Appetitos Ovenable Loaded Potato Bites (Aldi)

A stock image of Appetitos Ovenable Loaded Potato Bites packaging, from Aldi
Every bit as delicious as you were hoping they would be.

The Appetitos line from Aldi has some great offerings, but they are counterbalanced by some weaker ones. For example, their cream cheese jalapenos are one of the store's best kept secrets, a titillating, restaurant-quality blending of the two titular ingredients that is pitch-perfect in texture and flavor. But then there are other ones, such as the mozzarella sticks and corn balls, that just don't quite reach their potential.

Put this one in the former category, because this is probably one of the best things they've ever served up.

As you can tell from the title, and ensuing description on the front of the box, these are bites of mashed potato, cheese, and bacon, wrapped in a breaded batter and deep-fried, that are "ovenable". There are plenty of ways that this combination can go wrong—in fact, there are always plenty of ways any frozen product can go terribly wrong—so as great as the combination sounded (and looked), I still went in with plenty of reservations. Would the texture be too soft? Would the internal mashed potatoes be too hard? Would any of the flavors be accurate?

They were answered in a matter of seconds: All of the tastes are pretty distinguishable, with potatoes, cheese, and butter all coming to the forefront. The bacon is there through the standard (and cheap) smoke flavoring, but isn't very pronounced—if you're in this for the bacon, don't even bother. The mashed potato texture stays flawless on the inside, remaining soft even though the outer layer gets nice and crispy after just fifteen minutes in the oven (on 450 degree heat). One of my pet peeves are frozen products that don't noticeably get crispier despite the time it takes to prepare in the oven (versus the quickness of the microwave), but these wouldn't be out of place being served for $8 a serving in a bar or restaurant somewhere.

This can't even be slowed down in the value department, where a box goes for a mere $1.99. As I said, these would easily go in a restaurant for four times that amount, and even in a regular supermarket for double the price, so there's no denying that this is a great bargain. Each “ball” is the perfect size, and you get about ten or twelve of them in a box, which is the perfect amount for an appetizer or side dish for two. These are unfortunately only available as a special buy, which is the biggest drawback, because that means availability is limited. Stock up on them while you can, because these are fantastic.

OBVIOUS TIP: Dip them in some sour cream for an added blast of tastiness.

Overall: 9/10. A delicious blending of potatoes, cheese, bacon (flavoring), and butter, all encased in a golden brown batter. Oven prep yields crispy, restaurant-quality balls that are the perfect size for a side dish or appetizer for two, and that could easily be served at restaurants for $8 a serving. Appetitos products are largely hit-and-miss, but this is up there with the cream cheese jalapenos as the best this line has to offer. Biggest (and only?) drawback: These are only available occasionally as a special buy, so if you see them, be sure to grab them before they're gone.