Hotdish vs Casserole

By Scaron
Created March 7, 2017
I didn't grow up with the term casserole (or hot plate) beyond it being the name of an oven-safe dish in the cabinet, so this mystifies me. What the heck are these things? And why do some people swear by them? MORE+ LESS-

When I was in Minnesota a few months ago, someone mentioned making hotdishes and then quickly corrected themselves to say casseroles. Honestly, I had a vague idea of what a casserole was, but no idea what a hotdish was.

To me, casserole means a shallow oven-safe dish. In other words, it’s something you make a dish in, not an actual recipe or dish. But it turns out that to middle America, these terms are uber-important in their wintertime eating repertoire.

A hotdish (it’s one word, from what I have read) is a one-dish meal that has a cream-of-something soup, vegetables (usually from a can), some starch-like noodles or potatoes and a meat, says Urban Dictionary, and Tater Nugget Hot Dish seems to be a classic version.

The term hotdish is a Minnesota thing, I have read. And as my dear colleague Susan pointed out, that name can be confusing for kids – who are often told to stay away from hot … well … dishes.

A casserole is similar to a hotdish. Usually a condensed soup, a starch, etc., cooked in the oven in a shallow baking dish. It might not have the meat or veggies though, or it could be all veggies. There is an awesome collection of casserole recipes here on Tablespoon. Check them out.

So, this all begs the question: Have I ever had a casserole or hotdish? Have I made one? Actually, the answer to both is yes.

A few months back, I made Creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Crunchy Topping and it was a huge hit. Turns out that is a casserole.

As for eating, I have had many – particularly when I was a child:

Click here for Creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Crunchy Topping recipe.

Click here for the Tablespoon Casserole Recipe Collection.

Do you have a favorite hotdish or casserole? Share! And which term do you prefer?


Sarah W. Caron (aka scaron) is a food writer, editor and blogger who writes about family-friendly foods and raising a healthy family at Sarah’s Cucina Bella.