Just as a hot fudge sundae promises hot fudge, so too, does a hot beef sundae promise a thick layer of hot beef. This state fair special highlights the meat in a nostalgic, whimsical format—one that mimics an iconic dessert.
Vendors begin with a hearty helping of marinated beef, then pile on mashed potatoes and gravy instead of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. They finish off the savory “sundae” with sprinkles—made from corn and cheese—and a cherry (tomato) on top. Like its ice cream counterpart, the finished product is layered, creamy, and delicious. Beef advertisers created the dish for festive environments (it’s a staple at fairs in Indiana, Iowa, and New York), but any home cook can turn Sunday’s pot roast into Sunday’s sundae with a few, simple formatting changes.
The Indiana Beef Cattle Association has been peddling the novelty creation at the State Fair in Indianapolis for more than ten years. However, another impostor dessert may give the hot beef sundae a run for its money: The pulled-pork parfait, slathered in BBQ sauce and mashed potatoes, has become another fair favorite.
Where to Try It
Johnson County Fair4265 Oak Crest Hill Rd SE, Iowa City, Iowa, 52246, United States
Try all the delicious local fare at the event.