Pioneer Recipes Everyone Should Know How To Make
Have you made some pioneer recipes your ancestors made many years ago? They didn’t have the ingredients we have today, so they had to make do with what they had. And make do is what they did for sure. They had to fill the belly because they were traveling in covered wagons, in most cases, with limited access to the General Store, back in the day.
Plus, even when they got to their destination, it could have been months or years before regular food supplies or merchant stores were readily available to them.
I sometimes think we will be making these recipes once again if and when we have a grid down or whatever you believe will happen. And it will happen, trust me. Our power grid in the US is so outdated and will take years, actually several years to replace, if it can even be done.
These pioneer recipes are pretty well known, but I want to put them in printable form so you, my readers, can print them now before you may need them.
Of course, if you cook from scratch you know several recipes to get you by if the grocery stores are shut down for days, weeks, or months.
- Baking Soda
- Baking Powder
- Brown Sugar (1/4 cup molasses per one cup white sugar)
- Milk or Cream
Mormon Johnny Cake
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 tablepoons molasses
- 2 eggs (optional for fluffy cake)
Combine the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk and molasses. Add eggs if desired. Cook in a hot greased cast iron pan for about 20 minutes on high heat.
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1-1/3 cups milk
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
Preheat a seasoned Dutch oven and add ingredients as stated. Stir the eggs in quickly or you will have scrambled eggs. Cook until the eggs are cooked through. This was served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This recipe makes a bowl of sweet rice and fills the belly.
My family made soda biscuits all the time. There is something awesome about making homemade biscuits. Did you grow up making them? I sure did. We would lather them with butter and homemade jam. We would also make bacon gravy or chipped beef gravy to pour over biscuits a few times each week for dinner.
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups flour
- 1/3 cup oil
Combine the ingredients and roll out onto a floured board and cut with an unfloured cutter. Bake in a Dutch oven or on an ungreased cookie sheet bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
My church group used to pull this honey candy all the time. Those were great times when people socialized with one another. I miss those days.
- 2 cups honey
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup cream
Combine the ingredients and cook to a hard ball stage. You can test the syrup for a hard ball stage by drizzling a small amount of the syrup into a cold cup of water. If a ball forms quickly it’s ready. Pour onto buttered platters. Let it cool until your greased hands can start pulling it in sections to a light golden color. Cut into pieces.
This is a recipe my family made all the time. It’s truly a cheap and filling meal. I grew up drizzling honey on mine. How did you eat yours? Life is so good, isn’t it?
- 6 potatoes, peeled and grated
- 1/2 cup milk or cream
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
Combine ingredients and scoop a 1/8 cup onto a hot griddle. Turn the potato cakes halfway through cooking so each side browns. Bake until light and golden brown in a greased cast iron pan. I grew up serving honey over my potato cakes.
This is one of my favorite recipes made by my great-grandmother, Danny. I love mine spread with butter and brown sugar. My family prefers white sugar. My mouth is watering right now. It’s all about memories, right?
- 4 cups mashed potatoes
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup sweet cream
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup flour (approximately-enough to roll lefse thin)
Boil the peeled potatoes, mash very fine and fluffy. Add the cream, butter, sugar, and salt. Beat again until light and fluffy. Add flour just before rolling out. Roll a piece of the dough as for pie crust, rolling as thin as possible. Bake in a frying pan until light brown, flipping to cook both sides. When baked, place on a table between cloth to keep them from drying out.
Bacon or Sausage Gravy
I love biscuits and gravy, probably more than I should. I grew up with these because they were cheap to make and my mom could stretch a meal with more flour and milk. I actually went to several restaurants with a friend here in Southern Utah to see who made the best sausage and biscuits. We decided it was a restaurant called Black Bear Diner. They were awesome!
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 gallon of milk
- 1 pound bacon or sausage
- sugar to taste (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
Grab a frying pan and brown the bacon or sausage. Remove the bacon and crumble it when it cools. Add the butter in the same pan and let it melt. Add the flour to make a roux with the butter and bacon grease. When the roux is smooth, add the milk and stir until completely cooked through. Add the bacon bits or sausage pieces. Salt and pepper to taste. I add a little sugar which is optional.
I feel strongly about learning to cook inexpensive meals because I believe hard times are coming. Please teach your family how to cook from scratch. Learning how to cook these pioneer recipes would be a great start. Thanks for prepping. May God bless this world. Linda
32 thoughts on “Pioneer Recipes Everyone Should Know How To Make”
Thank you for these recipes and reminding us to use more basic ingredients. For years where I lived corn meal was unavailable, when we moved back to the USA I made my husband fish cooked in corn meal. He loved it! I have been making my own bread since I took a bread making class in January, it feels so comforting and I know I can bake my own in an emergency. I plan to try some of the recipes you posted last week when I make my new batch of bread.
Hi Linda, oh my gosh, you took a bread making class!!! I love hearing this, you are so awesome!! I love corn tortillas so much, I need to make some very soon!! Linda
I’ve got the Mormon Trail Cookbook. Have you seen it? It’s got a lot of really good recipes like these.
How are you and Mark holding up in your cold snap? You ready for the 3 to 6-inches of snow you’re supposed to get? We’re supposed to get 1 – 2-feet up here.
Stay warm and stay home, if you can. Big hugs, Mare
Hi Mare, I better look for that cookbook!! We are doing great, what a year for snow!! I’m on the hunt for that cookbook! Great tip! Stay warm, my friend! Big Hugs! Linda
I got my copy of the cookbook when it came out about 20 years ago. It’s ridiculously expensive, now, on Amazon. I looked around and the best prices I found are at abebooks.com. The reasonably priced copies are used, but I’ve had good luck purchasing from them. The sellers give good descriptions of the condition and most offer free shipping. Here’s one in very good condition for $5.66 and free shipping. The seller’s in Logan, so you would probably get it right away, as well. https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=30177996618&searchurl=kn%3DMormon%2BTrail%2BCookbook%26sortby%3D17&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-title2
Mare, thanks for the link. Yikes, the one on Amazon was out of site moneywise!! Linda
You’re very welcome my friend! Big hugs!
Google Mormon Trail Cookbook, and you will several for under $10. Thriftbooks dot com was one of them.
Hi Anna, thank you! I bought the one Mare told me about!! Free shipping and under $6.00. I can’t wait to get it. Linda
I cannot think of a better feeling than being prepared… I recently purchased a book titled..” The Lost Ways”…filled with information from the pioneer days & how they survived on little or nothing while crossing in covered wagon… &.. trying to survive on the land… great book..
Hi Tom, I love hearing about this book!! Thanks for the tip! Linda
Shouldn’t “Soda Biscuits” be made with Baking SODA instead of Baking Powder? I don’t know. Just asking.
Hi Appy Horsey, yes thank you for letting me know. I was trying to decide between the baking powder biscuits and the soda biscuits. Some times I have way too much going through my mind! Thanks for the heads up!! Linda
Hi, Linda ~
Love the recipes! We made the rice dish weekly as I was growing up. Mom used white sugar rather than brown. Personally, I didn’t care for it but if in a grid down situation, I would totally make and eat it!
I grew up making everything from scratch and still do to some extent! One thing readers should know about gravy: bacon and sausage are wonderful but, you can use the gravy with/to stretch just about any meat and vegetables. We often had hamburger gravy on biscuits or potatoes; tuna gravy on same; asparagus on same when we only had a few spears of asparagus to feed a family of 5; creamed peas and potatoes – we used the same gravy mixture to make the “cream” sauce; you get the idea.
Every year at Christmas time, we made Honey Taffy from a recipe that was handed down in our family for generations. We also made a molasses taffy.
Something that people should also know how to do is make their own confectioners sugar. If we are not able to purchase the convenience food products, there is generally a way to do this at home. If you have white sugar, you only need to break it down further to a powder. So, if the grid is down and we have no electrical power, having a mortar and pestle will be something to have on hand. You would grind white sugar until it is a fine powder – this will take time but it is something that likely would only be used for special occasions like birthdays or holidays. And it is something that kids can do.
If one looks on Pinterest, there are any number of old time recipes that we should know about. It drives my daughter CRAZY the amount of paper & ink I go through printing out things like this. I tell her that if SHTF, I want hard copies of how to make things that are not in my brain! Of course, if I had the need to leave my home, this binder I have would not likely be going with me. SO, if I have time to gather some of my food storage to take with me, I made copies of a lot of the recipes and have them in a #10 can in a small flexible binder.
Hi Leanne, great tip on printing the recipes. We must have some cheap recipes to make when things go south. Great comment! Linda
Surely one ingredient the pioneers had must have been vinegar. It’s so usefulness!
Hi Linda, I’m glad you pointed this out. There is a 101-year-old (not sure how accurate the years are) pie crust that uses vinegar. Great comment! Linda
I meant Useful. Thanks spell check. 🙁
Hi Linda, I knew that!! 🙂 Linda
Vinegar was a staple in pioneer homes. It was useful for more than just pickling! One thing that pioneers made was shrub using vinegar and fresh fruits like apple, rhubarb, peach and berries. My daughter makes shrub every year. Then, she mixes some shrub with tonic water or club soda and ice. It is very refreshing. You can also mix it with water.
Vinegar was also used for cleaning just like many of us have gone back to since it has no harsh chemicals.
Hi Leanne, great comment about vinegar. Linda
I’m going to have to try your recipe for Lefse; mine’s way more complicated! I have a lefse griddle to make it easier to cook it. Hmmm…guess I’ll finally be getting it out of the box! LOL I miss my grandmother’s lefse that she used to make from Norway. I’ve tried ordering it commercially and it’s just not the same.
You’re getting snow in Southern Utah? I guess I should check the weather more often. Here in Reno, we’ve gotten tons of it lately and I’m so thankful for the self propelled snowblower we have. My back (and my husband’s) can’t take much more of the shoveling. There will definitely be no complaints of not enough water this summer but rather an abundance of cheat grass for fueling wildfires. It’s going to be a wicked wildfire season.
Time to go build another snowman!
Hi Robbie, my great grandmother was born in Norway and this is her recipe. It’s the one my mom taught me to make. I must say, my mom’s lefse was a lot better than mine and we used the same recipe. She could roll it thinner than me. It tastes great though! Linda
Robbie, yes we are getting snow, be careful with your back!! This year has been crazy with the weather! Linda
Wow, I’ve been into Loss of Grid Preparedness for years (thanks to my time in Girl Scouts and love of post apocalyptic literature), and I can’t believe I’m just now stumbling onto your site!! Very excited about these recipes and the tips from other commenters. My father actually used to make the sweet rice for me whenever I was sick as a child and my grandmother made biscuits and gravy for breakfast every time I stayed the weekend. Thanks so much for the recipes!
Hi Amy, oh I’m so glad you found my website!! I grew up on biscuits and gravy, I love hearing your grandmother used to make them for you!! Linda
glad to see someone else used to eat hamburger gravy w/ potatoes. my mom made that alot – it’s a definite comfort food for me. i’d never heard of sausage gravy/ biscuits & gravy until i was an adult.
I’m so grateful my mother always cooked from scratch, and that’s how i learned. i know i’ve gotten lazy through the years, but know i have the knowledge to go back.
i teach in an alternative school, and do some simple baking projects with my students – that’s been an eye opener for what skills people need.
thanks for your website!
Hi Kelley, thank you for your kind words. So you teach in an alternative school, awesome. How old are the kids? So you are having to teach them how to do cook, bake and meal projects. I would love to hear more. I think my readers would love to hear how important it is that we teach our kids to cook from scratch like you and I learned. Thank you so much, Linda
have you tried egg gravy ?used to be good for makin ‘eggs go further ,milk gravy & add eggs ! goes good w/ biscuits !love your recipes ,i got the lefse ,have not tried yet !
Hi Daphne, I grew up with tuna and chipped beef on toast! I will have to try it with eggs! Great tip! Linda
Most of these are recipes I am familiar with but not the Norwegian Lefse or the spotted pup. Most of the recipes I have for the other foods came from Jack’s grandmother but her recipes were all way’s listed as a pinch of this and a pinch of that or a handful. Nothing like trying to make Grandma’s recipes.
Hi Jackie, I grew up on Norwegian Lefse, I love it, but my husband never cared for it. So I make a small batch just for me. Making your grandmas recipes is the best! Linda