10 Midwestern Dessert Recipes Perfect for Summer

Midwestern Desserts

Cheapism / O&H Danish Bakery / Travis Wise (CC BY) / bhofack2/istockphoto

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Midwestern Desserts
Cheapism / O&H Danish Bakery / Travis Wise (CC BY) / bhofack2/istockphoto

The Midwest's Best Desserts

There's so much talk about Southern cakes and other regional desserts, but the Midwest is not to be slept on when it comes to after-dinner delicacies. From frozen custard to buckeye balls, here are some of the best Midwestern desserts just in time for summer.  

Homemade Gooey Butter Cake

1. Gooey Butter Cake

What started as an accidental culinary discovery in St. Louis during the 1930s has become a Midwestern favorite for dessert. Midwestern folks love baked goods with ooey-gooey centers (like the cinnamon roll that's in the middle of the pan), and this cake delivers that texture consistently throughout the whole thing. The base here is yellow cake mix, which is entirely elevated by powdered sugar, vanilla, cream cheese, and butter.

Recipe: Lil Luna

Buckeyes by Travis Wise (CC BY)
Watergate Salad

3. Watergate Salad

Folks in the Midwest love their fluffy salad desserts, and Watergate salad is near the top of the favorites list. All you'll need is five ingredients (instant pistachio pudding, whipped topping, crushed pineapple, chopped pecans, and mini marshmallows) to achieve this perfect-for-the-family-cookout dessert.

Recipe: Kitchen Fun with My Three Sons

Leon’s Frozen Custard
Abby C./Yelp

4. Frozen Custard

You might be able to trace frozen custard's roots back to Coney Island, but this dessert has become a stalwart in Wisconsin, which has made it one of the most wildly popular desserts in the entire Midwestern region. It's creamier than ice cream and tastier than frozen yogurt — this is the superior soft serve, guys. 

Recipe: Taste of Lizzy T 

Homemade Strawberry Pretzel Salad
shaker lemon pie
Morgan C / Yelp
Bumpy Cake

7. Bumpy Cake

This Michigan-born dessert might not have the most appetizing sounding name, but bumpy cake is the pinnacle of decadent desserts. Basically, it's a rich devil's food cake that is topped with chocolate-coated buttercream ribbons that look like little hills on the cake. 

Recipe: House of Nash Eats

O&H Bakery apple kringle
O&H Danish Bakery

8. Kringle

Kringle has a complex history rooted in Denmark, but sort of like the frozen custard situation, Wisconsin adopted this stuff and skyrocketed its Midwestern popularity. This filled pastry ring is a favorite throughout the region.

Recipe: Shugary Sweets 

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Seven Layer Bars

9. Seven-Layer Magic Cookie Bars

Home chefs in the Midwest love approaching dessert with a "more is more" mentality, grabbing everything off their baking ingredients shelves to concoct a dessert bar. Seven-layer magic cookie bars are the product of such a mindset.

Recipe: All Things Mamma

snickers salad
u/ChiTownDerp via Reddit.com

10. Snickers Apple Salad

Snickers have peanuts and caramel inside, so it makes total sense to pair them with Granny Smith apples for a caramel apple situation. Throwing some Cool Whip in is as Midwestern as it gets. This stuff is irresistable. 

Recipe: Mom on Timeout