All these years I had no idea that my mother-in-law's "Chow Mein Casserole" was actually a Chow Mein Hotdish (aka Minnesota Hotdish). But it makes perfect sense, given where we're from. Being that we're from Winnipeg, which happens to be in the Canadian province of Manitoba, which lies directly above the states of Minnesota and North Dakota, it now makes perfect sense that she'd have a recipe for Minnesota Hotdish in her arsenal.
My mother-in-law passed away when my kids were pretty young, so they never really had the pleasure of enjoying her cooking. I, on the other hand, did and was fortunate enough to get many of her recipes. This recipe is one of my husband's faves and a total comfort food to him.
One of the main reasons I started this blog was so that my kids and future generations would have my recipes. I wasn't so lucky. And although it pains me that I don't have any of my Baba's recipes, I'm eternally grateful that I have many of my Mom's, Grandma's, Great Grandma's and even one of my Great Great Grandmother's recipes for Date Nut Loaf ! And fortunately, I was able to get several of Grandma Jean's recipes; this being one of them. I am grateful that my kids get to enjoy at least some of her cooking through me.
When I was growing up in Winnipeg there were a lot hockey tournaments in Minnesota and we regularly billeted Minnesota hockey players in Winnipeg. I'd say we were pretty good buddies with the state of Minnesota. And being that it was a hop skip and a jump from Winnipeg, it's really no surprise this little gem found its way across the border!
💭What is Chow Mein Hotdish (Minnesota Hotdish)?!
Hotdish, the unofficial state cuisine of Minnesota, is a comfort food staple found in households, not just in Minnesota, but across the Upper Midwest United States. Hotdish is a type of casserole that incorporates a mixture of simple, thrifty ingredients and dump and stir method. Being thrifty is the reason it's also referred to as poor man's chow mein. You can read more about the hotdish HERE.
The Anatomy of a Hot Dish:
- Protein: Ground beef (hamburger), shredded chicken, canned tuna
- Vegetable: Canned corn, canned green beans
- Starch: rice, macaroni, mashed potatoes
- Sauce: Canned cream of anything soup: cream of mushroom, cream of celery soup, cream of chicken soup, cheddar
- Crispy Topping: Tater Tots, French’s French Fried Onions, chow mein noodles, crushed potato chips
The only difference is that this Minnesota hot dish calls for celery and onion instead of the canned veggies. I usually serve it with mixed vegetables on the side, but you could easily add them to the dish!
📖Variations & Substitutions
- Add-ins - water chestnuts, bamboo shoots or bean sprouts
- Hamburger - You could also substitute ground turkey or chicken (this will lighten it up as well)
- Rice - You could use white rice, wild rice, brown rice, jasmine rice or cauliflower rice (to lighten it)
- Soup- if you don't have any canned cream soup on hand, check out my post on how to make a cream of anything soup substitute
🍲The Difference between a Casserole and a HotDish
Although all hotdishes are casseroles, the reverse is not true. Hotdish is a general term that has been used since the early 18th century and applies to South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. Hot dishes use more condensed soup varieties like cream of mushroom, while casseroles often use stock, vegetable juices and wine. Both casseroles and hot dishes have become all-in-one staple meals in North America that can be found at the majority of social functions including banquets, family dinners, thanksgiving, funerals and potlucks.
Casseroles are king when it comes to easy comfort food. And if you talk to anyone from the upper midwestern United States (or Manitoba) they'll most certainly agree that this Chow Mein Hotdish epitomizes comfort food!
🥗 Side Dishes
I like to serve this Chow Mein Casserole with mixed veggies on the side, a salad or a vegetable side dish. Here are some ideas:
👪 Serving Size
This Chow Mein Casserole recipe serves 8. However, you can half, or even double or triple the recipe if you're feeding a large family, simply by clicking on the blue serving number and selecting the number of servings you'd like. The ingredient quantities will automatically adjust. You'll just need a larger (or additional) casserole dishes.
For this mock chow mein, you'll need a skillet (frying pan), a large 3 quart casserole dish (9X13) (affiliate link).
Store this Chow Mein Hot dish in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge. It can be frozen for up to 3 months in a sealed container.
If you love comfort food casseroles, you're probably going to love my Stuffed Green Pepper Casserole too!
If you're looking for easy recipes, you'll love this one! And as far as comfort foods go, this Chow Mein Hotdish casserole is the ultimate.
Did you make this recipe? Please RATE THE RECIPE below!
What others are saying:
"It's a hit with my family!!! Super easy. I made it with ground turkey, added couple cloves of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes!!!!"⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
📋Chow Mein Hotdish Recipe
- 3 lbs ground beef * I use lean ground beef
- 1.5 cups chopped celery
- ½ cup water
- 2 whole medium onions
- 2 cups cooked rice * I used brown instant rice
- 10 ounce - can of cream of tomato soup/condensed tomato soup
- 10 ounce - can of cream of mushroom soup
- ½ -14 oz pkg dry (crispy) chow mein noodles
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- dry (crispy) chow mein noodles
- additional soya sauce
- green onions, chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/ 175 degrees C and spray the inside of a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Brown ground beef in large skillet with chopped onion over medium- high heat.
- Cook celery in ½ cup water in microwave (covered) for 4- 5 minutes until soft. Drain off remaining water.
- Add celery, tomato soup, mushroom soup and rice to ground beef.
- Combine ground beef mixture with chow mein noodles (dry) into prepared casserole dish and sprinkle on soya sauce.
- Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Serve warm.
- Garnish with additional dry chow mein noodles, and soy sauce and green onions, if desired.
📋More Casserole Recipes!
- Carrot Casserole
- Potato, Spinach and Beef Casserole (Gluten-free)
- Turnip and Apple Casserole
- Stuffed Green Pepper Casserole (Gluten-free)
- Potato, Spinach and Beef Casserole (Gluten-free)
- Easy Tuna Casserole
- Ukrainian Daughter’s Crock Pot Casserole
IS SOYA SAUCE AND SOY SAUCE THE SAME THING?
Hi Lee Ann ,
Yes it is ?For some reason we use the British term ‘soya’ instead of ‘soy’ in Canada! But they are interchangeable.
It's a hit with my family!!! Super easy. I made it with ground turkey, added couple cloves of garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes!!!!
That’s great, Lisa! Glad you liked it.
Sounds like a healthy version with a little bit of spice?
Really interesting! I have actually never heard of a Hot Dish and I grew up only one province over. We had these type of dishes but never used that name. I can imagine it's a great way to feed a large amount of people or one hungry hockey player on the cheap!
I know, Bernice. I hadn't heard of it referred to as "hot dish" in Canada either. It wasn't until I was researching my post that I realized that was it's OTHER NAME 🙂 Oh yeah, hungry hockey players are a great target audience!
I've never heard of a hot dish, but it sure sounds like total comfort food, and a great way to feed a crowd.
I also have never heard of a hot dish. Looks easy and budget friendly to make!
Yes, it's very budget friendly, Cynthia!
My parents are going to love this. Thank you so much for sharing it. I can't wait to make this for them this weekend. It looks so comforting!
Thanks, Jo! Yes, it is very comforting and easy to make. Hope you all enjoy it!
Melanie @ Bon Appet' Eat
My kids, well everyone at home, would love this! I'm pinning it for later! Looks so good!
Hope you like it - it's such a comfort food for us!
Yummy and delicious, definitely a family crowd pleaser!
I’ve been to two different grocery stores and can’t find cream of tomato. Will condensed tomato soup work?
Sorry you had that trouble, Missy! Yes it’s the same thing. I think maybe some brands call it cream of tomato ?
Hello. While the recipe looks delicious and adaptable, I'm actually interested in the orange casserole dish with the high, angled handles--it looks just like one my uncle used to own, and which I have inherited. He said it is an enamel-covered dutch oven, but I'm not sure, and don't want to damage it by using it incorrectly. Please, can you telI me what it is? I would be very grateful for your help. Thank you.
That is a Rachel Ray casserole dish I won in a recipe contest last year! It can go in the oven but not on the stove top.
If your uncle said it’s a Dutch oven you have then you can use it on the stove top AND in the oven!I also have a Dutch oven that’s similar in colour. I hope that helps!
Thank you! Once I dug the dish/lid out of the packing box, I could see that it is ceramic instead of enameled metal. It is not a Dutch oven, but still versatile and in good condition. I look forward to using it, and holding onto that little bit of connection to him. Thank you!
Wonderful! Enjoy that casserole dish and the memories it brings 🙂
I have made something similar to this but used cream of celery soup instead of the cream of mushroom since one of my kids hates mushrooms. Also if I use ground chicken instead of ground beef I use cream of chicken soup.
Hi there! A few questions:
Do I cook the casserole first before freezing?
And do the chow mein noodles go on top before freezing if it is frozen uncooked?
I am preparing a lot of dishes prior to surgery and this looks delicious!
Yes, cook it prior to freezing! I would put the crunchy chow mein noodles on after it's warmed up, if you like them crunchy. But I have eaten them after they've been frozen too. If you are looking for more dishes I would recommend my Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole and my Lasagna, as well as my Stuffed Green Pepper Casserole.
Good luck with your surgery!