When you think of dishes you can only find in the Midwest, a few things will immediately come to mind. America’s heartland is known for its cheese, casseroles, convenience dishes and American staples done with a particular regional flair. (Spoiler alert: That “flair” is probably just that the dish is deep-fried.) And while the Midwest is full of these indulgent, quick and easy dishes, those aren’t the only foods you’ll find from Ohio to Nebraska.
You see, the idea that America is a melting pot of different cultures and countries isn’t applied just to the coasts. In fact, many Europeans settled in the Midwest in the 19th and 20th centuries, bringing their food along with them. Thus, ethnic dishes like piergoies, pasties, sauerkraut and Swedish meatballs aren’t easily found in New York or L.A., but you sure as heck can find them all across the Midwest.
So if you really want to cook like a Midwesterner, stock up on your ground beef, pastry dough and spices — and yes, cheese and oil — and learn how to make these 21 timeless recipes.
How can a pounded and breaded pork tenderloin possibly be improved? If it’s thrown on a sandwich with some Dijon mustard. This twist on schnitzel is a favorite in Indiana.
For the Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches recipe, click here.
Ohio is also known as the Buckeye State, because buckeye trees used to cover the hills and plains of the Midwestern state. But because eating buckeye nuts will make you ill, Ohioans invented this chocolate treat. It’s like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, only 100 times better.
For the Buckeyes recipe, click here.
Buffalo Chicken Dip is a must-have at any Midwestern gathering. Birthday? Wake? Wedding? Family reunion? You can bet that you’ll find this spicy, cheesy dish served with a massive heap of Ritz crackers (though crackers aren’t necessary to enjoy this dip).
For the Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe, click here.
It’s classic Midwest to douse your healthy vegetables in cheese. Throw in some crisp rice for a little extra crunch, and you have an icon of the region.
For the Cheesy Broccoli Casserole recipe, click here.
Whenever Midwesterners come home for the holidays, it’s guaranteed there will be a casserole on the table. The ultimate casserole combo? Chili, cheese and tater tots.
For the Chili Cheese Tater Tot Casserole recipe, click here.
Cincinnati chili — that no-beans, sweet ground beef concoction piled on top of spaghetti and served with ample amounts of cheddar cheese — is much derided. But don’t knock it till you try it. It’s a regional favorite for a reason.
For the Cincinnati Chili recipe, click here.
What can we say? Midwesterners love putting chili on unexpected dishes. And don’t for a second think coney dogs are a relic of New York City. They’re actually most closely associated with Detroit!
For the Coney Dogs recipe, click here.
Day-to-day life in the Midwest is all about ultimate convenience, kid-friendly meals and stretching your dollar as far as possible. The dish that does that best? A meatloaf with Midwestern oats mixed into a ground beef/pork blend.
For the Meatloaf recipe, click here.
Nothing is more quintessentially Midwestern than spending a Sunday at a tailgate with a big ol’ beer and a sausage sandwich. But the most Midwestern thing? Putting beer and brats together in one dish.
For the Milwaukee Beer-Braised Bratwurst Sandwich recipe, click here.
This meat and vegetable hand pie is traditionally found in the U.K. — it is stuffed with corned beef, after all — but it made its way to the Midwest via Cornish miners in Michigan. Now it’s a staple of the state.
For the Pasties recipe, click here.
Puppy chow is made up of Chex cereal that is mixed with melted chocolate, peanut butter, and powdered sugar. Go to any party in the Midwest, and you'll find this snack right next to the chips. Depending on where in the region you live, this sweet treat also goes by the name Muddy Buddy and Money Munch.
Scotcheroos are a classic Midwestern win-win-win situation. They’re no-bake, they have just a handful of ingredients and they’re totally delicious.
For the Scotcheroos recipe, click here.
Quakers brought this pie over from Europe and transported it straight to the Midwest. It’s all cream and sugar and the perfect Midwestern picnic dish.
For the Sugar Cream Pie recipe, click here.
Midwesterners didn’t just get some of their iconic slang from Scandinavian immigrants, they got the food too. Swedish meatballs are creamy, a little tangy and impossible to resist.
For the Swedish Meatballs With Cream Sauce recipe, click here.
Invented in St. Louis, toasted ravioli is classic Midwestern fare. It’s an ethnic food, reimagined and deep-fried for the ultimate indulgent dish.
For the Toasted Ravioli recipe, click here.
When you talk about dishes that Midwestern moms make on the regular, you can’t beat a classic tuna noodle casserole. Mushrooms, peas, egg noodles and plenty of canned tuna complete this weeknight staple. And if you already knew how to make these Midwestern dishes, we bet you say these Midwest-only phrases.
For the Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe, click here.
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The Most Iconic Food From Every State
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