Classic American recipes through the decades

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1900: Jell-O Desserts

Photo courtesy of Belly Full

1910: “delicate foods”

1910:

© Martin Rettenberger / Dreamstime.com

According to food historian Sarah Wassberg Johnson, “delicacies” were all the rage among middle and upper class women in the 1910s. And although you can opt for tea sandwiches or mini cakes. , the most popular were mayonnaise-based salads such as chicken or egg salad. This version is a light version of the classic.

For the healthy egg salad recipe, click here.

1910s: Meatless Meal

1910s: Meatless Meal

Photo courtesy of McCormick

Between 1917 and 1918, in the middle of World War I, the United States sanctioned voluntary rationing to help free up food supplies for soldiers overseas. In doing so, many households have skipped meat on a weekday, which is also where the term “meatless Monday” was coined. As an ode to this era, whip up this vegetarian chili loaded with peppers, hearty sweet potatoes and corn.

For the Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili Recipe, click here.

1920s: Frozen cakes

1920s: Frozen cakes

Photo courtesy of Happy Money Saver

1920s: meals adapted to kitchenettes

1920s: meals adapted to kitchenettes

photominer / Shutterstock

According to Wassberg Johnson, more Americans began living in urban areas than rural areas in the 1920s and had to make do with apartment-sized kitchenettes. This change gave way to meals that didn’t require a lot of space to cook, like grilled cheese sandwiches, which were inexpensive in uncertain economic times and easy to prepare with three ingredients and a casserole dish.

For a classic grilled cheese recipe, click here.

1920s: Cocktails at home

1920s: Cocktails at home

Courtesy of the National Mango Council

1920s: ethnic foods like Chinese egg tart

1920s: ethnic foods like Chinese egg tart

Photo courtesy of Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs

Eating in Chinese, Italian, and bohemian restaurants was a popular pastime among the upper class in the 1920s, and the mix of cultures reshaped the racial landscape. This version of a Chinese egg tart is made special by its custard base with flavors of honey and orange juice.

For the Chinese Egg Tart Recipe, click here.

1930s: jazz music brings chicken and waffles

1930s: jazz music brings chicken and waffles

Photo courtesy of Perdue

The great post-WWI African-American migration from the south to northern cities was a key part of the 1930s. Black jazz creators were transforming urban pockets like New York City during what became known as the Harlem Renaissance. And with it came the invention of the beloved chicken and waffles. The next time you’re deciding what to do for brunch, try this mini take on the classic combo.

For the Buttermilk Chicken Waffle Bites recipe, click here.

1930s: Salads

1930s: Salads

Courtesy of Seasonal Munchies

Americans loved salads in the 1930s and that was largely due to the influence of Southern California and Hollywood. French-influenced dishes like leafy green salads have become more and more common. While there are hundreds of salad combinations to choose from, this springtime green salad with avocado chunks, blanched asparagus and delicate greens is a bowl of freshness.

For the Spring Green Asparagus Salad recipe, click here.

1930: American-Mexican cuisine like tamale pie

1930: American-Mexican cuisine like tamale pie

Photo courtesy of McCormick

People in the 1930s developed a new interest in Mexico and the American Southwest, which led to Americanized Mexican dishes like tamale pie. Typically, tamale pie is a two-step process that involves making the chili first, then the cornbread which is added on top before it is baked. This version is prepared in a slow cooker over several hours, which requires a lot of patience, but at least most of the cooking is hands-off.

For the Slow Cooker Tamale Pie recipe, click here.

1930s: macaroni and cheese

1930s: macaroni and cheese

Photo courtesy of Happy Money Saver

As families spent money in the 1930s due to the Great Depression, many Americans changed their meals as well as their parties. According to Wassberg Johnson, people would throw rental parties where they would cook low-cost bulk meals, like macaroni and cheese, and charge a fee for dinner so they could make a rent. This mac and cheese recipe is not only an inexpensive dinner dish, but it’s super creamy thanks to the addition of heavy cream and chicken broth in the cheese sauce.

For the mac and cheese recipe, click here.

1930s: Banana bread

1930s: Banana bread

Photo courtesy of Bits and Bites

1940s: Local dinners like tomato salad

1940s: Local dinners like tomato salad

Photo courtesy of Seasonal Cravings

1950s: Italian dishes

1950s: Italian dishes

AS Food studio / Shutterstock

The 1950s were an era of travel and foreign cuisine, including Polynesian, Chinese, German, Hungarian, Spanish, and Italian cuisines. This stracciatella soup is an Italian soup with a delicate meat broth and thin egg strands prepared by basting the egg mixture in a boiling broth and stirring gently until cooked through.

For the recipe for Stracciatella – Italian Egg Soup, click here.

1950s: “TV dinner” casseroles

1950s: “TV dinner” casseroles

Photo courtesy of McCormick

TV dinners were a hit in the 1950s, as most middle-class families now had televisions, and portable meal trays replaced sit-down dining in the dining hall across the country. Pans, valued for their time saving and ease of use in a pot, have become a popular choice. This dish is everything a casserole should be – gooey, cheesy, and hearty, with taco meat and beans topped with crispy tater tots and cheese.

For the recipe for the casserole topped with tacos, click here.

1960s: Hippie culture and vegetarian dishes

1960s: Hippie culture and vegetarian dishes

Photo courtesy of McCormick

The countercultural movement and the hippie way of life were an important part of the 1960s, and their way of life also influenced foods that were popular. They created their own free way of life and often followed vegetarian diets and rejected mass production of food which is not that far removed from what some Americans are following today. This farmer’s market-inspired one-pan chicken dish is a solid celebration of those ideals and those fresh, healthy flavors.

For the Farmer’s Market Chicken and Vegetable recipe, click here.

1960s: The Beatles and the curry

1960s: Hippie and curry culture

Photo courtesy of Perdue

The Beatles, who appreciated Indian food and East Asian cuisines, inspired 60s Americans to try it, too. This slow cooker red curry is an Americanized version of a classic Indian curry, but the addition of red curry paste adds a touch of authentic flavor.

For the Slow Cooker Red Curry Chicken recipe, click here.

60s: soul food

60s: soul food

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Temple

1980s: small vegetables reign supreme

1980s: small vegetables reign supreme

Photo courtesy of Boeuf. That’s what’s for dinner.

Micro-vegetables or small vegetables were all the rage in the 1980s and extremely popular in haute cuisine. This dish celebrates little peppers for all they are: small, stuffed, sweet and perfectly roasted. These colorful peppers are garnished with ground beef, spinach and couscous before being baked and then sprinkled with cheese.

For the recipe for Small Peppers Stuffed with Beef and Couscous, click here.

1990s: Midwestern cuisine

1990s: Midwestern cuisine

Photo courtesy of Pillsbury

The ’90s had a bit of everything, including a revival of Midwestern cuisine. There are plenty of screaming dishes in the Midwest (casseroles, fried porridge, hash – to name a few) but a classic easy pastry is a staple for Midwestern families. This Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake is a winner.

For the Country Apple Coffee Cake recipe, click here.

90s: “Lotta” slats

90s:

Candice Bell / iStock / Getty Images Plus

2000s: bacon on everything

2000s: bacon on everything

Photo courtesy of Jason Goldstein, Chop Happy

Meat-loving cooks were putting bacon on everything in the 2000s, of course following the trend set by famous chefs and restaurants. This guacamole is a great example of the bacon phase: take something already perfect (guacamole) and add bacon just because you can.

For the Bacon Guacamole recipe, click here.

2000s: Vegan desserts

2000s: Vegan desserts

Photo courtesy of Amanda Paa, Heartbeet Kitchen

2010s: Alternative meat

2010s: Alternative meat

Photo courtesy of Beyond Meat

One of the biggest food trends of the 2010s (which remains strong until 2020) concerns alternative meats as part of a more plant-based diet. Brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat offer meat-like products to replace red meat in burgers, sandwiches, tacos and more. This kimchi burger is a meatless meal full of flavor, with zesty Asian ingredients like garlic, chili and kimchi, and well-seasoned Beyond meat patties.

For the Kimchi Beyond burger recipe, click here.

2010s: Avocado Toast

2010s: Avocado Toast

Photo courtesy of Phil’s Fresh Eggs


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