Delicious,  Kids,  Meat,  Sandwiches,  Snack

Kokomo Bakes

Kokomo BakeA few days back I was reflecting on some of the food that I grew up eating, not so much in my house, but around town. I thought my dad always had a good taste for a few things around town, in particular the tacos from Indiana Beach, the tacos from Lord John, the stromboli in Monticello, and something called the bake. At the time, I really never understood the bake as it is baked ground beef, shaped like a hot dog, and placed in a hot dog bun. I think that confused me as a kid as the only thing that I thought should be placed in a hot dog bun was a hot dog.

Both my son and daughter love hot dogs, and cheese burgers for that matter, so upon reflecting on the things about Kokomo, I immediately thought of the bake. A soft and tender ground beef shaped hot dog, sweetened by vinegar and sugar. Light, fluffy, and moist. A big hit.


  • 1 lb of ground beef
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of fine breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • Onion, diced
  • Yellow mustard

To a large bowl, add the ground beef, salt and pepper, breadcrumbs, milk, and water, and mix really well. You will notice that this is really a bit smooth, and a texture that you probably do not work with that often. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Form the meat into hot dog shapes, approximately bun length, and place in your baking pan. This makes about 7-9 bakes. Combine the remaining water, vinegar, and sugar in a small bowl, and drizzle over the meat.

Bake in an over for 75 minutes, covered. Once cooked, remove from the pan to get them out of the fat it was cooking in.

To serve, place a bake in a good hot dog bun, top with diced onion and mustard, or if you are like the rest of my family, eat plain.

Something delicious, different, and from my hometown of Kokomo. Hope you enjoy.


  • Bev

    Hi Lisa, My friend told me about Bakes. She now lives in
    Ohio and is driving to Kokomo just to get a bake (5 hrs). I live in
    NW Indiana and talked me into driving down to meet her. My husband
    said “for a SANDWICH?”. He agreed and today we are off to

    • Jane disborough

      Heck yeah, “for a sandwich”!!! Also drive five hours for a White Castle, or a breaded tenderloin sandwich, lol! Or Pizza King pizza!

  • Jane disborough

    I used this recipe, and my bakes are in the oven right now, but I have a question: unless I missed it, the recipe doesn’t say where to add the ketchup – so I put it in the “sauce” with sugar, vinegar, water. Hoping that was right! If anyone checks this post, can you let me know? Thanks for posting this recipe!

      • Jane Disborough

        Yes, they were delicious, I just remember getting them at Yogi’s in early 70s and they were swimming in a heavier sauce, but even with the catsup in the wrong part of the recipe, they were very nostalgic for me (down here in Texas) – thanks!

        • Bryan

          I use to live in Kokomo. The Bakes are very popular. The difference from your recipe is they dip the Bakes in mustard then top them. It’s messy but oh so good.

  • Luke stone

    I am from kokomo and now live in Florida. I miss kokomo food so much I try my best to recreate it. Where exactly does the catchup go again?

  • Laveta

    I too have been fantasizing about the bakes but did not know how to make it. Just one thought I entered in the search bar and low and behold there it is.?? Thank you so much for sharing 🌹Laveta

  • Torie

    I’m excited about the bakes but found this by accident when I was trying to find a recipe for Lord John tacos (because it was mentioned in the first paragraph I was directed here). So I’ll gladly try the bakes but I’d be thrilled if anyone has a copy for the tacos since they went out of business. I have had a good copy that a bar makes (that I tried at a street fair), but I’m 1000 mi too far away to get them! Any success with a copy??

  • Matt

    My grandma was the Queen of Bakes! She was the cook at Miller’s tavern in Kokomo for MANY years. I live in Florida and I’m visiting for a few days to help with clean up. Luckily I was able to make a pit stop at the Handle Bar for 3 Lord Johns taco supremes….mmmmm. messed those up like the bag of White Castles yesterday. I do have a We Care Cookbook at home that has all the recipes…bakes, Spanish sauce for coneys, and all that good stuff. My grandma contributed lots of her recipes for the book. Next up I need to enjoy a giant breaded tenderloins before I go back. Looks like we will have to stop at Ray’s Drive in. I always love to come visit and enjoy the comfort food of HOME.

    • Dax Phillips

      That’s awesome, Matt. Thanks for the comment, and everything you just said is all great Indiana eats. Did you grow up eating the Amish noodles on top of mashed potatoes as well?

      • matt

        I still do the noodles with mashed potatoes with a big side of fresh green beans. People here in Florida look at me like I just came from another planet.

    • Paula

      Matt, your Grandma was a very loved cook at Miller’s! I was born & raised in Kokomo but have since moved . I miss Miller’s not only for their food ( love those tenderloins) but their nobody-is-a-stranger atmosphere! There’s none like it!! Oh, and, I thought that was the only way to eat Amish noodles & mashed potatoes! Lol!

  • William

    I stopped in and had Bakes in Kokomo and went home to see if I could duplicate the recipe. I smelled other spices like cumin, so I added some Greek All Spice blend and they were pretty good.

  • Phyllis

    Made these today. Excellent! Wouldn’t change a thing. I live 7 miles from Kokomo but enjoy making fun food at home. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Joshua miller

    Hey guys i am originally from kokomo, born and raised until i was 18. Then i moved to the orlando florida area for a few years then to tampa for about 15 years. Ive now just recently moved out to Washington state, (omg its so beautiful) and i am really missing some hoosier food. Some bakes and coney sauce, moores sugar cream pie & fried chicken, sliders, lord johns, breaded tenderloins, and jamies pork brain sandwiches. I havent been back to kokomo in 18 years. My father used to take me to millers tavern when i was little and man do i miss those days & our hometown food. Thank you very much for putting the bake recipe out here for us to find! My father was friends & went to high school with the guy that ran coney island, dont know if he still does or not but my father told me that he was told, or he thinks he was told that the bakes had pork & ground beef in them? So i am curious how close your recipe is to coney islands bakes? And yes my family still eats out chicken and noodles with homemade “amish style” noodles on top of some mashed taters lol.

  • Joshua Miller

    I spoke to my father & Deano is the guy my dad was friends with that ran coney island. I went ahead and made these today, and i appreciate you putting this recipe out on the web for us. Its a good starting point, but its definitely missing all the spices & garlic. Still a very good basic “bake” but it’s not union grill’s bakes. Definitely a great starting point though. Again thank you very much for puttinh this out!

  • Matt Moss

    I commented a few years ago that my grandmother, Bessie Moss, was the cook at Miller’s Tavern for many years after leaving the kitchen at the Ramada Inn. She was an amazing cook, and I still have some of her hand written recipes. She also contributed many recipes to the Annual Christmas fundraiser for We Care that also has many of her recipes. The book contains several Kokomo Classic recipes and the official “Kokomo’s Famous Baked Hamburgers” also known as a “Bake”. I cannot be certain that this is grandma’s recipe as the classic recipes do not list the writer. Here is the recipe…It’s funny on the same page is the recipe for Homemade chicken and noodles. LOL
    Kokomo’s Famous Baked Hamburger
    2 lbs Lean Ground Beef
    1 loaf stale bread or buns
    2 medium onions
    1 cup milk
    2 teaspoons Cumin Powder
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    1 tablespoon salt
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
    2 eggs
    1 small package cracker meal

    Pour milk over stale bread, let it soak till it makes a soft mixture. Add to ground beef, add all other ingrediants as well. Cover and chill. When mixture is cool, take small ball of meat mixtureabout the size of a golf ball and roll out with hand on counter top into shape and size of hot dog or larger, allowing for shrinkage. Place into baking dish; cover with tomato juice, cover and back at 350 for 2 hours or until done.
    Serve with the following sauce: Mash fine 1 can of chili beans, add 2 cups of beef stock and salt,pepper. dash of cumin and heat. Serve baked hamburgers on your favorite hot dog bun; cover with sauce. CAUTION: Don’t line “um up your arm when fixin”- that takes years of practice.

  • Matt Moss

    I can 100% say that recipe I shared was not my Grandma’s. I made it to the T tonight. It was awful! There was way too much “filler” in it and the tomato juice made it terrible. I threw it down the garbage disposal. It called for lean beef so I used 93/7. I’ll use less filler next time and do 80/20 and a nice spoonful of tomato paste. Feel free to delete that recipe.

  • Mitch

    I’m from Kokomo as well and grew up with Louie’s when it was downtown. I’ve been friends with Louie, RIP, and Tula for decades. I haven’t been able to get the recipe out of any of them. I’m curious how you came upon this recipe? Mostly just curious how accurate it actually is. I also feel like I remember Tula telling me at one point that lamb was one of the secret ingredients.

    Thanks so much!
    Super fan of Louie’s

  • Levi

    Louie’s Coney Island in Kokomo, it’s still here and so are the bakes, I’m a transplant from Wisconsin and I’ve never had anything like them, that place is the best!

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