Rochester Garbage Plates (VIDEO)

Last time I posted Rochester 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, New York natives. The original garbage plate, if you will.

garbage plate recipe with text overlay


What is a garbage plate?

I know what you are thinking… “What in the world is a garbage plate?? I just see a pile of random food!”

A Garbage Plate is a loaded dish of crispy home fries, hot sauce, macaroni salad and cheeseburgers topped with raw onions, condiments and slices of white bread. Sometimes you’ll see it with hot dogs (red hots) or even white veal hot dogs (white hots).

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.

angle close up of a rochester garbage plate

Where did the garbage plate originate?

Garbage plates hail from the Rochester area and the story goes that they were developed by hungry, and possibly really drunk, college students from the University of Rochester.

The just wanted a plate of food and basically had the workers at Nick Tahou Hots piled all the leftovers odds and ends onto a plate.

What is on a garbage plate?

The base is generally crispy home fries and sometimes French fries. I liked to make mine in giant cubes, but to each their own.

close up of rochester hot sauce

Next comes more carbs in the form of macaroni salad. For a garbage plate, a dry mac salad made a day ahead of time is best. All the other condiments will result in it being too saucy if your mac salad is a wet one.

But hey, if you are into that kind of thing, who am I to stop you?

spoon in bowl of macaroni salad

The one ingredient that never changes is what garbage plate goers call Rochester 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. Meat sauce.

Every “hots” store will have their own proprietary hot sauce, so there isn’t one right way to make it.

close up spoon of rochester meat sauce

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, fried ham, steak, Italian sausage or fried chicken fingers.

Some people don’t use any meat and that is okay too. This is a lot of food!

overhead cheeseburger plate


The toppings range from:

  • Fried eggs
  • Extra cheese
  • Raw onion
  • Sauteed onion
  • Hot Sauce

All plates are served with a side of plain white bread (untoasted) with butter packets to mop up the extra sauce. The goal being to end up with a clean plate.

fork digging into rochester garbage plate

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!

Let’s review the steps for eat a garbage plate at home:

  1. Make the base of home fries or french fries.
  2. Top with a cold macaroni salad.
  3. Smother with Rochester style hot sauce.
  4. Add your desired meat (or lack thereof).
  5. Adorn with toppings of choice.
  6. Place plain white bread on the side.
  7. Eat like you’ve never eaten before!
  8. Take a long nap.
step by step images of how to make a garbage plate

Storage & Reheating

Garbage plates are best enjoyed freshly made. You can make all of the elements ahead of time and then assemble, but you’ll lose a bit of of the crunchies from the potatoes if you make them too early. That being said, most garbage plates are served in styrofoam containers that essentially steam the whole plate in transit, so this might be more authentic!

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. They are best reheated in the oven on 300°F for about 10 minutes. You can certainly microwave them, but it will come with the usual woes of the microwave like soggy or rubbery food.

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overhead close up garbage plate for pinterest
angle close up of a rochester garbage plate

Rochester Garbage Plate Recipe

4.18 from 39 votes
A Garbage Plate is a loaded dish of crispy home fries, hot sauce, macaroni salad and cheeseburgers topped with raw onions, condiments and slices of white bread. 
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 6




  • 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.
  • 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 Rochester hot sauce. Finish with any desired condiments and serve with a slice of buttered bread. Enjoy your Rochester Style Garbage Plate!
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and leave us a comment! 



Calories: 2240 kcal, Carbohydrates: 130 g, Protein: 87 g, Fat: 94 g, Saturated Fat: 37 g, Cholesterol: 268 mg, Sodium: 1637 mg, Potassium: 1725 mg, Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 6 g, Vitamin A: 395 IU, Vitamin C: 5.4 mg, Calcium: 641 mg, Iron: 11.8 mg
Author: Chef Jessica Anne
Calories: 2240
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: garbage plates
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
garbage plate recipe collage for pinterest
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Chef Jessica Anne Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal, Mashed and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.18 from 39 votes (31 ratings without comment)

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Questions and Reviews

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

  2. Yes, we eat garbage plates – except, we call them leftovers ๐Ÿ™‚

    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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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 ๐Ÿ™‚