16 of Abraham Lincoln’s Favorite Foods

Though our 16th president lived during the 1800s, you'll be surprised and delighted to see how familiar Abraham Lincoln's favorite foods are!

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Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) seated and holding his spectacles and a pencil on Feb. 5, 1865 in portrait by Alexander Gardner.
Everett Historical/Shutterstock

Long before he was President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was known to put on an apron and help his wife cook dinner after a hard day’s work. He favored mostly simple food, like corned beef and cabbage, venison and apples.

See which dessert Mary Todd Lincoln is famous for.

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Apple Pie

Most of us have an all-time favorite food, and President Lincoln was no exception—the man loved apples. There’s really nothing more American than apple pie.

Use our tricks and you’ll make the best apple pie ever—honest!

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Chicken Fricassee

For dinner, Old Abe loved chicken fricassee. It’s not so common anymore, but it was a popular dish in the 1800s. It’s essentially a chicken stew in which the meat and vegetables are simmered in a rich sauce. What’s not to love?
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Gingerbread Men Cookies

There’s a well-known tale about Lincoln that centers around gingerbread men. As a child, he shared his delicious cookies with a boy less fortunate than he, and used this story to turn the tables in a famed debate against Stephen Douglas.
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The President was a fan of oysters any which way, but especially in a stew or pickled. Can you see him tossing back oysters on the half-shell?
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Lincoln was a fan of bacon (he was human, after all). It’s important to note that the bacon of the mid-19th century was different from the bacon of today. The pork would’ve been cut and rubbed with salt before being cured and smoked.
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Blackberry Pie

The inaugural dinner menu for the president’s first term was as bare-bones as they come—soup, meat, potatoes and blackberry pie were the only things on offer. Honest Abe appreciated good, uncomplicated food.
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Macaroon Tart

In contrast, the menu for Lincoln’s second inaugural meal was more opulent, including everything from pâté to lobster salad. The dessert list was long, but the macaroon tart surely stood out.
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Corn Cakes

Whether they’re called corn cakes, hoecakes, johnnycakes or corn pone, Mr. Lincoln loved them. He admitted to being able to eat them “as quickly as two women could make them!”
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Corned Beef and Cabbage

The savvy 19th century leader preferred rustic and comforting dishes like corned beef and cabbage, which also graced the menu of his first inaugural meal.

Find more recipes for classic comfort food dinners.

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It’s said that Lincoln could make a meal out of an apple and some nuts, but why not take it one step further and fry those apples up in some glorious melted butter? You really can’t go wrong with vintage apple recipes.
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Indeed, lunch for our 16th President was frequently as basic as some fruit and a biscuit. There’s something to be said for simple pleasures!
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Almond Cake

Mary Todd Lincoln was known for making an almond cake that her husband enjoyed often. Her recipe was reminiscent of a pound cake but made with egg whites instead of whole eggs.
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Though President Lincoln preferred water with most meals and didn’t drink alcohol, he wasn’t immune to a hot cup of coffee! (We hope he didn’t drink it on an empty stomach.)
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Game meat was often on the table during the 1800s, and venison was a staple for the Lincolns. They undoubtedly enjoyed it in a stew much like this. It’s time for game meat to make a comeback.
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Pecan Pie

Rumor has it that Abraham Lincoln sometimes left the White House to visit a local bakery for a taste of its pecan pie. He was born in Kentucky, so he would expect a pie laced with a bit of bourbon.
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Turkey Legs

It wasn’t uncommon to gnaw on a turkey leg when Lincoln was alive, and he is reported to have eaten them, too. Here’s a 21st century recipe for turkey legs—it’s hot and spicy!

Grace Mannon
Grace is a full-time mom with a Master's degree in Food Science. She loves to experiment in the kitchen and writes about her hits (and misses) on her blog, A Southern Grace.