5 weird jailhouse cuisine recipes that actually taste good No fancy ingredients, nor very nutritional, but these prison foods are legit, authentic, and to die for.

Prison food is all the rage nowadays. Not the food offered on the state prison trays; rather, recipes inmates use in prison. Books have been written containing prison recipes and a restaurant featuring "jail decor and food" even opened in Egypt.

The prison-themed Garemt Akl (Crime of Eating) restaurant in eastern Cairo, Egypt.

Yet most of the so-called "prison recipes" available on the Internet and in print seem to contain a lot of food items that would be extremely difficult to obtain in prison, if not impossible.

The prison recipes below contain no fancy ingredients, nor are they very nutritional, but they are legitimate. All ingredients can be purchased from commissary or are items that frequently appear on state food trays, like condiments. The only exception to this is onions, which seem to be fairly easy to get, no matter what prison you're in.

Depending on your custody status, items that need to be cooked are done so in a variety of ways. In general population and death row, inmates usually have access to a microwave and/or a "hot pot." If you're unfortunate enough to be in administrative segregation, you must get a little more creative and make your own version of an easy bake oven.

If you ever wondered what inmates are really eating or how prisoners make alcohol, then continue reading.

Prison Burrito

The prison burrito is one of the most common prison recipes and is consumed at most prisons and jails across the country. This particular recipe came from Harold Moss, who served 20 years in various Illinois prisons. Moss stated that you can use any type of chips for your burrito, Doritos just happened to be his favorite. Even though Moss is no longer incarcerated, he still finds himself making the jail burritos from time to time.


  • 1 individual-sized bag of Doritos
  • 1 package of ramen noodles
  • 1 slim jim or 1/4 cup smoked sausage
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 1 newspaper or towel


  • Crush up the bag of chips, being careful not to damage the bag too bad, as you'll need to use it to hold your burrito. You'll want to make sure the chips have a powder-like consistency.
  • Crush up the bag of ramen noodles.
  • Dump the noodles into the bag of chips (seasoning packet too, if you wish).
  • Chop the slim jim or sausage into small pieces and add to the mixture.
  • Add your hot water to the bag, making sure that it's just enough water to cover the mixture, not over-adding or you'll end up with soup.
  • Fold the bag over tightly to make a pocket that will help form the burrito shape.
  • Wrap some newspaper pages or a towel around your chip bag to help keep in the heat in.  Let sit for approximately 15 minutes.

Prison Lock Down Brownies

This recipe was submitted by an inmate serving life in prison in Alabama. He has stated he cannot eat this too often or he'll go into a sugar coma, but he enjoys it every once in a while.


  • 1 large pack of soft batch chocolate chip cookies
  • 3 Hershey bars (with almonds if you like) or chocolate bar of your choice
  • 5 oz. of milk
  • 4 instant cocoa packs
  • 2 Three Musketeers bars


  • Crumble up all the cookies into a large container. Crumble up all the Hershey bars on top of cookies. Microwave this mixture for 30-50 seconds or until the chocolate is kind of melted and can be mixed up.
  • Microwave 4 oz. of milk for 60 seconds and add the 4 packs of hot cocoa to milk. Stir briskly and pour on top of your cookie mixture.
  • Mash ingredients until malleable.
  • Transfer mixture into a pan, smooth out, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (in prison, they make their own easy-bake ovens).
  • Add remainder of milk to a glass or container and squish the two Three Musketeers into the container. Place in microwave and cook for 30 seconds or until melted. Stir until fluffy.
  • Pour Three Musketeers mixture on top of finished brownies.

Potato Log

This recipe is by an inmate serving multiple life sentences in Holman Correctional Facility in Alabama.


  • 1 full size bag of sour cream and onion potato chips
  • 2-3 Slim Jims or 1/3 of a 10 oz. summer sausage diced
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • Optional: teaspoon of sour cream


  • Crush up the chips into a fine powder dust.
  • Heat up the diced sausage for approximately one minute in the microwave.
  • Put the diced sausage in with the crushed potato chips.
  • Heat one cup of water, not to boiling, just hot.
  • Add water sparingly to your sausage/chip mixture until you have a paste.
  • Roll your chip bag tightly to shape product into a "log." Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Top with sour cream (optional). Serves at least two people.

Chocolate Cherry Vanilla Prison Pie

William Heirens.

This recipe was devised by serial killer William Heirens, who was serving a life sentence in Illinois. Heirens stated that this was his favorite dessert before discovering he had diabetes and that he had cravings for it pretty often. Heirens was the longest-serving inmate in the United States until his death in 2012.

Pie Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of vanilla wafers
  • 5 oatmeal cream pies
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

Pie Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of powdered milk
  • 1 package of cherry Kool-Aid
  • 2 packets of sugar
  • 1/4 can of Sprite
  • 2 packets of vanilla cappuccino


  • Hershey bar


Break vanilla wafers into little pieces while still in the bag. Crush up the oatmeal cream pies, then add to the vanilla wafer bag. Mix the water in with the vanilla wafers and the oatmeal cream pies. Add butter. Shape into a ball, press into pan or a bowl, shaping up the sides to resemble a pie crust.


In a large bowl, mix all filling ingredients with a spoon and stir for 5 minutes. Pour into pie crust and allow to set until pie is firm. After the pie is firm, melt the Hershey bar in the microwave and pour over pie.

Prison Whiskey (aka hooch, wine, pruno)

This recipe is attributed to a death row inmate at San Quentin State Prison, but there is probably not a single origin. There are many variations of this recipe using various types of fruit and other ingredients. Many prisoners make a larger portion of this in trash bags instead of Ziploc bags so they can sell it to other prisoners.


  • 1 gallon-sized Ziploc bag
  • 5-10 oranges
  • 8 ounces of fruit cocktail
  • 16 oz. water
  • 300 sugar cubes
  • 6 teaspoons of ketchup
  • towel


Peel all of the oranges and place them in the plastic bag along with the fruit cocktail. Next, mash up the oranges as much as possible and add 16 ounces of water to the mixture in the bag. Seal the bag and let it run under hot water for 10-15 minutes. Wrap the bag in a towel and let it sit for at least two days.

After two days, the bag should smell rotten and look like it's about to explode. If it doesn't, let it sit another day. Add the sugar cubes and ketchup to the mixture and re-seal the bag. Place your mixture under hot running water for 30 minutes, then wrap the towel around it again.

Each day, for the next three days, open the bag to let the gasses out and run the bag under hot water for 15 minutes. On the third day, the alcohol should be ready. Separate the fruit mash from the liquid.

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