15 Old-School Midwestern Recipes Your Grandma Used to Make

Midwestern food might hold a certain reputation—there are only so many casseroles (and brown food) one can eat. But if you were lucky enough to grow up with a Midwestern grammy, you also know the joys of homemade meatloaf, sauerkraut and decadent beer cheese soup. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up 15 old-school Midwestern recipes so you can re-create the Great Plains at home.

18 Comforting Classics Your Southern Grandma Used to Make

1. Mini Bacon-wrapped Meatloaf

Sure, Gram might have frosted her meatloaf in the more traditional ketchup glaze. But it’s 2019, and you can step it up a notch.

2. Homemade Tater Tots

If you grew up in the heartland, you know it’s tots over fries any time.

3. Deep Dish Pizza

Is it pizza or is it a casserole? Who cares? It’s delicious.

4. The Best Potatoes Au Gratin Ever

The secret to making a Midwestern heart swoon is a heavy dose of potatoes and bubbling cheese.

5. Beer Cheese Soup With Soft Pretzels

It’s velvety smooth with just a touch of spice (and don’t worry, there are some veggies in there). But who are we kidding? The name speaks for itself.

6. Instant Pot Skyline Chili

If you grew up on Cincinnati-style chili, all others pale in comparison. It’s that hint of sweetness that gives it a certain je ne sais quoi. (Psst: It’s cinnamon.)

7. Five-ingredient Buckeyes

They made an appearance at every tailgate and Christmas cookie exchange, because peanut butter and chocolate is never a bad idea.

8. Veggie Supreme Detroit-style Pizza

If you’re not team deep-dish, maybe you’re team Detroit: crispy-cheesy edges, a pillowy-soft inside and the sauce on top, of course.

9. Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

It’s just like going to Culver’s—but don’t forget the bread-and-butter pickles.

10. Homemade Spicy Sauerkraut

The process is simple, but it’ll be a few days before you can enjoy your kraut. Serve it with grilled brats and spicy mustard to make it worth the wait.

11. Toasted Ravioli

If you grew up around St. Louis, you’ll recognize the singular dish that is fried, cheese-filled pasta. 

12. Tuna Noodle Casserole

Visiting Grandma meant this casserole was always on the menu…or any casserole, for that matter.

13. Reuben Sandwich

Rumor has it, the Reuben actually holds its origins in Omaha, Nebraska. As long as it’s corned beef (not pastrami), we’ll eat it.

14. Tater Tot Hot Dish

Everyone knows a hot dish (er—casserole, for the uninitiated) deserves a tater tot topping.

15. Hot German Potato Salad

Aka our personal favorite at every childhood potluck.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...