Gov. Sanders: Food and fun (and her pie recipe!)


We asked Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders about everything from eating to streaming.

What’s your favorite Arkansas food?

I think that I’m going to have to cheat a little bit and pick two. I think one would certainly have to be duck gumbo. There are very few items I can think of that are more representative of Arkansas; you’ve got duck, chicken and rice, some of our biggest industries. And it happens to be absolutely delicious. I was really excited we got to serve that at the inauguration. And the other one would be Arkansas cheese dip; you can’t leave that off the list. We like to claim that we invented that here, and I know Texas likes to fight with us, but I’m pretty sure we were first.

What’s your favorite Arkansas restaurant?

Oh, that one is hard to narrow down. One of the things I love about the state is every community you go to has a great little local spot. During the campaign, we tried to stop into different places and local restaurants all over Arkansas. … If I picked one, I think I’d get myself into a lot of trouble. But one of my favorite things is certainly finding those good local places that we have kind of mixed in all 75 counties.

What is your favorite thing to cook if/when you have time?

Cooking or baking, sometimes people argue over whether or not those are the same thing. But my kids would certainly love if it was all sweets all the time. I make a pretty good Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie (see recipe below) and have even become a little bit famous for the controversy around whether or not I actually made it. But that has to be at the top of the list. It’s something I do with my kids over the holidays and something that’s become a tradition and a really fun thing for us to all do together.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders pauses to pose for a selfie. Photo by Randall Lee.

What is your favorite place in Arkansas for a getaway or staycation?

Arkansas is blessed with a lot of amazing outdoor spaces. And so you’ve got everything like amazing lakes and rivers. The Buffalo River is second to none. Lake Ouachita, Greeson, Beaver Lake — all beautiful spots — Greers Ferry. And then we’ve got great mountains, I mean the views at Petit Jean and Magazine and Mount Nebo. My family’s pretty active, and my husband is a big advocate for getting outside and enjoying every bit and piece of The Natural State. We enjoy a lot of different parts and places around the state, but usually something that has an outdoor component to it.

What’s the last show/movie that you streamed?

Let me think about a show that’s not an animated kids show; that is generally what I have time and get to watch!

The last really great movie we watched was the new “Top Gun: Maverick.” It’s very rare when a sequel lives up to the hype, and it’s as good as the original. And I have to say, I think they did a pretty great job.

What is your usual coffee order?

Black coffee. Nothing in it. Very plain.

What is your most prized possession?

Pictures. I have lots and lots of pictures, certainly of my kids, early years of marriage. All my photos would be my most prized possession; they’re the one thing I can’t replace.

The first family of Arkansas: Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders with husband and first gentleman Bryan and children George, age 7; Huck, age 9; and Scarlett, age 10. Photo by Shealah Craighead.

What are your hobbies?

I love to travel, especially with my family; I love to explore new places.  … I like to play tennis. I’m attempting and hoping to get a little better at pickleball, though not sure that’s going to happen anytime soon, given that we’re right in the middle of the legislative session. Maybe after we get everything done this session, I’ll have a chance to pick that back up.

Do you have any useless talents?

No, all of my talents are very useful. I can’t sing. I don’t have any special party tricks or any fun thing like that. So, no, only useful talents that I have, I suppose.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Really hot, salty McDonald’s french fries.

Gov. Sanders’ Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • 4          eggs
  • 1          cup light corn syrup
  • 6          tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2      cup sugar
  • 1/4      cup brown sugar
  • 2-4       tablespoons bourbon
  • 1          tablespoon flour
  • 1          tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1          cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1          cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1          prepared pie crust

Heat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, stir eggs, corn syrup and butter together. Add remaining ingredients one at a time, stirring each as you add them. Pour into pie crust.

Bake on lowest rack for 1 hour. Watch it closely starting at 50 minutes because every oven is different. If it’s browning too much on the edges, you may want to take out early.

Best served warm with vanilla ice cream on top and shared with friends and family!

Gov. Sanders’ notes: 

Pie crust: Either make your own crust, or you can use frozen deep-dish pie crust (it saves a ton of time to just get the pre-made ones!).

Bourbon: I typically use Blanton’s, Maker’s Mark or Woodford Reserve (if you use really cheap bourbon you can tell, so don’t do that!).

Vanilla: Try vanilla bean paste if you can find it — so good!

Pecans: It turns out best if you put pecans in a Ziplock bag and crush them with a hammer. Less mess than a food processor and a great stress reliever! This is my kids’ favorite part to help with!

Read part one of this interview: Making History: Sarah Huckabee Sanders is Arkansas’ first female governor