Comfort Food to Keep You Warm All Winter
Warm up your table with casseroles, stews, prizewinning recipes and other Midwest favorites.
Squash and Sausage Gnocchi
Hello, comfort! This one-pan supper dish is loaded with Italian sausage, butternut squash, spinach and cheese.
Related: One-Pan Recipes That Will Make Dinner So Much Easier
Flat-Iron with Chimichurri and Smashed Potatoes
In a riff on French steak frites, Karen Bell, chef and owner of Bavette La Boucherie in Milwaukee, pairs grilled steak with an herby sauce and rustic baby potatoes.
Sour Cream and Onion Knishes
Filled with cheesy potatoes and topped with sour cream and potato chips, this modern take on traditional knishes comes from Little Brother in Des Moines. The process takes awhile, but the payoff is pure comfort food.
Related: How 3 Midwest Kitchens Are Adapting—And Expanding—Modern Jewish Cuisine
Chicken Pot Pie
This dish is pure creamy, chickeny goodness. The pastry lids can be made a day or two ahead. Bake as directed; cool and then cover loosely with plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Related: Favorite Chicken Recipes
German Chocolate Cake
This celebration cake is a staple at Bake Chicago. It has a wonderfully fudgy, old-fashioned, homemade texture. The frosting has an unusual method that may feel initially like it's failing, but stick with it. Laced with sour cream, it's creamy and utterly delicious.
Related: Meet Five Midwest Cake Creators (and Try Their Recipes)
Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish
Rich cream sauce stands in for canned soup in Minnesota chef Amy Thielen's spin on classic chicken and wild rice hotdish. The recipe comes from Amy's book The New Midwestern Table (clarksonpotter.com).
Related: Winter Comfort Food Recipes from Midwest Chef Amy Thielen
Pork Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Onions
You can have this comforting winter supper dish on the table in less than an hour, but it's nice enough to serve to company with steamed veggies and mashed potatoes. The recipe comes from Gunflint Lodge in Grand Marais, Minnesota.
Related: Our Best Pork Recipes
Wine-Braised Short Ribs
With marrow-rich bones and fatty marbling, short ribs deliver flavor and richness that cubed stew meat never will. Karen Bell, chef and owner of Bavette La Boucherie in Milwaukee, recommends using grass-fed beef which tastes less sweet than corn-fed.
Mexican Potato Soup
A favorite comfort food gets a bit of a kick with spicy chorizo sausage and chiles. This recipe is quick enough for a weeknight.
Related: Simmering Soups and Stews
Beans on Toast with Fried Egg
Inspired by British pub fare, this breakfast-for-dinner (or brunch!) dish tops buttered toast with bacony stovetop baked beans, tomatoes and a fried egg.
Macaroni and Cheese Chowder with Crispy Ham
A splash of hot sauce, a topper of pan-fried ham and a just-right secret ingredient for ultrasmooth creaminess. (Guilty pleasure, thy name is American cheese.)
Related: Homemade Macaroni and Cheese Recipes
This classic country French dish is a meat-lovers' fantasy that's heavy on the beans—because why not use all the proteins? Add a blanket of crispy breadcrumbs and serve with both red wine and an elastic waistband.
Amish Apple Dumplings
We often equate Amish food with comfort. Here's our version of a favorite dessert you might find at Amish-based restaurants in the Midwest.
Related: Try Our Apple Pie Recipes
Spicy Beef, Bean and Vegetable Stew
Affordable beef chuck roast, apple, parsnip and sweet potato slow-simmer in broth flavored with dark beer, herbs and spices. Warm corn bread muffins and cold winter night optional.
Chocolate alone delivers all the comfort a lot of us require. But add it to pecan pie with some coconut, and you've awakened a flood of welcome food memories: German chocolate cake, toasted pecan pie and chocolate chips. All that in a flaky piecrust.
Related: Make Your Best Pie Ever
Sage Biscuits and Sausage Gravy with Roasted Vegetables
Your quest for cold-weather comfort stops here, with maple-flavor sausage, creamy milk gravy, herby biscuits, and mustard-glazed roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts.
Chicken and Kielbasa Winter Stew
Shhh! Don't tell anyone, but this hearty supper soup takes just an hour to make. The secret? Deli-roasted chicken and precooked sausage. Pair with breadsticks or a crusty baguette for a perfect cool-weather meal that will fill your house with good smells.
Related: Family-Favorite Soups and Stews
Lemon-Rosemary Pork Loin with Cherry Sauce
The classic fruit and pork combo gets a bold update: Slather the meat with a paste of garlic, mustard, lemon and rosemary, then serve with ruby red cherries. This recipe multiplies easily for entertaining.
Cinnamon-Spiced Beef Stroganoff
A few pinches of pantry spices jazz up the traditional sour-cream gravy. This cozy weeknight dish dances on the line between comfort food and curry.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Quivey's Grove in Madison, Wisconsin, whips up this version of mashed potatoes that matches plenty of dairy richness with garlic, Parmesan, black pepper and green onion.
Related: Perfect Potato Recipes
Slow-Cooker Brat and Sauerkraut Soup
Potatoes, onion, sauerkraut and brats pack in the German flavor in this homey slow-cooker soup. Try with Whole Wheat Pretzel Rolls; the soft pretzels' chewy, brown exterior comes from being boiled in an alkaline solution—the 1/4 cup baking soda in the water isn't a typo!
Related: Hearty Slow-Cooker Soups and Stews
Fork-Tender Pot Roast
This pot roast slow-cooks until the meat turns brown and tender and the flavor mellows to an almost caramel overtone. Browned bits in the pan become the base for the rich red-wine gravy.
Salty Caramel and Pecan Oatmeal Cookies
These cookies come with a friendly warning: Chewy caramel, toasted pecans and a flurry of sea salt will make you popular. Very popular. A product called caramel bits gives these cookies great flavor and chewy texture. Some supermarkets carry them, and they're widely available online. (Search for Kraft Caramel Bits.) Take care to follow recipe directions when baking: caramel bits melt quickly.
Related: The Midwest's Best Cookie Recipes
Hearty Meatball Soup
This version of a winter staple, from author and cooking-school instructor Marilyn Harris of Cincinnati, features basil-flecked meatballs. "This is a quickie version of veggie-beef I created that's great to make when time is limited," Marilyn says. "But it still has all of the good flavors."
Meat and Potato Pizza
Chalk this recipe up as an occasional indulgence. It's topped with a totally mouth-watering combo of thin-sliced potatoes, bacon, sausage and a delectable garlic-rosemary butter. The recipe comes from Hidemi Walsh of Plainfield, Indiana.
Related: Recipes for So-Good Homemade Pizza
Lemon-Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Vegetables
Rub a blend of lemon peel, rosemary, thyme, parsley and garlic on the chicken before baking; Add fresh thyme sprigs and garlic bulbs around the chicken for even more flavor. Potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots make this a one-pan meal.
Cheeseburger-Style Meat Loaf Sandwich
Start with a darn-good glazed meat loaf. Add toasted French bread, melted Muenster and peppery arugula (to make it fancy). Then douse it all in special sauce (because fancy needs to loosen up).
Related: Super Sandwich Recipes
Bacon and Baked Potato Soup
Salty-smoky crumbled bacon tops our cheesy potato soup. "I made this soup and we loved it! Best potato soup ever!" writes one of our website reviewers. "I put carrots in mine; made it even better."
Related: Smoky, Sizzling Bacon Recipes
Old-Fashioned Chicken and Noodles Lasagna
The chicken, vegetables and gravy are as rib-stickingly good as you remember, or maybe even better, tucked up cozily under a blanket of dill Havarti.
Creamy Scalloped Potatoes
This easy-to-make layered cheesy potato dish—a potluck favorite—pairs well with pork chops or ham.
Sweet Potato-Corn Chowder
Cincinnati-area chef Paul Dagenbach upgraded the classic Midwest corn chowder. Sweet potatoes and andouille sausage made their way into the mix, along with cumin, chili powder and Cajun spice for a little zing.
Turkey Run Inn's Bread Pudding
A brown sugar and butter sauce completes this down-home dessert served at Turkey Run Inn at the state park in Marshall, Indiana.
Related: Decadent Bread Pudding Recipes
Never-Fail Rice Pudding
This warm and comforting dessert recipe, one of the winners in a Midwest Living Favorite Winter Recipes contest, comes from a Brookfield, Missouri, reader. Serve with raisins, dried cherries or dried cranberries for extra flavor and color.
Cranberry-Orange Wild Rice Muffins
This North Woods-inspired recipe from Cheryl Francke of Arden Hills, Minnesota, was a finalist in our Best of the Midwest recipe contest.
Related: Quick and Easy Muffin Recipes
With its rich meaty sauce and creamy cheese layers, this lasagna is always a favorite main dish.
Barbecue-Sauced Meat Loaf
This easy, saucy meat loaf makes a quick weeknight dinner—and a great sandwich the next day! We love it between slices of whole wheat bread with banana peppers, lettuce, onion and extra barbecue sauce.
Related: Fast-Fix Weeknight Recipes
Apple Harvest Chili
Fresh apple, dried fruit and cashews add color, sweetness and crunch to a ready-in-45 vegetarian chili. For a twist on the traditional toppers (and to hint what's inside), garnish with apple slivers.
Related: Top Vegetarian Recipes
Army and Lou's Macaroni and Cheese
This three-cheese specialty comes from the former Army and Lou's, a soul food eatery on Chicago's South Side. The one-dish masterpiece embodies everything we want in a comfort food: It's warm, it's fattening, and it revives childhood memories.
Related: Warm-and-Cheesy Recipes
Wisconsin Harvest Pie
This almond-kissed, fruit-packed pie comes from David Harper, of Richland Center, Wisconsin. He likes to serve it with a wedge of Wisconsin cheese, but it's just as good with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!
Related: Our Favorite Fall Pie Recipes