Dinner these days is often a rushed affair, and in many families, everyone doesn’t even always eat together. It’s kind of a cliché to lament the lost tradition of family dinners, but it is a shame. Gathering around the table together in the evening to talk about everyone’s day and whatever else is on people’s minds can be such a powerful bonding experience.
For many, the ’50s are a high point of nostalgia, particularly when it comes to domestic life. Of course, it wasn’t nearly as perfect as the idealized versions tend to make it out—just take a look at this disturbing advice from the 1950s to help women keep their men—but there were certainly elements that had their value. And family dinners are one.
So, we’ve put together a list of some classic 1950s dinner entrees to take a look back at what Americans were often eating at these meals. And we’ve included links to traditional recipes for each one, in case you’re interested. Maybe you can round everyone up one night to enjoy it. Top it off with one of these classic mid-century desserts too, as extra temptation!
Popular Main Dinner Dishes in the ’50s
- Beef Stroganoff – It’s slightly different in Russian where it originated, but the traditional mid-century American version combines beef, mushrooms, and a creamy sauce with egg noodles. Read more about it and learn how to prepare it here.
- Chicken à la King – While many people dismiss it as a crustless chicken pot pie, this dish isn’t traditionally made the same way as a pot pie filling, and it’s actually more refined than it gets credit for. Here’s some more information and a recipe.
- Duck à l’Orange – Here’s another poultry dish with a Frenchified name that was another of the classic 1950s dinner entrees, though this one seems far less well-known today than the previous entry. Read more about it and find a simple recipe here.
- Meatloaf – When it comes to food, few things are as ’50s as turning foods into loaves or Jell-O molds. Meatloaf is a classic comfort food that frequently graced the dinner table in the 1950s. Here’s an easy, traditional recipe for it.
- Salisbury Steak – This dish’s reputation has suffered over the decades, thanks to its appearance in frozen dinners that simply don’t do it justice. But if you make it right yourself, as was often done in the 1950s, it’s a great comfort food. Find additional information and a recipe here.
- Tuna Noodle Casserole – In addition to loaves and gelatin molds, casseroles are also so 1950s. And the tuna noodle variety was undoubtedly one of the most popular versions of the decade. Campbell’s has a tasty traditional recipe for this dish.
- Welsh Rarebit – Also known as “Welsh Rabbit,” this ’50s classic doesn’t contain rabbit as an ingredient. It’s basically a fancy open-faced grilled cheese sandwich, and it’s delicious. Learn more about this lost dish—including how to make it—here.