The 19 Most Fun and Popular Desserts in the Midwest
The Midwest of America are collectively known as America’s Heartland because of their amount of involvement in manufacturing, farming, and network of cities and towns that all come together to be the very representation of the United States. When it comes to natural wonders, the Midwest is home to such beautiful sights as the Great Lakes, the Northwoods, and even the Northern Lights and some beautiful Autumn foliage up toward Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
The Midwest is also full of all kinds of attractions, tourist destinations, and fun, yet educational things to see and do including Mount Rushmore, genuine Amish communities, the famous Mall of America, and they are well known for their many State Fairs as well.
But you know us and you know we love our desserts, so let’s take a tour of the Midwestern United States, which are the states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, and check out our picks for the 19 most fun and popular desserts that these states are best known for!
Chocolate Covered Potato Chips – North Dakota
Some people might find this combination quite weird, but apparently some Midwesterners really go hard when it comes to their sweet and salty combinations. These unique snacks are usually made with potato chips that have ridges because they hold more chocolate than regular potato chips can, and they can come in a variety of chocolates from milk, to dark, to white.
Gooey Butter Cake – Missouri
This ooey gooey bit of heaven out of St. Louis came about because a baker made a simple mistake when they accidentally swapped the amounts of flour and sugar. This cake is true to its name with its sticky sweet, buttery texture and taste, but now bakeries also offer it in flavors like apple, peanut butter, and chocolate as well.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad – Ohio, Iowa
Strawberry Pretzel Salad has been a customary holiday dessert as well as a sweet and salty summertime favorite at many a Midwestern table throughout the years, and although this recipe was first discovered in a 1960’s copy of The Joy Of Jell-o, it is believed that this recipe has Midwestern roots. It’s similar to a cheesecake but with a pretzel crust, a cream cheese, whipped cream, and sugar mixture, and then a layer of strawberry Jello on top with fresh strawberries.
Bumpy Cake – Michigan
The iconic Bumpy Cake was born in Detroit, Michigan, at the Sanders Candy Company shortly after it opened in 1875. The Bumpy Cake is a chocolate cake that is coated in a rich buttercream icing, then some “bumps” of buttercream, and finally covered in a chocolate ganache. You can either make the delicious recipe at home or order one of these famous cakes from Sanders online!
Watergate Salad – Midwestern US
Although not attributed to one particular state, Watergate Salad has become quite a popular dish at summer cookouts, potlucks, and holiday dinners all throughout the Midwestern United States. The salad consists of mini marshmallows, chunks of pineapple, and pecans all mixed in a pistachio pudding base and was first popularized when Pistachio Pudding Jello boxes came with the recipe on them in the mid 80’s, but it wouldn’t be until the 90’s that it would gain the name of Watergate Salad.
Peach Kuchen – South Dakota
This delicate coffee cake is a product of German immigrant settlers, but pioneers improved upon the recipe by adding fresh, local fruits to it such as apples, gooseberries, plums, and they even added cottage cheese instead of fruit. However, South Dakota’s favorite version of Kuchen is their beloved peach, which can be served as either a breakfast item or warm with ice cream for dessert.
Oreo Fluff Salad – Midwestern US
As you can tell, the Midwest is famous for its dessert salads, and Oreo Fluff Salad is certainly no exception. Made with instant vanilla pudding, whipped cream, and Oreo cookies, this dessert is a fluffier, creamier version of the cookies and cream flavor many of us know and love so well.
Shaker Lemon Pie – Ohio
This pie was born of the Ohio Shakers, who were descendants of an 18th Century ascetic movement, hence the name. The recipe consists of a buttery, flaky crust and a citrus filling that is much like a curd that’s made with sugar, eggs, and lemons. Sometimes, ginger or blackberries are added for a bit of extra flavor.
Bundt Cakes – Minnesota
Bundt cakes come from the Bundt pan, which was crafted and popularized by the Nordic Ware bakeware company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the 1950’s, and were modeled after European fruit cakes. Although no one particular recipe for Bundt cake is prevalent, the most popular ones seem to be pound cake.
Sugar Cream Pie – Indiana
Legend has it that some Hoosier Quakers were inspired to concoct this recipe because they didn’t have any apples; it’s a mix of sugar, cream, and flour all mixed in a crust. No, there’s nothing missing, the recipe is just that simple. However, no matter how simple it is, there is no denying just how tasty this Indiana creation is! Sugar Cream Pie became the official pie of Indiana in the year 2009.
Ambrosia Fruit Salad – Midwestern US
Another popular dessert salad, Ambrosia Fruit Salad is slightly tropical with its inclusion of pineapple, coconut, and mandarin oranges. All of these fruits are mixed in a whipped-topping base and topped with lots of nuts and maraschino cherries.
Butterscotch Pie – Midwestern US
This pie is popular in both the Midwestern states as well as the Southern states, but its true origins are largely unknown. To make this pie, all you need is a pie crust and a butterscotch base of caramelized sugar, butter, eggs, and milk.
Paczki – Illinois
Particularly popular in Chicago, Illinois, on Fat Tuesday, the last Tuesday before Lent, this Polish dessert is kind of like a donut but without the hole and it’s filled with custard or a fruit jam, then it’s sprinkled with powdered sugar and orange zest. In Poland, the most popular filling for this dessert is Plum jam.
Dutch Letters – Iowa
There are bakeries in Iowa that make and serve this traditional Dutch pastry, which is shaped like an S and filled with almond paste. It’s said by some that the S stands for Sinterklaas, but of course this pastry could be adapted to any sort of S name, or simply just be called “sweet.”
Cookie Salad – Midwestern US
Here we go with the popular dessert salads again; the Cookie Salad is made with those fun fudge-striped shortbread cookies, pineapple, and mandarin oranges all folded into a thick, creamy vanilla pudding. It’s cool and refreshing, yet has a slight crunch and added sweetness with the fudge striped shortbread cookies.
Blue Moon – Midwestern US
Blue Moon is a mysterious ice cream dessert that is about as blue as a Smurf can get! It’s sweet, but everyone who tries it says it has a different flavor than some others who have tried it. This is one you can’t make at home, as the recipe is under lock and key and no one outside of the manufacturer knows it. Some of the possible flavors it might contain include vanilla, lemon, pistachio, blue curacao, and bubblegum among many others.
Layered Jello Salad – Midwestern US
If you’re going to be visiting the Midwest at any time, it’s important to know now that Jello is seemingly unavoidable – and that’s okay! This dessert is made by alternating colorful layers of Jello with creamy layers, creating a rainbow of flavor.
Cherry Pie – Michigan and Wisconsin
The best cherries for a pie are fresh, tart cherries, and it just so happens that they’re plentiful in the fruit-belt that travels along Lake Michigan and Door County, Wisconsin.
Frozen Custard – Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is known as the “Custard Capital of the World,” as it’s sold there more than anywhere else in the world. However, Frozen Custard is a gourmet frozen dessert that is made with sugar, eggs, and cream. This dessert originated in Coney Island, New York, at the carnival where it became a popular treat.
Although there are many other fun, popular Midwestern desserts out there just waiting to be discovered by the rest of us, this guide with our 19 picks for the most fun and popular ones is a great start.