How to Make Hotdish Like a Real Minnesotan

Move over, casserole. Everyone knows that in the Midwest we call it hotdish. Here's how to make the Minnesota specialty at home.

If you’ve ever been to the Midwest, you likely know that we have special twists on familiar foods. In Iowa, skip the sloppy joes—you’ll be having a loose meat sandwich. Venture to Wisconsin and you’ll find an Old Fashioned made with brandy, not whiskey. And in Minnesota, that pan filled to the brim with gooey, melty goodness is not a casserole, but hotdish.

To make hotdish, you’ll need three key ingredients: meat, canned soup and a starch. Now some Minnesotans will insist that it’s only hotdish if it’s topped with frozen tater tots, but others allow pasta, rice or chow mein noodles to fill in. Additional mix-ins include cheese, vegetables, French-fried onions and even potato chips. The exact combo is up to you (and whatever’s in your fridge). You can find some of our favorite hotdish recipes here.

Today we’ll walk you through the process of making a traditional tater tot hotdish. Ready to get started?

Get more must-try recipes from Minnesota.

How to Make a Classic Hotdish

We’ll walk you through how to make this classic tater tot casserole recipe. There are lots of variations on the hotdish, but this easy recipe is a good place to start. You’ll need:

  • 3/4 to 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen tater tots
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 2/3 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheese

Here’s the reason Midwesterners love hotdish so much!

Step 1: Cook the Meat

To start, break out your favorite large skillet—cast iron works great here! Heat it over medium heat, then add the ground beef (or turkey if that’s what you prefer) and onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the meat is cooked through. Drain any excess grease.

Editor’s tip: You can add more seasonings at this stage if you like! Some garlic powder or a touch of cayenne would work really well here.

Step 2: Fill Your Baking Dish

Transfer the ground beef and onion mixture to a greased, two-quart baking dish. Top with the frozen tater tots.

In mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and condensed soup and then pour it over the potatoes. Top with shredded cheese—use whatever cheese you like best. Our Test Kitchen likes a sharp cheddar with this recipe, but Swiss, Colby or Jack cheeses would also be good.

Editor’s tip: Got an extra bag of tots? Try these tater tot recipes out.

Step 3: Bake and Serve

All that’s left is to pop this hotdish into a 350ºF oven and bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until heated through.

Serve this up with a quick side salad and some homemade rolls and you’ve got dinner! If you really want a full Midwestern experience, try these dessert recipes right from the heartland. They’re just the way to finish off this hearty meal dontcha know!

Find More Hotdish Recipes From the Midwest
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Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.
Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an associate editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.