Ever wonder what meals are like in the big house? Because prison food is known for being hardly edible (with an average budget of $2 per prisoner) prisoners depend on the commissary kitchen within the prison. A commissary kitchen is essentially a glorified junk food snack stand – sort of like a convenience 7/11 store – that prisoners can spend real money in order to compliment the bland and meager prison diet.
A commissary kitchen menu from Indiana Marshall County Jail is a good example of the ranges of products in stock for those incarcerated. The item list is very bare so prisoners need to get creative (like the cheesecake from Orange is the New Black.)
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1. Prison Pad Thai
Pad Thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish which is very popular in Thailand. It’s easy to prepare and doesn’t need a lot of stuff. And since ramen is a common (and cheap) commissary item, it’s not surprising to see a lot of prison recipes with this ingredient.
1 package of ramen noodles
1/3 cup of peanut butter
1/4 cup of crushed peanuts
2 tsp hot sauce
1. Prepare ramen noodles as per package instruction
2. Stir everything in one container
3. Garnish it with crushed peanuts
2. Parole Day (Orange is the New Black) Cheese Cake
This recipe is a no-bake cake made possible by crushed cookies, Kool-Aid based frosting, and other items available in the commissary menu. Inmates will usually make this recipe if someone’s granted parole. Just like other no-bake recipes, this one uses a crushed bread product for the “sponge” part.
12 oz of cookies (any kind)
6 oz of cream cheese
2 tbsp of honey
1 packet of sugar
2 tbsp of french vanilla creamer
3/4 cup of Kool-Aid (any flavor)
1. Crush the cookies until its all crumbs.
2. Microwave the crushed cookies for 3-4 minutes. Let it cool down.
3. Mix the cream cheese, honey, sugar, french vanilla creamer, and Kool-Aid in a bowl.
4. Pour the mixture in the top of the crushed cookie crust. Spread the frosting evenly.
5. Refrigerate or put it in an ice-filled bucket for 4-5 hours or until the toppings are solid.
3. Avary’s Jailhouse Hole Burrito
This burrito recipe uses flavorful items that you can get from the commissary menu. It is tasty, easy to make, with enough servings for two people. In this recipe, plastic bags are used to cook the ingredients because of the lack of utensils inside the prison. Since there are no gears or utensils available, bags from chips are recycled for cooking and mixing things.
1 package of spicy ramen noodles
3/4 of Spicy Jalapeno ranch-flavored popcorn (8 oz bag)
1/4 cup of squeezable cheese
Any hot sauce (sriracha, tabasco sauce, depends on your preference)
1/2 bag of Cheetos
Crushed cheese-flavored crackers
1. Crush the ramen noodles in the pack before opening.
2. “Cook” the ramen noodles with hot water inside the bag. Seal it tightly.
3. While waiting for the ramen to cook, make the burrito stuffing. Add the ramen seasoning to the Jalapeno popcorn.
4. Next, add the crushed Takis, squeezable cheese, hot sauce, and the crushed cheese crackers.
5. Then put on the cooked ramen noodles and mix all the ingredients together in the popcorn plastic bag.
6. Get the tortilla and spread the remaining cheese on it.
7. Put your stuffing and wrap it up. Slice the burrito for sharing.
4. Prison Pizza
Who wouldn’t want to have a slice of pizza after a very stressful day? According to Food & Wine, pizza is currently the most favorite comfort food in the US. No wonder why there are people who attempted to do a whole pizza using what’s available inside the prison. Here’s a recipe that uses crackers as noodles as dough and commissary items for toppings.
2 sleeves of Saltine cracker
2 sleeves if Ritz cracker
1 pack of ramen noodles
1 stick of Slim Jim
Block cheese or Squeeze Cheese
Empty plastic bags (e.g. a Dorito bag)
1. Chop the pickles, onions, block cheese, and the slim jim into thin slices
2. Crush two whole sleeves of Saltine crackers and two sleeves of Ritz crackers inside the Dorito bag.
3. Crush the ramen noodles and put it inside the bag.
4. Add hot water to the bag. Make sure that the water is at the same exact level of the mixture.
5. Mash the mixture together for 15 minutes to incorporate the ingredients and cook the noodles.
6. Once the mixture looks like dough, cut the side of the bag carefully and flatten it. Lay another chip bag and use a round material like a rolling pin to distribute the though evenly.
7. Put the dough in the microwave for four to five minutes.
8. Spread the tomato paste and add all the toppings.
9. Microwave the pizza for five minutes.
Source: Lockdown 23and1
5. Prison Tamales
Tamales are a flavorful yet easy to make Mexican dish. For this reason, some inmates who were tired of eating chips and ramen noodles came up with the idea of Prison Tamales. It only needs hot water and a sturdy plastic bag.
1 large bag of corn chips
1/3 cup of cheese curls or processed cheese food
1 1oz meat stick or beef jerky sausage
1/2 cup of warm water
1. Combine corn chips and cheese into one chip bag.
2. Crush the contents finely.
3. Chop the meat stick and add it to the mix.
4. Add water to the mixture just enough so you can shape it to a tamale.
5. Close the bag tightly and run under hot water to cook.
6. Open the bag and enjoy your tamales.
6. H.N.I. Chi-Chi
Chi-Chi is the name widely used for the comfort food that a lot of inmates make with the available commissary items. The cook can add anything that he or she wants in the mix, that’s why there’s a lot of prison recipes variety for this dish. The common materials used are ramen noodles, cheese, meat snacks. chips, and sugar.
Salt and Pepper
Onion and Garlic powder
A pack of Ramen noodles
Precooked can/package of chili
1. Boil water in a bowl. Cook the ramen noodles using the hot water.
2. Melt some butter.
3. Add the hot sauce, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, and cayenne pepper in the melted butter. Mix it well.
4. Slice the canned sausages and mix it with the pre-cooked chili.
5. Add the butter mixture made earlier with the chili and sausage mixture and microwave to heat up the whole mixture.
6. Mix the ramen noodles to the sauce.
7. P’s Don’t Try This At Home Prison Surprise
This recipe was made by Chef Boyar-P. It was created because he doesn’t want to use the ramen noodles seasoning. Instead, he opted to create a recipe that uses some of the most common commissary items: Doritos, Jack Mack, and hot sauce.
Doritos (or Cheez-Its)
Jack Mack or Canned Tuna
1. Cook the ramen noodles per instruction.
2. Crush the Doritos or Cheez-Its (or both).
3. When the ramen noodles are done, mix the crush cheese snacks. It should make a sort of an improvised cheese sauce.
4. Serve with Jack Mack or Tuna toppings and additional hot sauce.
8. Prison Menudo
Menudo or “pancita” is another traditional Mexican dish featured in this list. It is usually made with a cow’s tripe with a chili paper base. The prison version of this recipe uses some interesting items. Some prisons sell rice in bagged portions.
1 cup of Tortilla Chips
1/4 bag of cooked rice
1 Summer Sausage
1 Precooked Chili (No beans)
2 Packs of Chili Seasoning
1/2 Pickle (chopped)
3 bags of pork rinds
1. Crush the Tortilla chips and add 1/4 cup of hot water.
2. Add cooked rice and knead the mixture into a dough.
3. Put the dough inside a plastic bag and heat it in a pot with water for ten minutes.
4. While waiting, combine the sausage, two chili seasoning, and one package of pre-cooked chili. Add a cup of hot water in the mixture.
5. In a separate container, add a cup of hot water to the pork rinds until its soft.
6. Mix the pork rinds and chili together and add the pickle and juice.
7. Serve with the rice mixture.
Source: Donia Ecker
9. Prison Latte
While coffee is a drink that can be easily accessed in the prison, it’s pretty monotonous. Caffeinated drinks are only available through the cafeteria or from instant coffee packets. If you want to get a fancy cup of coffee, this is what you’ll likely be able to whip up inside the prison.
Note: Maple syrup packets are sometimes available from the breakfast tray.
A small carton of milk
3 tbsp of instant coffee
1 (or more) maple syrup packet
1. Run the small milk carton in hot water (via tap or via boiling) until the milk is steamy.
2. Pour the milk in a separate container.
3. Add the instant coffee and maple syrup packet.
4. Stir thoroughly and enjoy.
10. P’s Clean Hands Sweet Potato Pie
P’s Clean Hands sweet potato pie is another recipe that Albert “Prodigy” Johnson included in his prison recipes book. This one was inspired by a pie recipe from his fellow inmate Shakira, which is called “Shakira’s Dirty Pie”. Apparently, Shakira made the pie without washing her hands. Of course, nobody was brave enough to try it, but it was a great source of inspiration for Prodigy.
Butter Packets (5-6 pieces)
1. Crush the graham crackers and put them in a separate container.
2. Melt the butter and add it to the crushed graham crackers.
3. On a flat surface, press the crushed graham until it resembles a “crust”.
4. For the filling, smush the canned yams and add honey, sugar, and butter.
5. Spread the filling on the top of crushed graham crackers.
6. Bake the pie for 25 minutes.
7. Slice and enjoy.
11. Charlie’s Butterscotch Brownies
The number of items you can buy at a prison commissary shop is very limited. It is not really surprising to see that candies are used for different prison recipes. This one uses butterscotch candies to make something that resembles butterscotch brownies.
1 pack of vanilla wafers (or double fudge cookies)
1 whole bag of butterscotch candies
2 cups (or more) of hot cocoa powder
1. Crush the wafers or the cookies in a container.
2. In a separate bag, crush the butterscotch candies.
3. Mix both crushed mixtures.
4. Add a small amount of hot water to your cocoa powder.
5. Press the mixture of cookies and candies into a flat surface.
6. Pour the cocoa powder like a glaze on the top of the crust.
Source: Donia Ecker
12. Orange Porkies
In 2015, pork products are pulled out from the menu of all the 122 federal penitentiaries. However, pork rinds and precooked bacon are still available in the prison commissary. To make something different, some creative inmates made a prison recipe out of Kool-aid and pork rinds that kinda resemble a sweet and sour pork dish.
3 tbsp of Kool-aid
1. Crush the ramen noodles and soak it in a bowl with hot water.
2. In a separate container, put three tbsp of Kool-Aid
3. Pour a tbsp of hot water in the powder and mix it to make a sauce.
4. Add the pork rinds and coat every piece with the sauce.
5. Microwave the skins for five minutes.
6. Strain the ramen noodles and add cooked rice with it.
7. Put the pork rinds on the top of the ramen and cooked rice.
13. Prison Cake
This is another cake recipe that some prison inmates usually make. Most of the ingredients are already baked goods. Perhaps, the strangest ingredients added in this recipe are the mayo. Take note: the preparation is pretty unsightly.
1 pack of Chips Ahoy
1 pack of Oreos
1 carton of milk
1 container of mayo
1. Crush the Chips ahoy cookies and Oreos.
2. Put all the crushed cookies in a bowl. Continue breaking until the cookies are fine.
3. Heat up the carton of milk and pour it in the mixture.
4. Squeeze some mayo in the mix. This helps hold the mixture together.
5. Microwave it for 3-5 minutes
Source: RU MVPSO