Wild Rice Hot Dish

Being a fairly new transplant to the midwest, Wisconsin in particular, I’ve been getting used to the unique lingo here. Bubblers are water fountains, Brat Fry means the brats are grilled not fried, Chicken Booyah is a burn-your-tongue-hot chicken stew of sorts, a request for Soda will get you a pop and a request for pop will you get some seriously weird looks, and Cheeseheads are…well, everywhere. These people take their football pride very seriously.

Another term I am becoming familiar with is the almighty hot dish. That’s a casserole to we midwest foreigners. For every casserole recipe in existence, I’ve learned there is a hot dish reincarnate. And the one I’ve wanted to recreate to be healthier and less-processed is the wild rice hot dish. I, for one, had never seen a casserole quite like it and wanted to conquer one cuisine of my midwest home that didn’t have to do with brats or beer.

Wild Rice Hot Dish

This particular hot dish, although belied by the long list of ingredients, comes together quickly and is thrown in a casserole dish to bake merrily for nearly two hours. Hot from the oven, the hearty wild rice is tender and plump and infused with simple but delicious flavors. The tasty crunch of almonds adorning the top of the hot dish adds a unique contrast to the hamburger and wild rice and makes an everyday casserole seem a bit special.

What To ServeI served this with steamed green peas and some fresh-baked whole wheat bread and it was an incredibly satisfying meal. Hot dish heaven, so to speak.

Wild Rice Hot Dish

One Year Ago: Thanksgiving Dinner 101
Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Wild Rice Hot Dish {a.k.a. Casserole}

Yield: Serves 4-6

Wild Rice Hot Dish {a.k.a. Casserole}

Note: Because straight wild rice can be fairly expensive, I usually buy a packaged blend of wild and brown rice or wild and long grain rice. It is a bit cheaper and tastes delicious and hearty.


  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef or lean ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds


  1. In a small bowl, cover the wild rice with cold water and let it soak for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a large non-stick skillet (12-inch) over medium heat, brown the ground beef with the salt and pepper until no longer pink. Drain the grease from the meat. Transfer the meat to a paper-towel lined plate and wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Return the skillet to the stovetop and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Cook, until the onions are translucent and the most of the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms, about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to combine. Continue stirring and cook the mixture for about 1 minute over medium heat until it is cooked and golden.
  4. Slowly pour in the broth and milk and whisk to incorporate. Add the seasoning salt, pepper, parsley, thyme and paprika and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
  5. Drain the wild rice. Stir it in to the sauce with the browned hamburger. Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased 9X13-inch baking dish.
  6. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the almonds and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the almonds are golden and toasted and the rice is tender. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe

53 Responses to Wild Rice Hot Dish {a.k.a. Casserole}

  1. Janet says:

    Love this dish! I had been wondering about using this recipe in a crockpot- looking to add to my list of recipes that I dont have to use the oven with…the HOT Las Vegas summer is almost upon us! I made this in the casserole crock pot and it worked great!!! I cooked it on high for 21/2 hours.

  2. Janet says:

    I made this last night for dinner and LOVED it! Such a great way to jazz up plain old ground turkey! I make tons of your recipes but don’t really comment, but decided that I should!! I used condensed milk mixed with water because I happened to have an open can and needed to use it up for the “milk” and it worked great! I tried doing slice my almonds but it wasn’t happening, so I just threw chopped almonds on and it tasted great. Didn’t look quite as pretty, but who cares! 🙂

  3. Stephanie says:

    I love this dish. If I wanted to double it with less meat (1 lb for a double recipe) do you think it would work in the same casserole dish or should I just bake two. I want to use it as a side for thanksgiving and need to save oven space.

  4. Bonnie says:

    I’m excited to try this recipe but am wondering what I could use instead of mushrooms. We have a picky eater in this house 🙂

  5. Marlene says:

    I have lived in Minnesota all of my 79 years. It is always “hot dish” here. It is also always “pop” here. I have never called a water fountain a “bubbler.”

  6. Pam says:

    I grew up in Michigan and had never heard of a hot dish before finding this recipe! We call them casseroles. This was absolutely delicious! I used turkey and added peas in when I added the almonds. This will definitely be a regular in our house! Thank you!

  7. Amanda Z says:

    This was very good, a really hearty dish! Hubs and I loved this, both took leftovers for lunch the next day, this will go in my tested and approved recipes!

  8. Klem Kadiddlehopper says:

    A Minnesotan by birth and a N Dakotan by marriage, I can assure you that the proper term for this is ‘Hot Dish’…a ‘casserole’ is what you cook the hot dish in.

    • Cherie says:

      Sorry Klem, the dish is called a “casserole dish” and the food cooked in it is called a “casserole”. I’m a Mid-West girl from birth.

  9. Clarissa Meegan says:

    We ate this tonight and it’s always wholesome and hits the spot on a cold day! I changed out the ground beef for turkey and it was a hit! Thanks Mel!

  10. Christine says:

    NW Wisconsinite here! Wild rice hot dish is excellent but I would never use a blend of wild rice and brown – just not the same 🙂 Wild rice is great in soup, turkey stuffing as someone mentioned and also great plain with a little melted butter on it 🙂 There are a couple of other hot dishes with wild rice where you put the raw wild rice with broth in a 9×13 sprinkle dry onion soup mix on it lay cut up chicken pieces on top of that and pour a can of cream of whatever soup (chicken/mushroom) on top and bake. It is a fantasic meal in one pan. LOOK UP THE RECIPE as you can see I don’t have the exact recipe listed above, I don’t want anybody upset that I messed up their meal. You can also substitute pork chops for the chicken.

    And up in the NW pop is pop and a water fountain is a water fountain. I think it is ore of a southern WI thing calling pop soda and a water fountain a bubbler. Cooked wild rice freezes great to have ready when you want to put together a quick creamy wild rice soup or have handy to serve under a chicken kiev. Oh, and it is a good substitute for noodles in chicken noodle soup!

  11. Mary G says:

    I came here about a week ago looking for something else to do ground beef other than tacos, meatloaf and burger. Upon first glance at this recipe I was like “no way is this going to be any good” and continued my search. I didn’t find anything else I liked better and I kept thinking about this recipe. I kept telling myself that I haven’t made anything not worth eating once from Mels collection of recipes. So I decided to try something new.

    I loved it! I ate half the dish. It was wonderful and made me feel warm inside and out. I’m so glad that I decided to give a go and it just proves that I don’t think I’ll ever find a recipe I don’t like here.

  12. Gay W says:

    I grew up in northern Minnesota and the term hotdish was a normal term. bubbler is strictly a Wisconsin term. I grew up with the work pop or coke for a soda. Wild rice is the best and I am going to try this recipe. I normally make it with chicken and actually add it to my Thanksgiving stuffing too. I have never heard of a brat fry though just brat barn meaning that there is a store that is selling brats outside for a couple bucks. I also lived in Wisconsin for awhile and learned about wonderful cheese curds!! They are the best

  13. Sarah W says:

    This was fantastic. We had it tonight for dinner. I did make one substitution it was so good I just have to share. We used chicken instead of ground beef. I had it left over from a rotisserie I had, and needed to use it up and it sounded like it would go great in this dish, and boy was I right!

  14. mary says:

    to amy n and husband

    my tater tot hotdish has alot of mixed vegtables in it the least cream of mushroom i can use milk with the soup hamburger cooked with onions and salt and pepper tots on top and if you want cheese on the tots(hubby)

  15. Char says:

    Omg!! I was browsing the internet for a wild rice hotdish (yes, I grew up in northern MN now in FL) that is similar to my mom’s; from what I can remember, because she would create dishes and not always write down how she created some of her amazing dishes and I came across this site…..love it for the great ideas and laughs about ‘HOME’.
    **To Amy N and her husbands favorite Tator tot hot dish….this was a staple in my family. I don’t know about yours but my mom added browned hamburger, frozen corn, cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups with a little milk….stir it up and toss it in the oven until the tots were done. Yummy and oh, so easy!

    Thanks for the great ideas and laughs 🙂

  16. Have your tried freezing this once it’s been baked? I’m gathering some recipes that freeze well to make for some college students and wondered if this would be a good option. Thanks~

    • Mel says:

      Jeanette – no, I haven’t frozen this, baked or unbaked. I’m guessing it would fare fine frozen but if you can, I’d freeze it unbaked and then just add 20-40 minutes on to the baking time. Good luck gathering your recipes!

  17. queenann says:

    I made this. My kids wouldn’t touch it (no surprise. they are the world’s pickiest) but my husband and I liked it a lot. What I love about it is that it’s made with easy to find ingredients, but it’s very different from the other meals I make a lot. Thanks for some menu variety. Yum.

    Not sure if it’s just regional, but wild rice doesn’t seem to be that expensive where I live.

    • Mel says:

      queenann – sorry the kiddos didn’t love this but I’m glad you and your husband enjoyed it! And I’m glad you didn’t have to break the bank on the wild rice.

  18. Molly in MN says:

    Sooo going to have this for Sunday dinner tomorrow!! My husband loves wild rice and I love me a good hot dish (what can I say I’m a good Lutheran girl from MN). 🙂

    Some of those terms are totally Wisconsin – I didn’t become familiar with most of them until college when I had a roommate from there. My favorite was a going to the “time machine” to get cash – had something to do with the brand of ATM machine I believe.

  19. Jodie says:

    I have lived in WI my entire life, but in 3 different areas (west, south and now east) I didn’t even know what a “bubbler” was until I went to college, when I met people from other parts of the state. And to me it is pop 🙂 This recipe looks good! My aunt gave me some wild rice and I have been looking for recipes to use it in. Can’t wait to try it!

  20. This looks like a Haute Dish to me! That is coming from a Midwest Girl and Wild Rice MN girl at that! Going to try 🙂

  21. Mel says:

    Cindi and Alisha – thanks for keeping me on my toes! I forgot to add the step in the recipe to drain the water (and brown the hamburger with the salt and pepper). I’ve edited the recipe to include draining the rice (sorry it was mushy, Alisha!).

  22. Cindi says:

    I’m back to say that this dish turned out very delicious. It wasn’t too dry at all, even with draining the water from the wild rice. Very tasty on a cold Utah night! I will make this again!

  23. Alisha says:

    I made this tonight for dinner– it was a hit! Even the hubs liked it & I’ve told you before how big that is! This will definitely be working its way into my meal planning from now on.

    I have the same questions as Cindi. I DIDN’T drain the water from the rice but think I should have. The rice seemed a bit mushy, but it was still yum. Also, I used the salt & pepper to season the beef but it didn’t say exactly what to do with it.

    Thanks for another great one Mel!

  24. Monica says:

    This looks delicious, I love wild rice! I am from the midwest, grew up in Iowa, and the ‘hot dish’ and ‘soda’ are definitely not a midwest thing there. We call them casseroles and pop. I had never heard of a hot dish either!

  25. Matt S. says:

    I made this tonight and it was delish! The almonds added a great crunch. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    P.S. In the Pacific Northwest we call these types of dishes casseroles.

  26. Cindi says:

    I have this in the oven right now! I do have a couple of questions, though. The recipe didn’t say whether to drain the water off of the wild rice before adding the rice to the pan. I went ahead and drained it, because it didn’t say how much water to use in the first place, it just said to cover with cold water. I hope did it right, and that the water wasn’t needed in the recipe. I don’t want the dish to be too dry.

    The directions also didn’t say when to add the salt & pepper listed at the top of the recipe. I seasoned the ground beef with it as it was cooking. Was that right?

    I’m looking forward to dinner tonight. This is my kind of meal! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  27. Jennie says:

    It’s not all midwest. I grew up in Iowa and now live in Ohio and none of those terms are at all familiar.

    I love how diverse our country is!

  28. Amy M says:

    OMG! Hot Dish! I grew up and still live in the Pacific NW. When I met my mid west born and raised busband I had no idea what a hot dish was, didn’t know how to cook a brat and had to learn to be a Packer fan just so I could mingle with his family. He loves wild rice so I’ll have to make this for him….especially because this sounds SO much better than his favorite hot dish that I refuse to make or eat which is called, “Tater Tot Hot Dish” I could handle the tots if the only other ingredients in the dish weren’t cream of mushroom soup, onions and ground beef. Have you come across any “tater tot” hot dish recipes worth eating during your mid west adventures?

    • jill graham says:

      I try to avoid using canned soup. You can almost always make your own with the method used here. flour type of your choice, butter, and adding heavy cream or milk, and your choice of broth flavor. Most of the time you have more flavor from onions, garlic, mushrooms, and other items already called for in the hot dish, or soup.

    • Pamela S says:

      Put Tater Tots on top of this hot dish. Trust me…your hubby will love it!

  29. Susan says:

    Ha! I thought only we called fountains “bubblers” (in MA)! Who knew?

  30. Mary says:

    This sounds delicious, my kinda casserole! Yum!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  31. Loralee says:

    This looks like a recipe that I used to make and somehow lost along the way…I am looking forward to making it soon!

  32. If you ever stop blogging I will cry.
    I saw this recipe this morning before I made my weekly grocery store run, so I picked up the ingredients and we had this for dinner tonight. It was SO delicious! We had it with spinach salad and your “make ahead” garlic bread, which I made ahead last week. I’m so glad that I have a new and easy main dish to put into the circulation! I also think this would be excellent as a dish to take to a new mom or someone recovering from a hospital stay. Thanks, Melanie!

    • Mel says:

      Jeanette – you are always so sweet. Really. I feel like I should confess all my shortcoming (uh, like the rings around my toilets) so you would know that if I stopped blogging, at least my toilets would be clean. Anyway, I’m thrilled you made this recipe so quickly and I’m glad that you liked it! Thanks for letting me know.

  33. Amanda Y. says:

    We called them “covered dishes” in Pennsylvania where I’m from!

  34. Mirien says:

    We lived in North Dakota for a couple of years where they eat “hot dishes” and “buns” (rolls to me). I learned to love wild rice soup and hot dishes but wish that wild rice wasn’t so darned expensive here in the west! This recipe looks great–it’ll remind of us ND. Thanks!

  35. Kim in MD says:

    This looks so delicious! I have never heard of “hot dish”, but I am going to try it! 🙂

  36. Your narrative was priceless. Highly entertaining for me, since I too am a Wisconsin transplant of about 6 years. I’m not sure about Crystal…makes me wonder if our observations are more Wisconsin than Midwestern. ANYWAY…I was in Woodmans the other day and staring at the wild rice…just wondering what the heck I’d do with it if I bought some. Thanks for this post. It is almost as if you are a mind-reader! Still digging your blog. Thanks for all the hard work.

    • Mel says:

      Christie – yes, it is probably more Wisconsin than midwest! I shop at Woodman’s here too and that’s where I buy the wild rice/brown rice blend, by the way.

  37. Michelle says:

    My hubby lived in Minnesota for a few years and they also use the term “hot dish.” He always reminds me of this every time I make a casserole.

  38. Melissa says:

    I grew up in northern Minnesota, and also grew up on my mom’s wild rice hot dish. One of my favorite fall/winter foods! Different recipe, but overall similar. Will have to give yours a try. Love your blog!

  39. Crystal says:

    I lived in the midwest for 4 years and I have never heard any of these terms. Those might be just Wisconsin terms. 🙂 This dish looks good, I’ll have to give it a try.

  40. StephenC says:

    “Hot dish”! Who knew? We adore straight wild rice, but eat it rarely because of the cost. Nice work.

  41. ingrid says:

    Hot dish heaven indeed! 🙂

  42. this looks like it could be a really good “comfort food”

  43. SARAH says:

    I live in WI – Have to love our ” language” – Will try this hot dish tonight

  44. I’ve never heard of “hot dish,” but it sure looks good. I love the sliced almonds on top!

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