Favorite Midwest Hometown Recipes | Midwest Living

Favorite Midwest Hometown Recipes

Sample a taste of the Midwest with these 50 recipes that reflect Heartland tradition and ingredients, from South Dakota peach kuchen to Iowa corn chowder.

Ozark Blackberry Cobbler

A sugared crispy pastry covers sweet juicy berries in this traditional dessert from the Monte Ne Inn near Rogers, Arkansas.

Ozark Blackberry Cobbler

Cincinnati-Style Chili

Locals spar over whether Skyline or Gold Star makes the better version (and whether the secret ingredients should be cinnamon, cocoa or allspice). Whichever, chili in the Queen City translates as a mild, meaty sauce served over spaghetti noodles and topped with shredded cheese.

Cincinnati-Style Chili

Knoephla

German-Russians settling the Dakotas put Red River Valley potatoes to good use in this creamy-rich potato-filled base with noodle dough cooked. It's white-on-white comfort food.

Knoephla

North Dakota Juneberry Pie

Called the Blueberry of the Northern Plains, juneberries (also known as serviceberries) give bakers in North and South Dakota a reason to warm kitchens in summer. Pies featuring the berry bake a deep purply red and bring a nutty almond flavor to every fork full.

North Dakota Juneberry Pie

Beans and Ham Hocks

Thanks to the ham hocks, the only seasoning needed in these homey beans is a bit of salt.

Beans and Ham Hocks

Kansas Zwiebach

When Mennonites came to Kansas, they brought their German language, Turkey Red wheat and the recipe for this addictive sweet, soft dinner roll with a doughy topknot. The secret to its rich taste and moistness: potato water, sugar, butter and egg. Don't confuse it with the tooth-breaking cracker of the same name.

Kansas Zwiebach

Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

True Chicago-style pizza is in some ways a closer cousin to a casserole than traditional regular-crust pizza. One slice is a whole meal!

Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

Ozark Blackberry Cobbler

A sugared crispy pastry covers sweet juicy berries in this traditional dessert from the Monte Ne Inn near Rogers, Arkansas.

Ozark Blackberry Cobbler

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

The famous St. Louis dessert gets a makeover from Emily Hobbs of Springfield, Missouri. She adds pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice to the moist cake. The recipe was one of the finalists at Midwest Living's first Best of the Midwest cook-off.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Missouri Toasted Ravioli

Like many good legends, this one has a murky origin. Stories say a cook in St. Louis' Italian Hill neighborhood dropped cooked raviolis into hot fat. The world has been enjoying dropping the crispy appetizer into tomato sauce ever since.

Missouri Toasted Ravioli

Kansas City barbecue

Everyone raves about KC's 'cue, but do they mean Gates? Arthur Bryant's? Jack Stack? Don't worry about it. Just get there and start eating. Especially the burnt ends. Or try our Kansas City-inspired recipes.

Oklahoma Joe's Tasty Ribs

Smoked Beef Brisket

Spicy Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing

The Good-with-Everything Kansas City Barbecue Seasoning

Michigan Pasties

When miners carried these meat-and-veggie pies in their pockets in Michigan's UP, they counted on sturdy crusts. Our version is a little more tender and moist. But it still works great the traditional way--drenched in gravy or ketchup.

Michigan Pasties

Kansas Sunflower Cookies

Seeds from the Sunflower State (along with rolled oats and shredded coconut) star in this crunchy favorite.

Kansas Sunflower Cookies

 

Iowa Corn Chowder

This hearty soup, an update of an Amish favorite, comes from an Iowa City, Iowa, reader and football fan. Flavored with bacon and onion, it's a great soup for family dinners or tailgate parties.

Iowa Corn Chowder

Indiana Sugar Cream Pie

Some say empty apple bins inspired Hoosier Quakers to create this single-crust dessert of sugar, cream and flour. The short ingredient list may make you think something's missing. But try it once, and you'll see why the humble phenom became Indiana's official pie in 2009.

Indiana Sugar Cream Pie

See our how-to video on making Sugar Cream Pie

Wild Rice with Hazelnuts and Blueberries

This pilaf-like side dish is inspired by the cuisine of the Ojibwe Native Americans who harvest naturally growing wild rice on the White Earth reservation in Minnesota. You can substitute other dried fruits and nuts if you like.

Wild Rice with Hazelnuts and Blueberries 

Ketchup-Glazed Meat Loaf

Ketchup and brown sugar top this Midwest meat loaf, a crowd-pleaser at the Dakota Diner in Webster, South Dakota.

Ketchup-Glazed Meat Loaf

Lefse

Eat like a Norwegian! Lutheran church kitchens bustle at the holidays as parishioners mix potato, flour, butter and cream to create this Scandinavian tortilla. Eat it with a smear of butter and a sprinkle of sugar.

Lefse

Kansas Chicken-Fried Steak

This recipe was inspired by a favorite menu item at Pinky's Bar and Grill in Courtland, Kansas. Pounding tenderizes round steak, an economical cut of meat. After cooking the meat, reserve the pan drippings to make milk gravy to serve over the meat and, if you like, mashed potatoes.

Kansas Chicken-Fried Steak

Cincinnati's Sacred Heart Meatballs

Great food and warm fellowship infuse church suppers around the Midwest. Cincinnati's Sacred Heart Church is known especially for its meatballs, part of the church's traditional Italian suppers. Add these meatballs to your favorite pasta sauce, and serve over hot cooked noodles.

Cincinnati's Sacred Heart Meatballs

Hays House Brisket

This tender brisket is popular at the Hays House restaurant in Council Grove, Kansas, one of the oldest continuously operating restaurants west of the Mississippi River.

Hays House Brisket

Triple-Tiered German Chocolate Cake

German chocolate cake is a staple on most restaurant menus in the northern Midwest, where German and Scandinavian immigrants settled. This recipe from Wisconsin is extra moist and chocolatey, with a rich coconut topping.

Triple-Tiered German Chocolate Cake

Sauerkraut Balls

This traditional German appetizer, popular in northeast Ohio, comes from the Hey Hey Bar and Grill in Columbus. Even if you're not usually a sauerkraut fan, you may love the sweet-sour tang of mustard and kraut inside crispy deep-fried shells.

Sauerkraut Balls

North Dakota chippers

Crisp Red River Valley potato chips dive into melted chocolate for a funky twist that nailed the sweet-salty taste long before it became a craze. Our recipe was inspired by chips from Widman's in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Widman's Chippers

 

Dutch letters

Impeccable Iowa shops such as Pella's Jaarsma Bakery serve delicious almond paste tucked into S-shape pastries. Some say the S stands for Sinterklaas, but sweet works for us.

Jaarsma's Dutch Letters

 

Fresh cherries (and cherry pie)

Stop at a roadside farmstand for a basket or buy them in pie form. Tart, just-picked cherries are special within sight of the trees that nurtured them in Michigan's fruit-belt along Lake Michigan or in Door County, Wisconsin.

Michigan Cherry-Berry Pie

Badger State Muffins

This cinnamon- and coriander-spiced muffin highlights Wisconsin-grown produce, including apples and cranberries. 

Badger State Muffins

 

Smoky Brisket Sandwiches

Brisket is a tough cut of meat that's transformed into heavenly tenderness with slow, low cooking. Serve on crusty ciabatta rolls. If you like morel mushrooms (and can find them!), try them here.

Smoky Brisket Sandwiches

Phyllo Cheese Straws

Greek favorites phyllo and feta stand out in this appetizer from Hellenic Cuisine: Secret Greek Recipes, a community cookbook featuring recipes passed down through three generations of the Ladies of St. Nicholas Greek Church in St. Louis.

Phyllo Cheese Straws

Lemon Bars

Anyone who loves lemon chess pie will enjoy these sweet-and-tart bars from Palmer's Deli and Market in Urbandale, Iowa. Sprinkle the moist bars with powdered sugar.

Lemon Bars

 

Bison burgers

Savoring a plate of bison on the Great Plains offers more than the mystique of the Old West. Bison delivers delicious, iron-rich protein with less fat than beef.

Home on the Range Burger

Bison-Zucchini Burgers

Beefy Chili Dogs

The Coney Island Lunch Room in Grand Island, Nebraska, has served its all-American chili dog since 1933. In honor of this Cornhusker State edible institution, we cooked up Beefy Chili Dogs. Stewing the hot dogs in the seasoned meat mixture makes them extra juicy. Top them with cheese.

Beefy Chili Dogs

Bun-Buster Tenderloin

You'll need two hands and a hearty appetite to tackle this king-size sandwich of battered and fried pork tenderloin. It's our version of the oversize deli tenderloin sandwiches popular in pork-producing states such as Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.

Bun-Buster Tenderloin

Easy Fry Bread

Fry bread is a Native American tradition, known throughout the tribes of South Dakota. Our recipe uses frozen dinner rolls, but for the authentic Lakota Sioux taste, you can order bread mix from woodenknife.com. Serve with savory taco meat sauce or a sweet cinnamon-sugar topping.

Easy Fry Bread

Rolled White Cookies and Sandbakkels

These recipes for Rolled White Cookies and Sandbakkels (Norwegian shortbread) both won prizes at Minnesota's Pennington County Fair. Traditional sandbakkels use a sandbakkel mold, available from specialty kitchen shops and online stores. Or you can substitute 1 3/4-inch tart tins or muffin cups.

Rolled White Cookies

Sandbakkels

Kringle

A classic almond filling rolled up in flaky Danish-style pastry brings honor to Racine as Kringle Capital of the World. New fillings like cheesecake, chocolate and Key lime add zing to the choices at shops such as O&H Danish Bakery (left).

O&H Kringle recipe

 

Spiced Doughnut Holes

We re-created Bub's Holes, spiced doughnut holes a little bigger than a golf ball -- which people crave from Bub's Cafe in Carmel, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis.

Spiced Doughnut Holes

Lambert's throwed rolls

Just a dinner roll? Not when it's one of 2.2 million that Lambert's Cafe chucks across the room each year to diners visiting their southern Missouri locations. The buttery-sweet taste adds to their appeal. While you'll need to go to Missouri for the real thing, our recipe was inspired by Lambert's.

Dinner Rolls

 

Walleye Amandine

The walleye -- state fish of Minnesota and South Dakota -- is sought by both anglers and chefs. This recipe comes from a Brainerd, Minnesota, resort.

Walleye Amandine

Minnesota Fudge Puppies

These waffles get their name from the fact that they're served on a stick, like corn dogs. They're a staple at the Minnesota State Fair, where Granny's Kitchen makes fresh Belgian waffles, dips them in chocolate and tops them with whipped cream and crunchy sprinkles, strawberries or candies. Our version uses frozen waffles, but you can trek to Minnesota for the real thing.

Minnesota Fudge Puppies

The Regal Reuben

Honors for creating the Reuben sandwich may go to Reuben Kulakofsky and his poker pals at the former Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, where the sandwich was first served in the 1920s. Here's our version of the corned beef-and-sauerkraut classic.

The Regal Reuben

 

Beer-Braised Brats

Steep your grilled brats in this onion-and-herb beer mixture for an easy way to keep them warm while entertaining. Beer-Braised Brats get a liberal dose of cranberry-pickle relish for extra color and tang. This is a Badger State meal in a bun.

Beer-Braised Brats

Wisconsin supper clubs

Cooler than a Rat Pack film, these old-school eateries know sensible steaks and relish trays never go out of style. Don't miss sipping a brandy old-fashioned.

Brandy Old-Fashioned

Fresh-picked morels

The thrill of a hunt in the spring woods is our favorite part—until you saute those 'shrooms in butter and dig in.

Sauteed Morel Mushrooms

 

Persimmon Pudding

Southern Indiana celebrates the puckery wild fruit in a puree baked into a cakey pudding.

Persimmon Pudding

Horseshoe sandwich

Despite a fine-dining rep, Maldaner's in Springfield, Illinois, shamelessly buries a meat sandwich under cheese sauce ooze and fries. It's their guilty pleasure--and ours.

Springfield Horseshoe Sandwich

Fish boil

You may not normally cross the street to eat boiled fish and potatoes. But set them atop a blaze on a Door County summer evening, and it's an unforgettable experience.

Wisconsin Fish Boil recipe

 

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