11 Presidential Inauguration Day Recipes
Traditionally, Inauguration celebrations include an inauguration luncheon after the swearing in ceremony, usually an intimate (and delicious) affair. This year when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on January 20, 2021, there will be with significantly less pomp and circumstance than usual. Not only will the crowds be limited to a relatively small number of ticket-holders, but the traditional Inauguration Luncheon has been cancelled as well, due to health concerns surrounding the pandemic. Take a look at what past incoming Presidents have feasted on during their Inaugural festivities plus some comparable recipes if you're inspired to cook at home.
Jackson: Whiskey-Orange Punch
When populist Andrew Jackson was sworn in as President, the populace literally poured into the White House for a raucous post-inauguration party. Eventually the staff pulled the crowd out onto the lawn (where there were fewer things to break) with kegs of whiskey-orange punch and a novelty frozen treat: ice cream. Host a (socially-distanced) celebration of your own with this bourbon-spiked orange punch. Side dish of ice cream is optional, but recommended.
Lincoln: Almond Ice Cream
Although Abraham Lincoln's first inauguration meal was comparatively austere, the second inauguration celebration was rather...messy. Served as a late-night buffet, the elegant menu was full of rich meats, sweet desserts, fresh salads, creams, tarts and more--a tantalizing combination that proved too tempting for the guests to keep themselves from rushing the buffet table. Witnesses claim that the room was covered in a sticky mess the next morning. Included on the menu? Burnt almond ice cream.
Cleveland: Foie Gras
Benjamin Cleveland's second inauguration, held deep into the Gilded Age, was completely over-the-top, serving up 60,000 oysters; 10,000 chicken croquettes; 7,000 sandwiches; and hundreds of pounds of pâté de foie gras...among other things.
FDR: Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow Topping
Henrietta Nesbitt, the First Family's housekeeper during Franklin D. Roosevelt's four terms in office, was well known for her terrible, austere, and inelegant cooking. At the 1937 inauguration for FDR's second term, she dared to serve one of Eleanor's favorites: sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows (marshmallows were just becoming widely available). While this dish now holds a beloved spot at many Thanksgiving tables, it wasn't considered terribly presidential.
FDR: Chicken Salad
At Roosevelt's fourth inauguration, the nation was weary from the Great Depression and World War II. The President requested chicken à la king, but Nesbitt considered the dish too difficult to keep hot when serving a crowd of thousands. She substituted cold chicken salad--and what's worse, some of the chicken had gone bad and couldn't be served. The inauguration toastmaster, George Jessel, famously quipped, "How is it humanly possible to make chicken salad with so much celery and so little chicken?" This Creamy Chicken Salad calls for poaching the chicken to keep it moist and juicy, which means you won't have to use as much dressing to bind the salad. (We think Henrietta would approve.)
Kennedy: Stuffed Lobster
As the years have gone on, inauguration luncheon and dinner menus have grown to reflect the regional culinary traditions of the incoming President's home. Massachusetts-born JFK included boiled stuffed lobster at his inauguration, among other delicacies such as deviled crab meat imperial, cream of tomato soup with crushed popcorn, and string beans amandine.
Carter: Peanuts and Pretzels
Hailing from Georgia, Jimmy Carter famously passed on an official inauguration meal and opted for casual parties, passing out peanuts and pretzels instead. This four-ingredient dessert bark is an easy and delicious way to give a nod to Carter's famously laid-back inaugural style.
Reagan: California Garden Salad
The actor-turned-President served a number of dishes inspired by his California home at his 1981 inaugural luncheon, including a California garden salad. This Baked Goat Cheese with Spring Lettuce Salad is just as fresh and flavorful as the cuisine of Reagan's home state.
Clinton: Rosemary Chicken
At Bill Clinton's first inauguration, he served hearty and filling dishes such as grilled salmon, rosemary chicken, pecan rice, and more. These Rosemary Chicken Paillards are quick-cooking, making them and approachable, yet elegant, option.
Obama's first inauguration was Lincoln-themed, as it was the bicentennial celebration of the 16th President's birth. The first course, seafood stew, was following by a "Brace of American Birds," including pheasant. This dish combines the best of both worlds with a gumbo made from both oysters and roasted pheasant.
Trump: Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream
It's well documented that #45 loves indulging in cherry vanilla ice cream for dessert, and his inauguration luncheon did not disappoint. Following two sumptuous courses of lobster, beef, shrimp, juniper jus, and potato gratin, Trump and his guests enjoyed chocolate souffle with cherry vanilla ice cream.