The 30 Best Midwestern Recipes Ever, Ranked
From wild rice hot dish to Cincinnati chili, we're naming the most midwestern foods ever. Did your favorite make the cut?
The casserole might as well be the official dish of the Midwestern states. Always comforting, easy to throw together on a weeknight and-more often than not-loaded with a generous portion of cheese, casseroles-like this broccoli chicken cheesy version-are a Heartland favorite for good reason.
The official state dessert of South Dakota, kuchen is made from a sweet dough, custard and filling of apples, peaches, prunes, apricots, rhubarb or any combination of favorite fruits.
At the Wisconsin State Fair, you’ll find an entire pavilion dedicated to pumping out these airy dairy treats. There’s no dainty way to eat them, so just dig in and embrace the whipped creamy goodness.
The Midwest is a major producer of oats, and Midwesterners know they help make a meat loaf that’s super moist, dense and a family favorite, again and again.
Lake Superior makes for the perfect environment to grow wild rice, which Minnesotans add to soups, stews, stuffing and-of course-casseroles (or “hot dish” as locals would say).
The preferred ingredient in a classic Wisconsin-style fish fry, walleye tastes even better breaded in a crunchy coating and served with potato pancakes and applesauce.
Cornfields abound all over the Midwest, and the best way to put those cobs to good use is to slather them in butter, add a little fresh basil, and grill ’em up-always in the husk-on a sunny summer day.
It’s been said that the state of Wisconsin is responsible for 90 percent of the world’s brandy consumption, and once you try it in the state’s signature twist on a classic Old Fashioned cocktail, you may never go back to the whiskey version again.
Scandinavians flocked to the Upper Midwest in the early 19th century, bringing with them these creamy, saucy meatballs loved as an appetizer or as a meal with noodles. And-uff da!-are we ever happy they did.
A staple at church suppers, holiday gatherings and family potlucks, scalloped potatoes smothered in a rich, cheesy sauce are a Midwesterner’s side dish dream come true.
Midwestern cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Detroit can thank their large Polish populations for introducing these little dumplings stuffed with potatoes, sauerkraut, cheese or meat. Make this recipe at home to pump yourself up before heading to Whiting, Indiana’s Pierogi Fest every July.
This sticky sheet cake made with a combination of butter, sugar and eggs over a chewy crust is a staple sweet in the city of St. Louis. Believed to be the result of a recipe snafu by a local bakery in the 1930s, this quirky dessert is the definition of a “happy accident.” Try them in this handheld version, slightly easier to eat at parties.
Whether you dip ’em or eat ’em as-is, these seasoned roast beef sandwiches with giardiniera peppers are a Chicago mainstay. They may be messy, but the risk is more than worth the reward.
We’re doubling down on two Midwestern favorites here. Sauerkraut can be found all over the Heartland topping bratwurst, stuffed in pierogies, sandwiched with corned beef and stirred into hot dish (or “hotdish”), the Minnesotan version of a classic casserole.
Nebraska knows these bread-pocket sandwiches stuffed with beef, pork, cabbage, onions or sauerkraut are a true local delicacy. In fact, the Runza Restaurant chain, which originated in Lincoln, Nebraska, has a trademark on the name “runza,” and has popularized the sandwich across the Cornhusker state and beyond.
The essence of summer barbecues and tailgate parties in the Midwest, brats may be simple, but they’re spectacular. Wisconsin does them right, boiled in beer, sizzled up on the grill and piled with a generous portion of kraut. They’re simply the best of the wurst.
Chocolate and cinnamon may sound like curious additions to a chili recipe, but once you pile it on spaghetti and top it “three-way,” “four-way” or beyond with cheese, onions and beans, you’ll see why it’s become an addictive favorite well past its namesake city’s borders.
Where else but the Midwest would it be acceptable to combine bacon, cheese, sour cream and Tater Tots into one bubbling dish and call it “supper?” It’s hard to imagine another recipe that’s more comforting than this-and, frankly, we wouldn’t want to.
Where the country’s best barbecue can be found is up for debate, but the slow-smoked style covered in a thick tomato-molasses sauce popular in Kansas City is definitely up there. Want something doubly local to the region? Make barbecued burnt ends from smoked brisket, and douse it with that spicy-sweet sauce.
Michigan grows about 75 percent of the nation’s tart cherries, and Traverse City, Michigan, calls itself the “cherry capital of the world.” There, they put those crimson beauties to good use in a simple cherry pie with the most delicious hint of pucker.
Whatever you do, don’t assume these sloppy hot dogs are a product of New York. They’re true-blue Michigan through and through, and Detroiters especially are passionate about their coney dogs-topped with a ground beef chili sauce, a stripe or two of yellow mustard and chopped onions.
Chicago-style pizza is a spectacle in itself: a super-thick, buttery crust pressed up the sides of a deep pizza pan, loaded with heaps of mozzarella, traditional toppings and a layer of chunky tomato sauce on top. Though New Yorkers may scoff at the knife-and-fork variety of pie, there’s just no way you’re picking up a slice of this pizza with your hands.
These simple rolled candies can be found at potlucks, tailgate parties and holiday get-togethers all across the state of Ohio. To make them authentically, leave a small portion of the peanut butter ball open when you dip it in smooth chocolate, making them resemble their namesake nut, and state tree of Ohio.
Oh, Wisconsin. We love you for your indulgent snacks free of inhibition-and especially for your proclivity for deep frying just about anything. These little curds of young cheddar cheese are the perfect shape for battering, frying, piling on a plate next to a juicy burger, or enjoying them all on their own with marinara or ranch dipping sauce. If there’s anything more Midwestern than bite-sized balls of deep-fried cheese, we’re not aware of it.