The culinary traditions in Minnesota are as unique and remarkable as the state itself. Minnesota is a cultural melting pot, with cultures hailing from Scandanavian to Italian and some truly authentic American influences that reflect themselves in the culinary heritage of the real North Star State. While Minnesota is known for its lakes and the twin cities, the food isn’t too far behind either.
Here is a list of some truly good food that is either found only in Minnesota or tastes the best in Minnesota.
Jucy Lucy, also known as Juicy Lucy is one of Minnesota’s most iconic culinary offerings. If people thought that cheesy burgers are a millennial trend, they clearly haven’t been to Minnesota before. Throughout the state, the Jucy Lucy finds a different variation of itself, right from the cheese to the meat, but it remains a fan favorite all across the state.
Minnesota has a large population of Swedish immigrants, dating back to over 150 years! It comes as no surprise that apart from Ikea, Minnesota is famous for its Swedish Meatballs. This Swedish delicacy consists of meat morsels, creamy mashed potatoes, sweet pickles and of course, the Swedish surprise, lingonberries.
The Hotdish is Minnesota’s answer to the casserole. This hotdish consists of starch (noodles or potatoes), veggies (maybe green beans or peas), a bit of protein, and a binder. The most common binder used is the cream of mushroom soup. All these ingredients are baked together and the Hotdish is one of Minnesota’s most loved dishes. Whether it is family gatherings or a Church event, there will be plenty of Hotdish to go around in the presence of a Minnesotan.
Jell-O Salad is one of the dishes that is as Minnesotan as it can get. This wiggly salad remains a popular dish throughout Minnesota even after the craze of Jell-o has died down all over America. While everyone else is feasting on Kale and Quinoa, Minnesotans love a slice of this ‘traditional’ salad. Jell-o much?
Another popular Norwegian delicacy, the Lefse is a dish cherished by many in Minnesota and is one to break through cultural barriers and make a place in the hearts of all Minnesotans. A Lefse is like a Norwegian tortilla, it is either served warm with loads of butter or is just as good served cold. This thin potato flatbread is one of the most versatile culinary delights out there. It can be served with butter, sugar, and cinnamon or with any sweet or savory delights.
SPAM, one of the most iconic dishes of the yesteryear, this canned meat has traveled all over the world with American troops and saved their lives. It continues to be an ongoing tradition and culinary choice in Minnesota. This canned ham has a large cult following in Minnesota, including a museum dedicated to it. SPAM, throughout Minnesota, is found in different forms, right from sandwiches to SPAM tots, Minnesota has it all.
Speaking of tots, they’re the perfect snack for Minnesotans. Perfectly crunchy on the outside and molten-chewy on the inside, tots are and have remained as a favorite in Minnesota.
No, this is not a congratulatory celebration, Booya is one of the most authentic (and delicious) culinary offerings that come from Minnesota. This special soup has a warm place in the hearts of Minnesotans. More than the soup, Booya is a celebration, one that brings a community together to celebrate an event and the love for food. Cooked overnight, this 40-gallon pot of slowly simmered on-bone meats, cabbage, carrots, celery, potatoes, rutabagas, corn, green beans, whole tomatoes, and tons of herbs and spices truly brings people together.
Bars are the Minnesota version of brownies or blondies. These are a potluck favorite and if there are no Bars, it is not a potluck. Baked in a 9-by-13-inch pan, layers of everything from Oreos to pudding to whipped cream, or all three, Bars are cut into squares and served individually. An interesting tradition of eating Bars is that no one picks up the last piece left on the platter.
Not just Swedish, Minnesota is home to a large number of Vietnamese immigrants as well. Food is an important part of any culture and one of the most recognizable aspects of Vietnamese culture is Pho. It is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup traditionally with chicken or beef broth and loaded with meats and herbs. Everything about this soup spells comfort for Minnesotans. One can find some of the best Vietnamese restaurants in the Twin Cities.
Wild Rice is a traditional Native dish of the Anishinaabe. Although it has a long history, it is now a modern-day staple in Minnesota. WIld rice, as the name suggests is best had when it is picked from the wild and not pre-packaged in a grocery store. Even though the name has rice in it, it is actually grass seed which is Minnesota’s state grain. Traditionally cooked like a soup, the Wild rice soup is a long-standing tradition in Minnesota. It is served either as creamy or brothy, subjective to one’s preference.
Walleye is hands down one of the most loved dishes in Minnesota. It is usually served in a beer-battered form or if one goes the modern route, it can also be found in sandwiches. There are many variations of the walleye, but one thing’s for sure, it is definitely loved by all, regardless of the way it is prepared.
The North Star state doesn’t shy away from expressing their love for food and it does so in a culturally inclusive way. The culinary delights of Minnesota are a true representation of its traditional values and inclusivity.