Utah is not necessarily known for its culinary contributions, but it does have at least one intriguing dish that can also be hard to find, even at Salt Lake City restaurants. Mormon funeral potatoes—or, more simply, funeral potatoes—are many a Utahn’s most comforting comfort food, despite the name. And for that, they deserve a closer look.
“Funeral,” Really?Mormon funeral potatoes got their name for their ubiquitous presence on the buffet table at many post-interment luncheons. In fact, Mormon Share’s guide to planning a funeral meal lists the potatoes second on the menu, after the ham. And even though the potatoes can be found at almost any social gathering, they’ve retained the somewhat morbid moniker.
In fact, the dish is so loved by Utah residents that the 2002 Winter Olympics commemorated funeral potatoes in a souvenir food pin.
So Good You Might DieMormon funeral potatoes are basically a casserole and therefore just as easy to put together.
Start with frozen hash browns or, in a pinch, cubed potatoes.Add the following: cheddar cheese, onions, sour cream, and some kind of “cream of” soup (preferably chicken, mushroom, or celery).Mix well and pour into a casserole dish.Top with pats of butter and corn flakes or crushed potato chips for crunch.Bake until golden.Besides being easy to make, funeral potatoes highlight one trait of traditional Utah cooking, which focuses on a somewhat midcentury American value of feeding many mouths on the cheap: put several processed or canned foods together to make something new—and delicious. Many home cooks put their own spin on the recipe by adding peas, ham, or broccoli.
Where to Get SomeLike gelatin molds and Rice Krispies, Mormon funeral potatoes are a dish usually served at home. However, a handful of restaurants serve an interesting take on the Utah staple, including two Salt Lake restaurants:
Garage on Beck in Salt Lake City fries them in nuggets, having added bacon and, if you want them spicy, fresh habaneros.Sandy, Utah’s Hoof & Vine serves a creamy spoonful of the traditional potatoes with each entree.In Indianapolis, Spoke & Steele crafts a version with pickled scallions and mushroom crème—perhaps a bit fancier than good ol’ Campbell’s.Photo: A dish of funeral potatoes by GreenGlass1972 under public domain