Mormon Cuisine

Being that I’ve lived my entire life in the state of Utah, I assumed that everyone ate the same types of food that are prevalent here. When the 2002 Olympics came to town, there was lots of hype about ‘Mormon Cuisine’. They even made Olympic pins featuring those items that outsiders found most unusual. I’ve decided to share the recipes for a few of these dishes.

First up would have to be Jello. We are the Jello capitol of the world here in Utah, using almost three times as much per person as any other state in the Union. What makes our Jello creations so different from everyone else’s is that we include fruits and vegetables. Green jello, with pineapple chunks and grated carrots mixed in is a big favorite; some families even fold in a little cottage cheese. Personally, I hate that combination. I’m usually putting sliced bananas in strawberry jello or putting pear chunks in the lemon flavored jello for my kids. We also include extra Knox Gelatin, which has no flavor, in plain (nothing mixed in it) jello to make it more solid. It’s a great finger food for toddlers and nowhere as messy as the original stuff can be.

Another typical food here is Funeral Potatoes. Whenever someone in our church group dies, the ladies are asked to bring a dish to feed the family after the services, hence the name. It’s a common choice because everyone is familiar with the dish and it’s easy to make. Take a package of frozen hash brown potatoes, put it in a casserole dish and add a can of Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken soup and a cup of sour cream. Bake for 30 minutes and then top with grated cheese or crunched up Corn Flakes. Voila!

My favorite Mormon food item has got to be Seven Layer Bean Dip. To make it, spread refried beans on the bottom of a casserole dish; make a layer of taco meat, then salsa, another of sour cream, olives, tomatoes and then top with grated cheese. Serve with tortilla chips. You may add guacamole, diced onions or Spanish rice to taste.

I thought that Shepherd’s Pie was something that everyone was familiar with, but apparently not according to those Olympic reporters. We mix a can each of diced carrots, peas, green beans and corn in a casserole dish, add cooked hamburger and brown gravy then spoon mashed potatoes or Tater Tots on top. Cook for an hour and then garnish with grated cheese. This is an easy dish to make; I often make four or five at a time and freeze the extras, then pull one out and put it in the oven on days I’m really pushed for time.

We also have something called Fry Sauce. Instead of catsup on our French fries, we mix catsup and mayonnaise into an orange sauce. It’s different, but very addicting.

Well, there you have it, ‘Mormon Cuisine’. Hope none of it was too bizarre. I’d love to know if any of you have heard of, or eat these dishes. It would be great to know that we’re not that ‘specialized’ in our eating habits here. 

6 thoughts on “Mormon Cuisine

  1. bunnygirl says:

    My mom makes jello the way you describe. It’s something that became common in the ’50s, I think, and while I thought it was only popular with certain age groups, it looks like I was wrong. She grew up in Oregon, so maybe it’s something common to particular areas of the country.

  2. Unhinged says:

    I didn’t those dishes were “Mormon cuisine”. I’ve heard of and eaten the green jelly dish (though like you, never really cared for it) and the 7-layer bean dip. That’s good! I haven’t eaten Shepherd’s Pie, but I’ve heard of it.

    I’ve never heard of Funeral Potatoes. But I’ll have to make it–sounds good!

  3. Funeral potatoes…Yikes!!! We don’t have those her in Oz, we do have Jello, all colors and flavors and we call it jelly. My favorite brand is Aeroplane Jelly. We do have Shepherd’s Pie made almost like your one. I love this idea of sharing our food styles, good fun. 🙂

  4. Wow, E! What a fun idea. And in answer to your question, no, we didn’t eat any of these growing up. The first time I encountered the potato dish you mentioned, it was made for me by a friend from Indiana who has since passed on – so I’m pleased to have the recipe to make in her honor! I’ve had 7-Layer Dip before, but that’s from the Mexican influence in California, where I’m from.

    In relation to “Mormon Cuisine,” I actually have a cookbook by that name that I bought when I was in Las Vegas, traveling to Chicago by car. I don’t recall if I bought it in Nevada or in Salt Lake City, but the title struck my eye and I had to have it. The idea that the Mormon people would have a discreet body of foods they prepare traditionally intrigued me.

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love seeing other ideas for foods from friends, it makes my time in the kitchen more fun.

  5. Gwen says:

    I LOOOOOOOVE 7-Layer Bean Dip!!!

    The Mormon part of my family always makes that, and grandma’s taco soup! Mmmmm mmmm mmm!

    (I didn’t think of them as Mormon cuisine, but I suppose anything meant to feed a whole lot of people qualifies. *lol*

    We also make home-made ice cream floats with homemade root beer (using dry ice) and ice cream (the kids get to kick it around a field in coffee cans for a while). Not sure if that’s a Mormon thing, or just my family.

    Now I’m hungry . . . =D

  6. Anonymous says:

    Shepherd's pie, yes, but not quite the same. We tend to use frozen vegetables rather than canned, or fresh ones.

    Here, one fries an onion and some minced beef (hamburger), then adds frozen peas and diced fresh or frozen carrot, possibly some green beans and some herbs (parsley, thyme, etc).

    While the beef is frying, one peels and boils potatoes, then mashes them.

    The final dish is put together and baked similarly to yours, but there is no cheese. A little dash of paprika on top is nice, but not standard.

    One may also thicken the meat slightly with a little flour.

    I'm in New Zealand.

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