Old Country Buffet Foods You Probably Miss

For many families, buffet restaurants offer the best dining experience for the value. Everyone can customize their meal, choosing only their favorite foods and paying a flat fee. Even better — second and third helpings are expected. For a family of picky eaters or those with insatiable appetites, buffets are ideal. And one of the best-known all-you-can-eat options is Old Country Buffet.

Originally opened in 1983, Old Country Buffet's popularity soared in the 1990s. Diners flocked to the restaurant with the recognizable red logo and seemingly endless dinner options. Old Country Buffet had something for everyone: meat carving stations, an expansive salad bar, seafood, lasagna, and a dessert bar to satisfy sweet tooths. But after multiple bankruptcies and sagging sales, the restaurant chain closed most of its stores for good. While the majority of Old Country Buffet locations are now shuttered, memories of family gatherings and plates piled sky high with favorite foods endure. Get ready for a wave of nostalgia: Here are the foods from Old Country Buffet you probably miss.

1. Chicken wings

Chicken wings are a tasty addition to any buffet, and they were a staple at OCB. Whether you preferred classic homestyle or buffalo, flat wings or drumsticks, OCB's wings were always tender and juicy beneath the crisp, crackly skin and signature spices. Plus, it was just so easy to add a bunch to an already heaping plate as you made your way through the buffet line.

In a Facebook group dedicated to local food, Trevor Ryan asked about his favorite OCB item. "Anyone remember the buffalo wings from Old Country Buffet a long time ago? They were the best." One Redditor said some of his favorite Old Country Buffet memories include wings. "I remember my dad piling up plate after plate of chicken wings and roast beef." A night out at Old Country Buffet meant stuffing yourself with your favorite foods — wings included — to get your money's worth.

2. Soft serve ice cream bar

At a restaurant with an expansive dessert spread, there was something special about Old Country Buffet's soft-serve ice cream bar. Guests could choose between vanilla, chocolate, or a swirl of the two. And of course, it was self-serve, so each guest operated the silver machine themselves. Were your cones expertly constructed with a beautiful sky-high spiral of soft serve? Or did your frozen treat collapse under its own weight? 

Regardless of how it looked, Old Country Buffet's soft serve always tasted delicious. And who could forget the toppings bar? Sprinkles of every color, multiple candy toppings, and syrups — you could truly customize your soft serve. That was a big deal, especially for younger diners.

In an essay for K92.3, Gabe Glidden recalled one of his favorite Old Country Buffet memories: ending the night with a bowl of ice cream. "We'd put as many sprinkles/chocolate chips in our ice cream bowls as mom and dad would allow," he wrote. "When I was 9 years old, Old Country Buffet was heaven."

3. Pizza

You could always count on Old Country Buffet for comfort foods, especially pizza. The restaurant offered either cheese or pepperoni, each with a soft, doughy crust and salty, stretchy cheese. It was filling, tasty, and, most importantly, consistent.

Was it artisanal? No. Were there lots of topping options available? Also, no. It wasn't fancy, but it was delicious. As one TikToker commented, "The pizza in there was fire." It was fire, especially if you customized your slices with meats and veggies from the rest of the buffet line. Taco pizza, anyone?

For many kids (and even a few adults), pizza is the height of fine dining. While Old Country Buffet's seafood and meat options most likely offered the biggest bang for the buck, there's no denying the pizza was a reliable staple for many. Plenty of diners would agree that a visit to the buffet wasn't complete without at least one slice of cheesy pizza.

4. Chocolate milk

For some customers, their most-missed item from Old Country Buffet isn't food, but a drink. The restaurant's chocolate milk remains a nostalgic favorite for many, especially those who regularly dined at OCB as children. Former customers fondly remember filling their glasses at the big silver machine that offered whole milk and chocolate milk options. Did the dairy dispenser keep the milk colder than regular refrigerators? Or was the restaurant's recipe for chocolate milk really just the best around?

"Their choco milk was nectar of the gods for some reason," wrote one Redditor. "The best." Others agreed, adding that they still talk about Old Country Buffet's chocolate milk. Maybe OCB's signature chocolate milk blend was superior, or perhaps diners enjoyed that it came out of the machine cold and frothy. It could also just be that young diners enjoyed the endless refills of their favorite drink. Whatever the reason, one thing's for sure: OCB's chocolate milk holds a special spot for many former customers.

5. Bread pudding

Old Country Buffet had an impressive dessert spread that included treats like fruit cobblers, pies, cakes, cookies, and more. But for many customers, there was no dessert like OCB's bread pudding. Slices of white bread and cinnamon buns formed the base, while raisins, sugar, butter, cinnamon, and vanilla infused the dessert with sweetness and warm aromas. A creamy vanilla glaze topped the popular dish, adding a melt-in-your-mouth dimension to the texture that many customers could not get enough of. 

"Loved the bread pudding drizzled with vanilla icing!" wrote one Redditor. Another counted OCB's bread pudding as among their all-time favorite foods from childhood, and with good reason. It packed a punch, striking the perfect balance of delicate cinnamon roll layers and rich vanilla pudding. This indulgent dessert was worth saving room for, and it still stands out in the memories of many former diners, with several copycat recipes circulating online. 

6. Soups

The soup station was a big hit at Old Country Buffet, and customers fondly remember the corn chowder, potato, chicken noodle, and cream of broccoli soups. The classic chicken noodle was usually available, accompanied by at least one other option. It was chock-full of noodles, big chunks of chicken, and vegetables like carrots, onions, and celery. One Redditor said they've been craving OCB's chicken noodle soup since the restaurant closed. Another agreed: "Hey a man can dream of old memories of endless soup."

The cream of broccoli was another staple at OCB. The rich and creamy broth was packed with cheddar cheese, broccoli, and spices, and was especially satisfying served with OCB's rolls. The self-serve station allowed diners to customize their soup — broccoli fans could fill their bowls with large chunks of the vegetable, while those who preferred a cheesier soup could ladle only the thick, creamy broth into their bowls. Customers say they still miss OCB's cream of broccoli soup and want the recipe, even all these years later.

7. Carving station

One of Old Country Buffet's signature offerings was its carving station. Staffed by an employee wearing a white apron and chef's hat, diners could request cuts of their favorite meats, including roast beef, ham, prime rib, and turkey. Customers seemed to enjoy visiting the carving station almost as much as eating the assortment of meats. 

An Old Country Buffet training video about the carving station has gone viral in recent years, netting over 1.5 million views on YouTube. Sure, many of the comments joke about the stilted dialogue, but people are also nostalgic about the setup and quality of service. Even Emmy Award-winning actor Bob Odenkirk got in on the fun. When he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Odenkirk showed off his version of the Old Country Buffet training video. It was just a joke, of course, and while many viewers were taken with his spoof, others fondly reminisced over their visits to the restaurant.

8. Rolls

The rolls at Old Country Buffet were the perfect complement to any meal. They had a firm, flaky outer crust with a deliciously soft and tender interior. It didn't matter what time of day you were dining at OCB — the rolls were always warm and buttery. They were undoubtedly a must-add to your plate, especially if you slathered them with butter or any of the fruit jams available at the buffet.

Customers also remember using the rolls to build sandwiches. Whether it was some leftover ham or turkey from the carving station or a few chicken nuggets and barbecue sauce, it was easy to stuff the golden rolls to make an awesome side sandwich. "I used to go just for the ham and rolls," remembered one Redditor. There's nothing quite like fresh-baked bread, and Old Country Buffet's top-notch rolls were a reliable staple for even the pickiest eaters.

9. Salad bar

Buffet restaurants aren't always remembered for their healthy offerings, but Old Country Buffet's salad bar was seriously impressive. First, you'd pick your base: Did you prefer mixed greens, spinach, or romaine lettuce? From there, you'd customize your salad, choosing from veggie options like cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, olives, tomatoes, radishes, mushrooms, and more. There were also protein options, like shredded chicken, diced ham, and bacon, plus tasty add-ons like shredded cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and sunflower seeds. And if you liked a saucy dressing, there were plenty to choose from, like Italian, Caesar, Ranch, and balsamic. 

A salad at Old Country Buffet could be as complex or simple as you wanted. "I loved their salad bar," said one Redditor, adding that they even asked to go to Old Country Buffet for their birthday one year. OCB was a great choice for a birthday meal, considering you could get anything you wanted to eat, including a gourmet salad.

10. Mac n cheese

For many diners, a visit to Old Country Buffet wasn't complete without a bowl (or loaded plate) of the signature mac n cheese. There was something special about the creamy cheese sauce that transformed the macaroni from a standard side pasta dish to a hearty customer favorite. Is it possible that customers are still nostalgic for OCB's mac n cheese because they enjoyed it as kids and now reminisce about their childhood? Of course! But that doesn't take away from how much it was beloved for what it was: a great addition to any plate or enjoyed solo. 

"I would basically get a plate of Mac and cheese," wrote one Redditor. Meanwhile, a former OCB employee who wasn't overly fond of the restaurant still remembers eating it just about every night. "Pretty much the only thing I ever ate for my shift meal was mac n cheese," they wrote. Why mess with perfection?