Elvis' Favorite Recipes






Elvis Presley may have been the king, but in his kitchen Mary Jenkins Langston was the queen.

Langston was the cook at Graceland, the rock and roll star's estate in Memphis, Tenn., for 14 years. She specialized in the kind of down-home cooking that Elvis loved -- especially the stuff that's really bad for you.

 A short list of his favorites includes butter-soaked grilled banana and peanut butter sandwiches, biscuits fried in butter and filled with sausage, t-bone steaks -- grilled in butter, naturally -- and meatballs wrapped in bacon.

Mary said somebody told her she was a fast cook. She replied, "When you cook for Elvis Presley, you have to be fast!" She also said Elvis ate with his fingers a lot.

Dr. Nichopolous said his job was to help control Elvis' weight, but that Elvis didn't like diets and he didn't like exercise. He also mentioned that for a week before his death, Elvis had been on a diet of nothing but Jell-O (a brand of gelatin pudding). Billy Stanley said Elvis liked country living and wanted Graceland to be like a plantation. He told of a pig they had around the estate for a while that suddenly disappeared. One day at breakfast, he asked Vernon what happened to the pig, "We're eating him", Vernon replied.

 Elvis heard about a restaurant in Denver that made great peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, so he flew to Denver and had twenty-two of them delivered to the runway, and then flew back to Memphis. Another said he once dieted on nothing but papaya juice, and then discovered it had so many calories, he actually gained weight. A nurse at a hospital said he ate a lot of vegetables and she never saw him eat much "junk food".

Mary said Elvis liked banana pudding. He also liked hot dogs with sauerkraut, and barbecue pizza (regular pizza with barbecued pork and barbecue sauce on top), and had times when he ate the same thing at every meal for several days.


Since his death in 1977, Elvis Presley's reputed love for jelly doughnuts has been blown out of proportion, says Mary Jenkins Langston, one of Elvis's cooks from 1963 to 1977.

Though more than 240 books have been written about her former employer (including her own, Elvis Memories beyond Graceland Gates), she's out to set the record straight.

"I never saw him even once eat a jelly doughnut," Mary maintains. "But you know, he did have quite a sweet tooth--just like any country boy." In addition to his favorite cakes and pies, Elvis craved heaping helpings of homemade vegetable soup, Crowder peas, collard greens, creamed potatoes, roast beef, ham; burger steaks, and ham steaks (all cut into bite-size pieces).

He also loved "big, country-style breakfasts-say, a plate of about four or five scrambled eggs, a half-pound of sausage or maybe bacon extra-crisp--but not burned, like some've said--and, let's see, about five or six buttermilk biscuits," Mary says. "I think that was about it."

Are there other juicy tidbits? "Well," Mary says, almost whispering, "Elvis didn't like seafood at all. He wouldn't let us cook it whenever he was in the house. And he didn't care for food with bones in it either, like fried chicken. He liked it boneless”.


The Peanut Butter and 'Nanner Sandwich 

The King's passion for this sandwich is legendary. Here is a version from the renowned trash food junkies the Stern's via Gourmet.


* 2 tablespoons peanut butter (preferably smooth)
* 2 slices white sandwich bread
* 1 small ripe banana, mashed with a fork (about 1/4 cup)
* 2 tablespoons butter

Spread peanut butter evenly on 1 slice of bread, then spread mashed banana on other slice, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edge. Close sandwich, gently pressing bread slices together.

Heat butter in an 8- to 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then fry sandwich, turning over once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes total.

 Elvis' Cheeseburger with the Works 

Elvis loved burgers, well-done burgers, mainly cheeseburgers. And, the cheese he liked best was American cheese. He and the boys would go out for burgers at all hours. In Memphis, the expedition would usually wind up at the Gridiron Restaurant on U.S. Highway 51, which is now Elvis Presley Blvd. From "Are You Hungry Tonight?" by Brenda Arlene Butler

* 1 pound ground beef
* 1/4 cup onion, chopped finely
* 1 teaspoon garlic salt
* 1 teaspoon oregano
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 4 slices American cheese
* 4 hamburger buns

Lettuce, mayonnaise or salad dressing, prepared mustard, pickles, sliced tomatoes and red onions

Prepare grill and let coals get hot for 20 minutes, until they look gray-white.

In mixing bowl, combine ground beef, onion, garlic salt, oregano and black pepper. Shape into 4 patties.

Grill or broil for 5-7 minutes on each side until burgers are well-done. About 2 minutes before second side is finished, add slice of cheese to each burger.

Serve burgers on buns with lettuce and remaining works.


BBQ Bologna 

* ½ stick of bologna (not the cut-up deli style, but from a whole roll)
* ½ cup vinegar
* ½ lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons red pepper
* 1 tablespoon salt

Punch holes in the bologna and place on a grill or in the oven. Mix the other ingredients, and constantly baste the roll while it cooks on low heat for about an hour. Then baste the roll with barbeque sauce, and cook for about another half hour, and then serve.


Bratwurst Sandwiches 

Elvis grew up with sausage, but he developed a taste for bratwurst when was in Germany with the U.S. Army in 1958-59


* 4 fully cooked bratwurst
* 1 teaspoon corn oil
* 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped finely
* 1 8-ounce can sauerkraut, drained
* 1/2 cup Rhine wine or sweet white wine
* 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
* 4 French rolls, split

Heat large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add bratwurst and brown, turning occasionally. Push bratwurst to one side of pan; add oil and red pepper. Cook, stirring 1 minute.

Stir in sauerkraut and continue cooking 1 minute. Add wine and caraway seeds. Cover pan tightly, reduce heat and cook over low heat for 9 minutes.

Toast French rolls, if desired. Place bratwurst in each roll and top with equal portion of sauerkraut mixture.

Makes 4 sandwiches.


Fried Squirrel 

Growing up Fried Squirrel was a typical meal for Elvis. From the book "The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley" by David Adler.


To cook a squirrel, first go out and try to kill a very young one. This is
the most important thing as old ones are too tough. When skinning the
squirrel, make extra sure to remove all the hairs.

* 2 young squirrels, skinned and cleaned
* Salt to taste
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

after carefully washing the squirrels, pat dry. With a mallet, gently pound
the meat until the bones are crushed and the flesh is tender. Season the
meat with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a skillet (preferably cast-
iron) over medium-low heat. Dredge the meat in flour, and add to the melted
butter. Brown and turn. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the
meat is golden brown and cooked through. (Pierce with a knife to check
doneness. The juices should run clear when cooked). The process should
take 25 to 30 minutes.

Yield: Enough for a small starving family



"Fit for a King"


* 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1 cup milk
* 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
* Pepper to taste
* 1 cup bread crumbs
* Gravy or tomato sauce

in a large mixing bowl combine the beef and egg. Add the milk, mixing thoroughly. Add the salt, pepper, and bread crumbs. Shape into a loaf. Place the loaf in a lightly oiled glass pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until the meat is brown and the inside is cooked. Serve with gravy or tomato sauce.

Makes 6 servings.



Potato Cheese Soup 

This tasty soup was a lunchtime favorite of Elvis. He liked this potato cheese soup because he said it had "stick-to-your-ribs" flavor

* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1/3 cup celery, chopped finely
* 1/3 cup onion, chopped finely
* 4 cups Russet potatoes, pared into 1/2-inch cubes
* 3 cups chicken broth
* 2 cups milk
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* Dash paprika
* 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
* French fried onion rings or croutons (optional)

In large saucepan, melt butter. Add celery and onion; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tender. Add potatoes and chicken broth; simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Pour mixture into blender and blend until smooth. Return to saucepan. Stir in milk and seasonings. Heat through. Add cheese, stirring until melted.

Pour soup into bowls. Garnish with French-fried onion rings or croutons, if desired.

 Smokey Mountain Gravy 

The King loved gravy heaped over mashed potatoes

* 1/2 pound mild sausage
* 3 tablespoons flour
* 2 cups milk
* Salt and pepper, to taste

in large skillet, crumble sausage and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until browned. Reduce heat to medium and sprinkle flour over browned sausage, stirring constantly.

When mixture is smooth, gradually whisk in milk. Continue stirring until gravy is creamy and comes to gentle simmer, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 8 servings.


Fried Okra 

* 1 pound young okra
* 1/2 cup cornmeal
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* Pepper to taste
* Dash cayenne pepper

Cut off the stems and the tips of the okra pods. Wash thoroughly and place them in a pan of boiling salted water. Cook for about 8 minutes. Drain and let dry thoroughly.

In a mixing bowl. Blend the cornmeal. Fry in deep fat (350°) or sauté in butter until brown.

Makes 6 servings.


Sour Milk Cornbread 

2 cups sour milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups cornmeal; sifted
1/4 cup shortening melted

in a mixing bowl blend the milk with the baking soda. In a separate bowl beat the eggs. Add the salt and sugar. Blend in the milk mixture, flour, and cornmeal. Stir in the melted shortening. Mix lightly but thoroughly.

Pour the batter into a hot, greased shallow baking pan. Bake at 375° for about 25 to 35 minutes or until golden.

Makes 1 loaf

 Annie's Poke Salad 

* 2 pounds freshly picked, young poke salad leaves (or other greens such as dale, turnip or collard)

*1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon
*1 medium onion, chopped
*Hot sauce
*Hard-cooked egg, optional

Wash the poke leaves well. Parboil the leaves and stems twice in a medium saucepan, pouring off the water each time after parboiling. Boil a third time in clean water for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Rinse and drain well.

Fry the bacon and remove from the pan. Add the onion and the greens and cook in the bacon dripping about 15-20 minutes or until tender. Add the hot sauce to taste, and serve topped with the bacon and a sliced hard-cooked egg, if desired.


Ham Bone Dumplings 

FROM: "The Presley Family Cookbook," written by Vernon Presley, Elvis' uncle and a guard at Graceland along with Nancy Rooks, a Graceland maid.


* 1 large ham bone or leftover ham
* 2 quarts water
* salt and pepper
* Dumplings
* 2 1/2 cups flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup Crisco shortening
* 1 cup cold water

Simmer ham bone in water for 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine dumpling ingredients to make dough. Add more flour if needed to make dough easy to handle. Place dough on floured board and roll very thin. Cut dough into small pieces and drop into pot with ham. Cook about 20 - 25 minutes more.



Baked Apple and Sweet Potato Pudding 

FROM: "The Presley Family Cookbook," written by Vernon Presley, Elvis' uncle and a guard at Graceland along with Nancy Rooks, a Graceland maid.

* 4 large sweet potatoes
* 3 medium apples
* 1 cup water
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
* 1/2 cup butter -- melted
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
* graham cracker crumbs

Wash; peel sweet potatoes and apples. Cut into slices. Cover bottom of pan with graham cracker crumbs. Layer potatoes and apples in dish. Mix brown sugar with water and pour over each layer. Season each layer with cinnamon, apple pie spice, butter, and flavoring. Spread a few graham cracker crumbs over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let pudding stand for 4 or 5 minutes, then serve.


 Elvis’ Favorite Pound Cake 

* 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for buttering pan
* 3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) plus additional for dusting
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 3 cups sugar
* 7 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* 1 cup heavy cream

Special equipment: a 10-inch tube pan (4 1/2 inches deep; not with a removable bottom) or a 10-inch Bundt pan (3 1/4 inches deep; 3-qt capacity)

Put oven rack in middle position, but do not preheat oven.

Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess flour.

Sift together sifted flour (3 cups) and salt into a bowl. Repeat sifting into another bowl (flour will have been sifted 3 times total).

Beat together butter (2 sticks) and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or 6 to 8 minutes with a handheld mixer. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour, then all of cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down side of bowl, and then beat at medium-high speed 5 minutes. Batter will become creamier and satiny.

Spoon batter into pan and rap pan against work surface once or twice to eliminate air bubbles. Place pan in (cold) oven and turn oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool cake in pan on a rack 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around inner and outer edges of cake, then invert rack over pan and invert cake onto rack to cool completely.

Cooks' note:
Cake keeps, covered well with plastic wrap or in an airtight container, at room temperature 5 days.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.


 Fool's Gold Loaf 

This recipe is for one Elvis' favorite sandwich. The one he flew two friends in the middle of the night from Graceland to Denver for.


* 1 loaf Italian white bread
* 1 pound lean bacon
* 1 large jar Skippy smooth peanut butter
* 1 large jar Smuckers grape jelly

Preheat the oven to 350f. Spread the butter generously over all sides of the loaf. Place the bread on a baking sheet in the oven. Meanwhile, fry the bacon until it is crisp and drain it thoroughly on paper towels. Remove the loaf from the oven when it is evenly browned, after approximately 15 minutes. Slice the loaf lengthwise and hollow out the interior, leaving as much bread along the wall as desired. While the bacon is still warm, fill the insides of the loaf with peanut butter and jelly to taste. Arrange the bacon slices inside the cavity, or, if desired, layer the bacon slices between the peanut butter and jelly. Close the loaf. Savor.

Yield: 1 serving (Elvis), 8 to 10 servings (others)




According to The Great Food Almanac by Irena Chalmers, the last food that Elvis Presley ate was four scoops of ice cream and 6 chocolate chip cookies.

The Elvis Shopping List 

These are the items that had to be kept at Graceland at all times.

The list is taken from the book "The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley"


* fresh, lean, unfrozen ground meat
* one case regular Pepsi
* one case orange drinks
* rolls (hot rolls - Brown 'n' Serve)
* cans of biscuits (at least six)
* hamburger buns
* pickles
* potatoes and onions
* assorted fresh fruits
* cans of sauerkraut
* wieners
* at least three bottles of milk and 1/2 & 1/2 cream
* thin, lean bacon
* mustard
* peanut butter
* fresh, hand-squeezed cold orange juice
* banana pudding (to be made each night)
* ingredients for meat loaf and sauce
* brownies (to be made each night)
* ice cream - vanilla and chocolate
* shredded coconut
* fudge cookies
* gum (Spearmint, Doublemint, Juicy Fruit - three each)
* cigars (El Producto Diamond Tips & El Producto Altas)
* cigarettes
* Dristan
* Super Anahist
* Contac
* Sucrets (antibiotic red box)
* Feenamint gum
* matches (four to five books)