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High Protein Cauliflower Tots and Chili Cheese Cauliflower Tots

One of my favorite childhood memories has to be being picked up from school by my grandmother and going to Sonic Drive-In for chili cheese tots. Unfortunately, one could draw a strong correlation between this memory and my chunky phase as a youngster. Tater tots are amazing, but they certainly pack a calorie punch. That’s what led me to begin experimenting with a macro friendly cauliflower tots recipe.

I made a version a few months back and have been wanting to revisit for improvements to the macros and simplicity. You’ll appreciate the effort, I hope, as this updated healthy tater tot recipe provides nearly 7 grams of protein per tot with only 68 calories! With the chili and cheese, those numbers go to an equally impressive 9 grams of protein and 86 calories. Pretty awesome, right?

If you’re familiar with my recipes, you can probably guess the core ingredient for these high protein tater tots. That’s right — cauliflower rice. If you’re hesitant to try any recipe with cauliflower, this would be my recommended starting point. You’ll seriously never know it’s cauliflower, and the texture lends itself perfectly to the tater tot-ness.

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Ingredients for Cauliflower Tots

These high protein tater tots are crazy easy to make. I even used pre-made chili to save as much time as possible. You could use any canned chili or homemade chili that you like, but I used Hormel Turkey Chili with Beans. It tastes great and has amazing macros.

If you’re looking for a simple chili recipe, check out my recipes for Turkey Chili in the Instant Pot or Healthy Chili for Picky Eaters.

A ridiculously easy Instant Pot chili recipe that will save you a ton of time and energy while opening up a world of opportunity for other healthy recipes like low calorie Frito chili pie and high protein chili cheese tater tots and fries.

The most important ingredient note will be removing excess moisture from the cauliflower. I leave a few tips in the recipe, but I prefer the pan over medium-high heat method.

For the cheese, I used fat-free where possible. If you can’t find fat-free or would rather use full-fat cheese, be sure to adjust calorie and macro content.

In addition to the cauliflower used for the core tot-ness, I used pretzels to create a faux flour. I like the saltiness and slight crunch of pretzel flour. You could substitute all-purpose flour or breadcrumbs if you’d like.

The Key Ingredient for High Protein Cauliflower Tots

I added a bit of unflavored protein powder to both give it a protein boost and add a bit more density for binding. Similar to my High Protein Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks recipe, I used Now Sports Whey Concentrate unflavored. If you’re hesitant to buy unflavored protein for the fear of not using it outside of this recipe, know that you can easily flavor it with stevia, cocoa powder, and other sweeteners. Most of my recipes call for vanilla protein powder and end up as totally non-vanilla dishes. It’s the same concept here.

Update Jun 2019: If you’d rather have tots without the protein powder, check out my low carb cauliflower tots recipe.

And if that didn’t convince you, check out my list of 6 recipes to make with unflavored protein powder.

6 Unflavored Protein Powder Recipes You Have to Try

And finally, if you’d like to see everything in action, check out the video below. You may see a few differences as this was filmed for a previous, less awesome version. The full recipe is below the video.


macro friendly chili cheese tots

Macro Friendly Cauliflower Tots and Chili Cheese Tots

Yield: 16 cauliflower tots with chili and cheese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A macro friendly recipe for chili cheese tater tots with 9 grams of protein and only 85 calories per tot. 


  • 12 oz bag Frozen Cauliflower Rice, or 350g fresh, riced cauliflower
  • 1 C (112g) Shredded Parmesan, Kroger brand has 10 fewer calories per serving
  • 1 C (112g) Fat-Free Shredded Mozzarella
  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 1/2 servings (75g) Pretzels
  • 1/2 scoop (16g) Unflavored Protein Powder
  • 2 tsp (10g) Minced Garlic


  • 1/2 C (56g) Fat-Free Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 C Hormel Fat-Free Turkey Chili with Beans, 1/2 can


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. If using frozen cauliflower rice, heat the rice in the microwave as instructed or set it out to thaw ahead of time. 
  3. To remove remaining moisture, add cauliflower rice to a pan over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes or wrap it in a towel and squeeze the moisture out by hand. (I prefer the pan method, but you'll need to allow the rice to cool before adding it to the remaining ingredients.)
  4. Add pretzels to a food processor, blender, or Ziploc bag. Blend into a fine flour-like texture.
  5. Add pretzel flour and remaining ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add the cooled cauliflower rice as well. Stir until evenly mixed. 
  6. Form tots to desired size by hand. Squeeze each tot with quite a bit of force to form solid tots that don't fall apart in the process of cooking and flipping.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes before flipping each tot and cooking for 10 additional minutes. If you're making small tots, you may be able to cook straight through for 20 minutes without flipping.
  8. After the tots are finished, top with chili and cheddar cheese before popping them back in the oven for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted.


  • Each serving has 2 Smart Points.
  • Per tot (makes 16 with chili/cheese): 86 Calories | 8.75g Protein | 7.3g Carbs | 2.4g Fat
  • Per tot (without chili/cheese): 68 Calories | 6.6g Protein | 5.3g Carbs | 2.25g Fat
  • Swap bread crumbs for protein powder if you don't have it on hand.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 Tot with Chili and Cheese
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 86Total Fat: 2.4gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCarbohydrates: 7.3gProtein: 8.8g

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More Healthy Recipes You Might Like

Might I suggest pairing your giant protein tots with something like my high protein sloppy joes? These are easily the best sloppy joes I’ve ever had, though I don’t consider myself a sloppy joe connoisseur.

healthy instant pot sloppy joes recipe

Or if you need to up your veggie intake, check out my sticky sweet ground beef and broccoli.

sticky sweet ground beef and broccoli recipe

All right, I hope you enjoy these macro friendly tater tots. If you try out this recipe or any other recipe on my site, tag me in your re-creation on Instagram. I’ll be sure to share it with everyone!

A macro friendly cauliflower tots recipe with 7 grams of protein, only 70 calories, and a chili cheese tots recipe with 9 grams of protein and 85 calories. #iifym #macrofriendlyrecipes #lowcarbrecipes #highproteinrecipes
A recipe for lower carb, high-protein tater tots. #iifym #macrofriendlyrecipes #highproteinrecipes

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