Baked Zucchini Carrot Tots. You’ll forget all about traditional tater tots after one bite of these! Loaded with veggies, you can eat them without the guilt and even your kids will devour them
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It’s no secret that I had a love/hate relationship with vegetables as a kid. When I liked a vegetable, I would eat it nonstop. If I didn’t like a vegetable, no matter the reason, you couldn’t pay me to touch it. Heck, some vegetables I refused to eat even though I’d never tried it; I just didn’t like the way it looked. I think my parents didn’t fight me on the ones I didn’t like, because I ate so much of what I did like.
Zucchini was on the “no” list until about 10 years ago, because it always looked mushy when cooked. Then about 8 years ago my dad made a stir-fry with zucchini. I took a bite, and really liked the tender-crisp texture. So I found a zucchini fries recipe and tried it myself. Big mistake: I cut them too thick and baked them in the oven, so they were mushy. I took a zucchini break for a while, then tried again with Panko Parmesan Zucchini Chips. They quickly became one of my favorite snacks. Another favorite is Corn, Zucchini and Red Pepper Cakes, a recipe I make every chance I get when sweet corn is everywhere.
I’m also a carb fiend, especially when it comes to potatoes. I love all kinds of fries, but almost never keep them in the house so I don’t have the temptation. A few weeks ago I discovered corn tots, part of a new line of frozen veggies from Green Giant. They are so delicious, and it hit me that I could make my own veggie tots. I had some zucchini that I needed to use, and I was on a carrot binge since my latest recipe of Thai Peanut Chicken with Carrot Spirals, so I created Baked Zucchini Carrot Tots.
These Baked Zucchini Carrot Tots are fabulous! Seriously. I made them 4 times in the last 2 weeks. They’re baked and loaded with vegetables, so I don’t feel guilty eating them.
KEYS TO THE PERFECT BAKED ZUCCHINI CARROT TOTS
- Fresh zucchini and carrots – you could probably find them pre-shredded, but that’s more expensive and it literally takes about 2 minutes to shred the vegetables. A box grater or food processor make the work easy
- Zucchini is a very calorie dense vegetable with a lot of water. After shredding I put the zucchini into paper towels and squeeze out as much water as possible. Then I let them sit on clean paper towels for about 10 minutes, and then squeeze them out again.
- Panko Bread Crumbs – the Panko, plus an egg, help keep the tots together once formed. To keep these gluten free, use Gluten Free Panko Bread Crumbs
- Red onion – I like the mild sweetness of red onion. The finely minced red onion adds another layer of flavor, plus a little bit of crunch and texture
- Cheddar and Parmesan cheese. The cheeses add a little bit of creaminess to the Baked Zucchini Carrot Tots, plus another layer of flavor. I use Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar, but you could also use a bolder flavor to add a little spice. I use freshly grated Parmesan cheese, because fresh is always best
- Seasonings – I use Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Dried Oregano, and Dried Basil.
BAKED OR FRIED FOR THE PERFECT TOTS?
I originally contemplated whether to bake or fry these Baked Zucchini Carrot Tots. With some of my recipes, I’ve found that they turn out better pan fried, especially when it comes to getting that beautiful golden color. I baked these the first time, and never even tried the fry method. Why would I, when I get this gorgeous color and save calories?!
The first time I made Baked Zucchini Carrot Tots I used aluminum foil and sprayed it before adding the tots. However, nearly every tot stuck to the foil so I lost that beautiful crunch on the bottom. I used Parchment Paper the next time, and sprayed the tots lightly with Cooking Spray right before putting them in the oven. No stick, no mess, and they browned perfectly.
Baked Zucchini Carrot Tots are a perfect for kids and adults alike. Yes, they’re all veggies, but your kids will love them! I eat these as a light lunch, but they would also work well as a side dish or snack.
SHOP THIS RECIPE
- 2 cups zucchini, shredded
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled shredded
- 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
- 3 Tablespoons sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 Tablespoons fresh grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet
- Place zucchini inside a couple of paper towels, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Lay 2 paper towels on a flat surface, spread zucchini on top, and let sit for about 10 minutes. Squeeze more water out of zucchini again
- Add zucchini, carrots, onion, Panko, cheeses, oregano, basil, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper to large bowl. Mix well until fully combined
- Form tots. I use about 1 1/2 Tablespoons per tot, and press mixture together in my hands to help them hold together. Place tots on baking sheet. Spray lightly with cooking spray
- Bake tots for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Flip tots after 10 minutes. NOTE: the size of the tots will determine how long they take to cook.
- Serve immediately. YIELD: 18-20 TOTS