Recipes for classic Detroit foods — new and old — that you can make at home (2024)

We're sick of frozen pizza and PB&Js (OK — so we never really learned how to cook, but we survive), which is why we're ready to step out of our comfort zone and try our hand at crafting some beloved Detroit classics, both old and new. What's the secret to the perfect coney dog chili? How many rows of piping for a Sanders Bumpy Cake? What the hell is a Pad Thai Roll and how do we make it — and eat it — immediately?

All secrets have been revealed and, in most cases, substituted for some comparable Detroit City fare. Yee-haw!

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Recipes for classic Detroit foods — new and old — that you can make at home (1)

Recipes for classic Detroit foods — new and old — that you can make at home (2)

Coney dog

The first rule of Detroit Coney dogs: No ketchup. Never ketchup.

The most iconic of Detroit's culinary creations just so happens to be one of the most simple to make, which is exactly why it’s so easy to eff up. Leave the fixings to Chi-town, and the Jalapeño-covered dogs to Seattle, and keep it Detroit-style by nestling a naturally cased beef frankfurter in a steamed white bun and top it with meat chili, diced white onions, and plain yellow mustard. That’s literally it.

Find the recipe here.

Photo via American Coney Island/Facebook

Recipes for classic Detroit foods — new and old — that you can make at home (3)

Detroit-style Pizza aka pizza

It cannot be denied: Detroit-style pizza is having a moment — and not just here on its home turf but across the globe, with folks copping our 70-plus-years-old Sicilian-inspired recipe. There are a few essential steps in a perfect Detroit-style pie: A rectangular pizza pan, Wisconsin brick cheddar, and the sauce, which does not hit the dough first, but last. Don’t question it, just do it, bake it, and then eat it.

Find the recipe here.

Photo via Buddy’s Pizza/Facebook

Recipes for classic Detroit foods — new and old — that you can make at home (4)

Sanders Bumpy Cake

Cake, cake, cake, cake, cake, cake. Detroit made a major contribution to the never-ending global landscape of sweet treats in the form of the Bumpy Cake. Created in the 1900s by Sanders Confectionary, this century-old treat consists of chocolate devil’s food cake topped with piped buttercream bumps, which are then covered in chocolate ganache, made with buttermilk, dark corn syrup, and unsweetened cocoa powder. Though there are caramel variations of this classic Detroit dessert, this recipe kicks it old school with the chocolate OG — original ganache.

Find the recipe here.

Photo via Sanders/Facebook

Recipes for classic Detroit foods — new and old — that you can make at home (5)

Almond boneless chicken

OK — so Almond boneless chicken, or ABC — may have originated in Ohio, but it’s a Detroit favorite and if Detroit wants to declare ABC as its own, then so be it, because it’s just that good. The Chinese dish war su gai is believed to have originated in old chop suey houses and incorporates chicken, thick tempura-style breading, and mushroom gravy, topped with almonds, all atop a bed of lettuce. Pass the dang gravy, already!

Find the recipe here.

Photo via Peterboro/Facebook

Recipes for classic Detroit foods — new and old — that you can make at home (6)

Boston Cooler

While this recipe is literally the easiest ever as it involves just two ingredients, it is possible to make a major mistake by using some generic-ass ginger ale. Well, folks, that’s a goddamn sin. A Boston Cooler requires vanilla ice cream and Vernors. Not Schweppes, Seagrams, or bullsh*t Canada Dry, but Vernors — the Detroit-born carbonated remedy to all things. P.S. You can add booze because, you know, booze.

Find the recipe here.

Photo via Hudsonville Ice Cream/Facebook

Recipes for classic Detroit foods — new and old — that you can make at home (7)


Bless Detroit’s Southwest for no reason other than the food. Oh, the food. Of the Mexican fare to originate here, the Detroit-style botana, which is simply translated to shareable snack, takes on many forms, but all of them are best when accompanied by booze.

Find the recipe here.

Photo via Armando’s Mexican Restaurant/Facebook

Recipes for classic Detroit foods — new and old — that you can make at home (8)

Sister Pie’s Salted Maple pie

There is pie and then there’s Sister Pie. The James Beard-nominated West Village bakery is home to one of the most celebrated pies on the planet: the Salted Maple. But the recipe itself is no secret, as Sister Pie founder Lisa Ludwinski included the hot item in her Sister Pie cookbook because the world is better with pie — this pie.

Find the recipe here.

Sister Pie is temporarily closed. Visit their Facebook page for updates.

Photo via Sister Pie/Facebook

Recipes for classic Detroit foods — new and old — that you can make at home (9)

Boogaloo sandwich

It’s not a sloppy Joe, a hoagie, a barbecue sandwich, nor a loose burger. It’s a Boogaloo — and it originated in Northwest Detroit. In the ‘60s, Brothers Bar-B-Que co-owner Jean Johnson made what is referred to as the Boogaloo, a complex spin on the traditional sloppy Joe. While the zesty Jamaican-inspired sauce is a bit of a secret, only to be revived by Detroit take-out hotspot Chef Greg’s Soul ‘n’ The Wall.

Find the recipe here.

Photo by Tom Perkins

Recipes for classic Detroit foods — new and old — that you can make at home (10)

Lady of the House’s carrot steak

Of the many delicious creations by lauded Detroit chef Kate Williams, it's her carrot steak at Lady of the House that has received national praise and general bewilderment. It’s not a steak, but is shaped like one. Using thinly sliced carrots (using a mandoline) and rolled up like a cinnamon roll (as a New York Times food critic called it) basting it in butter before giving it the steak treatment, after which point it is placed in a pool of Hollandaise sauce, and festooned with crushed pistachio. While this exact labor-intensive recipe may not be available, you can use your imagination and mandoline with caution.

Find the recipe for pan seared carrots here and a hollandaise sauce here.

Lady of the house is temporarily closed. Visit their Facebook page for updates.

Photo via Lady of the House/Facebook

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Recipes for classic Detroit foods &#151; new and old &#151; that you can make at home (2024)


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