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A serving of beef chislic at a restaurant in Sioux Falls, SD.

Chislic (or sometimes chislick) is a traditional dish of cubed red meat most commonly localized to the state of South Dakota (United States). Traditionally made from mutton or lamb, but has also been associated with wild game, deer and venison mostly, and even cubed beef steak depending on preparation.


The word chislic is arguably derived from the Turkic word of shashlik or shashlyk, which is cubed meat or liver grilled on a skewer with tomatoes, peppers, and onions. The origin of the word shashlyk is rooted in shish kebab, the Turkish and Arabic words for skewered meats.[1] According to some sources, chislic was possibly introduced into the United States by John Hoellwarth, who immigrated from Crimea to Hutchinson County, South Dakota in the 1870s.[2]


Chislic is traditionally prepared very simply. Cubed mutton or lamb (or alternately beef or venison), generally no bigger than a half-inch, are cooked in a deep fryer. Generally, chislic is served medium-rare to medium—i.e. warm pink inside. After cooking, while the meat cools on a paper towel, it is flavored with garlic salt, or other varieties of seasoned salts. The cubes are eaten hot.

Regional differences[edit]

Chislic may vary slightly in preparation from region to region.

In the southeastern South Dakota communities of Freeman and Menno, chislic is generally prepared deep-fried in restaurants. The meat is traditionally lamb, but wild game chislic, such as venison, may appear when in season. It is seasoned with garlic salt and eaten with soda crackers. The small, blunt skew usually holds five or six cubes of meat. The same dish is also served grilled when prepared for large groups, such as gatherings at community organization fund-raisers or baseball games during the Fourth of July.

Annually in Freeman, at the heart of the Chislic Circle, the South Dakota Chislic Festival is held. Chislic can be found in Scotland, as well as other southeastern South Dakota towns. The local bars sometimes hold chislic feasts where more than a dozen sticks of chislic may be consumed.[citation needed]

In the Brookings area, chislic is deep-fried mutton. In more recent times, it has been common to prepare chislic using lamb meat. In keeping with tradition, it is seasoned with garlic salt and served with soda crackers and bleu cheese dressing (hot sauce optional). Other innovations or variations of chislic are specified, i.e. "beef chislic."

In the Pierre area, chislic is a marinated meat, dipped in batter and deep-fat fried. It has been offered as an alternative to Rocky Mountain oysters. The marinades vary and are often family secrets.

In the Sioux Falls area, chislic, usually deep fried mutton, is a popular bar food to accompany cold beer. It is often served with garlic salt, soda crackers and hot sauce.[3]

In the Watertown area, chislic, usually deep fried beef, is found on most appetizer menus. Most often served with a side of Ranch dressing.

In the Redfield area, chislic is deep fried beef with a side of toast and Lawry's Seasoned Salt.

In Omaha, former South Dakota residents have developed a southern variation using a combination of taco seasoning, cayenne pepper and garlic. The southern style dish has been served in appetizer form at the Annual Omaha Police Officers Association Gala since 2014.


  1. ^ Mack, Glenn Randall; Surina, Asele (2005). Food Culture In Russia And Central Asia. Greenwood. p. 83. ISBN 0-313-32773-4.
  2. ^ Preheim, Rich. "The Chislic Circle". South Dakota Magazine (July/August 2005). Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  3. ^ Suellentrop, Paul (November 15, 2014). "Play a game and try the chislic, it's basketball time in South Dakota". The Wichita Eagle. Wichita, KS: The McClatchy Company. Retrieved November 17, 2014.

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