what foods is indiana known for

Famous Indiana Foods – We Found 10 Of the Best

Indiana has been a state for a long time. It is one of the first states created for the Northwest Territories and is known for its superb agriculture. So, what are some famous Indiana foods? As Indiana shares its southern border with Kentucky, there is a southern influence in many famous dishes. The Hoosier State is renowned for many foods, but some stand out more than others. In this article, we’ll explore ten different foods that are iconic to our fair state.

Famous Indiana Food – Sugar Cream Pie

Famous Indiana Foods - Sugar Cream Pie
Sugar Cream Pie – Sarah StierchCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ve probably heard of sugar cream pie, but do you know where it comes from? If not, you’re in luck! This tasty treat is considered one of the best food in Indiana.

The dish is Indiana’s unofficial state pie, and it is thought to have originated with Quaker settlers who came from North Carolina in the early nineteenth century and settled in east-central Indiana, particularly around the cities of New Castle, Portland, Richmond, and Winchester. Traditionally it’s a combined layer of graham cracker crust and vanilla pudding with whipped cream on top. It was an instant hit!

This baker’s delight is also known as “desperation pie” because it is made with ingredients almost always available on any farm, such as buttermilk, vinegar, and apples. It’s possible that it was invented by early Indiana pioneers from New England or the Amish, who make a similar type of eggless baked cream pie.

Today, most people make this dessert using vanilla pudding instead of sugar as the main ingredient. This makes sense because it would have been difficult for most people to find sugar once upon a time since it wasn’t readily available yet.

What Foods Indiana Is Known For? Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Indiana Pork Tenderloin - Famous Indiana Foods
Indiana Pork Tenderloin – Photo by Loinel “Tender” Hutz

Indiana’s most popular food item is the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. The breaded pork tenderloin sandwich consists of breaded and deep-fried pork tenderloin on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and onion. This sandwich can be found at many restaurants throughout Indiana.

Who exactly invented this scrumptious sandwich has been lost to time.  It consists of a pork tenderloin that’s breaded, then deep fried, and served on a bun with coleslaw and french fries.

The sandwich has been featured on the Food Network show Unwrapped, which helped make it more well-known outside of the state. The name “pork tenderloin” can be confusing because other pork products (such as ham) also use this name, but they’re different kinds of meat than what you’ll find in an Indiana tenderloin sandwich!

Country Fried Steak

Country Fried Steak
A southern specialty, smothered with hot country milk gravy. Served with two eggs, breakfast potatoes or southern-style grits and your choice of buttermilk biscuits or toast. – pointnshootCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for a hearty, satisfying meal full of deep-fried goodness, look no further than this Hoosier food. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more quintessential food from this Midwestern state than Country Fried Steak.

Let’s start with what Country Fried Steak isn’t: it’s not made of steak (and if it is, it sure isn’t going to be any good). Instead, this dish consists of cube steaks—beef steaks cut into cubes—that are battered and deep fried until golden brown before being served with gravy and mashed potatoes (or fries). The delicious combination has become so popular in Indiana that many restaurants serve their versions of the dish; some even claim theirs is “the best” or “the real deal.” Regardless of whether those claims are valid, one thing is sure: they all taste pretty darn good!

The Breaded Veal Cutlet Sandwich

Indiana Veal Cutlette – Photo by Ju Dvo

You are not alone if you notice a pattern with breaded and fried cutlet sandwiches. Our third version is a breaded veal cutlet sandwich, a popular dish from Indiana. Veal cutlets are breaded and fried pieces of meat similar to chicken tenders but made from tender veal. They’re usually served with gravy and mashed potatoes or French fries on the side. The sandwich is often found at small diners and cafes in Indiana, local restaurants, and truck stops along I-80. 

Indiana Sweet Corn

Indiana Sweet Corn and a BLT
Indiana Sweet Corn and a BLT – jeffreywCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Indiana sweet corn is the most delicious, versatile, and nutritious of all the corn. It can be eaten raw or cooked, has a short cooking time, and holds its shape when steamed or boiled. It is one of the top foods people think of when asked what foods is Indiana known for.

The most common way to eat Indiana sweet corn is with butter and salt. But if you want to get creative, here are some suggestions:

  • Add it to soups and stews like corn chowder or stewed tomatoes
  • Make a corn fritter by frying slices of fresh-picked cobs in butter with chopped green onions (spring onions) until they’re lightly browned on both sides; serve them hot with buttered bread or rolls.
  • Strain off any excess liquid from canned kernels before using them in recipes; then add them at the last minute so they don’t overcook.

Southern Indiana BBQ Pork

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

One of the most popular foods in southern Indiana is BBQ Pork. It’s a smoked pork sandwich served on a bun with coleslaw, fries, onion rings, and macaroni and cheese.

The pork is smoked for hours until it’s tender enough to pull apart with your hands. Then, the meat can be sliced or shredded into bite-sized pieces depending on your preference.

Pair it with any of the sides listed above for an unforgettable meal!

Indiana Has A Signature Food, Popcorn.

Indiana Popcorn – DeavmiCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Indiana is the popcorn capital of the world. Charles Cretors invented the first popcorn machine in Chicago in 1886, but Indiana is where he perfected his invention and opened his first shop. Some of America’s most famous brands are headquartered in Indiana. Popcorn is so important to the agriculture community that its officially Indiana’s Snack Food.

You might think that all this history would lead to severe competition for best-tasting popped corn products—but you’d be wrong! Here are some facts about Indiana’s signature food:

  • Many varieties of Indiana-grown popcorn are available anytime (the state grows a great deal of America’s supply). And don’t worry about missing out on your favorite flavor—plenty more are coming down the pipeline soon!
  • There is a yearly Valparaiso Popcorn Festival since popcorn is so well-known. Join nearly 50,000 other people in downtown Valparaiso to take in the more than 200 booths of commercial, fine art, and arts & crafts sellers. Line the sidewalks of Morgan Boulevard, Lincolnway, and Campbell Street to enjoy the renowned Popcorn Festival after walking or jogging in the Popcorn Panic. Later, sample a variety of foods from more than 40 food booths. After that, take in some entertainment from the Central Park Plaza Beer Garden Main Stage while sipping on a cold draft. The Ultimate Poppin’ Play Zone for youngsters is on Michigan Avenue, and Second Stage hosts musical acts.

Pork And Beans

BBQ Beans with Brisket
BBQ Beans with Brisket

Pork and beans are a traditional Indiana food. It’s comfort food. They’re great for potlucks, picnics, and parties!

It’s just pork in beans with some cornbread on top of it all. You’ll need the following:

  • 1 pound bacon (or ten slices)
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 2 pounds navy beans (soaked overnight)

Bunn Bar Candy

Ohio has its Buckeye, and one of the famous Indiana foods is candy too. Bunn Bar Candy is a popular candy bar made in Indiana by the Bunn Candy Company. It’s an old-fashioned chocolate bar with peanuts, made with real milk chocolate and peanuts.

Charles R. Bunn created the original recipe for Bunn Bar in 1913. He used his mother’s recipe for peanut butter fudge as the base of this candy bar, which he then topped with chocolate to make it delicious!

Bunn Bars are still made today using all-natural ingredients like Dutch cocoa powder and roasted peanuts—and they’re still made in Indiana!

Southern Indiana Style Fried Catfish

Southern Catfish – Photo by The Pit BBQ

Indiana is famous for many things: the Indianapolis 500, the Indy 500, and even the Indianapolis Colts. But there’s one food that Hoosiers know best: fried catfish.

Fried catfish is a southern delicacy that has existed since before Indiana was even a state. And while it may be a staple of every southern diner in America, few states can do it better than Indiana.

Famous Indiana foods like its best-fried catfish can be found at Catfish Willy’s Seafood & Crab Shack in Evansville, Stookey’s Family Dining in South Bend, and Louie Wingz & Catfish in Bloomington.

Hoosier Cake

Hoosier Cake
Hoosier Cake – MissvainCC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hoosier Cake is a simple yet delicious cake made with layers of yellow cake, chocolate frosting, and a creamy peanut butter filling. It is a classic Indiana dessert that is perfect for any occasion.

The origin of Hoosier Cake is a bit of a mystery. Some believe it was created in the early 1900s by a housewife in Indiana. Others believe it was created by a baker in Indiana trying to create a new and unique cake.

No matter where it came from, Hoosier Cake quickly became a popular dessert in Indiana. It is often served at potlucks, church gatherings, and other social events. It is also a popular choice for birthdays and other special occasions.

There are a few reasons why Hoosier Cake is so popular in Indiana. First, it is a very simple cake to make. The ingredients are easy to find, and the recipe is straightforward. Second, the cake is very versatile. It can be served plain, with various toppings, or as part of a larger dessert. Third, the cake is very delicious. The combination of the yellow cake, chocolate frosting, and peanut butter filling is irresistible.

Video: Indiana Famous Foods

A Culinary Journey Through Indiana: Discovering the Hoosier State's Iconic Foods

Final Thoughts on Famous Indiana Foods

And there you have it! An overview of what Indiana is famous for with some of the most well-known foods Indiana is known for. If you want a taste of famous foods in other midwest states, check out the post What Famous Michigan Food Should You Try? or 20 Foods that Can’t Make Ohio Any More Famous Then Michigan. If you ever get a chance to visit Indiana, be sure to try some of these dishes and let us know what you think.

Michael Hardy

Michael Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. Michael was born in Michigan and grew up near Caseville. In 2009 he started this fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

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