Famous Food from Kansas

Plate of roast beef with carrots, potatoes & mushrooms. Sunflowers and cookbooks in background.

I was born in Topeka, Kansas, so it was especially exciting for me to put together our dinner of famous food from Kansas. The nostalgia was great, but actually finding authentic Kansas food was a little tricky. My brother says “Kansas is not really a cuisine hot spot.” And he is right. Sorry, Kansas! Sitting right in the middle of the country, with miles and miles of farmland, Kansas may not be known for its impressive cuisine, but there are still a few gems of delicious food. The Mennonite history and farming communities have greatly influenced the food culture in Kansas. Think hearty comfort food and you are on the right track.

Pot Roast

When farmers worked all morning in the field they looked expectantly to lunch to provide the sustenance to fuel the rest of their day. Often a meal would be started early, before moving on to farm chores, allowing the meal to cook while they are working. Pot roast was a popular option because the meat and vegetables could cook all together, and then be ready to eat as soon as they walked back through the door.

Plate of roast beef with potatoes, carrots and mushrooms piled on top. Sunflower in vase in background.

My mom was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. She didn’t live on a farm, but pot roast was still a weekly meal in her home. It was important to her family to honor Sundays as a Sabbath day of rest. This meant that much of the cooking for Sunday dinner needed to be done in advance. They would prepare a Jell-O salad on Saturday. Then on Sunday, they put a roast in the oven with some vegetables, so that it could cook while they were at church. This allowed them to come home to a hot and delicious meal, without a lot of work. In the afternoon they would take naps or read. I wonder how this would go over in our home today. It sounds like a wonderful break from our normally hurried lives.

Whole Wheat Bread

Kansas is the wheat state. The first wheat crop was planted in Kansas in 1839, but it didn’t grow well because of the hot and dry climate. The Mennonite immigrants introduced Turkey red wheat to Kansas in 1864 and at that point, wheat production really grew. Turkey red wheat was a heartier plant that thrived in Kansas conditions. Kansas is now one of the largest producers of wheat in the nation. It grows enough wheat to produce more than 36 billion loaves of bread each year!

Loaf of bread with 3 slices, and a ramekan of butter on the side.

Kansas Dirt Cake

I have no idea the history of Kansas Dirt Cake! There is no record of how it originated, or how it got its name. But we do know that Kansas has a lot of dirt, so maybe that had something to do with it.

Some call this recipe Kansas City Dirt Cake. Or you may know it as Dirt Pudding or Dirt and Worms. It is an easy-to-make dessert that kids and grown-ups love! And what is not to love about Oreos, pudding, and cream cheese? My recipe calls for white chocolate pudding, which is traditional for Kansas dirt cake. But outside of the state of Kansas, many use chocolate pudding. Either way, it is creamy, cool, and delicious! And pretty too!

3 individual bowls of Kansas dirt cake with snapdragons on top. Crumbs on the counter and spoons in the corner.

Famous Food from Kansas Menu

Kansas State Facts

  • Kansas is the 34th state in the US
  • Smith County is the geographical center of the United States
  • The windiest city in the United States is not Chicago, it is Dodge City, KS
  • The topography in Kansas is literally flatter than a pancake
  • Helium was discovered at the University of Kansas in 1905
  • Famous people from Kansas include: Erin Gierhart (haha!), Amelia Earhart, Hattie McDaniel, and Walter Chrysler

If this is the first state dinner you have enjoyed with us, check out our journey from the beginning, starting here.

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