10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail

Home Skills Cooking & Food Baking 10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail

Ever wonder what the pioneers ate out on the old trail? These foods were easy to come by, and required few tools and resources. See if you could have survived with the recipes below!

10 Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail

Long days, dusty roads, disease, and hunger were all things that the pioneers struggled with every day. The Oregon trail was no exception. Yet eventually our travels were successful and we fast-forward now into the United States that we know. Yet it wasn’t just our civilization that we have to thank for the pioneers, these fifteen recipes also survived the trail. Check them out!

1. Potato Cakes

Potato Cakes | 10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail

The precursor for pancakes this recipe actually came across the Oregon Trail with a woman from Austria.


What you will need

  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • Shortening

What to do

Wash and peel potatoes, then grate medium fine. Combine with salt, milk, eggs, and flour. Drop mixture by spoonfuls into hot shortening in skillet and fry until golden brown on both sides.

2. Molasses Stack Cake

Molasses Stack Cake | 10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail


What you need

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • 2 cups flour

What to do

Blend ½ cup buttermilk, ½ cup shortening, 1 egg, 1 cup molasses, ½ teaspoon soda and a generous sprinkling of nutmeg and cinnamon.Then add 2 cups flour. Roll the dough thin and cut into circles the size of a small cake. Bake on a greased cookie sheet until slightly brown.

Place sweet and seasoned apple sauce between layers. Dribble a little molasses over the top and place a dollop of whipped cream over it.

3. Cured Bacon

Cured Bacon | 10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail


One-peck salt to five hundred pounds pork. To five gallons water:

What you need

  • 4 pounds salt
  • 1 pound sugar
  • 1-pint molasses
  • 1 teaspoonful saltpeter
  • What to do

Mix, and after sprinkling the fleshy side of the ham with the salt, pack in a tight barrel. Hams first, then shoulders, middlings. Pour over the brine; leave the meat in brine from four to seven weeks.

4. Lacey-Edged Corn Pancakes

Lacey-Edged Corn Pancakes | 10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail


What you need

  • 1 cup white cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat or lard

What to do

Mix 1 cup white cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, an egg and 1 1/4 cup buttermilk.

Place tablespoon of bacon fat or lard in the hot skillet. Let the shortening smoke a little before placing into it a tablespoon of batter, dropped at a distance of six inches. Dropping batter at a distance into hot shortening is essential.

Serve with syrup made by bringing to boil over a low heat 1 cup dark-brown sugar, 1/4 cup water, and tablespoon butter bacon fat.

5. Side Pork And Mormon Gravy

Side Pork And Mormon Gravy | 10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail


What you need

  • 8 thick slices side pork (or thick-cut bacon strips)
  • 4 tablespoons meat drippings
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Salt, pepper, paprika

What to do

Cook meat on both sides in heavy frying pan until crisp. Remove from pan and keep warm. Measure fat and return desired amount to skillet. Add flour and brown slightly. Remove from heat and add milk, stirring well to blend. Return to heat and cook and stir until mixture is thick and smooth. Season to taste. Serve with side pork on potatoes, biscuits, cornbread, or even pancakes.

6. Fart & Dart Beans

Fart & Dart Beans | 10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail


Now this isn’t technically from the 1800’s when the pioneers were traveling the Oregon Trail, but it is inspired and is considered to be very similar to what it would have been.

What you need

  • 1 lb cut up bacon
  • 1 chopped onion
  • ½ tsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp prepared mustard
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar

What to do

Mix together one 16 ounce can of the following: Pinto beans, pork & beans, red kidney beans, lima beans, white northern beans and butter beans.

Fry the bacon until done, but not crisp. Pour beans, bacon, onion and garlic into large pan and mix. Simmer for 15 minutes a combination of the mustard, vinegar, and brown sugar.

Pour the liquid over the beans and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Mix the beans a couple of times during the cooking process.

7. Butterless, Eggless, Milkless Cake

Butterless, Eggless, Milkless Cake | 10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail


This actually works! Although best right out of the oven.

What you need

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • What to do

Boil the above together for 3 minutes. Let cool. Then add:

1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2 tbsp (25 mL) hot water

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Bake in a flat pan at 350°F (180°C) for 35 to 40 minutes.

Get back to the basics with sourdough bread, I know you’ll also love this

8. Swiss Apple Cherry Pie

Swiss Apple Cherry Pie | 10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail


What you need

  • 4 large cooking apples
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 cups pitted sour pie cherries, fresh or canned
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

What to do

Make pastry for two-crust pie. Pare, core, and slice apples. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and brush on the bottom of pastry shell. Arrange a layer of apples on bottom of pastry shell. Mix dry ingredients and sprinkle portion over the layer of apples. Arrange a layer of red cherries, then sprinkle with some of the dry ingredients; then a layer of apples and dry ingredients; a layer of cherries and dry ingredients; and end with the layer of apples. Top with dots of remaining butter. After top crust is added to pie, rub crust with cream or evaporated milk and sprinkle with the mixture of 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Bake at 425° F. for 30 to 40 minutes.

9. 101 Year Old Pastry

101 Year Old Pastry | 10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail


What you need

  • 2 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup lard or shortening
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Cold water

What to do

Cut shortening into flour and salt. Beat egg lightly in a 1 1/2-cup measure; add vinegar and fill the cup with cold water. Add just barely enough liquid to dry ingredients to hold dough together—about 4 tablespoons—reserving remaining liquid for next batch of pastry. Handle dough as little as possible. Roll out into pastry and use as desired. Makes two 9-inch pie shells.

10. Currant Bread

Currant Bread | 10 Pioneer Recipes That Survived The Oregon Trail


This recipe actually came from Welsh in 1856.

What you need

  • 1 yeast cake
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 9 cups flour
  • 2 cups shortening
  • 1 pound raisins
  • 1 pound dried currants
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 halves candied lemon peel, cut fine
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 cups (about) water

What to do

Soften yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Cut shortening into flour. Add remaining ingredients, including yeast mixture, except water. Mix thoroughly, then add enough warm water (about 3 cups) to make a soft but not sticky dough. Let rise overnight (about 7 hours), then form into 4 small loaves. Let rise again (about 2 hours) and bake at 300° F. for 1 1/2 hours. Especially good with cheese.

I hope you enjoy these amazing recipes! It might not be the same as being out on the wagon trail, feeling the sun on your face, but at least you can taste your way through their travels.

What do you think? What’s your favorite trail recipe?

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