Home Recipe Roundup 30 Great Depression Era Recipes for a Taste of the Past

30 Great Depression Era Recipes for a Taste of the Past

These Great Depression era recipes are great for your wallet and your tastebuds. 

During the Depression, food and grocery options were scarce. People cooked what they already had or what was inexpensive. 

Warm Hamburger Soup with Vegetables in a Bowl
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This led to some pretty inventive dishes. I’ve compiled a list of 30 Depression era recipes that have stood the test of time. 

These recipes are delicious no matter how simple, affordable, or unbelievable they are. 

You can put together a whole feast or prepare a meal for the family on a budget with these dishes.

1. Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread 

This recipe is from a 1932 cookbook. It’s a simple recipe, and you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry!

It has a delicious and rich peanut butter flavor. It makes an amazing base for so many different spreads.

My favorite way to enjoy this is with a smear of creamy Nutella. 

The peanut butter flavors in the bread itself enhance the flavors of whatever you add to it. It’s so satisfying.

2. Depression Cake (Wacky Cake) 

This chocolate cake is actually vegan!

Eggs and milk were expensive during this time period.

But why should that have stopped anybody from having delicious cake?

Despite the missing ingredients, this cake is super rich, flavorful, and moist.

You can have a fantastic chocolate cake with simple ingredients that you probably have on hand. 

This is great for any celebration or just for when that chocolate craving hits. 

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3. Depression Era Bread – 3 Ingredients

This bread is so good, yet so simple! You won’t believe how great this recipe is with only three ingredients.

This bread is a money saver that’s foolproof and easy!

All you need is flour, yeast, and water. Plus, you can add some salt for flavor.

This recipe makes seven whole loaves of bread. That makes each load about 36 cents using ingredients you already have. 

4. Vinegar Pie 

Of all the pies you’ve heard of, vinegar probably isn’t one of those fillings you crave. 

Believe it or not, this pie is sweet and delicious. The top of this pie is slightly crisp and the filling is rich and creamy. 

I love the subtle sweetness of the apple cider vinegar. It’s a unique flavor that makes this pie special. 

5. Navy Bean and Ham Soup 

This navy bean soup is hearty and tasty. The ham is salty and gives the soup such great flavor. 

This is comfort food that’s budget-friendly.

You only need four ingredients for this flavorful soup, and the whole family will love it. 

This is especially great for cold days when you want to make an easy dinner. Goulash goes by many different names 

6. Old-Fashioned Goulash 

Goulash is a staple in many American households. It’s a dish that starts on the stove and gets finished in the oven. 

Goulash is a macaroni dish that’s filled with ground beef and tomatoes. It’s hearty, delicious, and a hit with everyone. 

This goulash recipe is super comforting, and the leftovers are so tasty!

7. Dandelion Salad 

This salad can actually be made with items that grow in your backyard!

Instead of throwing out these commonly found weeds, wash them and turn them into a scrumptious salad!

Dandelion leaves have a bitter taste but they can still be really delicious.

Toss these dandelion greens in a fantastic garlic dressing. Then, add seasoned breadcrumbs and lemon zest. 

The herby, bright, garlic combination is a wonderful balance to the bitter greens.

Now, get out there and forage for some dandelions!

8. Old-Fashioned Stuffed Bell Peppers 

Stuffed peppers are one of my favorite classic dishes. They’re really tasty, and I find the bell peppers to be quite fun. 

If you haven’t had a stuffed bell pepper before, now is your chance to make them at home.

Ground meat is mixed with rice and tomatoes before being stuffed into whole bell peppers. 

This recipe is also really customizable.

You can swap the protein, change the rice, or use regular tomato sauce instead of V8 juice. 

9. Potato Soup

This old-fashioned potato soup only requires five ingredients. I love that it’s so easy to make and is genuine comfort food. 

All you need for this simple soup is potatoes, milk, butter, salt, and pepper.

It’s another recipe that can probably be made from your pantry on any given day. 

This soup is great as a starter or as a main dish. You can add different things to it for extra flavor, but it’s delicious just the way it is!

10. Old-Fashioned Cornbread 

Classic cornbread is the perfect side with almost any meal. I especially love cornbread with something really rich like chili.

This recipe is made with white cornmeal and buttermilk. Plus, it doesn’t have any added sugar!

It’s rustic and simple but it is so good.

11. Grandmas Potato Pancakes 

Potato pancakes or potato latkes are so much better than they sound.

They’re budget-friendly and super easy to make. 

All you need for these potato pancakes is potatoes, eggs, and onion.

You can also add salt and pepper to taste. These little pancakes get so crispy on the outside once they’re fried. 

My favorite topping for these latkes is applesauce but you can top or dip them with anything you prefer. 

12. Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast 

This dish is more about flavor than looks, but stick with me.

Chipped beef on toast is simple and messy but so comforting. 

This recipe has salty, savory beef that is covered in creamy gravy.

The crispy toast is a great base for all of the other flavors and textures going on. 

If you love salty snacks, this recipe is perfect for you!

13. Great-Grandma’s Frozen Fruit Salad 

This isn’t your average fruit-in-a-bowl salad.

It’s a take on the classic marshmallow fruit salad, sometimes known as ambrosia. The only difference? It’s frozen. 

I think this is a great twist on fruit salad, and you can even have it as a dessert. 

14. Stovetop Rice Custard 

Rice custard is thick, creamy, and scrumptiously sweet. 

Since this is a custard, milk and eggs are the main ingredients. They make this dessert so rich and yummy. 

This pudding-like dessert has a delicious flavor and consistency.

15. Depression Meat Loaf 

This meatloaf is budget-friendly, tasty, and filling.

Meatloaf has a sort of nostalgic element, which means everybody you serve this to will love it.

The meatloaf stays nice and moist while it bakes in the oven.

My favorite part is the ketchup spread on top. It caramelizes in the oven and tastes nothing like ketchup after it cooks. 

Serve this meatloaf with mashed potatoes for a comforting and delicious meal. 

16. Depression-Era Hot Milk Cake 

This cake is simple and delicious. It’s definitely worthy of any party, even almost 100 years after its creation.

The flavors of this cake are buttery and sweet with vanilla flavor. You can add a glaze on top, but this cake is divine on its own. 

17. Water Pie 

I think this should really be called magic pie. It’s hard to believe that you can make such a creamy pie with water.

The flavor of this pie is buttery, almost like a cookie fresh out of the oven.

Aside from the crust, all you need is water, butter, sugar, flour, and vanilla. 

This water pie is quite incredible. 

18. Poor Man’s Cookies 

These poor man’s cookies are in bar form. However, there’s no chocolate in this recipe. 

The cookies are filled with plump raisins.

The warm and inviting spices make them super addicting. Beware, the whole family might fight over these. 

19. Poor Man’s Stew (Hamburger Stew) – Slow Cooker or Instant Pot 

This is another ground beef recipe that, thanks to the Instant Pot, can be whipped up in no time and on a dime!

This meal only costs about $2 per serving!

This hearty stew is made with lots of flavorful veggies, and the tomato broth is rich and tasty.

Don’t let the name fool you, as this delicious and comforting stew is fantastic!

20. Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls 

Don’t let these homemade rolls intimidate you. They’re so easy and only take 1 hour to make!

Not only are they super cute, but they taste delicious, too. I mean, when do fresh rolls not taste good?

21. Bread and Butter Pickles 

This recipe is all about homemade pickles. Yes, the crunchy, salty, slightly sweet condiment that *most people* know and love. 

The Great Depression is where bread and butter pickles are said to have gotten their name.

They were served with plain bread and butter as a snack or meal. 

Thes pickles will stay good in your modern refrigerator for quite some time, if you don’t eat them first!

22. Spice Crazy Cake 

I’m all in favor of easy and delicious cakes. Now, there’s no excuse to not bake. ‘

This cake is similar to the wacky cake but with warm spiced flavors instead of chocolate.

The batter is loaded with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. 

This is the perfect cake for any occasion and can even be a replacement for pie. 

23. Haluski (Cabbage and Noodles) 

Haluski is a dish that originated in Poland. It’s made with simple ingredients that come together in the best way. 

This cabbage and noodle dish is made with buttery noodles and crispy pan-fried cabbage.

It’s an easy dinner, and you only need four ingredients. 

24. Grandma’s Chicken and Sliders 

No, these aren’t burger sliders. They’re so much more interesting and more delicious if you ask me!

This chicken sliders recipe is also called chicken and dumplings. 

The broth is rich and delicious and the dumplings are so soft and wonderful. I highly suggest trying this recipe. 

25. Potato Leek Soup

Potato leek soup is so flavorful and comforting. This is the perfect rainy day soup!

This soup actually originated in France, so we know it’s creamy and delectable. It’s full of simple ingredients that all really shine. 

The soup turns out rich and silky-smooth. Yum!

26. Healthy Baked Apples

Baked apples are a fabulous option for a healthy dessert or even a snack!

Top the apple halves with cinnamon and spices. This dessert will also make your whole house smell incredible!

I love to eat these baked apples with some creamy vanilla ice cream.

It’s like having a delicious apple pie without the crust. They’re insanely good!

27. Bread Pudding 

What do you usually do with the ends of your bread loaf?

If you’ve never repurposed them into something tasty, this is your time to start!

This recipe uses leftover bread soaked in a creamy vanilla custard. The bread gets moist and flavorful.

It’s truly incredible to turn mundane bread into such a decadent dessert

28. Creamed Tuna on Toast 

This is a sort of play on the chipped beef recipe.

Tuna, cream, and peas get nice and familiar with each other before being served on crisp toast. 

If you like tuna salad, this recipe will revamp your meals. 

29. Old-Fashioned Hot Water Cornbread 

Hot water cornbread almost reminds me of a cornbread donut.

Instead of being baked in a pan in the oven, this cornbread is formed into balls and then fried!

All you need for this cornbread is cornmeal, water, and salt.

If you like your cornbread sweet, drizzle it with some maple syrup!

30. Indiana Sugar Cream Pie (Hoosier Pie) 

Creme brulee. Need I say more? This pie has a flaky crust and a creamy filling. 

The buttery custard-like filling is incredible. Plus, it’s egg-free. 

I think this might be my new favorite dessert. 

30 Great Depression Era Recipe Collection

Try these Great Depression Era recipes for dishes from way back when. From cake to bread to soup, these budget-friendly meals are worthy of bringing back.


  • Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread

  • Depression Cake (Wacky Cake)

  • Depression Era Bread – 3 Ingredients

  • Vinegar Pie

  • Navy Bean and Ham Soup

  • Old Fashioned Goulash

  • Dandelion Salad

  • Old Fashioned Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • Potato Soup

  • Old Fashioned Cornbread

  • Grandmas Potato Pancakes

  • Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast

  • Great-Grandma’s Frozen Fruit Salad

  • Stovetop Rice Custard

  • Depression Meat Loaf

  • Depression-Era Hot Milk Cake

  • Water Pie

  • Poor Man’s Cookies

  • Poor Man’s Stew (Hamburger Stew) – Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

  • Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls

  • Bread and Butter Pickles

  • Spice Crazy Cake

  • Haluski (Cabbage and Noodles)

  • Grandma’s Chicken and Sliders

  • Potato Leek Soup

  • Healthy Baked Apples

  • Bread Pudding

  • Creamed Tuna on Toast

  • Old-Fashioned Hot Water Cornbread

  • Indiana Sugar Cream Pie (Hoosier Pie)


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  • Organize all the required ingredients.
  • Prep a Depression era recipe in 30 minutes or less!
Depression Era Recipes

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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