Famous Food from Minnesota

Close up of taco hotdish

Guest post by Sara Ecklin

Minnesota, the lands of 10,000 lakes. Did you know that Minnesota actually has more shoreline than California, Florida, or Hawaii (if we are looking at lakes and ocean)? Even without having oceans, Minnesota wins! I grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota; known as “the birthplace of Minnesota.” It has a quaint downtown, like the ones you imagine when you think of small-town America; the kind with homegrown coffee shops, antique stores, local art, and dive bars.  If you are ever in Minnesota, add it to your list of places to visit.

Okay, enough about Stillwater, “What about food?” you ask? That’s what you’re here for, right? You probably associate Minnesota with a terrible accent (have you see the movie Fargo?), farmlands, and cold winters.  But here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (referred to as “the twin cities”) we actually have an amazing food scene, breweries galore, and a few distilleries sprinkled in too! Aside from the food scene, let’s talk about the most famous food from Minnesota.


If you’re like me, you hear the word “hotdish” and you think of an old church lady with a cross-stitched sweatshirt. Or maybe you are like, “What the heck is hotdish?” Have you ever heard of a casserole? The two can pretty much be used interchangeably, but here in Minnesota, it’s referred to as hotdish!

You can think of hotdish as a one-dish meal. It’s sort of like a one-pan meal, but much less healthy…ha! By definition, a hotdish usually contains some sort of condensed soup, vegetables, a starch, and a meat. But there are no hard and fast rules – throw a bunch of stuff in a shallow baking dish and you can pretty much call it a hotdish.

Casserole of taco hotdish, topped with jalapenos.

Wild Rice

Wild rice, now we’re talking! The church I grew up at has a fall festival every year called The Wild Rice Festival. Every year we’d line up for lunch, cafeteria-style, walk through the line and the church ladies (some probably wearing those cross-stitched sweatshirts) would scoop on our plates some chicken, canned green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and my favorite – wild rice! For real, my favorite was the wild rice. I love wild rice!

Wild rice is actually the seed from an aquatic grass. Technically speaking, it’s not even a grain. However, it is Minnesota’s state grain. Maybe the deciders of our beloved “state grain” didn’t realize it’s actually a seed! Wild rice grows naturally in shallow waters of lakes, marshes, and streams throughout central and northern Minnesota. Fun fact: Most of the wild rice produced in the world comes from Minnesota.

Bowl of Mexican wild rice, topped with chopped tomatoes and cilantro.

Apple Crisp

I’m not quite sure how unique apple crisp is to the state of Minnesota, but I can tell you that when fall rolls around, Minnesotans flock to apple orchards to get their hands on local, fresh apples. It’s pretty much a rite of passage if you live in the state. And one of the best fall treats is an apple crisp! Warm, baked apples with a crisp oat topping. Delish!

One of my all-time favorites is the Honeycrisp apple. They explode with crispness and sweetness; they are exactly how an apple should taste in my opinion. And, the best part is that they were developed at the University of Minnesota! Thank you, U of M!

Ramekin of apple crisp topped with ice crema, and a skillet of apple crisp in the background.

Famous Food From Minnesota Menu

Minnesota State Facts

  • Minnesota was the 32nd state in the US
  • The Mall of America, located in Bloomington, MN, is the nation’s largest mall. It is the size of 78 football fields!
  • The first open-heart surgery was performed at the University of Minnesota
  • Minnesota produces over 44 million turkeys each year! That’s more than 7 times the number of people in the state
  • Minneapolis is home to the oldest continuously running theater, the Old Log Theater
  • Famous people from Minnesota include: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, and Bob Dylan

About the Author

Sara Ecklin lives in Minnesota in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area. She is a clean foodie and loves sharing her passion for clean and healthy eating with others. Her blog, Clean Plate Mama, focuses on easy and clean recipes made from all real food. She provides information on ingredients used and how to keep them clean. In addition, she has informative posts on all things food to help educate others on how to shop for real/clean foods and how to read food labels. You can also connect with her on Instagram @CleanPlateMama

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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