16 Retro Diner Dinner Recipes
Everything old is new again. As is always the case, when the pendulum swings, it returns to where it came from, and it is no different with food fads. After several years of food trends focused on eliminating things from our diets, with gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, no-carb, low-carb, vegan, Keto, Paleo and the like, traditional comfort foods are back with a vengeance! Suddenly all those posts about cauliflower “crusts” are being replaced with homemade sourdough pizzas, and people everywhere are looking to the foods of their childhood, and sometimes their parents' childhoods, for kitchen inspiration. And we are here for all of it! So, if you want to get your 1950s or 1960s on, and do a classic old-school diner dinner, check out some of our favorite retro recipes.
Bacon Wrapped Smokies
Even if entertaining is on pause, cocktail hour is not, and snacks that go well with drinks are just as fun for one or two as for a crowd. Bacon wrapped smokies are consistently one of the most popular appetizers, and for good reason!
Bust that old fondue pot out of the garage storage and fire it up! Cheese fondue isn’t just a perfect appetizer, if you add some fun dippers like chunks of sausage, meatballs, baby potatoes and veggies, it can be a whole meal.
Chef John's Green Goddess Dressing
Sure, salad always has a place on the nostalgia train. Give your vinaigrette a pass for the moment and try this fresh Green Goddess dressing instead. Perfect on a wedge or the tossed greens of your choice.
Best Tuna Casserole
No trip down memory lane of old-time treats would be complete without a tuna noodle casserole. This one might even convert the haters.
Mom's Fabulous Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust
Nothing says soul soothing homey dinner like a good chicken pot pie. This version with biscuits means no fussing with pie crust!
Chef John's Stuffed Peppers
Back in the day, when Wednesday was still Prince Spaghetti Day, and folks often ate the same dishes week after week, stuffed peppers were a must. If you make a double batch, you can chop up the leftovers and panfry with eggs for a Western hash to serve for breakfast.
Brown Sugar Meatloaf with Ketchup Glaze
Meatloaf is a must in any time traveling repertoire, and glazing it with brown sugar and ketchup makes it extra special.
Ultimate Twice Baked Potatoes
There may be no more retro way to cook a potato than these decadent twice-baked beauties. No matter what your protein, these make any dinner feel like a special event.
Cheesy Creamed Spinach
You still need to get some vegetables in, and especially if you have picky kids at home who think they don’t like spinach, creamy cheesy sauce will be the cure. A great creamed spinach is always a treat, and this one will be your new go-to side dish, even if you aren’t revisiting the past.
Easy Glazed Carrots
Nothing wrong with the old standby of peas and carrots as a vegetable side, but if you want to up your game a bit, try these easy glazed carrots for a side dish that has its roots in the classic, but adds a modern twist of orange marmalade to the mix.
Chef John's Chicken Kiev
Not all old-fashioned recipes are casual, and if you want to take on a kitchen challenge that is totally worth the time and effort, chicken Kiev is evocative of the fanciest of period dinner party fare. Plus, stuffing breaded chicken breasts with herbed butter is never a bad idea.
Retro Ground Beef Casserole with Biscuits
This one harkens back to the 1950s. Lela submitted this ground beef and biscuit casserole. It's a family favorite that her mom made all the time when Lela was growing up. She offers a few tips: "You can add mashed potatoes to the bottom of the glass pan before baking. To make this a quicker meal, use frozen vegetables. Use your own recipe for biscuits if you prefer."
Individual Beef Wellingtons
Need a little bit of extra-special for a milestone dinner that is evocative of times gone by? These adorable individual beef Wellingtons are easier than you might think. They also freeze well, so make a bunch to stash in your chiller for fancy at your fingertips.
Seven Layer Gelatin Salad
You might think that gelatin molds are passé, but I defy you to bring this layered rainbow jiggler to the table and not have spontaneous applause break out. Even better? It is a really fun and time-consuming rainy-day project for bored kids.
Fresh Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Your socials might be full of new-fangled desserts featuring exotic ingredients, but sometimes you just want a simple meal-ender that will hit all your comfort buttons. Pineapple upside down cake gets a revamp using fresh fruit instead of canned.
G.G.'s Chocolate Sheet Cake
Sheet cakes might be a bit more homely than their fussy layered cousins, but there is something to be said for having a basic simple cake on hand that can serve as an afternoon pick-me-up or dessert with no muss. This chocolate sheet cake is just the thing to have on your countertop all week long.