Minnesota Hotdish

Hotdish? I learned a lot about Hotdish from fellow blogger Audrey of Minnesota Prairie Roots Blog. And yes, turns out we call it a casserole around here. This blog post is a collaborative effort as Audrey lives in Minnesota.  I wrote to her for enlightenment on Hotdish.

Audrey wrote when  I inquired about Hotdish 

Now, on to hotdish, which you likely know as “casseroles” in your area of the country. Same thing. Simply a mix of foods combined in one glass casserole dish or a 9 x 13 cake pan. Tater Tot Hotdish is Minnesota’s signature hotdish consisting of cooked hamburger mixed with a vegetable and a condensed creamed soup and then topped with tater tots and shredded cheddar cheese. I hope I got that right. I haven’t made it in years and actually seldom make hotdish, with the exception of Chicken Wild Rice Hotdish.
Hotdish has always been a staple of church potlucks and family reunions in Minnesota. Easy to make. Serves a lot. And everyone loves a good hotdish. My mom always made one with hamburger, noodles and tomato juice with cheese stirred in. It was a favorite growing up.

In 2006, the Minnesota Historical Society Press even published a book, “Hot Dish Heaven–Classic Casseroles from Midwest Kitchens” by Ann L. Burckhardt. And, yes, our DC legislators hold an annual hot dish competition. You can purchase cookbook online by clicking link. 

And guess what honor I received from Audrey?

The State of Minnesota does hereby grant honorary residency to Ruth Ella Hendricks upon successful completion of the unofficial state culinary dish, Tater Tot Hotdish. Congratulations! 


America’s Test Kitchen recipe for this Minnesota Hotdish was on the PBS channel the other night. Here is the link to the video from the episode. Although I don’t remember purchasing a single Tater Tot in my life, watching them put this Hotdish together made me think about making it. With just two of us in the house it seemed a good recipe to try on the larger family when I visited in Ohio. I used a 2 pound bag of Simple Truth Potato Puffs from their local Kroger grocery store. I saw the brand Tater Tots had cottonseed oil in them and I thought that can’t be a good thing. I doubled the amount of the meat to 3 pounds.  I omitted the mushrooms as several family members do not care for them but I read that if you needed to make if vegetarian you could use just mushrooms in the creamy bottom layer and no meat.

When I told my friend Joanne about the Hotdish she told me how growing up they didn’t have casseroles and she learned about them in high school cooking class. Her teenage son and his friends would devour her Tater Tot Green Bean Casserole when they lived in Omaha Nebraska. And after talking to her, I used the green beans instead of the frozen peas and corn in the original recipe.  

3 pounds of Angus ground round sautéed with chopped. sweet onion and four garlic cloves

My fellow blogger and friend Audrey of Minnesota Prairie Roots blog post says “Here’s a link to a story about small town Minnesota which includes a photo of a sandwich board advertising Tater Tot Hotdish”

Photograph of sandwich sign used with permission from Audrey


There is an event in Faribault Minnesota that sounds like a lot of fun

Audrey told me about the Flannel Formal 

At the Faribault Flannel Formal last Saturday, a Best Lumberjack Hotdish Contest was part of the annual event attended by about 500, all called upon to dress in flannel (like Paul Bunyan).

And a Snowplow naming contest too? “…as I’m watching the news last evening, I was reminded of another recent hotdish “thing” in Minnesota, the naming of a snowplow as “Blader Tot Hotdish.” Here’s a blog post I wrote about this Minnesota Department of Transportation contest and winners”

You can see why I asked Audrey to help me with my HOTDISH blogpost.  I could’t have done it without her. 

8 thoughts on “Minnesota Hotdish

  1. Minnesota sounds like a great place. I love “hotdish” but never knew it was hotdish. Tater tots are one of my favorite things (right up there with Pie Day). Nice to know others are like I am and do not like mushrooms and they can be eliminated from the dish. I’d worry more about them than a bit of cottonseed oil. Audrey and Ruth, you are the dynamic duo for this one! I may even turn my thermostat down, put a chill on the place and wear my flannel shirt at dinner. dc (Florida guy)

  2. I too make Tater Tot Hotdish for my family. I do not cook the meat ahead though. It all goes in the casserole dish and into the oven. 45 min. later out comes hotdish! Terrific with ketchup.

  3. I heard about the snow plow names and how fun is that!
    also, the Hotdish was interesting to learn about here – and a warm tater tot dish is perfect for MinneSNOWda

  4. Ruth, thank you for sharing a little bit of Minnesota, namely hotdish, with your readers. I enjoyed collaborating with you by providing hotdish information. This was fun! With love from snowy southern Minnesota.

  5. I learned about hotdish from Molly Yeh (food network). She lives on the Minnesota/North Dakota border and has made them on her show. Whatever they are I appreciate their ease and good taste.

  6. In Missouri, we’re apparently too far south to call it Hot Dish, but we have a similar Tator Tot recipe that uses Cream of Chicken Soup in the meat mixture, topped with green beans and then the tots. (So you can avoid your mushrooms) 😉

  7. Minnesota is indeed an interesting place. (As I suspect every place is in it’s own way.) 🙂 I grew up eating casseroles; and after 25 years in MN, I still don’t call it “hotdish” (though I do know what it is now). 😉

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