Try Recipes from the US Army for Your Thanksgiving Feast

By Clinton Drake, Reference Librarian

Will you be cooking enough food to feed an army this Thanksgiving?  The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) can assist you with that!  As part of our U.S. Documents collection, we hold the 1916 Manual for Army Cooks. The pumpkin pie recipe included in the manual begins with 25 pounds of pumpkin, “sufficient for about 15 pies.”  And, if you are trying to keep critters—or people!—out of your pie, there are instructions for suspending food in a swinging cage.

According to the National Park Service, “during the Spanish-American War, less than 200 men died from battle injuries, but over 5000 died from sickness or disease. And much of the sickness was attributed to the lack of trained cooks. So, in 1905, the War Department opened the first school for bakers and cooks at Fort Riley, Kansas. It soon added schools at the Presidio, at Washington Barracks, D.C., and at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.”

Recipe #567. Pie, pumpkin or squash, Manual for Army Cooks (244-245).

Prior to his promotion to head the organization of bakery companies under the Office of the Quartermaster General, Colonel Leonard Lyon (L. L.) Deitrick organized the School for Bakers and Cooks in the Southern Department (Fort Sam Houston), and assisted in the preparation of manuals for bakers and cooks, including this version held by TSLAC.

Tip for how to store food while at camp.

A few recipes that probably won’t be making it to our Thanksgiving table include: pancreas, thymus gland, rolled wheat mush, brains without eggs, or gruel. For a look at more recipes and explore more cooking tips from the Army Manual there is an online version here:

As one of two regional and 54 selective depositories in Texas belonging to the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), TSLAC assists in providing publications of the federal government free to the public at no cost.  As a regional depository, TSLAC develops and manages a comprehensive, perpetual Federal depository collection and provides reference and interlibrary loan services to selective depositories within the state or region.


“Cooking School for Camp Bowie.” The Houston Post. January 6, 1918.

“To Start Army School for Bakers at Ft. Sam Houston.” El Paso Herald. May 29, 1915.

United States. Department of the Interior. “Bakers and Cooks School: Philippines War Tour.” National Park Service. March 2, 2021.

United States. War Department. Manual for Army Cooks, 1916. New York: Military Pub. Co., [1916].

Sharpe, Henry G. The Quartermaster Corps in the Year 1917 in the World War. New York: The Century Co., 1921.

For questions about TSLAC collections please contact our reference staff at or 512-564-5455.

1 thought on “Try Recipes from the US Army for Your Thanksgiving Feast

  1. Great article! But there are a few things that could be changed/added: -In the “Ingredients” section, it says to use 1 lb. of ground beef. However, depending on how many people you are serving, you might want to use more or less ground beef. -In the “Instructions” section, it says to cook the ground beef for 3-5 minutes. However, you might want to cook it for longer if you want it to be more well-done. -It would be helpful to add how many people this recipe serves. -It would also be helpful to add an estimate of how long this recipe takes to make.

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