of food options, still saying that tater tots and hash browns are bad for you is a little harsh. Granted, they don’t offer you some significant nutritional value and are mostly empty calories, but they aren’t harmful if you don’t eat them in extreme quantities every day. 

Making tater tots or hash browns using two potatoes per person won’t even impact your weight, so don’t worry about getting chubby if you don’t go overboard with them. 

What can impact your figure and health, though, is what you pair them with. Although you can combine tater tots and hash browns with salad, it isn’t salad what they call for. They awaken your desire for other greasy foods, such as bacon, French toast, fried eggs, sausages, meatballs, and greasy dips, which is where the problem lies. 

Tater tots and hash browns aren’t that impactful in themselves, but having them and the greasy sides often will reflect on your health and figure. Therefore have them sporadically and in moderate amounts. 

  • Laura is the owner of Julie's Cafe Bakery. She started this blog with her grandma Julie who introduced her to the amazing world of cooking. She likes to experiment with different flavors, and her favorite flavors combo is chicken with coconut milk, curry and peanuts!