9 Foods That Prove the Midwest Rules

Those of us from the Midwest know a few things besides how to de-ice a windshield and the best strategy for obliterating an opponent in a game of cornhole: We know amazing local eats. Celebrate the heartland with these nine things you know you crave if you're a Midwesterner.

1. CINCINNATI CHILI

This chili is flavored with warm spices and served two-way (with spaghetti), three-way (add cheese), four-way (add raw onion), or five-way (add kidney beans). With Saveur’s complete recipe, make it any way you like!
Photo: Sarah Anstett’s Cincinnati Chili Recipe from Home with The Lost Italian

2. CHICAGO-STYLE HOT DOG

Chicago is the only place you will be harassed for putting ketchup on your hot dog. This all-beef dog gets dragged through the garden with tomatoes, pickles, sweet relish, mustard, sport peppers, raw onions, and celery salt. Try this recipe from Martha Stewart, which shows you how to properly build a Chicago dog.
Photo/Recipe: Chicago Hot Dog / Martha Stewart

3.  BEER-BRAISED BRATWURSTS WITH ONIONS

Thanks to its population of German immigrants, Wisconsin’s become known as the brat state. These beer-braised brats with onions from our team at CHOW.com hit the spot, especially after being browned in butter.
Photo/Recipe: Beer Braised Bratwursts with Onion / CHOW.com

4. KANSAS CITY STYLE BARBECUE SAUCE

Whether you like to smoke your pulled pork or cook it in a slow cooker, you can’t forget the sweet, spicy, smoky flavor of Kansas City–style barbecue sauce. The Noble Pig’s recipe uses a tomato base, kicked up with two different kinds of vinegar, dark molasses, and even a bit of steak sauce.
Photo/Recipe: Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce / Noble Pig

5. HOOSIER SUGAR CREAM PIE

This pie was traditionally made in Indiana during the long winters when no fresh fruit was available, and is now the state pie of Indiana. Revived by Chef Paula Haney of Hoosier Mama Pie Company, you can find the recipe at Leite’s Culinaria.
Photo/Recipe: Paula Haney's Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie from Leite's Culinaria

6. BUTTER CAKE

Originally hailing from St. Louis, this cake is actually a yeasted dough topped with a butter and sugar batter, with a texture similar to coffee cake. Make this from-scratch version from the Brown Eyed Baker to bring a little bit of Missouri heaven into your home.
Photo/Recipe: Gooey Butter Cake from Brown Eyed Baker

7. CHEESE CURDS

If you’ve ever been to Wisconsin, you’ve probably visited one of their many cheese shops for cheese curds. Yes, fresh curds actually squeak when you bite into them, and you can make your own at home with this recipe from Culture magazine.
Photo: Cheese Curds / Swell Food

8. DETROIT-STYLE CONEY DOGS

Coney Island hot dogs hail from Detroit, Michigan, and are topped with a meat-only chili, cheese, and raw onions. Bring the taste back with this recipe from Simply Scratch.
Photo/Recipe: Detroit-Style Coney Dogs / Simply Scratch

9. PEANUT BUTTER–CHOCOLATE BUCKEYES

Ohio is known as the Buckeye State, named after their local chestnut trees. Most Ohioans know how to make buckeyes from scratch, a peanut ball dipped in chocolate that resembles the chestnuts (think of it as the first Reese’s PB cup). Get the recipe from Serious Eats and be on your way to buckeye bliss.
Photo/Recipe: Peanut Butter–Chocolate Buckeyes / Serious Eats

Leena Trivedi-Grenier is a Bay Area food writer and cooking teacher with an undying love for pot stickers. She earned her master's in gastronomy from Le Cordon Bleu. Her writing appears on her blog Leena Eats and in various food-based encyclopedias.

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