14 Time-Tested Recipes From Our Grandmas, Nanas & Bubbes

Because they always know best.

April 19, 2023
Photo by Julia Gartland

For many of us, early kitchen memories are tied to family members—and more often than not, those family members are our grandmas. Nostalgic, familiar, and delicious, there’s nothing that beats a beloved dish passed down through generations. Here, we’ve collected 14 of our favorite recipes from grandmas: Some have been transcribed directly (like the roasted potatoes made by Emma Laperruque’s grandma), while others, such as the New-Style Albondigas from Erin O’Brien, have been updated and tweaked. In any case, they’re destined to become traditions in your family, too.

1. Grandma's Best Raspberry Jam

Katie Macdonald’s grandma’s raspberry jam is so good, it once started a bidding war. And because it’s a freezer jam, you don’t have to worry about sterilizing or sealing your jars.

2. Grandma Piggyback's Broiled Coffee Cake

A quick trip to the broiler transforms this otherwise simple coffee cake, giving it a unique caramelized sugar topping. Serve it warm with a drizzle of cream on top, just like Grandma Piggyback did.

3. Nana’s New-Style Albondigas From Erin O'Brien

This recipe for albondigas—a Mexican meatball soup—is inspired by the dish Erin O’Brien’s grandmother served at her restaurant, Lupita’s La Jolla. Her secret to making the most tender beef and rice meatballs? Soaking the rice overnight.

4. Grandma Utley's Country Captain Chicken

Helen Utley loved to entertain, and when she was doing so in the ‘40s and ‘50s, she often made this braised chicken dish, served in a tomato gravy flavored with curry powder, bacon, almonds, and currants.

5. Grandma Potatoes

Former Food Editor Emma Laperruque’s grandmother had been making these potatoes for over 70 years (!) before they were featured in her column, Big Little Recipes. Seasoned heavily with paprika and garlic powder, these potatoes are roasted in a generous pool of olive oil until crispy.

6. Grandma's Mushroom Puffs

Another winner from Emma Laperruque’s grandma. According to family lore, she got the recipe for these savory, puff pastry-encased mushroom bites from a magazine many decades ago (though it’s unknown which one, or what year). Regardless, they’ve been a permanent fixture at their family’s holiday gatherings.

7. Grandma's White Cake With Maple Syrup Frosting

This delightfully simple cake recipe is one the recipe developer’s grandmother—who lived in Montreal and upstate New York—would make often, using maple syrup produced locally.

8.Grandma Betsy’s Pancakes

Inspired by the Bisquick pancakes her grandma made for her growing up, Rebecca Firkser developed this homemade mix that yields a similarly nostalgic, simple flapjack. Top with butter and syrup, or dot them with chocolate chips and blueberries.

9. Granbobbie’s Potato Salad

This recipe from Associate Editor Madison Trapkin’s grandma (aka Granbobbie) is a summertime staple. The secret? Yellow mustard, diced onion, celery, and sweet relish—along with Hellman’s mayo—combine to create a perfect balance of creaminess, tang, and crunch.

10. Grandma Jo's Crepe Lasagna

This twist on lasagna swaps noodle sheets for crepes, yielding a dish that’s fluffier and more delicate than your typical lasagna. Though her grandmother would serve this dish every year on Christmas, recipe developer Joanna Sciarrino makes it any time of year: “It really deserves its own occasion,” she says.

11. Grandma's Canned Tomatoes

These canned tomatoes are the best way to preserve the bounty of summer and enjoy it in sauces, stews, and soups for months to come. Though the canning process takes some practice to get just right, it’s well worth the effort.

12. Grandma's Chocolate Swiss Roll

This Swiss roll is actually easier to make than its impressive cross-section would have you believe. The hardest part is rolling the piping hot cake without tearing it, a task that recipe developer Kim Haines’ grandma completed with the help of a clean kitchen towel covered in confectioners’ sugar.

13. Grandma’s Macaroni Salad

This macaroni salad, made with Miracle Whip and topped with hard boiled eggs, is writer Allyson Reedy’s ultimate comfort food. Serve it as a side dish at a backyard barbecue, or eat it on its own, straight from the bowl (or stockpot!).

14. Vegetable Beef Soup Like Great-Grandma Vera Mae's

This soup is a meal in and of itself, thanks to hearty additionals like chuck roast, potatoes, green beans, and peas. Feel free to swap in different veggies, depending on what you have on hand.

What’s your grandma’s best dish? Share in the comments!

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Anabelle Doliner

Written by: Anabelle Doliner

Staff Editor