Pinellas County Potato Turbate

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Reader Susan T. attended Starkey Elementary in Pinellas County, FL, in the early 1960s. Of all the school cafeteria food she ate there, one dish was a favorite: Potato Turbate. In Latin, “turbate” means to agitate. Cafeteria-hot-dish-wise, potato turbate is a stripped-down version of shepherds pie (i.e. no vegetables)– seasoned ground beef baked between layers of whipped (turbated?) potatoes. Turns out the dish is fondly remembered by lots ’50s and ’60s-era Florida school kids. “That dish is the one we get most requests for when people write in, or do menus for school reunions,” says Dolores McCoy, a longtime nutrition education specialist and menu planner for Pinellas County Schools. She says school cafeterias still serve Potato Turbate—but updated to include more vegetables. Here’s the original recipe below. (And click here for the “updated” version.)

Makes 10 servings

Meat Filling Ingredients

  • 1 lb plus 12 oz ground beef
  • 3/8-cup onions, ground
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • 1 ¼ tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp granulated garlic
  • 2 ½ Tbsp. flour
  • 2 ½ Tbsp water
  • 1 cup beef stock, or ½ tsp beef extract combined with water to make 1 cup
  • 1 ¼ tsp Kitchen Bouquet (brown meat seasoning), optional

Whipped Potatoes Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 2/3 cup dehydrated potato granules
  • ¼ cup dry milk
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ Tbsp butter
  • 1 ½ Tbsp butter, melted
  • Paprika to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare beef filling: Brown beef lightly in a saute pan. Drain off and discard fat. Add onions, salt, pepper, Worchestershire sauce and garlic to pan. Cook five minutes. Mix flour and water and stir into meat. Add beef stock or beef extract combined with water. Add Kitchen Bouquet, if using. Set aside.
  3. Prepare potatoes: Heat water to boiling. Slowly add dry ingredients to hot water. Add butter. Whip at high speed to desired fluffiness ( 2 to 3 minutes.)
  4. Assemble: Layer ½ of potato mixture into pan. Cover with ground beef mixture. Top with remaining potatoes. Drizzle with butter. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 for ½ hour until lightly browned.

21 thoughts on “Pinellas County Potato Turbate

  1. I graduated from Bogie in 1973 and Potato Turbate was one of my all time favorites. Over the years I came across the schools recipe and decided to make it……It’s just a great as I remember it and I continue making it today….Thanks for the luscious memories!!

    • My sister, Bonnie was in your class. I graduated in ’69 and used to eat 2 lunches on turbate day. Had British Lit immediately after lunch and would usually nod off during class because I was so full.

    • Hey went to Bogie too, Where did you get the potato granules…Lol never heard of them. Did you just use instant. I used to Love Love Love it.

      • I went to Bogie, too (class of ’68) and loved potato turbate hot out of the oven. Betcha you could use instant mashed potatoes (example “Oreida”).

  2. Graduated 1975……..LOVED potato turbate. Only thing that would keep you on campus at lunch!! Thanks for sharing. I have my first batch in the oven right now. Hubby (also Bogie boy) will be thrilled!

  3. I attended several schools in Florida in the 60’s. The ONLY dish I remember is potato turbate. It was by far my favorite.

    We generally had it about once per week but I would have been happy with it every day. Thanks for posting the recipe!

  4. I just made some and close but not quite, the potatoes were more of a 1 to 1 mix as per the box. Also I used about 5 cups or close to double the recipe and still could have used more potatoes.

  5. Class of ’66 Northeast Vikings. We loved this dish so much that Mom made it for us at home. I’ve been feeding to my family ever since. Forgot about the worcestershire and beef stock, but substituted cream of mushroom soup concentrate, and was always delicious – add a green veggie and fruit for dessert and you’ve got all your food groups!

  6. My mother graduated from Seminole High in 1972 and I was raised on potato turbate. I had no idea it was a Pinellas County school food until I read this article! I was raised in Citrus County and we didn’t have this at school, but my mom always made it for us and now my sisters and I all make it!

  7. Graduate 1975 went to all pinellas county schools and enjoyed this dish the best of all. I have tried to duplicate it but not much luck, thank you for thr recipe it will be on the menu in my house next week. I can’t hardly wait.♡♥♡

  8. I just had to comment on the fabulous Potato Turbate! I’m a Boca Ciega grad, Class of ’73… and despite the off-campus ‘cruises’ to Pass-a-Grille with the buds at lunchtime, staying ON campus was mandatory if they had Potato Turbate on the caf line! It was so bad, but oh-so-good… Bogie Rules!
    P.S. ~ I loved it at Madeira Beach and Azalea, too! :-) Mmmmmm…

  9. My mom was a school lunch cafeteria manager for almost 25 yrs. I have several recipes that she brought home and reduced the quantity they made to be home size. She would keep remaking them adjusting the ingredients until she got the same results as the large quantity recipe. Anyone remember when they made homemade breadsticks, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, dinner rolls, and sweet rolls. My mom’s specialty. My niece taped mom making her last batch about 3 months before mom passed away. We all love that video because we loved the rolls and we loved my mom and what working school lunch meant to her.

  10. Wow, I was just thinking about this dish and on a fluke did a search! As others have stated, this was one of my favorites from Pinellas County Schools. I just started to cook a year or so ago and having much fun, don’t know why I waited so long? I also attended Starkey Elementary in the early 60’s then went to Mederia Beach Junior High then graduating Seminole High in 1973. Can’t wait to try making both of these recipes, thank you for sharing! Gordon

  11. I got out of Bogey in 71. My mother worked at Northwest Elementary School for years…….. I got her the job when I was in 6th grade. Mostly because I went to a Catholic School until they built Northwest behind our house. You had to bring a bag to parochial school, hot food was so good at school I used to get excused from class everyday at about 10:30 AM to go see what was for lunch, and the nice ladies would give me a free plateful. One day they were talking and said they needed to hire one more person, so I called mother from the kitchen phone, and she came right over. Only trouble with her turbate recipe was, it was for 450 people. What a small world, to hear from people that went to the same high-school as I ! !
    Pax Christi,
    Robert McDevitt

  12. Nehi c/o ’95… was watching Pinellas through the decades… a historian from USF library talked about Potato Turbate being a Pinellas County schools phenomenon… never thought of that. Where did the name come from I wonder?

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