Kentucky Cuisine

Kentucky has always had a colorful food history, blending midwestern, southern, and European cuisines to make some of the more well-known state dishes. The western end of Kentucky, considered by many to be the most Southern in culture and cuisine, specializes in catfish, slaw, and hushpuppies, served with sweet tea. In the southwestern region, burgoo, a thick stew, and chili con carne are popular dishes. In the northern part of the state and Louisville, a large German-American population brought a love for beer and European sausages to the region. Mint juleps, Hot Brown, Derby pie, and bourbon balls are just some of the iconic Kentucky dishes that are known throughout the country.

The Lexington History Museum would love to know your favorite Kentucky recipe! We hope to have a future podcast and blog entry featuring Kentucky cuisine, and we need your help.

To get you started, here’s a recipe that Abraham Lincoln loved:

Take a thick steak and fry in a heavy skillet with plenty of butter, then spread with salt and mustard and cook over a low heat until very tender. Place on a hot platter and serve with chopped pickled walnuts. Then, pour a cup of coffee in the skillet and let it reach a boil, then pour over the steak and serve quickly.

If steak with pickled walnuts and coffee doesn’t tickle your fancy, try the legendary Hot Brown recipe, courtesy of The Brown Hotel:


– 4 oz. Butter
– Flour to make a Roux (about 6 tablespoons)
– 3 – 3 1/2 cups Milk
– 1 Beaten Egg
– 6 tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese
– 1 oz. Whipped Cream (optional)
– Salt and Pepper to Taste
– Slices of Roast Turkey
– 8-12 Slices of Toast (may be trimmed)
– Extra Parmesan for Topping
– 8-12 Strips of Fried Bacon


1. Melt butter and add enough flour to make a reasonably thick roux (enough to absorb all of the butter).

2. Add milk and Parmesan cheese. Add egg to thicken sauce, but do not allow sauce to boil. Remove from heat. Fold in whipped cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. For each Hot Brown, place two slices of toast on a metal (or flameproof) dish. Cover the toast with a liberal amount of turkey.

4. Pour a generous amount of sauce over the turkey and toast. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.

5. Place entire dish under a broiler until the sauce is speckled brown and bubbly. Remove from broiler, cross two pieces of bacon on top, and serve immediately.


We’d love to see your favorite Kentucky recipes, so send them in!


One thought on “Kentucky Cuisine

  1. Family Favorite Recipe (three generations Kentuckians)


    2 c sweet milk
    1 t salt
    3/4 c yellow cornmeal
    3 eggs separated
    3 T butter

    After milk gets very warm (not boiling) add meal and stir until thick. Add salt, butter and egg yolks stirring vigorously. Gently fold in well beaten egg whites with pinch of cream of tartar. Pour into greased casserole or baking dish.

    Bake 350º 45 minutes.
    Serves 4. Doubles easily.

    Served with butter and salt pepper OR syrup, your choice.

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