12 of George Washington’s Favorite Foods

He might've been busy as the President, but George Washington always found time for excellent meals with friends and family.

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George Washington painting
Everett - Art/Shutterstock

A revolution and a presidency couldn’t stop George Washington from feasting on everything from roast beef and fish to tarts and other desserts. The many visitors to Mount Vernon knew George and Martha would host a wonderful meal!

See what Martha Washington loved to eat, too.

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Cherry Pie

We all know the story about young George and the cherry tree. It turned out not to be a true tale, but the man did love cherries. He would never say no to a slice of pie, though some historians say that a walnut pie might be more accurate.

See how George Washington’s favorite foods compare to other U.S. presidents.

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Our first president was quite a fan of nuts—hazelnuts, walnuts and hickory nuts were his preferred snacks. One wonders how he ate them with his faulty teeth, though.
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Boozy Cakes

George’s dear wife Martha made a whiskey cake that he reportedly loved, and it’s still popular today. Her recipe relied on egg whites for volume and was packed with fruit and spices (and plenty of booze).
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Hoe Cakes

Like our 16th president, our first president also had an affinity for hoe cakes, pancake-like rounds made with corn meal. They’re called “hoe cakes” because in desperate times, they were cooked on a type of iron pan called a hoe.
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Washington was a big fan of fish and ate it nearly every day in a variety of preparations. Broiled was a favorite, and he even had it for breakfast from time to time.
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In addition to Martha’s cake, George is said to have been a fan of trifles. The trifle of the 1700s was a bit different from what we know and love today, though. Learn more about traditional and modern trifles here.
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Adult Beverages

President Washington loved his spirits, especially beer and wine. After dessert at Mount Vernon, George would linger with guests over apples, raisins, two kinds of nuts, port and madeira. He favored port so much, in fact, that his artificial teeth were stained for good!
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Lamb & Mutton

Washington’s first state dinner was a simple affair, with leg of mutton as the main course. It was hosted at the President’s personal residence in New York, before the White House was built.
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The Washingtons loved fresh fruit and always seemed to have melons on the menu. Did the President sprinkle his watermelon with salt? We’ll probably never know.

Here’s how to tell when a watermelon is ripe.

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Ice Cream

Desserts were apparently quite plentiful during Washington’s time and in his diet, and many of the options were surprisingly decadent. Ice creams and custards were common (though probably not in any of these crazy flavors), as were cakes and pies.
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Pickled fruits and vegetables were a staple on the Washingtons’ table, and since melon was so rife, they undoubtedly had pickled watermelon rind often. Learn how to make pickles at home, too.
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Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes were a typical side dish in the Washington household. I one can’t help but wonder if the President preferred his serving savory with butter and herbs—or sweet with syrup and cinnamon!

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.