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.
Get Recipe: Contest-Winning Broccoli Chicken Casserole
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.
Get Recipe: Rich Fruit Kuchen
In Indiana and Iowa, dinner plate-sized pork tenderloins are breaded, fried, and served up on a soft hamburger bun. Start with our recipe, then turn it into a sandwich to make it Midwestern-authentic.
Get Recipe: Breaded Pork Tenderloin
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.
Get Recipe: State Fair Cream Puffs
If you find yourself at a county fair or festival in Indiana, chances are you'll see lots of happy customers chowing down on these cornbread-wrapped hot dogs on a stick. And that extra squiggle of mustard? It's a must.
Get Recipe: Indiana-Style Corn Dogs
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.
Get Recipe: Crunchy-Coated Walleye
These savory little pockets filled with meat, carrots, potatoes and onions were a lunchtime staple for copper miners in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Now they're the ultimate comfort food for Yoopers everywhere.
Get Recipe: Cornish Pasties
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.
Get Recipe: Basil Grilled Corn on the Cob
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.
Get Recipe: Brandy Old-Fashioned Sweet
If you haven't tried this smoother, thicker version of traditional ice cream, head to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the "unofficial frozen custard capital of the world." Or just whip it up at home, too, for an unbelievably creamy, frosty treat on a hot day.
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.
Get Recipe: Mom's Swedish Meatballs
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.
Get Recipe: Homemade Pierogies
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.
Get Recipe: Gooey Butter Cookies
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.
Get Recipe: Chicago-Style Beef Rolls
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.
Get Recipe: Sauerkraut Hot Dish
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.
Get Recipe: Midwestern Meat Pies
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.
Get Recipe: Grilled Beer Brats with Kraut
This rich, custard-style pie is so beloved in the state of Indiana, it also goes by the name of "Hoosier Pie." With a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg, it's as simple as it is delicious.
Get Recipe: Sugar Cream Pie
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.
Get Recipe: Homemade Cincinnati Chili
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.
Get Recipe: Loaded Tater Tot Bake
Head to "The Hill" neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, and you can bet you'll find these breaded, deep-fried ravioli appetizers on most restaurant menus. Dip 'em in marinara and thank us later.
Get Recipe: Toasted Ravioli Puffs
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.
Get Recipe: Kansas City-Style Ribs
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.
Get Recipe: Michigan Cherry Pie
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.
Get Recipe: Chili Coney Dogs
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.
Get Recipe: Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza
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.
Get Recipe: Buckeyes
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.
Get Recipe: Deep-Fried Cheese Bites