1900: Jell-O desserts

1900: Jell-O desserts

Photo courtesy of Belly Full

1910: ‘Dainty foods’

1910: ‘Dainty foods’

© Martin Rettenberger/Dreamstime.com

According to Food Historian Sarah Wassberg Johnson, “dainty foods” were all the rage among middle- and upper-class women in the 1910s. And while you could opt for tea sandwiches or mini cakes, the most popular were mayonnaise-based salads like chicken or egg salad. This version is a lighter version of the classic. 

For the Healthy Egg Salad recipe, click here.

1910s: Meatless meals

1910s: Meatless meals

Photo courtesy of McCormick

Between 1917 and 1918, amid World War I, the U.S. sanctioned voluntary rationing to help free up food supplies for soldiers abroad. In doing so, many households skipped meat on one day of the week, which is also where the term “Meatless Mondays” was coined. As an ode to that time, make this vegetarian chili loaded with peppers, hearty sweet potatoes and corn.

For the Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili recipe, click here.

1920s: Icebox cakes

1920s: Icebox cakes

Photo courtesy of Happy Money Saver

1920s: Kitchenette-friendly meals

1920s: Kitchenette-friendly meals

photominer/Shutterstock

According to Wassberg Johnson, more Americans started living in urban areas than rural in the 1920s and had to make do with apartment-sized kitchenettes. This shift made way for meals that didn’t require much space at all to cook — like grilled cheese sandwiches, which were inexpensive during a time of economic uncertainty as well as easy to whip up with three ingredients and a pan. 

For a Classic Grilled Cheese recipe, click here.

1920s: Cocktails at home

1920s: Cocktails at home

Courtesy of the National Mango Board

1920s: Ethnic foods like a Chinese egg tart

1920s: Ethnic foods like a Chinese egg tart

Photo courtesy of Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs

Eating at Chinese, Italian and Bohemian restaurants was a popular pastime among the upper class in the ‘20s, and the mingling of cultures reshaped the racial landscape. This version of a Chinese egg tart is made special by its custardy base with flavors of honey and orange juice.

For the Chinese Egg Tart recipe, click here.

1930s: Jazz music brings chicken and waffles

1930s: Jazz music brings chicken and waffles

Photo courtesy of Perdue

The Post-WWI Great Migration of African Americans from the South to northern cities was a key part of the 1930s. Black jazz creatives were transforming urban pockets like New York City during what became known as the Harlem Renaissance. And with it came the invention of the beloved chicken and waffles. Next time you’re deciding what to make for brunch, try this mini version of the classic combo. 

For the Buttermilk Chicken and Waffle Bites recipe, click here.

1930s: Salads

1930s: Salads

Courtesy of Seasonal Cravings

Americans were really into salads in the 1930s and a lot of it had to do with influence from Southern California and Hollywood. French-influenced dishes like leafy green salads became more and more common. Though there are hundreds of salad combinations to choose from, this spring green salad with chunks of avocado, blanched asparagus and delicate greens is a bowl of freshness.

For the Spring Green Salad with Asparagus recipe, click here.

1930: Mexican-American food like tamale pie

1930: Mexican-American food like tamale pie

Photo courtesy of McCormick

Folks in the ‘30s developed a newfound interest in Mexico and the American Southwest, which led to Americanized Mexican dishes like tamale pie. Typically, tamale pie is a two-step process that involves making the chili first and then the cornbread that is added on top before the whole thing is baked in the oven. This version is made in a slow cooker over several hours, which requires a lot of patience but at least most of the cooking is hands-off.

For the Slow Cooker Tamale Pie recipe, click here.

1930s: Macaroni and cheese

1930s: Macaroni and cheese

Photo courtesy of Happy Money Saver

As families were pinching pennies in the 1930s due to the Great Depression, many Americans switched up their meals as well as their parties. According to Wassberg Johnson, people would throw rent parties where they would cook low-cost bulk meals, like macaroni and cheese, and charge a fee for dinner so they could make rent. This mac and cheese recipe is not only a cheap dinner dish, but it’s ultra-creamy thanks to the addition of heavy cream and chicken broth in the cheese sauce.

For the Mac and Cheese recipe, click here.

1930s: Banana bread

1930s: Banana bread

Photo courtesy of Bits and Bites

1940s: Homegrown dinners like tomato salad

1940s: Homegrown dinners like tomato salad

Photo courtesy of Seasonal Cravings

1950s: Italian dishes

1950s: Italian dishes

AS Food studio/Shutterstock

The ‘50s were a time of travel and foreign foods, including Polynesian, Chinese, German, Hungarian, Spanish and Italian cuisines. This stracciatella soup is an Italian soup with a delicate meat broth and thin strands of eggs made using a method of drizzling the egg mixture into boiling broth and stirring it gently until it’s cooked. 

For the Stracciatella – Italian Egg Drop Soup recipe, click here.

1950s: ‘TV dinner’ casseroles

1950s: ‘TV dinner’ casseroles

Photo courtesy of McCormick

TV dinners were a hit in the 1950s as most middle-class families now had a TV set and portable dinner trays replaced sit-down dining room meals across the country. Casseroles, loved for their time-saving element and one-pot ease, became a popular choice. This dish is everything a casserole should be — gooey, cheesy and hearty, with taco meat and beans topped with crispy tater tots and cheese. 

For the Taco Tater-Topped Casserole recipe, click here.

1960s: Hippie culture and vegetarian dishes

1960s: Hippie culture and vegetarian dishes

Photo courtesy of McCormick

The counter-cultural movement and lifestyle of hippies was a massive part of the 1960s, and their way of life also influenced what foods were popular. They created their own free lifestyle and often followed vegetarian diets and rejected the mass production of food, which isn’t so far off from what some Americans follow today. This farmers market-inspired one-pan chicken dish is a solid celebration of those ideals and fresh, wholesome flavors.

For the Farmer’s Market Chicken and Vegetables recipe, click here.

1960s: The Beatles and curry

1960s: Hippie culture and curry

Photo courtesy of Perdue

1960s: Soul food

1960s: Soul food

Photo Courtesy of Kenneth Temple

1980s: Baby vegetables reign supreme

1980s: Baby vegetables reign supreme

Photo courtesy of Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.

Micro or baby vegetables were all the rage in the 1980s and extremely popular in haute cuisine. This dish celebrates baby bell peppers for all that they are — small, stuffable, sweet and perfectly roastable. These colorful peppers are packed with ground beef, spinach and couscous before being baked in the oven and then sprinkled with cheese.

For the Beef and Couscous Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers recipe, click here.

1990s: Midwestern food

1990s: Midwestern food

Photo courtesy of Pillsbury

1990s: ‘Lotta’ lattes

1990s: ‘Lotta’ lattes

Candice Bell/iStock / Getty Images Plus

2000s: Bacon on everything

2000s: Bacon on everything

Photo Courtesy of Jason Goldstein, Chop Happy

Meat-eating home cooks were putting bacon on everything in the 2000s, following of course the trend set by celebrity chefs and restaurants. This guacamole is a great example of the bacon-phase: taking something already perfect (guacamole) and adding some bacon just because you can.

For the Bacon Guacamole recipe, click here.

2000s: Vegan desserts

2000s: Vegan desserts

Photo courtesy of Amanda Paa, Heartbeet Kitchen

2010s: Alternative meat

2010s: Alternative meat

Photo courtesy of Beyond Meat

One of the biggest food trends of the 2010s (that is still going strong into 2020) is alternative meats as part of a more plant-based diet. Brands like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are busting out meat-like products to replace the red meat in typical burgers, sandwiches, tacos and more. This kimchi burger is a flavor-packed meatless meal, with zesty Asian ingredients like chili garlic and kimchi and well-seasoned Beyond meat patties.

For the Kimchi Beyond burger recipe, click here.

2010s: Avocado toast

2010s: Avocado toast

Photo courtesy of Phil’s Fresh Eggs

Classic American Recipes Through the Decades

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