Rochester Style Garbage Plates

Last time I posted Rochester Style Garbage Plates, it was an ode to Nick Tahou on his birthday, the evil genius behind piling greasy foods on a plate, leaving behind a legacy and tradition for all Rochester natives.   This time around it to celebrate hubby and his friends traveling up to Buffalo, New York this weekend for a Buffalo Bills game.  In his mind, nothing says fall football more than spicier-than-h*ll buffalo wings and Garbage Plates.

Garbage Plate- a Rochester tradition, make your own at home! | #garbageplate |

I know what you are thinking… “What in the world is a garbage plate??  I just see a pile of random food!”  Ding, ding, ding- you got it! Garbage plates come in many varieties, but they are all comprised of three basic layers: the base, meat and toppings.  The one ingredient that never changes is what garbage plate goers call Hot Sauce. Not the usual Texas Pete, but instead beef simmered in onion, garlic, tomato sauce and spices to an almost chili-like consistency, but ironically not very spicy. The base can consist of macaroni salad, baked beans, home fries or French fries. The meat layer can be just about any piece of meat, or non-meat, you can think of! A traditional plate uses cheeseburgers or hamburgers, but you can also mix it up and get hot dogs, grilled cheese, fried fish, steak, Italian sausage or fried chicken fingers.  The toppings range from fried eggs, extra cheese, raw onion, sauteed onion, mustard, ketchup or relish.  All plates are served with a side of buttered bread to mop up the extra sauce, the goal being to end up with a clean plate.

Rochester Style Garbage Plates

Not down for this long process, but want to try a plate?  You can always purchase pre-made macaroni salad, canned mild chili and frozen home fries. Another little fact, has rated the Garbage Plate the fattiest food in the entire state of New York, so please consume in moderation!

5 from 1 vote
Rochester Style Garbage Plates- Throwback Thursday
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 45 mins
Rochester Style Garbage Plates are a mess on a plate. Read on for all of the variations!
Author: Jessica at Savory Experiments
  • 1 pound (dry) elbow macaroni
  • 2 1/4 cups white onion finely diced, divided
  • 1/2 cup carrots finely diced
  • 1/2 cup celery finely diced
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper divided
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons paprika divided
  • 4 tablespoons light extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves minced
  • 3 pounds ground beef lean
  • 12 ounces tomato paste
  • 3 cups light beer or sub water
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cayenne
  • 3 teaspoons black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard plus more for topping
  • 5 pounds Yukon potatoes diced to 1-2 inch cubes
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 12 frozen hamburger patties
  • 12 slices American cheese
  • 1 Loaf of Italian bread
  • butter softened, for buttering the bread
  1. Cook elbow macaroni in well salted water according to package directions for al dente. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well, watery mac salad isn’t very good.
  2. After elbow macaroni has cooled and fully drained. Place into a large mixing bowl or tray. Add finely diced carrots and celery, but only 1/4 cup finely diced onion. Fold in mayonnaise and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Make sure to fold and not stir, so the elbow pieces stay intact. Smooth out the top and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon paprika. Cover and place in the refrigerator.
  3. Heat light extra virgin olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven to medium-high heat. Sauté 2 cups white onion and garlic until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add ground beef, breaking up well with a spoon. Brown the meat and continue to break apart to avoid ending up with a meatball. Browning will take approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste and beer to browned beef mixture, mix well, breaking apart any remaining chunks of meat. Continue to cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Next stir in brown sugar through yellow mustard, 2 teaspoons paprika and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Simmer on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. While the hot sauce simmers, prepare your home fries by heating up 4 inches of vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or other high sided pan. Fry potatoes in batches to not crowd the pan, until outsides are crispy and potato cubes float. The first batch will take the longest, about 10 minutes. The next two will be a little quicker, closer to 5-6. Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet. Keep in the oven on low until ready to serve.
  7. Next, fire up the grill to high heat. Grill each hamburger patty 5 minutes on each side for a medium burger. Top with cheese and allow to melt for 1 minute, remove.
  8. Now you are ready to build your magnificent Rochester Style Garbage Plate! Take a large scoop of home fries, place on one side of the plate. Next, take a large scoop of macaroni salad and place on the other side of the plate. Top with 1-2 cheeseburgers, then raw onions and hot sauce. Finish with any desired condiments and serve with a slice of buttered bread. Enjoy your Rochester Style Garbage Plate!


 Be honest… would YOU eat a Garbage Plate???



Being from Rochester, NY this item is a must after a night out! My favorite place is Mark’s Texas Hots, best garbage plates hands down. After 3 am on a weekend don’t be surprised to see a line at this spot. Make sure you request extra meat sauce on the side with your order. One order is enough to feed two adults; but most of us don’t share; LOL.

    Jessica at Savory Experiments

    Hey Penny,

    We haven’t been to Mark’s! We are heading up for a visit next month and will be sure to check it out. I agree, no long night out should go without a Garage Plate!


I can’t lie. I would eat it. It goes against ALL of my fitness goals though! LOL!


I’ve never heard of Garbage Plates. It looks interesting and my husband would totally eat it. I’m not big on mixing all my food together.

Aunt Bee

My husband would be in heaven with this ‘garbage plate’!!!!!

Ann Bacciaglia

Pinned this to my KickAss Food board. I would totally eat this and think it looks delicious.


We make something similar in Greece and it is delicious as I believe this dish is as well!


Why is this called a Rochester anything like it is some crazy New York concoction. Back home, we just called it “what we had”. Don’t understand that nonsense.

Carry on, ye of simple minds.

Sandra Shaffer

Smorgasbord! A little of this and a little of that! Super filling, just what I need to make for my son!


Ha ha garbage plate? I would definitely eat it I just would have to call it something else LOL


    I agree, Tess, the name needs a facelift.


I have never heard of anything like this! I don’t think I would be brave enough to eat it.


I just like that it’s paired with a Miller Lite! Yum! Sounds awesome.

Marybeth Hamilton

I don’t think I could eat it. But I have a feeling my husband would love it!


Garbage never looked so good! I would love to try that


It looks yummy. I would eat garbage plates for dinner. And the left over beer.


My husband will be SO happy to hear what he calls ‘This is what I threw together’ is an actual thing!! 😉

Heidy L. McCallum @The McCallum's Shamrock Patch

Rochester Style Garbage Plates sound like pure comfort and delicious! I’m loving this Throwback post series you have been doing!!!


Yes, we eat garbage plates – except, we call them leftovers 🙂

In all seriousness, I’ve never heard of them before but we do combine Mac-n-Cheese with baked beans with sausage dogs or veggie burgers whenever they are still in the fridge the next morning. Who knew we were creating our very own garbage plate?

Have a wonderful weekend.
Mom Does Reviews


Um, yeah! I’d absolutely eat a garbage plate! I know my hubby would, too. 🙂

Danielle @ We Have It All

Wow… I think I’m speechless haha. This is an interesting concept, I totally get why it’s called the garbage plate lol. I’m one of those weirdos who can’t have food touching another food so my gut is telling me to reach through the screen and separate all that food on the plates haha.


Hmmm, not sure if I would eat it or not. However, I would definitely give it a try.

Nicole Brady

When in Rome… I like trying regional specialties and often seek them out when I travel. If it’s one of the unhealthiest foods in America, I’m pretty sure I would love it! LOL

Liz Mays

You’ve got to be kidding, right? Of COURSE I’d eat a garbage plate. Anytime!


We do SOAP (stuff on a plate) but I haven’t heard of a garbage plate. And I’m from ct!


    That is cute Brett- and it sounds much better than “garbage”!

Femke - Desired Cooking

Being from New Zealand I have never heard of a garbage plate before! I do love anything with hot sauce though, so must be delicious 🙂


This looks like a really popular diner meal we had in St. Louis. Except there they called it a Slinger.

Chrystal @ YUM eating

There are times when my foods can mix, but for the most part I have a huge issue with my foods mixing on my plate. Weird, I know 😉


I’d eat it and enjoy it until a few hours later when I’d deeply regret it, hahaha.


I lived in Rochester for a year and my roommate got these all the time. I passed on them, though.

Janel (A Mom's Take)

I most definitely would eat a garbage plate. Looks delicious. Makes me hungry actually.


It looks just as good as we get then here in Rochester


    Thank you Aunt Donna! David made them- you’ll have to give him the credit!

Toni C.

That dish is not for me, but my husband loves it. Another one that LOVES his Buffalo Bills! He was born & raise in Buffalo. Guess it’s time for us to make a trip up there.


    Toni- you and I are the same page. He LOVES them, but I just can’t do it… all that food mixed together just bothers me.

April @ Everyday Fitness and Nutrition

I think my arteries clogged up just reading this! But it’s definitely an interesting concept!


    Oh yes, everything in moderation, right?

Robin (Masshole Mommy)

That looks like heaven on a plate if you ask me. I wish I could have one for dinner tonite actually!

Kay Adeola

Yes I would eat a garbage plate,that looks so good I will have to try something like this here and see what the family think.

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