26 Midwestern Dishes And How To Cook Them Right

When you think of dishes you can only find in the Midwest, a few things come to mind. Cheese, casseroles and other convenience dishes may seem like the cuisine of the region but from Ohio to Nebraska, you'll find so much more.

You see, the idea that America is a salad bowl of different cultures and countries doesn't apply only to the coasts. Many Europeans settled in the Midwest in the 19th and 20th centuries, bringing their food with them. Dishes like pierogies, kolaches, sauerkraut and Swedish meatballs may not be common in every restaurant in New York or L.A., but you sure as heck can find them all across the Midwest.

If you want to cook like a Midwesterner, stock up on your ground beef, pastry dough and spices — and yes, cheese — and learn to make these delicious regional recipes.

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati chili — that no-bean, sweet ground beef concoction, piled on top of spaghetti and served with ample amounts of cheddar cheese — is often misunderstood. But don't knock it till you try it. It's one of the most famous regional chilis in America for a reason.

For the Cincinnati Chili recipe, click here.

Coney Dog

What can we say? Midwesterners love putting chili on unexpected dishes. Coney dogs aren't a relic of New York City's Coney Island but are actually most closely associated with Michigan. Coney sauce varies across the state and some have beef heart, but this recipe keeps it simple (and accessible) by using ground beef.

For the Coney Dog Sauce recipe, click here.

Classic Beef Meatloaf

Day-to-day life in the Midwest is all about convenient, affordable, kid-friendly meals. The dish that does it best? A meatloaf. There are plenty of creative twists on meatloaf you can try, but this meatloaf is a traditional combination of ground beef, breadcrumbs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and spices.

For the Classic Beef Meatloaf recipe, click here.

Beer-cooked Bratwursts

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 Beer-cooked Bratwursts recipe, click here.

Crispy Sauerkraut-Ham Fritters

Pork and sauerkraut is a classic New Year's Day meal in many regions, thought to represent fortune and moving forward in the new year. But in Akron, Ohio, the combination of pork and kraut is deep-fried and a welcome appetizer any time of the year.

For the Crispy Sauerkraut-Ham Fritters recipe, click here.

Potato Cheese Pierogi

Polish immigrants brought pierogies to the Midwest, which are so beloved in some cities, you can have pierogies as a side instead of fries at restaurants! Recreate that wonder at home with this easy take on pierogies, which uses biscuit mix in the dough.

For the Potato Cheese Pierogi recipe, click here.

Grandma's Sloppy Joes

Midwesterners love a slow cooker meal, and meals made with canned ingredients. This better-than-Manwich sloppy joe recipe is the best of both worlds and perfect for a nostalgic dinner or a game-day gathering.

For Grandma's Sloppy Joes recipe, click here.

Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

How can a pounded and breaded pork tenderloin be improved? Throw it on a sandwich with some Dijon mustard. This sandwich, which is worthy of the dinner table, is a favorite in Indiana and across the Midwest.

For the Pork Tenderloin Sandwich recipe, click here.

Cheddar Bacon Cheese Ball

In most of the U.S., cheese balls are one of those retro appetizers that need to make a comeback. But in the Midwest, this cream cheese-based staple never left the buffet table.

For the Cheddar Bacon Cheese Ball recipe, click here.

Chicago-Style Hot Dog

While there are dozens of regional hot dog styles, few are as beloved as the "dragged through the garden" Chicago-style hot dog. An all-beef hot dog is tucked into a poppy seed bun and topped with mustard, celery salt, relish, onion, pickle spears, sport peppers and tomatoes. Ketchup need not apply.

For the Chicago-Style Hot Dog recipe, click here.

Broccoli Casserole

Casseroles aren't just for the holidays in the Midwest. Your vegetables can be combined with mayo, cream of mushroom soup and cheese any day of the year, as this broccoli and cheese casserole proves.

For the Broccoli Casserole recipe, click here.

Fried Mush

There are plenty of regional breakfast dishes you can make at home, but fried mush, a combination of cornmeal, water and salt, is an easy and budget-friendly dish. Primarily found in Indiana and Ohio, fried cornmeal mush is particularly satisfying when served crispy and topped with plenty of butter and syrup.

For the Fried Mush recipe, click here.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

You'll see all kinds of potato recipes in the Midwest, especially Idaho. Potato skins are at every party and mashed potatoes are on every dinner table. Heck, you may even see ice cream potatoes! But if you're looking for something super special, these loaded twice-baked potatoes are a star.

For the Twice-Baked Potatoes recipe, click here.

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish meatballs, one of the best ways to serve meatballs, are creamy, a little tangy and found all across the Midwest — not just at Ikea

For the Swedish Meatballs recipe, click here.

Taco Tater-Topped Hotdish

In Minnesota, no church potluck is complete without hotdish. A hotdish isn't specific, but you know this casserole full of meat and veggies when you see it. How will you instantly recognize this favorite regional dish? Because this hotdish, like the best ones, is topped with tater tots.

For the Taco Tater-Topped Hotdish recipe, click here.

Sweet Corn, Green Chile and Cheddar Pudding

In the late summer, fresh sweet corn is a way of life in the Midwest, especially in Iowa. You can make corn any number of ways — you can grill it, fry it or turn it into succotash. But if you want to go all-in on corn, it's hard to beat this savory corn, chile and cheddar pudding.

For the Sweet Corn, Green Chile and Cheddar Pudding recipe, click here.

Brandy Slush

It's not a summer party in Wisconsin without a big pitcher of brandy slush. There's no right way to make this Midwestern take on sangria, but it's usually a combination of brandy and juice — often a mix of concentrates — that's frozen until it turns into a refreshing, brain freeze-inducing beverage.

For the Brandy Slush recipe, click here.


Chocolate and peanut butter are a dynamite duo and they're showcased best in one of America's most iconic state foods, the Buckeye. This chocolate treat is made to look like a buckeye nut, which comes from the official state tree of Ohio.

For the Buckeyes recipe, click here.

Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey is right. This buttery, eggy St. Louis cake was supposedly invented by mistake when a baker mixed up the amounts of butter and flour in a cake recipe. And the result was amazing. Gooey Butter Cake is one of the must-try foods in America.

For the Gooey Butter Cake recipe, click here.

Homemade Muddy Buddies

Whether you call them muddy buddies, puppy chow, monkey munch or another name, these chocolatey, peanut buttery, powder-sugar-coated treats are a delightful childhood dessert you forgot about — unless you're at a potluck in the Midwest, that is. If you're allergic to peanuts, feel free to swap for the nut (or nut-free) butter of your choice.

For the Homemade Muddy Buddies recipe, click here.

Easy Sugar Cream Pie

One of the best dishes you can make from pantry staples, the sugar cream pie is made with milk, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and butter. One of the most-loved pies in America, this sugar cream pie is so beloved in its home state of Indiana, it's also called Hoosier Pie.

For the Easy Sugar Cream Pie recipe, click here.

Frozen Strawberry Custard

Wisconsin, known as America's Dairyland, has plenty of delicious cheese dishes. But no summer — or, let's be honest, winter — in the state is complete without homemade custard, made with only the freshest milk.

For the Frozen Strawberry Custard recipe, click here.

Air Fryer Polish Pączki

Pączki, also known as a Polish doughnut, are typically eaten on Fat Tuesday in the U.S., especially in cities with large Polish populations like Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee. You can make these from scratch or take a shortcut and use your air fryer for baking them.

For the Air Fryer Polish Pączki recipe, click here.


Also popular in Texas, kolaches are Czech pastries stuffed with cream cheese or any number of fruit fillings. You'll find these sweet li'l bites in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and beyond.

For the Kolaches recipe, click here.

Chocolate Cherry Fudge

Every state has a signature dessert, and in Michigan, that dessert is fudge. This easy, no-bake dessert recipe incorporates another Michigan classic: cherries.

For the Chocolate Cherry Fudge recipe, click here.

Swedish Kringle

The kringle is a ring-shaped pastry that originated in Scandinavia before becoming a favorite of Wisconsinites. This almond-topped version is so decadent and flaky that it's perfect for a holiday table or a proper Midwestern breakfast.

For the Swedish Kringle recipe, click here.

More from The Daily Meal:

50 Easy Dinner Ideas for Busy Weeknights

Every Regional Barbecue Style, Explained

Dinner Recipes From Your Childhood That Are Actually Incredible

These Sheet Pan Dinner Recipes Will Make Your Life So Easy

Classic Southern Recipes That Are Better Than Grandma's