Someone’s gotta say it: Breadsticks are bullshit. When it comes to appetizers that you can tack onto a pizza order, these things sit at the bottom of my list. I’m already about to eat a bread-based meal—why would I want to load up on bread before I’ve even touched the pizza? Breadsticks are nothing more than repetitive filler, and I never want seconds. This is why Domino’s new Loaded Tots, a permanent addition to the menu, are such a refreshing alternative.
Domino’s new Loaded Tots are exactly what they sound like: a single layer of tater tots that’s topped, baked, and finished off with different ingredients. The new appetizer comes in three varieties:
- Melty 3-Cheese: Topped with Alfredo sauce, mozzarella, cheddar, and provolone
- Cheddar Bacon: Topped with bacon, mozzarella, cheddar, and Garlic Parmesan sauce
- Philly Cheese Steak: Topped with Alfredo sauce, steak, onions, green peppers, and a blend of mozzarella and cheddar
The tots are currently available nationwide, and Domino’s is highlighting them as a Super Bowl snack option. A press release sent to The Takeout notes that this is the first time Domino’s has added a potato dish to the national menu.
My favorite were the Melty 3-Cheese tots (pictured at the top), which surprised me. I’m usually a bells-and-whistles kinda guy, but in this case, the simplest version was the most ideal.
The key element tying these 3-Cheese tots together is the creamy Alfredo sauce. Without it, you’d just get a relatively plain tot with a shell of cheese, destined to congeal within moments. But the Alfredo kept the tots from drying out too much and added a layer of smoothness, which kept the cheesy tots from growing monotonous.
A hit of acid would have been nice, like some pickled jalapeños, but you can’t customize these on the website just yet (though you can omit ingredients if you like). Keep some hot sauce handy.
The Philly Cheese Steak tots were the most meal-like of all three. I particularly appreciated the fragrance and the flavor imparted by the bell peppers and onions here, since the other two options didn’t have veggies on them at all.
While the steak on these Cheese Steak tots was just sort of... present, it was a negligible amount of beef and didn’t add much to each forkful. In fact, I would just 86 the beef and enjoy an order of these with my vegetarian friends. Again, this one’s pretty plain without adding some acid, so whip out the hot sauce for these too.
My least favorite Loaded Tots by far were the Cheddar Bacon ones, thanks to one unwelcome element: the Garlic Parmesan sauce.
Bacon and cheddar on tots is completely fine—good, even. But that sauce really put me off. I assumed it was ranch dressing when I first tasted it. I wasn’t far off; nosing around in the ingredients of the Garlic Parmesan sauce, I found that it’s oil- and egg-based (aka loaded with mayo).
When it’s heated too much, mayo gets a little funny. It grows thicker, and the oil breaks out of its emulsion, leaving behind a gel-like residue that is just about as appealing as it sounds. Add to this the fact that Garlic Parmesan sauce has the same slightly sour tang as ranch, and the whole experience was a bit off-putting. Cheddar Bacon tots have very low leftover potential, especially if you plan to reheat them.
You might be wondering: What about the quality of tots themselves? Well, don’t expect a batch of tater tots fresh from the fryer. Once coated in toppings, these tots are oven-baked, so only some exposed areas will be mildly crunchy. If you’ve ever baked frozen tater tots at home, you know they need to be baked for a long while before they get crisp. (An air fryer works much better.)
Domino’s Loaded Tots are a relatively soft appetizer. You’ll need a fork to eat them. But if you see any toasted brown bits, do not skip them—that’s the caramelized cheese from the time the Loaded Tots spent in the oven, and they’re the best bites of the whole thing.
Whether or not Loaded Tots are worth the $6.99 is up to you. Domino’s sent me these tots to sample, but in terms of portion size, they’re just shy of what I’d be happy paying for. And if you’re looking for crispy tots straight from the fryer, you should skip them altogether.
If I were putting together a Domino’s order for my Super Bowl party, I’d probably opt for the bone-in wings, but mostly because tots are a starchy starter to pair with pizza. Between Loaded Tots and breadsticks, however, I’m Team Tots all the way. If you do add Domino’s tots to your game day spread, I’d start simple with the Melty 3-Cheese.
From a pizza restaurant’s perspective, the appeal of offering bread-based apps is clear: The shop is decked out with specialty equipment specifically for making bread, and breadsticks are a good way to expand the menu using ingredients you already have. But for this eater, Domino’s has better starters than its bread, which is why the wings, and now the Loaded Tots, are key elements of any order.