Minnesota’s Famous Foods: 10 Dishes to Try Out
When people think of Minnesota, they think of things like cold weather, ice fishing, tall green pine trees, and lakes – so many lakes. But many people don’t realize that Minnesota is a foodie’s paradise, not just for the Scandinavians among us.
Of course, Swedish delicacies such as lefse, lingonberries, and Swedish meatballs sit high on the list, but chefs all over the North Star State have some world-class dishes to share with whoever can find them.
MN’s iconic foods
Are you planning a food tour around the Gopher State? Or, want to know a few things to tantalize your taste buds? Whether you try all or a few, these Minnesota iconic foods are not only Viking fans’ favorites but favorites for anyone who pays a visit.
You can’t visit Minnesota without trying lefse, the traditional soft Norwegian flatbread. Made primarily with flour, lefse can include riced potatoes and always contains enough butter, milk, cream, or lard to make those arteries wonder what hit them. And there are so many ways to enjoy your lefse, but some of the most popular are:
- Spread with butter and sprinkle with brown sugar
- Spread with your favorite jam or jellies – incorporating lingonberries is a plus
- Lathered with Nutella and wrapped around your favorite crepe fixings
- Wrapped around some fresh and warm Swedish meatballs
And though many Minnesota kitchens have the art of making lefse down to a science, the best places to give it a try are Norsland Lefse in Rushford, MN or Lynn’s Lefse at the Minnesota State Fair in late August through early September.
2. Swedish Meatballs
Swedish meatballs are a year-round favorite amongst northerners. Smaller in size than the Italian meatball you are probably more familiar with, Swedish meatballs are typically made with a 50-50 ratio of ground pork and ground beef.
To find the best Swedish meatballs to wrap in your lefse or enjoy the traditional way, head over to the FIKA Café within the Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. Want to compare more than one meatball? Make your way to the Taste of Scandinavia Bakery & Café, conveniently located in North Oaks, Little Canada, and Bloomington.
3. Juicy Lucy
Minnesota is about far more than simply Scandinavian fare, and who doesn’t love a good burger, anyway?
If you’ve never tried a Juicy Lucy, you are in for a wild ride. The Lucy contains all of its cheesy goodness inside the burger instead of on the top. So, when you bite into your burger, prepare for an ooey gooey taste explosion (and a little bit of mess).
It’s hard to get Minnesotans to align on their favorite Lucy, so make a weekend of it and try more than one. Fan favorites can be found at the 5-8 Club or at Matt’s Bar & Grill. Be warned, though, as both locations claim to be the originators of this mouth-watering cheeseburger.
Definitely not a Swedish treat, but Minnesotans love this sweet Czech-inspired pastry. This doughy, fruit-filled delight is most often stuffed with mouth-watering goodness, such as apricot, prune, poppyseed, and sweet cheese. Apple, raspberry, and blueberry are popular favorites too.
To get your Eastern European on, make your way to Franke’s Bakery in Montgomery, MN.
5. Mahnomin Porridge
We know this one is a mouthful, and we promise it’s not just when you try to pronounce the name. Made with wild rice, hazelnuts, dried blueberries and cranberries, maple syrup, and whipping cream, you’ll be wondering how such a combination can be so delectably delicious.
You have to trust us on this one too. Pay a visit to Hell’s Kitchen, a favorite basement-situated restaurant in downtown Minnesota, and order the porridge. Just come hungry because this porridge will stuff you to the brim.
Please bring a friend while you are at it, and have them order lemon ricotta pancakes to share. These pancakes are so yummy you’ll wonder why they didn’t make our list (and they should have).
If you’ve read anything about the great state of Minnesota, then you know all about walleye. Walleye is native to smaller lakes in the state but has also been stocked in many larger lakes as it is a popular game and food fish.
But if you don’t want to catch and fillet it on your own, don’t worry. There are many great places in Minnesota to get your walleye on.
Check out the Minnesota Nice Café in Bemidji, the Burntside Lodge in Ely, or The Boulders in Walker. And if you don’t have time to visit these beautiful northern Minnesota locations, don’t worry; you can still enjoy some fantastic walleye at Magnolia’s Restaurant or The Tavern on Grand in St. Paul.
7. Raspberry Bread Pudding
If you are ready for a sweet treat, you are in luck. And many a visitor has hailed Amboy Cottage Café in Amboy, MN, as the creators of the best bread pudding in the world.
A popular dish all over Europe (and apparently in Minnesota), bread pudding is made from cubed stale bread combined with a mixture of milk, sugar, and eggs, baked into a delectable dessert.
But this bread pudding isn’t made for the faint of heart – come hungry and not on the same day you enjoyed that Mahnomin porridge because this will surely fill you up.
We can’t stop with these amazing foods that Minnesota has to offer. But have you ever heard of a pasty? Not to be confused with a pastry, a pasty is actually a savory concoction, chock full of diced or minced beef, potato, onion, and turnip or rutabaga.
Though Minnesota can’t claim fame for the origin of this dish (that notoriety goes to the Upper Peninsula to the east), Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors, MN, serves legit pasties that need to be on your list of Minnesota iconic foods to try. And while you’re there, try their pie, too. After all, it is called Betty’s Pies for a reason!
9. Chocolate Chip Cookies
Who doesn’t love a chocolate chip cookie? But we promise you’ve never tasted a chocolate chip cookie quite like a Sweet Martha’s cookie. Sweet Martha’s makes about one million cookies a day if that tells you anything. And it’s for good reason that Minnesota State Fairgoers will stand in some of the longest lines at the fair, waiting for these melty sweets.
But don’t worry. You don’t need to wait for the fair to try these cookies. Pay attention to other upcoming events where Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar will attend.
10. Hot Dogs and Bologna
Okay, so bologna has never made it to the list of your favorite foods, but we think it will now, especially after you try what Nerstrand Meats & Catering has to offer.
Their website says that Nerstrand’s premium certified Angus beef, natural casings, and wood smoking process have them voted as one of the best meat processors in Southern Minnesota. With ready-to-eat hot dogs and bologna, you’ll quickly see why.
You can stuff yourself silly in Minnesota
Without a doubt, Minnesota has some fanfare foods that will have you scheduling your next trip to the North Star State. Make a week of it while you are here and see all Minnesota offers.
From over 10,000 lakes to various sporting events to plenty of museums and art galleries for people of all ages, Minnesota can help you get your fill culturally and with some of the best foods you’ll find across the northland.