10 Famous South Dakota Food: Dishes South Dakota Is Known For

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Featuring a range of traditional favorites and exotic creations, the South Dakota food scene encompasses a wide variety of cultural traditions and delicious cuisine. From the state’s signature Chislic to the sweets of Kuchen, these famous foods in South Dakota can make for a nice culinary experience. 

What’s Special About Foods In South Dakota

South Dakota is known for its diverse culture and cuisine that is influenced by native tribes and European immigrants who arrived in the region throughout the years. 

People began to settle in the area now known as South Dakota more than 13,000 years ago. The Cheyenne, Arikara, Ponca, Lakota, and Dakota Sioux were among the Native American groups in South Dakota and they all contributed to the state’s modern-day culture and culinary delights.

Today, a veritable feast of cuisines may be found in the  South Dakota food scene. Mount Rushmore State has various restaurants serving anything from steak to wild game to Native American cuisine and sweets.

Most Famous South Dakota Food


Chislic is the dish most closely connected with South Dakota as it became the official nosh or snack of the state. This regional favorite is frequently misunderstood as shish kebab by those not from the area. The similarities between the two are deceptive; the distinction lies in the particulars.

Chislic is more popular than shish kebabs, a grilled combination of different meats and vegetables. Chislic comprises half-inch meat cubes, usually lamb, deer, or beef, that are deep-fried or grilled to perfection. 

One of the popular spots to try this famous food in South Dakota is Meridian Corner.

Famous Foods In South Dakota


The state dessert of South Dakota is called ‘Kuchen’, and it serves as another official emblem. Immigrants from Germany brought with them this delectable pastry in the 1880s. To some, Kuchen is a hybrid between cake and pie due to its typical custard and fruit filling.

Delmont, South Dakota, hosts an annual Kuchen Festival since the sweet is so well-liked there. This is also happening simultaneously at the Twin Rivers Old Iron Harvest Festival. Although there are two days of festivities, Kuchen is only available on the first.

Every year at this time, the kuchen sale kicks up bright and early, often before 9:00 a.m. The pastries consistently sell out by mid-afternoon. Visitors may buy Kuchen in various flavors, both whole and sliced. In addition to the Kuchen, there will be a quilt display and a craft sale.

Although the event is usually held in September, you can get your Kuchen fix anytime throughout the year. Pietz’s Kuchen Kitchen makes various kuchen and sells them in markets and supermarkets around the state. You won’t have trouble tracking their wares, but good luck leaving with just one of these treats.


American pheasant salad sandwiches may be traced back to South Dakota. Its origins go all the way back to World War II when it was prepared in canteens throughout the country for passing troops. Pheasant meat, bread, mayonnaise, relish, celery, carrots, onions, and hard-boiled eggs were used to make the complimentary sandwiches back in the day.

In eastern South Dakota, the pheasant-hunting season is a significant event. The ring-necked pheasant is the state bird, and locals enjoy the tasty meal that’s cooked from it. It is no wonder that this is one of the most famous foods from South Dakota, although wild turkey hunting is more prevalent in the western section of the state. 

Many people who try pheasant for the first time say it tastes like chicken but has a more “gamey” and smoky flavor. So if you are up for trying something unique yet not particularly off the charts, grilled pheasant or maybe even a pheasant sandwich could be the way to go.

Today you can find a contemporary take on a South Dakota dish that can include apples, walnuts, cranberries, Swiss cheese, and grilled marble rye bread. These convenient sandwiches are also great for packing to go, so you can enjoy them while exploring the famous landmarks in South Dakota.

Indian Taco

This Native American take on the basic taco will win over any conventional taco fan. Everything you’d find on a traditional taco is here, with a few notable exceptions. Fry bread, rather than a shell or tortilla, is used, providing the meal with a doughy but flaky texture.

You can taste the genuineness of an Indian taco when it’s made with bison meat instead of ground beef. The Indian tacos at Cedar Pass Restaurant in Badlands National Park are famous, but you can and should try them at any of the many powwows or roadside booths around South Dakota.

Buffalo Burger

The meat inside is actually bison, not buffalo, but you’ll only care about the moniker change when you take your first mouthful. Bison is leaner than beef, so these burgers are lower in fat and calories without sacrificing flavor.

Bison meat is only found in some states in the country and South Dakota is one of them. So if you have not tried them before, a trip to the state offers up that opportunity.

Black Hills Burger and Bun Co. in Custer and Minerva’s restaurant in Sioux Falls serve up some of the most incredible bison burgers in South Dakota.

Popular Ingredients And Snack Foods From South Dakota


Despite its versatility, rhubarb is a perennial vegetable often used in very sugary South Dakota dishes. When the red stalks reach 12 to 18 inches, they are ready to be picked. Most South Dakotans have a go-to rhubarb dish, whether it’s a sauce, bread, muffin, pie, jam, crumble, cobbler, or cake. 

Custer’s Purple Pie Place elevates sour rhubarb to dessert heaven (or the hills). Rhubarb, strawberry-rhubarb, raspberry-rhubarb-jalapeno, and bumbleberry pies are the four options. 

Taste rhubarb wine from Schadé Vineyard and Winery or Prairie Berry Winery to complement your meal. Then check out the Leola Rhubarb Festival for other creative uses of the tart stalk.


The Lakota people of South Dakota rely on the traditional American sauce known as ‘wojapi’. Chokecherries with root flour are used to create a rich sauce. The Lakota regard chokecherries as holy because the berries are utilized in rituals and they believe the fruit’s pit has healing properties.

The modern version of wojapi, which may be prepared with blueberries, huckleberries, or blackberries, is a pudding-like sauce produced from various berries. Wojapi is often served with pancakes and waffles, although it can also be used as a topping for frybread.


In the spring, foragers around the state go out with buckets in search of secret patches of land where they may harvest wild asparagus. South Dakotans are notoriously protective about the locations from where they harvest their prized spears as soon as the snow melts.

Still, they are more than happy to share their secrets for pickling them with peppers and lemon or steaming them and presenting them in various ways. Soup, salad, spaghetti, pizza, and omelets benefit from the vegetable’s vivid color and subtle grassy taste.

This tasty ingredient is one of the popular foods in South Dakota. In the springtime, you may get fresh asparagus at local farmer’s markets, grocery shops, and pick-your-own farms like Sanderson Gardens in Aurora. Iconic Drink In South Dakota

Sweet Foods Of South Dakota

Fleisch Kuchele

Another famous food in South Dakota – Kuchele is a hand pie that tastes like a burger.  Pockets of homemade dough are stuffed with beef and onions and then deep-fried till golden and flaky.

The southeast South Dakota villages of Menno, Freeman, Viborg, and Parker were first introduced to fleisch kuchele by Germans migrating from Russia. Meat pies are traditionally served with a dipping sauce of ketchup and a garnish of pickle spears.

The Svartoien family, who operated Meridian Corner in the 1980s, followed the lead of other eateries by including fleisch kuchele on their menu. There are just a few restaurants left in the state that offers it.

Cookies ‘n’ Cream Ice Cream

Ever wondered who created the idea for Cookies ‘n’ Cream ice cream? 

The state’s biggest land-grant institution on the I-29 corridor celebrates the flavor’s origins. About 112,000 scoops of ice cream loaded with chocolate-sandwich cookie pieces are produced annually by the Dairy and Food Science Department at South Dakota State University in Brookings, which uses about 7,000 gallons of cookies ‘n’ cream.

If you are looking for more than a cone, the SDSU Dairy Bar also sells half-gallon containers at roughly 30 locations around the state.

Discovering Delicious Foods In South Dakota

South Dakota food scene is filled with various restaurants serving international fare and regional specialties prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Visit several independently owned restaurants in the Mount Rushmore State the next time you’re in the region to try some of the most iconic dishes in South Dakota.



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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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