45 Retro Recipes That Deserve To Make A Comeback

You can always tell a Food Network fan since they seem to be up to date on exactly what foods are in vogue as dictated by the ever-expanding roster of celebrity chefs. While some of these food fads may stick around for a while, other terrible trends like butter boards and caviar bumps are something we won't miss a bit once they finally fade into well-deserved obscurity. A recipe that's stuck around for a few decades or even a century or so, however, is one that has usually done so for a good reason.

While we may not know the exact provenance of every recipe on this list, we do know that each one is something people want to keep eating even as more fly-by-night foods cycle in and out of fashion. Some of these recipes are easy to make, some require a bit more effort, but none of them call for any particularly expensive or hard-to-source ingredients since our ancestors were, by and large, a thrifty lot. For that reason alone, these recipes are worth revisiting, but their real selling point is that Grandpa thought they were groovy, while Great-Great-Aunt Beatrice called them the bee's knees. By gum, such tasty vittles ought to be good enough for this newfangled age, as well!

1. Classic Old-Fashioned Cocktail

What could be more old-fashioned than a drink by the same name? This beverage dates back to the early 19th century and by the 1880s was already being referred to by its old-timey moniker. While this whiskey-with-bitters concoction may not be your grandfather's tipple, it very likely is your great-great-grandfather's — unless, of course, Triple-G-pa is from the Badger State, as the Wisconsin Old Fashioned is made with brandy, soda, and fruit and is a far cry from this fairly basic cocktail.

Recipe: Classic Old Fashioned Cocktail

2. Old Fashioned Cake Donuts

Any donut you make yourself is automatically an old-fashioned one since in this day and age of ready access to Dunkin' and Krispy Kreme, it's far easier to outsource the donut making. If you're a DIY-er, though, it's always fun to try making your own. There's another way in which the donuts in this recipe are old-fashioned, too, as they're flavored with nutmeg and dipped in cinnamon sugar rather than being topped with gummy bears, Fruity Pebbles, or whatever other ingredients are currently popular.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Cake Donuts

3. Old-Fashioned Scalloped Corn

How do you even scallop corn? Is it a lost art these days? Well, it's not entirely lost as we have a recipe right here, although this corn casserole may not be as trendy as, say, fig jam-glazed Brussels sprouts. Still, scalloped corn is a good, solid side dish, and one that's quite easy to put together since it makes use of canned corn rather than requiring you to shuck fresh ears of the stuff. The real reason we like it, though, is because it involves a fair amount of shredded cheddar and is capped off with a layer of crumbled crackers.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Scalloped Corn

4. Old-Fashioned Apple Fritters

What makes a fritter different from a donut? Well, fritters are chunkier, for one thing. They also tend to be freestyle as opposed to the more rigidly symmetrical donuts. One thing fritters do have in common with donuts is that they're something we typically buy from a donut shop or a bakery. You might want to give these homemade apple fritters a try, though, as they're easier to make than you might think and make for a great way to use up any apples that might otherwise go to waste.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Apple Fritters

5. Old-Fashioned Liver And Onions

Organ meats like liver aren't all that popular these days as they're definitely an acquired taste and one that may not seem worth acquiring now that offal isn't even particularly cheap. Back in the days when nose-to-tail eating was a necessity rather than a foodie catchphrase, though, liver was something people just learned to deal with and eventually even enjoy. One thing liver lovers of the past and present know, though, is  that beef liver is best when it's fried up with a mess of onions.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Liver And Onions

6. Old-Fashioned Apple Dumplings

Baked apples on their own can be pretty blah ... nothing wrong with coring an apple and filling it with butter and sugar, but trying to pass off something so plain as a dessert is bound to disappoint. Wrap that apple in pie dough and bake it in caramel sauce, though, and now you're talking! If you really want to take things over the top, you can accompany these apple dumplings with a scoop of ice cream for a dessert that will draw no complaints.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Apple Dumplings

7. Old-Fashioned Waldorf Salad

The Waldorf salad was created in 1893 at the newly-opened Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and was an immediate hit. In its original form it was made from chopped apples and celery bound together with mayonnaise, but through the years home cooks and even the Waldorf have tweaked the recipe with all manner of extra ingredients. The recipe given here is less old-fashioned than advertised as it swaps out the mayonnaise for yogurt, but you can always swap it back again if you want to be more traditional. Other suggested add-ins include walnuts and grapes, both of which appeared in the 21st century version of the salad as served by the now-closed Waldorf.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Waldorf Salad

8. Old Fashioned Icebox Cookies

Any recipe with the word "icebox" in its name harks back to times long gone, since an icebox was the precursor to a refrigerator – basically a big wooden cooler insulated with something like straw or sawdust and holding a large block of ice that would (hopefully) keep the food cool. We're not sure these icebox cookies are that old, as iceboxes were on their way out by the 1940s, but many older people still referred to refrigerators as iceboxes well into later decades. As to how the moniker got attached to this particular cookie recipe, it's probably because the dough needs to be chilled before baking. In fact, what you're basically doing here is making a DIY version of those refrigerated tubes of slice-and-bake chocolate chip cookie dough.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Icebox Cookies

9. Old Fashioned Chex Mix

We may think of Chex Mix as a bagged snack mix that kindergarten teachers buy in bulk at Costco in order to bribe their charges into napping before snack time, but it actually started off as a mid-century cocktail party nibble meant for adults. While this homemade Chex mix recipe may not be identical to the 1950s version, it probably wouldn't be too unfamiliar to partygoers of the Eisenhower era.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Chex Mix

10. Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

If you have a bunch of apples and a taste for something pie-like but you don't want to hassle with rolling out a crust, then the apple crisp is the low-effort recipe you've been looking for. You'll still need to peel, core, and slice the apples and mix them with a few flavoring agents, but there's no bottom crust to the pan and the top crust is an easy-peasy crumble made of rolled oats.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

11. Old Fashioned Pancakes

Pancakes, flapjacks, griddlecakes, or whatever old-timey name you call them by have been around for a good long while. While batter cooked on frying pans may date back centuries or even millennia, pancakes as we now know them may have originated in the 1800s. This recipe is a pretty typical one, although is does call for an ingredient that was probably a lot more popular back in our great-great-grandparents' day than it is now: buttermilk. If you have no intention of drinking the leftover stuff, there's no need to buy the fresh kind. Instead, do as countless other cooks have done over the years and make a substitute by mixing vinegar or lemon juice into the regular kind of milk.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Pancakes

12. Old-Fashioned Sloppy Joes

A lot of comfort foods have gotten a trendy makeover in recent years, with macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese right at the head of the pack. Trailing far behind, though, are sloppy joes. These sandwiches still languish in semi-obscurity as they seems unable to shake the "essence de elementary school cafeteria" that follow them around everywhere. Someday soon, though, sloppy joes could become the latest food fad, so you might as well get in early on the trend by trying this recipe for the homemade kind. We promise you'll enjoy them all the more for not having to eat them in a room filled with shrieking children and permeated with the smell of boiled broccoli.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Sloppy Joes

13. Old Fashioned Blueberry Buckle

Back in the pre-refrigerator days, our ancestors ha to eat up their summer produce as fast as they could, which may be why there are so many old-timey fruit desserts — crisps, cobblers, crumbles, betties, and buckles. If you're not familiar with the latter, the name has no relation to that metal piece that holds your belt together. Rather, it refers to the fact that the mixture of batter and fruit (blueberries being the ones used here) tends to "buckle" under its own weight as it bakes. A dessert that's not even meant to look pretty, just to taste great, now that's what we like to see!

Recipe: Old Fashioned Blueberry Buckle

14. Old-Fashioned Corn Pone

Corn pone is so old-school that the phrase itself is outdated slang for something down-home or folksy. The dish itself may be old-fashioned, but it's still quite tasty and really cheap and easy, as well. All you're doing is making a basic cornmeal batter, then frying it up in roughly pancake-sized patties. You can eat the patties with butter and syrup as you would pancakes, or you could use them as a side for chili or stew as you might do with cornbread.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Corn Pone

15. Old Fashioned Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Back in the pre-pasteurization days, sour cream was what you got when you left your cream to sit until the lactic acid turned it sour and thickened it up, something that could happen deliberately or by happy little accident. We're not sure who first got the idea of adding it to sugar cookies, but it seems like something that somebody's grandmother would do. While we can't attest to the antiquity of this particular recipe, it does have an old-time feel to it and the cookies, which are rolled in cinnamon sugar, are somewhat reminiscent of fat, puffy snickerdoodles.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

16. Old-Fashioned Popcorn Balls

Once upon a time when kids would go trick-or-treating, they might homemade popcorn balls in their bags, but that's no longer the case now that we're more aware of stranger danger. While you probably shouldn't try to give these old-timey treats out at the door on Halloween, what you can do is to save them for kids — and grownups –- with whom you are actually acquainted. That way, they won't be seen as a threat, but will be eaten and appreciated for their salty-sweet goodness instead.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Popcorn Balls

17. Old-Fashioned Jell-O Poke Cake

Back when Jell-O was still a relatively new product, people liked to do all kinds of crazy stuff with it, including make some pretty bizarre salads. One Jell-O recipe with staying power, however, is this one for a simple box-mix cake with fruit-flavored, colorful stripes. The name refers to how those stripes are made: The cake is poked full of holes, then a bowl of still-liquidy Jell-O is poured over the top. While strawberry Jell-O is the kind used here, you can really make the cake with any flavor you like.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Jell-O Poke Cake

18. Classic Sidecar Cocktail

The Sidecar is one of the classic pre-Prohibition drinks. It dates back to 1919 when the Great War was still fresh in everyone's minds, and the name is thought to commemorate the motorcycle sidecars that saw heavy duty in the trenches. While the original Sidecar consists of two parts brandy (or cognac, which is a fancier type of brandy), one part lemon juice, and one part orange liqueur, the proportions given here have been adjusted to make for a much sweeter drink. In order to double down on the sweetness, this Sidecar recipe also includes a sugared rim.

Recipe: Classic Sidecar Cocktail

19. Old Fashioned Blackberry Cake

This "old-fashioned" recipe is more of an old-style one, since it doesn't seem to be based on any specific recipe from years gone by. Still, the idea of incorporating fresh fruit into desserts is one that was even more popular in the days when produce had a super-short shelf life. This recipe starts off with a vanilla cake batter (albeit one made with yogurt, an ingredient your great-grandmother very likely would not have used), then folds in fresh blackberries, If you'd like to change things up a bit, raspberries, chopped strawberries, or a berry mixture would likely work, as well.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Blackberry Cake

20. Old-Fashioned Baked Pineapple Casserole

Pineapple casserole sounds like an odd idea — pineapple typically features in desserts or tangy-sweet sauces, but the word "casserole" implies more of a savory side dish. A glimpse at the ingredients list doesn't  clear up the confusion, either — how could a combination of crushed pineapple and sugar mixed with cracker crumbs and cheddar cheese possibly work? This is one of those times where you're just going to have to trust to history, as generations of southern cooks wouldn't keep making this dish if it was always the last thing left on the table at the potluck supper.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Baked Pineapple Casserole

21. Old-Fashioned Wacky Cake

This chocolate cake recipe, which may date back to the Depression or shortly thereafter, doesn't require milk, butter, or eggs, much less any fancy stuff that needs to be special-ordered. Wacky? Perhaps, but also pretty smart, because saving money never goes out of style. There's nothing too odd about the ingredients that are used, however, except perhaps for the distilled vinegar. It doesn't affect the cake's flavor at all, though, as it's only there to provide a bit of leavening.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Wacky Cake

22. Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

If the only chicken pot pies you've ever had are the frozen kind, you might think of the dish as bland, soggy, and something you'd only eat if there was nothing else in the house. A scratch-made pot pie will generally taste a lot better, though, and it can also make for an economical way to stretch leftover chicken to feed a whole household. No need to worry about this chicken pie being difficult to make, either, as in this recipe we're using ready-made pie crust. While that might not sound very old-fashioned, frozen pie crusts actually date back to the 1950s.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

23. Old-Fashioned Pinwheel Cookies

We don't know exactly how long pinwheel cookies have been around, but they seem to have been a staple of every holiday cookie exchange since time immemorial (or at least since cookie exchanges became a thing). While the Christmassy ones are often red and white and flavored with peppermint, here we're going with a less seasonally-specific blend of chocolate and vanilla, instead. If you want to liven these cookies up a bit, though, you can always add food coloring to the vanilla dough and/or replace or supplement the vanilla with a different flavor extract like almond or orange or, yes, peppermint.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Pinwheel Cookies

24. Old Fashioned Pecan Coffee Ring

Coffee rings seem to hark back to a more leisurely (if possibly imaginary) era when people not only had the time to bake every day, but were also able to sit down and have a cup of coffee with a sweet treat after they were done with this chore. While this recipe does take a fair amount of work, it could make for a fun project for a cold or rainy weekend when you don't have anything planned. Even if your finished version doesn't look quite like the one in the photos, don't worry, as a thick drizzle of glaze and a sprinkling of nuts can cover up just about any "oops."

Recipe: Old Fashioned Pecan Coffee Ring

25. Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup

The beef you use to make this soup can and should be the cheapest, toughest cut you can find. It would be a travesty, after all, to use filet mignon or wagyu in such a fashion. Those marked-down slabs of mystery beef, however, are simply perfect for soupefying. Chop them up, toss them in a pot with a selection of vegetables — the ones given here are just suggestions, feel free to improvise with what you've got — and the long, slow simmering will soften everything up nicely. A bowl of this hearty soup plus a few biscuits will make for a satisfyingly simple wintertime meal.

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup

26. Traditional Southern Fried Apples

These fried apples are often served as a breakfast or side dish, one that goes particularly well with sausage or pork chops. They can also be used as a pancake topping or even spooned over a bowl of ice cream for dessert. A note on the ingredients here: While this recipe calls for date syrup as a sweetener, there's no need to go out and buy it if it's not something you typically have on hand. Plain old white sugar is more traditional for this type of recipe, or you could also opt for honey or maple syrup if you prefer.

Recipe: Traditional Southern Fried Apples

27. Classic Pink Champagne Cake

Pink champagne cake was a huge hit with home bakers of the early 1960s and even though its popularity dropped off in later years, the recipe is well worth reviving. It needn't be too expensive to make as the very cheapest kind of sparkling wine will work just fine in the batter and frosting. In fact, you could get a similar effect and an even brighter pink hue by swapping out the wine for strawberry-flavored soda. No worries about ruining the recipe — the soda option was suggested by the original recipe developer some 60+ years ago, so it, too, has stood the test of time.

Recipe: Classic Pink Champagne Cake

28. Sweet And Sour Meatloaf

Meatloaf, while it's often referred to as a comfort food, has yet to experience the kind of revival that can turn it into the latest trendy food sensation. That being said, over the years this budget staple has come in for some tweaking to make it a little bit more exciting. In the 1970s, a sweet and sour meatloaf makeover was popular. The way this was achieved was by glazing the meat with a sweetened, vinegar-and-mustard-spiked tomato sauce as recreated in this retro recipe.

Recipe: Sweet And Sour Meatloaf

29. Sock-It-To-Me Cake

The very name of this cake dates it to a particular point in time, that being the early '70s. "Sock it to me" was a catchphrase introduced by the TV show "Laugh-In," which was basically an early version of SNL. In fact, the line was probably never funnier than when uttered by a deadpan Dick Nixon who was running for his first term in the White House. The cake itself was created a few years later in the test kitchen of Duncan Hines, which, as you might guess, meant that it was made from a boxed mix. This revised recipe, however, is perfect for overachievers who prefer to start everything from scratch.

Recipe: Sock-It-To-Me Cake

30. Frito Pie

Can you believe Fritos have been around since the 1930s? Yes, and by the next decade they'd already gotten together with chili in a dish called Frito pie. Fast-forward to the 1950s and Frito pie would be in regular rotation in school cafeterias as a sort of Tex-Mex answer to the sloppy joe. Our recipe is made in the form of a casserole, but you can also just spoon the chili and cheese straight into a bag of Fritos to turn it into a snack as Texans have been doing since the early '60s.

Recipe: Frito Pie

31. Classic Bread Pudding

While many a money-saving dish dates back to the Great Depression, bread pudding goes back just a bit longer. It's been a way to re-purpose stale bread for the past thousand years or so. While some modern recipes may call for specialty breads such as brioche or challah, this one lets you make use of any old bread you happen to have around the house. While the recipe does include raisins, if you're not a fan you can swap them out for a different dried fruit or even use chocolate chips instead.

Recipe: Classic Bread Pudding

32. Glazed Pineapple Ham

Recipes for baked ham with canned pineapple rings date back to the 1920s, but by the '50s this dish was emblematic of suburban tiki culture. (All things Hawaiian were very much in vogue as we prepared to welcome our 50th state). This particular retro recipe uses pineapple juice and sugar to make a glaze, while the outside of the ham is embellished with both pineapple rings and maraschino cherries. The result is a dish that will make quite a colorful entrée for your Easter feast.

Recipe: Glazed Pineapple Ham

33. Creamy Orange Jell-O Salad

While Jell-O salad may seem like a horrifyingly weird food that only our grandparents could love, the truth is, only certain salads really went over the top. Anything mixing, say, lemon Jell-O, tuna, mayonnaise, and olives does not deserve a revival under any circumstances, but when fruit-flavored gelatin stays in its lane as it does in this sweet, creamy orange Jell-O salad, it can actually be very tasty. This is a salad that would be welcome at any midwestern potluck — and it would actually disappear pretty quickly, too!

Recipe: Creamy Orange Jell-O Salad

34. Southern Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese may be considered a southern staple, but the recipe originally came from New York. The  early 1900s version consisted of nothing more than cream cheese and pimentos and was used as a filling for dainty finger sandwiches, but as it moved down south it evolved into a chunkier sort of dip made with shredded cheddar cheese and mayonnaise. Our version, while made along more-or-less traditional southern lines, does contain one ingredient that's been trendy in more recent years: pickle juice, something that became popular back when Unicorn Frappuccinos were a thing. While we're not sure 2017 quite counts as "retro" yet, it is rapidly receding in the rear-view mirror.

Recipe: Southern Pimento Cheese

35. Homemade Rock Candy

If you've ever been to an old-timey candy store, perhaps one in a pioneer village-type place that you visited on a school field trip, you're sure to have seen and maybe even purchased rock candy on a stick. While a homemade version of this vintage candy is a whole lot cheaper — all you need to make it is sugar and water — it is somewhat of an undertaking. If you have kids, though, DIY rock candy makes for a perfect science fair project about the process of crystallization. As a bonus, you'll get to eat the outcome of the experiment, which is something you can't (or wouldn't want to) say about most other science fair entries.

Recipe: Homemade Rock Candy

36. Classic Fantasy Fudge

If there was one thing that totally changed the face of cooking in the 1970s (and beyond), that was the widespread introduction of the microwave to American kitchens. Suddenly, it was much easier to reheat food, melt butter, and yes, even make fudge. Kraft capitalized on the appliance's newfound popularity by including a recipe for microwave fantasy fudge on every jar of its marshmallow creme. While our fantasy fudge recipe is pretty similar to the Kraft original, we're really going old-school here by cooking it on the stove instead of in the microwave.

Recipe: Classic Fantasy Fudge

37. Easy Chicken A La King

In the 1970s, the epitome of a fancy party dish was something served in a cream sauce, so chicken a la king was featured at many a suburban soiree. Our retro recipe sticks pretty close to the disco decade original as it's made with canned cream of mushroom soup, a staple without which no '70s casserole was complete. It even includes a jar of pimento peppers, which were what people used back before spice was a thing. Unincendiary though the dish may be, fans of mild and creamy dishes like fettuccine alfredo will want to give this recipe a try.

Recipe: Easy Chicken A La King

38. Watergate Salad

When people in the '70s weren't nuking fudge and fancying up casseroles with canned cream of this and that, they were apparently using food as a way of commenting on current events. Within a few years of the Watergate incident that brought the Nixon presidency to an ignominious end, there were several popular recipes meant to commemorate the occasion. Ironically, nearly 50 years down the road, Watergate salad may have more name recognition than its eponymous scandal. If you've never tried this creamy blend of pistachio pudding, whipped topping, crushed pineapple, and marshmallows, it might seem like an off combination, but it's actually quite delicious.

Recipe: Watergate Salad

39. Watergate Cake

Watergate cake, which obviously takes its name from the same historic occasion mentioned above, is also made with pistachio pudding mix. The pudding is used to flavor a box of white cake mix and tint it a lovely shade of light green. Pistachio pudding is also used to flavor the whipped topping that serves as frosting — apparently whipped cream substitutes were super-popular back during the Ford administration. As to why pistachio pudding seems to be the official flavor of all things Watergate, that may be because it was a new and trendy flavor in the mid-70s, although NPR notes that people also loved to joke about the nutty flavor being an apt metaphor for all of the "nuts" involved in the scandal.

Recipe: Watergate Cake

40. Easy Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast

Creamed chipped beef on toast is a dish that has been served up in military mess halls since WWI, although it's often known by a not-too-polite nickname. The recipe was originally created by the U.S. Army as a cheap way to feed an entire battalion, but our version scales the dish back to a more reasonable six servings. While dried, chipped beef can be extremely salty, here's a tip: Soak or rinse it in cool water prior to cooking it to wash away some of the excess salt.

Recipe: Easy Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast

41. Old Fashioned Fudge Pie

Fudge pies such as this one were popular during the Great Depression as they made the most of some not-too-expensive ingredients. With just a single stick of butter, a pair of eggs, a little more than a cup of sugar and a few scoops of cocoa powder, you can make a pie filling that is satisfyingly rich and fudgy. The fudge filling from this recipe will work with just about any standard pie crust, homemade or store-bought, or you could opt for a nut, crumb, or coconut crust to add some extra flavor.

Recipe: Old Fashioned Fudge Pie

42. Easy Salmon Patties

Heath experts are always telling us that we should eat more salmon, but have they checked its price lately? If they think that's affordable to have for dinner several times a week, well, health experting must pay some serious bucks. What can the rest of us do, though? Luckily our Depression-Era forebears had the answer to this future problem: salmon patties. These are made from canned salmon, which is a lot less spendy than the fresh kind, and mixed with breadcrumbs to stretch them out even further. Try making these patties double-sized and serving them on hamburger buns with tartar sauce and lemon juice.

Recipe: Easy Salmon Patties

43. Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

While upside-down cakes may date back hundreds of years, the pineapple upside-down cake as we know it didn't come about until after canned, ring-cut pineapple became a thing early in the 20th century. By the 1920s, the cake was already starting to appear in cookbooks and magazines. While this particular recipe isn't too different from the standard version, it does omit the maraschino cherries that are so often a feature of pineapple upside-down cakes. Still, these can easily be added back in again if you think the cake needs a bit more color.

Recipe: Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

44. Budget-Friendly Porcupine Meatballs

During the depths of the Great Depression, people often had to resort to eating all manner of things, and there's a chance that a few porcupines may have found their way into the cooking pot. (It tastes somewhat like pork.) The popular dish known as porcupine meatballs, however, was typically made with ground beef, instead. These meatballs get their name — and their budget-friendliness — from the fact that the meat is mixed with raw rice before cooking. The rice pokes out and forms what looks like little "spines" all over each meatball.

Recipe: Budget-Friendly Porcupine Meatballs

45. Classic Shirley Temple

As we kicked this list off with a cocktail, let's bring things full-circle with the grandmother of all mocktails: the Shirley Temple. While you may think that the drink dates back to your own childhood, this classic concoction of ginger ale, grenadine, and maraschino cherries was actually created back in the 1930s to honor the greatest child star of the time. If you find it a bit sweet for your adult palate, try dialing back a bit on the grenadine and adding some extra lime juice.

Recipe: Classic Shirley Temple