The road to becoming an Iowan … paved with Tater Tot Casseroles

So last Thursday, the weather in Iowa looked like this :

The utopian experience of Iowa in January.
The utopian experience of Iowa in January.

So naturally we hunkered down to a meal that looked like this :

The finished product -- the (apparently) Iowa culinary mainstay of the Tater Tot Casserole
The finished product — the (apparently) Iowa culinary mainstay of the Tater Tot Casserole

If your mouth is watering from the above photo, here is the recipe for this masterpiece :



Cream of whatever-you-have Soup

Assorted vegetables

Tater Tots


1. Brown hamburger.  Mix soup and vegetables with hamburger.

2. Pour hamburger mixture into an oven-safe pan.  Top with Tater Tots.  Bake at 350 degrees until the Tots are crisp.

That’s it.

And my neighbors LOVE IT.

The Boss wasn’t super thrilled about the aesthetics of the meal.

Him: “…. What’s that?”


Him: ” …….”

Me: “Have you ever heard of it?”

Him: “I’m not an Iowan, and I’m sane … so no.”

Me: “It comes highly recommended.”

Him: ” …… Needs more tots.”


Him: ” …… Needs more tots.”

I placed this masterpiece in the oven and uploaded the above photo to my social media.  I couldn’t believe the response.

In fact, the Facebook post I made about inching closer to learning this secret handshake of Iowans garnered me about as much engagement as that one time I got engaged.

Iowans from all over the state checked in to offer pointers on proper Tot placement, declare their love for the casserole AND EVEN SHARE THEIR OWN PHOTOS OF THEIR TATER TOT CASSEROLES IN THE OVEN THAT VERY NIGHT.

It’s taking over the state, people.

The final verdict of this meal?

1. Needs more tots. (Dammit A) Based on a recommendation from a Facebook friend, perhaps they will be baked separately to ensure proper crispness (and avoid the unfortunate, slightly cold center of the tots that we experienced on the inaugural run).

2. Leftovers are satisfactory.

3. Overall–an easy, comfort food.  Look past the sight of its slightly regurgitated charm and appreciate its hearty sensibility.  In a way–Tater Tot Casserole is just like many Iowans I’ve met in my seven years in the state : perhaps a little visually intimidating, but ultimately will deliver a warm experience, and will always be there to help you out in a blizzard.

As mentioned, I have lived in Iowa for seven years.  And with the triumph of the Tater Tots, I feel like I am inching closer to entering the authentic Iowan club.  Here’s the scorecard :

Successfully make and eat Tater Tot Casserole : completed

Attend an ISU/Iowa/UNI game : completed

Attend the Iowa State Fair :

Raise pigs : completed

Grow corn : completed

Ride in a piece of farm machinery :

Greet someone with a farmer wave : completed

Watch “Field of Dreams” :

Attend the National Hobo Convention : completed

Detassel :

Be within tugging distance of the Governor’s mustache : completed

Enter something into the county fair :

Interview a presidential hopeful during the campaign avalanche : completed

Watch “The Music Man” :

Visit the Amana Colonies :

Get stuck in the snow : completed

Ok, Iowans.  Please comment below with your Tater Tot praise and/or advice OR EVEN BETTER tell me what I must do to finally, officially join your ranks.

Still trying,



2 thoughts on “The road to becoming an Iowan … paved with Tater Tot Casseroles

  1. Kristian January 13, 2015 / 8:57 am

    You should add State Fair to your viewing list. The original Iowa version, not the shitty Texas remake.

  2. Mom January 12, 2015 / 11:45 am

    Minnesota Hot Dish is it’s other name. Congrats! I imagine A prefers your lasagna.

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