TV Shows & Podcasts

In the Library with Toni Tipton-Martin: How Tater Tot Hotdish Became a Minnesota Classic

It's even a rite of passage to enter Minnesota congress.

Published Mar. 13, 2023.

“To the people who grew up eating it, hotdish is not a food but a memory,” Cook's Country's Editor in Chief Toni Tipton-Martin explains.  

This Midwestern casserole was invented during the Great Depression to stretch food for a more filling meal. Nowadays, many hold fond memories of the savory combination of beef, vegetables, and creamy sauce under a crisp tater tot topping. 

The first published recipe for hotdish was in a 1930s community cookbook published by the Grace Lutheran Ladies Aid from Mankato, Minnesota. The 90-year-old recipe was submitted by Mrs. C.W. Anderson. It’s shifted since then; her version included hamburger meat, canned tomato soup, peas, Creamette brand elbow macaroni, and celery (written in many community cookbooks in loose measurements). 

Hotdish has become so important to Minnesota culture that today making it has become a rite of passage to joining Minnesota congress. Learn more about the evolution of the dish in the video above. 

Try your hand at making our comforting version of Tater Tot Hotdish at home. This recipe calls for making a homemade cream sauce with mushrooms, milk, and broth that binds the beef filling, giving it a velvety texture that nicely contrasts the golden tater tots.

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

This is a members' feature.