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.
South Dakota Peach Kuchen
German settlers brought the recipe for this tender coffee cake to the northern plains. The industrious pioneers changed up the taste by folding local fruits into the batter: apple, gooseberry, plum and even no-fruit cottage cheese. Here's our biscuitlike version with summery peaches. Serve it warm for breakfast or with ice cream for dessert.
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.
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.
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.
Beans and Ham Hocks
Thanks to the ham hocks, the only seasoning needed in these homey beans is a bit of salt.
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.
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!
Ozark Blackberry Cobbler
A sugared crispy pastry covers sweet juicy berries in this traditional dessert from the Monte Ne Inn near Rogers, Arkansas.
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.
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.
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.
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! The recipe was a finalist in our annual recipe contest.
Breakfast Wild Rice
Kansas Sunflower Cookies
Seeds from the Sunflower State (along with rolled oats and shredded coconut) star in this crunchy favorite.
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.
War Eagle Mill Buttermilk Biscuits
"My recipes are like my children. I'd hate to single one out as a favorite," says Zoe Caywood, who worked for many years as a miller at War Eagle Mill just east of Rogers, Arkansas. These biscuits are from one of Zoe's cookbooks. The recipe blends wheat and all-purpose flours for a fuller flavor than traditional biscuits.
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.
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.
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.
Dell's Branding Day Meat Loaf
Season ground beef with onion soup mix in this easy meat loaf. The recipe comes from South Dakota's Triangle Ranch B&B, where the ketchup-glazed meat loaf feeds crews hungry from long days in the corral.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Badger State Muffins
This cinnamon- and coriander-spiced muffin highlights Wisconsin-grown produce, including apples and cranberries.
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.
Luscious Lemon Bars
Sweet and tart, these moist, powdered sugar-topped classics will disappear fast at a potluck.
True Butterscotch Pie
The trick to the filling in this Iowa State Fair prizewinning recipe? Stirring and stirring while it cooks. The recipe comes from Louise Piper of Garner.
Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish
Beefy Chili Dogs
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.