If you’ve never heard of “dump recipes” before, you’re probably confused and possibly a little grossed out. But don’t get all judgey just yet! “Dump recipes” are recipes that require little more effort than the action of dumping ingredients into another vessel. What’s not to love?

dump recipe

My aunt’s amazing corn and black bean dip

dump recipe

Aunt Sarah’s addictive and easy salsa

I learned about dump recipes from my Aunt Sarah, who had an arsenal of these super-tasty, surprisingly low-maintenance dishes up her sleeve. She would bring her addictive salsa and black bean & corn dip — both dump recipes, I would later learn — to the family lake house, where she’d pop off the Tupperware tops and crack open a bag of tortilla chips for everyone to enjoy. And enjoy we did, usually while I slaved over some super-complicated recipe like crab-stuffed zucchini blossoms or authentic Vietnamese pho. She regularly told me I was “over-functioning.” I even remember her once saying to me, “You know, it is OK to just make sandwiches for dinner sometimes.”

I’ve come to realize that she’s right. Over-functioning is over-rated! There’s a time to dazzle and a time to dump.

Everyone deals with dumpy days or even seasons. Whether you’re dealing with a hectic schedule, grieving a loss or just in a general funk, dump recipes are your friend. Spend less time chopping, mincing, marinating, sautéing and flambéing, and spend more time with your kids or your cat, just doing something that truly fills your cup. Just dump, then do the stuff that really matters, interrupted by an occasional stirring of the pot.

Now, for starters, if you are anything like my husband, you may balk at the idea of ingesting a meal made mostly from cans. Meh! Just romanticize the whole experience and make like you’re January Jones in an episode of “Mad Men” — pour yourself a dirty martini, crack those cans open, dump and RELAX.

dump recipes

Here we have a snapshot of our dump recipe ingredients, complete with dirty martini (a la “Mad Men” vibes) and a rolling pin (which is just for looks — wink).

Actually, a lot of these dump recipes saw their heyday in the ’50s when littering was simply keeping your car tidy, smoking was healthy and driving with your kids unbuckled in the front seat was just ‘swell.’ If you think about it from Mrs. Don Draper’s point of view, a can of cream of mushroom soup revolutionized the kitchen routine for many people across the country. Imagine seeing a pre-made can of soup for the first time: “You mean I don’t have to MAKE cream of mushroom before putting it in the casserole? It is ALREADY MADE?” Millions of minds were blown, and these at-home cooks took the Campbell’s soup cans and ran with them. I have proof.

dump recipe

My grandmother Edna May’s Fannie Farmer cookbook, along with some handwritten recipes that were tucked inside

dump recipes

Some lovely graphics found inside my grandmother’s ladies’ club cookbook, filled with recipes from women in their small-town community of Sylvester, GA

I looked into some of my grandmother’s old cookbooks. One, which was missing the cover, was clearly the project of a ladies’ club in their little town of Sylvester, GA, wherein the club members submitted recipes. “Tuna Fish Pie” is the recipe that first caught my eye. The ingredients? One can tuna fish and one can mushroom soup. Basically you pour them into your favorite pie crust and “put in oven just long enough to get hot” then serve. This recipe comes courtesy of Mrs. Ralph King and makes you wonder just how dismal Ralph must have been to drive a person to care so little.

Being Mrs. Albert Pendley must have been a little easier, as she calls her version “Baked Mushroom and Tuna” … sounds civilized. This one adds potato chips, bell peppers and pimentos to the mix. In a casserole dish, layer the mushroom soup, crushed potato chips, tuna, spritz of lemon, few pieces of bell peppers and repeat — ending with soup on top. Then decorate the top with some lemon slices, pimentos and a sprinkle of paprika. You can just imagine Mrs. Pendley, puffing on a “healthy cigarette” as she proudly decorates the top of her oh-so-modern casserole, marveling that this easy and tasty recipe not only nourishes her family, but also allows her to express her creativity.

Mrs. J.T. Cochran submitted a “recipe” — more like an insider tip for her girlfriends — simply called “Tuna Mushroom,” which makes it clear that this dish is ubiquitous in Sylvester. She doesn’t even give instructions for the dish, simply saying, “That tuna favorite made with potato chips and canned mushroom soup is even better with ripe olives added.” ‘Nuff said. Thank you, Mrs. Cochran.

dump recipes

Mrs. Ralph King’s “Tuna Fish Pie” recipe

dump recipes

Taking “Tuna Fish Pie” to the next level, Mrs. Albert Pendley adds potato chips, bell peppers and pimentos into the mix for her fancy “Baked Mushroom and Tuna.”

dump recipes

And Mrs. J.T. Cochran gives us the secret sauce to her version of “that tuna favorite” — ripe olives! Who knew?

RELATED: Jalapeno Ranch Dressing

dump recipes

Don’t even get me started on congealed salads!

I thought our grandmothers were making biscuits from scratch and what-not. I am surprised to learn that canned cream of mushroom soup is to yesteryear as mirepoix is to modern day. Who do we think we are while we work these full-time jobs, raise kids and pets, devote time to nonprofits, nurture friendships and maintain a healthy lifestyle? These days, we act like, on top of everything else, we should also be Nigella Lawson, Giada de Laurentiis or Padma Lakshmi in the kitchen. We should instead take a lesson from Mrs. Ralph King, Mrs. Albert Pendley and Mrs. J.T. Cochran.

My Aunt Sarah grew up in the era when the revolutionary canned cream of mushroom came about. During the hippie movement, a teenage Aunt Sarah bought a towel that said “HELL NO.” Her mother promptly took a Sharpie to Sarah’s new towel, adding an “O” to “HELL.” As Sarah proudly flipped out her new towel on the beach, she was shocked to find that her cool new towel now said “HELLO NO.”

My aunt shared her mother’s strong personality and sharp sense of humor. I bet embracing the low-maintenance lifestyle of “dump recipes” was Aunt Sarah’s way of connecting to her ’50s childhood, while also asserting her right to enjoy life the way she wanted to, not the way Martha Stewart thought she should. Her mother decorated that towel the same way that Mrs. Albert Pendley took liberties with the decorative top layer of that old “tuna favorite.” And what could be more democratic, romantic, freeing and hilarious than bucking the idea that you have to be covered in flour to make a tasty meal, that you have to have a “cool” beach towel to have progressive ideas, or that you have to be a culinary mastermind as well as a career woman, caregiver, partner, friend and healthy individual.

The dump recipes of today borrow from the refreshing laziness of the ’50s, but they also provide a fabulous base for culinary creativity. You can simply dump and enjoy, or you can opt to replace some ingredients with fresh options, adding in herbs and spices you love. The idea is to get you through those dumpy days, when you need time to fill your cup with more than just dinner.

4 No-Fail Dump Recipes

Aunt Sarah’s Easy Salsa

dump recipes

Aunt Sarah’s Easy Salsa

Aunt Sarah's Easy Salsa

Sarah Dodd
This simple and delicious salsa comes together in minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 min
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 6 mins
Course Appetizer

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cans Del Monte Original Recipe Stewed Tomatoes DO NOT SUBSTITUTE
  • 2 jalapeno peppers from a jar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • fresh cilantro 2 handfuls

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse to desired consistency.

Notes

If you're in the mood to over-function, substitute garlic powder for freshly minced garlic and jarred jalapeno for fresh jalapeno to desired level of garlicky and peppery goodness.
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Aunt Sarah’s Corn Dip

dump recipes

Aunt Sarah’s Corn Dip

Aunt Sarah's Corn Dip

Sarah Dodd
This yummy dip is fresh and flavorful! Make it ahead for an easy appetizer.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 min
Total Time 6 mins
Course Appetizer

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cans white corn drained
  • 2 cans black beans drained and rinsed
  • 8 oz. feta cheese crumbled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup salad oil
  • 1 cup green onion chopped
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to taste

Instructions
 

  • Mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

Santa Fe Soup

dump recipes

Besides browning the meat and onions, most of the effort in this recipe goes into your choice of fun garnishes! This Santa Fe Soup recipe comes courtesy of Marion Hunt Newton in Food for Thought: New Southern Classics Blended with Stories from Celebrated Birmingham Authors, published by The Junior League of Birmingham.

Santa Fe Soup

Marion Hunt Newton, from Food for Thought cookbook from the Junior League of Birmingham
This is a great, easy dinner for cold weather!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 5 mins
Course Entrée
Servings 4 quarts

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds ground turkey or beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 .5-ounce packages Ranch-style dressing mix
  • 2 1.25-ounce packages taco seasoning mix
  • 1 16-ounce can black beans, undrained
  • 1 16-ounce can kidney beans, undrained
  • 1 16-ounce can pinto beans, undrained
  • 1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes with chilies, undrained
  • 1 16-ounce can tomato wedges, undrained
  • 2 16-ounce cans white corn, undrained
  • 2 cups water
  • Garnish: sour cream shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions

Instructions
 

  • Cook meat and onion together until meat is browned. Stir Ranch-style dressing mix and taco seasoning mix into meat. Add remaining ingredients with juices from all. Add water. Simmer for 2 hours. (If mixture becomes too thick, add additional water.) Garnish each serving with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and sliced green onions, if desired. Serve with tortilla chips.

Notes

You may also garnish with cilantro, avocado and Mexican-style hot sauce, if desired.
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

RELATED: 5 Recipes for Game Day, After Work, and Other Informal Occasions

Pineapple Upside-Down Dump Cake

dump recipes

In case you were wondering, this is what cake looks like in a slow cooker!

dump recipes

Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and sprinkle some chopped pecans on this bad boy, and enjoy!

Pineapple Upside-Down Dump Cake

"Simple & Delicious" Feb/Mar 2018
This easy dump cake is perfect for a crowd.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 10 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 3/4 cup butter divided
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 jar 6 ounces maraschino cherries, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans toasted
  • 1 can 20 ounces unsweetened pineapple tidbits or crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 package yellow cake mix regular size
  • Vanilla ice cream optional

Instructions
 

  • In a microwave, melt 1/2 cup butter; stir in brown sugar. Spread evenly onto bottom of a greased 5-qt. slow cooker. Sprinkle with cherries and pecans; top with pineapple. Sprinkle evenly with dry cake mix. Melt remaining butter; drizzle over top.
  • Cook, covered, on high until fruit mixture is bubbly, about 2 hours. (To avoid scorching, rotate slow cooker insert one-half turn midway through cooking, lifting carefully with oven mitts.)
  • Turn off slow cooker; let stand, uncovered, 30 minutes before serving. If desired, serve with ice cream.

Notes

Let the cake stand, uncovered, after cooking to allow the steam to escape. As it cools, the cake and saucy pineapple mixture set up a bit.
Sprinkle the cake mix in an even layer over the pineapple. If it’s piled high in the center, the middle of the cake may be undercooked.
A large slow cooker is used to keep the ingredient layers thin and promote even cooking.
Editor's Note: To toast nuts, bake in a shallow pan in a 350° oven for 5-10 minutes or cook in a skillet over low heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
Tried this recipe?Rate it above to let us know how it was!

 

dump recipes

These recipes are sweet as candy!

Happy dumping!

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And when you’re ready to whip up some other tasty dishes, check out our recipe section. It’s filled with all sorts of amazing flavors!