Iconic recipes
September 5, 2017 6:50 PM   Subscribe

What specific recipes are very well-known/iconic/household names?

What specific recipes are popular enough that they would be considered iconic or a household name? Or used to be really popular? I'm thinking of stuff like the Toll House chocolate chip recipe, or "engagement chicken". I guess something like Coca Cola's formula or the Big Mac Secret Sauce would qualify too but I'm mostly interested in recipes that would be available to the average home cook.

I'm not asking about popular or traditional dishes or desserts, but that the actual recipe itself would be understood to be a thing. Like if I said, "I'm making chocolate chip cookies, the Toll House recipe", many/most people would be like, "oh yeah, that recipe on the back of the bag of chocolate chips". Not chocolate chip cookies in general.
posted by eeek to Food & Drink (66 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Chex Mix?
posted by JuliaJellicoe at 6:51 PM on September 5 [5 favorites]

Mississippi roast.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 6:59 PM on September 5

Green Bean Casserole that people trot out for Thanksgiving, which was distributed by Campbell's Soup.

I've never heard of "engagement chicken".
posted by hydra77 at 7:00 PM on September 5 [9 favorites]

I think in certain circles Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce recipe would qualify. Beyond that, maybe the Rice Krispies Treat recipe.
posted by veggieboy at 7:00 PM on September 5 [8 favorites]

Shake 'n Bake chicken.
posted by cleverevans at 7:01 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]

Ritz Cracker mock apple pie. (I wonder if that recipe is still on the box. Probably not. I am old. It was a recipe for a pie that supposedly tasted like apple pie even though there were no apples in it.)
posted by sheldman at 7:05 PM on September 5 [4 favorites]

Magic cookie bars from the back of the Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk can.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 7:08 PM on September 5 [11 favorites]

You might want to specify what country you're talking about. I'm Australian and I haven't heard of any of the response recipes that have been mentioned so far, (with the exception of German chocolate cake) much less know how to cook them.
posted by Jubey at 7:10 PM on September 5 [11 favorites]

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:13 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]

Jello Mold (like, I guess you could use Knox gelatin or something)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:17 PM on September 5

Spinach dip in pumpernickel bread (oh yeah, the knorr one)
posted by Ftsqg at 7:21 PM on September 5 [5 favorites]

Cobb salad and Waldorf salad (s)?
posted by Mchelly at 7:22 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]

Cherries Jubilee, probably
posted by bunderful at 7:26 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]

Rice Krispie treats
posted by Sassyfras at 7:27 PM on September 5 [8 favorites]

American chop suey. It's both culturally insensitive and disgusting!
posted by bendy at 7:29 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]

I think this used to be more of a thing in previous generations, when there were way fewer sources of recipes. For cooks of my parents' generation, the green bean casserole would definitely have been a known recipe, for instance--but I only have a general idea of what's in it and have never made it. I know that I used to hear people referring to recipes from the Betty Crocker cookbook with the expectation that the hearer would know what they were talking about, and lots of back-of-the-box recipes.

I think those back-of-the-box recipes are where you're going to find the most recipes that meet your description. Onion dip for most people is made with Lipton onion soup mix according to the recipe on the packet. There are lots of cakes that my grandma and aunts made from combinations of various products that everyone seemed to know. Tunnel of Fudge? Or how about Velveeta salsa dip? Oh and I think if you say "drop biscuits" there's a whole contingent of people who will think you're talking about the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box.

I agree that the Marcella Hazan tomato sauce meets your description, but not for as wide a slice of the public as, say, Toll House cookies, onion dip, etc.
posted by HotToddy at 7:32 PM on September 5 [7 favorites]

King Ranch chicken casserole. It's a regional thing.

Peach Melba and Melba Toast.

Also, I learned via Metafilter that Pad Thai is a modern, intentional invention. So that might count.
posted by adamrice at 7:35 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]

Ro🌟Tel dip (with Velveeta)
posted by zorseshoes at 7:46 PM on September 5 [10 favorites]

posted by ejs at 7:47 PM on September 5

Caesar salad?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:49 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]

Fairy bread. Chocolate crackles.
posted by Jubey at 7:51 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]

7 layer dip

Hormel chili- cheese dip ( w cream cheese at the bottom for extra umph)

Pistachio salad, maybe?

Oatmeal cookies, peanut butter cookies from their respective containers?
posted by Fig at 7:52 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]

No-knead bread will probably prove to be one of the iconic recipes of this decade.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:52 PM on September 5 [13 favorites]

Banana pudding, which is really the only reason Nilla Wafers exist.

S'mores, unless that's too simple
posted by Fig at 7:55 PM on September 5 [6 favorites]

The pumpkin pie recipe on the side of the Libby's pumpkin can. Even the slightest tweaks to that recipe just taste wrong to me.

Also, rice krispy treats.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:55 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]

Chicken Marengo is a specific dish that was invented to celebrate one of Napolean's battlefield victories. We may make it a bit different now but it's iconic and famous.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:59 PM on September 5

Pretty sure Popsicle qualifies!
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:01 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]

jacquilynne: "No-knead bread will probably prove to be one of the iconic recipes of this decade."

Seconded. I was thinking of which Bittman recipe would be the most applicable to OP's question but then, of course, you got it: his most popular one in NYT Cooking, obviously.

Might be a bit dated now, but also how about the recipe for US Senate Navy Bean Soup? I'm 80% certain that it was included in Joy of Cooking.
posted by mhum at 8:05 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]

Beer-can chicken
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:15 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]

Chocolate Crackles in Australia. The recipe is on the side of the Copha pack. I also don't think I've ever used Copha for anything else.
posted by Kris10_b at 8:32 PM on September 5 [5 favorites]

Crazy Cake. The one with vinegar and oil and no eggs or milk. Apparently made popular during the war or the depression or something.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:34 PM on September 5 [4 favorites]

Clearly, I spend way too much time cooking, thinking about cooking, reading about cooking...

An oldie, but I think it's still on the package:

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake

I think these were more well known a few decades back:

Watergate Salad

Sock It To Me Cake
posted by zorseshoes at 8:37 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]

I think another way to approach this question is to talk about canonical cookbooks. For example, I suspect there are several Delia Smith recipes that probably fit the bill in Britain, like the Christmas cake recipe (maybe the Mary Berry Christmas cake is the competitor). Likewise there are going to be endless examples in the Joy of Cooking, where people's idea of what X should be is based on the Joy of Cooking recipe.

(I must say I have no idea what a bunch of these recipes or dishes are. I'm not going to be great at American food culture, though.)
posted by hoyland at 8:39 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]

The Toll House Cookie.
posted by GuyZero at 8:41 PM on September 5

Peking duck
Ice box cake
posted by Room 641-A at 8:45 PM on September 5

Hello Dollies. Bananas Foster. Mississippi Mud Cake. Dump Cake.

I'm hungry.
posted by bunderful at 9:00 PM on September 5

Rum and Coca-Cola
posted by Ideefixe at 9:33 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]

I think this used to be more of a thing in previous generations, when there were way fewer sources of recipes.

Absolutely agreed. I'm American and I've never even heard of 99% of what people are talking about in here. Unless it's been printed on a package of something that's been available in grocery stores cross-country for decades, I don't think it'll be as "iconic" as people might think. So maybe Toll House cookies and green bean casserole is it?
posted by traveler_ at 9:35 PM on September 5

I agree on the no-knead bread. Also possibly on the ice box cake, although I suspect a lot of younger people won't have heard of it. I feel like most everything else suggested is either not widely known or doesn't have a single specific recipe.
posted by HotToddy at 9:39 PM on September 5

Jello Poke Cake

Hershey's Cocoa Fudge

Seconding Champagne Supernova 's suggestion of Magic Cookie Bars - my absolute favorite, hands down!
posted by Amor Bellator at 9:54 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]

Jello-O pudding or gelatin Poke Cake

Like the Toll House cookies, there's the Quaker Oats oatmeal cookie.

Fwiw, I grew up in the US but without ever eating many or most of the suggestions above but I've heard of nearly every one if them. Disclaimer: 53 yo and into food.

Sandra Lee's Kwanzaa Cake (sorry not sorry)
posted by Room 641-A at 10:03 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]

Gooey Butter Cake!
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:29 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]

Parker House Rolls
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:47 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]

Neiman-Marcus $250 Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Japanese Souffle cheesecake, which is a very specific thing.

Carrot-Ginger dressing, probably better known as 'Benihana' dressing, Japanese dressing, or Hawaiian. Dressing. I can vouch for this recipe.

Green Bean Casserole that people trot out for Thanksgiving, which was distributed by Campbell's Soup.

I personally don't care what anyone calls it, but I know it as French's Green Bean Casserole, although their official recipe does specify Cambell's soup.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:00 PM on September 5

+1 Bananas Foster

Also, pretty much every mixed drink meets this criterion, although I don't know if you'd count those as "recipes" or not.
posted by phoenixy at 12:36 AM on September 6

Rice Krispie treats, of course. The recipe's not on the box, but it's the same recipe everywhere and it has to be Rice Krispies. Pretty sure that recipe is responsible for at least half the sales of the cereal.

Buying the premade prepackaged Rice Krispie Treat Bars from the candy aisle is non-canonical and will get you sanctioned by the Vatican.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 12:51 AM on September 6 [2 favorites]

Chicken cordon bleu
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 3:44 AM on September 6

Red Velvet cake
posted by Room 641-A at 4:49 AM on September 6

Desserts that used to be huge were Better Than Sex Cake (trust me, it isn't) and Bacardi Rum Cake, featured in a good many Bacardi rum ads. In the 60s and 70s everybody made the Bacardi rum cake.

Incidentally, that "original" recipe for Rice Krispie Treats? It isn't. The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of butter or margarine. How I know: I have the recipe cut out from a carton of Rice Krispies I bought in the early 1970s. After the low-fat craze hit in the 80s, Kellogg reduced it to 3 Tablespoons of butter.

For appetizers, two perennially popular recipes are hotdogs in bbq sauce w/grape jelly, and chicken wings glazed with Coca-Cola.

For sweet salads, I'd say ambrosia salad is a classic standby. And an awful lot of people have called Pink Fluff a family favorite over the years. For green salads, in the sixties-early seventies it seemed like Green Goddess salad was everywhere.
posted by Lunaloon at 4:54 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]

Three Bean Salad
posted by belladonna at 5:17 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]

New Haven-style pizza, aka apizza
(real) Neopolitan pizza

I'm not familiar enough with other styles, like Chicago or Detroit, to know if there is one true version. As a fan of NY thin crust I know that that lable can be meaningless.

Chicago-style hot dog, aka Chicago Red Hot
posted by Room 641-A at 5:52 AM on September 6

In France (and probably in other countries) when you bake something with chocolate you use "Nestle dessert " chocolate. Its packaging is visually pretty different from the other chocolate bars and there's a recipe on it, either for the "mousse au chocolat" or for a simple chocolate cake or whatever. So when someone asks you which recipe you used for said mousse or cake you reply "the one on the back of Nestle dessert" everybody understands.

Also : here you have strict legal rules that protects some recipes, like, if you eat "Comté" cheese or some "Ravioles" or a "baguette tradition", the brand doesn't matter (and sometimes there aren't!) because you exactly know what it is : it has been made in a very precise region with very specific ingredients and restrictions. It's maybe a bit tangent to your question, or maybe not, I don't know :)
posted by Ifite at 6:57 AM on September 6

Neopolitan pizza isn't bound by region like cheeses but in order for it to be authentic it needs a VPN certificate.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:31 AM on September 6

Tater Tot hot dish - By the way, "hot dish" is Minnesotan for casserole
posted by soelo at 12:24 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]

Speaking of what Ifite said I'd be thinking of global Western recipes to answer this and it evens out as what would have been snazzy mid-range eating-out food 40 years ago: Chicken in a basket - Raclette - Swiss fondue - Black Forest gateau - Steak Diane - Prawn cocktail - Egg and bacon flan (nowadays this is called quiche)

Pineapple upside down cake - Victoria sponge - Neapolitan ice cream - Peach Melba - lemon meringue pie etc. If you want to be regional about it: Roast beef - Yorkshire pudding - Bread pudding, treacle tart - bubble and squeak - Pork chops, lamb chops, mutton chops, mushy peas - Pease pudding - Broth (strictly speaking 'broth' should be written in small caps as it involves serious things like climate, landscape, heritage and intestinal fortitude. Also barley) etc.

When I was young everyone's expectations were that this sort of food would be absolutely standard whether it was cooked at home or in a restaurant. Everybody's recipes were more or less identical. Maybe restaurants would have used fewer eggs in the cakes, makin em lighter as well as more frugal.
posted by glasseyes at 12:33 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]

Probably lots of sandwiches. Off the top of my head: Monte Cristo, Croques Madame et Monsieur, Club, Reuben
posted by Room 641-A at 8:16 PM on September 6 [2 favorites]

The UK has a lot to offer here, if I understand the question correctly...? Yorkshire pudding. Eccles cakes. Irish soda bread. Plum pudding (with hard sauce, of course; contains no plums, should contain coins for the kids). If you start looking that stuff up on Wikipedia and look at the bottom you should find "List of [region] dishes," many of which should be easily recognised? I think? (I had never had green bean casserole until I lived in the US. Now, back in Canada, I sometimes make a variation on the Cook's Illustrated version, but doing this requires some hassle in ferreting out the onions -- they have three small canisters at a big price instead of a huge end-of-aisle seasonal display. I usually get the pre-breaded/fried onions from an Indian import shop.)

ANZAC biscuits? (NZ)

Rappie pie? (Maritime Canada)

I found out these things can be very regional whenever I ordered trifle in the US. It was usually nice, but it was never trifle as I know it. Once it was so bad I sent it back, and they were apologetic but very confused. They had used ?melted ice cream? in lieu of custard. (Rice pudding? Loads of rice packets provide recipes...)

I saw a lot of layered salad in the States, the thing served in a glass bowl that includes green peas and a layer of mayo/Miracle Whip on top? I also had the Ro-Tel Dip (no Ro-Tel in Canada...)

Aïoli garni, croque-monsieur et croque-madame?

The Irish in particular have a slew of potato recipes -- boxty, champ -- where you know what you are getting, though there aren't master recipes.

Arepas are very common in Latin America, but with regional variations -- with a nod to the Colombian friend who introduced me to them and kindly gave her family recipe for cheese arepas and schooled me on arepas, I got the impression that "What's for breakfast?" followed by "X, Y, arepas" was the Northern American equivalent of "X, Y, toast..." I was also schooled on changua, a milk/egg/potato/cilantro breakfast soup, apparently a standard.

When trying to learn Latin American cooking I had the Colombian friend and a Puerto Rican friend cheerfully dickering over which recipes were correct; one thing they both agreed on is that for arroz con gandules, pigeon peas with rice, you use Goya products and the Goya recipe.

Full English breakfast? Continental breakfast? Minestrone soup? Chicken noodle, Italian wedding ~ ? French onion?

Lipton Onion soup mix + sour cream dip? Not sure what the name is; relatively widely served in the US and not uncommon in Canada.

A "curry" outside of India might qualify? Everyone knows what they are getting, within reason, if you say "mushroom curry" here. Perhaps better referred to as "restaurant style curry" -- you know you are getting X in a spiced brown sauce?

Welsh rarebit. (Sometimes still Welsh "rabbit.") Even Stouffer's, in the US, has a frozen version (as served, direct from the orange box to you, at Ye Olde King's Head British pub in Santa Monica). Scotch eggs?

That thing with the Campbell's cream of X and potatoes and ??? must qualify in the US, despite the endless variations. I have in 42 years only once seen it in Canada, where the hostess called it "sinful potatoes." (Inedible sludge, unfortunately.)
posted by kmennie at 9:32 PM on September 6

Speaking of Campbell's, no one has mentioned tuna casserole.

I know there are loads of variations on the theme, but if I order straight Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine they're probably going to be exactly the same everywhere save for particular quality of ingredients or technique.

I'd ixnay continental breakfast only because too often in the US that can mean a sad dispenser of stale cornflakes in a hotel lobby. OTOH....

at Ye Olde King's Head British pub in Santa Monica

Ha! I recently had an English breakfast there, for the first time in decades, and happily second adding English Breakfaat to the list.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:28 AM on September 7 [1 favorite]

Apparently this might be me and my friends, but the Bakers One Bowl brownies (or shortened to Bakers brownies).
posted by freezer cake at 10:15 AM on September 7

Just about every Australian barbecue has a Chang's noodle salad!
posted by indienial at 3:08 AM on September 8 [1 favorite]

Those Bakers brownies are definitely a thing!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:35 AM on September 8

Banoffee pie.
posted by bunderful at 5:04 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

I've heard people describe making gravy 'like in the Paul Kelly song' (How To Make Gravy).
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:06 PM on September 25

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