This Midwest specialty is beloved for a reason.
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?
How to Make a Classic Hotdish
- 3/4 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
- 3/4 pound lean ground beef
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted
- 2 cups frozen cut green beans, thawed
- 1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
- 2 cups shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 package (32 ounces) frozen tater tots
Step 1: Prep the Pans
This hotdish recipe makes two big pans, so it’s perfect for a potluck, family gathering or church supper. The first thing you’ll want to do is grease two 11×7-in. baking dishes with a little butter or cooking spray. Then, preheat the oven to 350°.
Step 2: Cook the Meat
Next, we’re going to cook the meat. In a Dutch oven, combine the sausage, beef and onion. Place over medium heat and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Drain the grease, then return the meat to the pan.
Step 3: Combine the Ingredients
Now that the meat is cooked, we’re going to add the remaining ingredients to the Dutch oven.
Add the soup, beans, corn, half the cheese, milk, garlic powder, seasoned salt and cayenne to the meat. Stir until the mixture is well-combined.
Step 4: Top With Tots
Divide the hotdish between your greased baking dishes. Top each pan with tater tots and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover pans with aluminum foil.
Step 5: Bake It Up
Place the pans in the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for 5-10 minutes longer or until the cheese is bubbly and the tots are brown.
Editor’s Tip: If desired, you can freeze this hotdish, unbaked, for up to 3 months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking. Bake covered for 50 minutes, and uncovered for 5-10 minutes, or until bubbly.
And there you have it! Hotdish just like you’d find in Minnesota. You betcha this dish is the perfect comfort food.
Find More Hotdish Recipes From the Midwest
Running a bed-and-breakfast keeps us busy. Once in a while I get creative and try to improve on an already good dish. That’s how I came up with this one. It’s a favorite among our guests.—Ellen Berdan, Salkum, Washington
This recipe is a great example of Midwest food! Its ingredients, including the wild rice, can all be found in Minnesota. The dish is good for larger groups since the cook doesn’t need to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. —Suzanne Greenslit, Merrifield, Minnesota
Tater Tots, cheese and a mouthwatering ground beef mixture: What’s not to love in this delicious casserole one tester called “the ultimate comfort food”? —Simple & Delicious Test Kitchen
The entire family will enjoy this heartwarming, all-in-one dinner. Plus, it offers easy cleanup! —Mike Tchou, Pepper Pike, Ohio
My husband had a poor perception of healthy food until he tried this beefy casserole. The combination of pasta, oregano, mushrooms and green peppers make it a favorite in our house. —Theresa Smith, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Ground beef, sausage, cheese, and, of course, Tater Tots make this classic casserole a crowd-pleaser. Cayenne pepper and hot Italian sausage give it a pleasant kick. —Ryan Jones, Chillicothe, Illinois
You’ll please everyone in the family with this inviting and filling dish. It tastes like a chicken potpie topped with Tater Tots. —Fran Allen, St Louis, Missouri
This bacon cheeseburger tater tot casserole is the perfect dish to bribe your kids; homework, chores, piano practice—consider them done! —Deanna Zewen, Union Grove, Wisconsin
One of my best friends shared this recipe with me. My family loves it because it includes one of our favorite vegetables—broccoli. For potluck, it’s a delicious and colorful way to use up leftover ham. —Margaret Allen, Abingdon, Virginia
I combined two childhood classics—sloppy joes and Tater Tots—to create this home-style dinner that will keep your youngsters coming back for more. —Karla Wiederholt, Cuba City, Wisconsin