These Iconic Foods From Every U.S. State Might Surprise You
From Florida's fresh-squeezed orange juice to Utah's unique take on the cheeseburger, here's our list of the best food in each U.S. state.
From California to the New York Island, America is chock-full of delicious food. Coast to coast, we scoured every state to find its most iconic signature ingredient. Did we get it right for your state? Let us know!
Alabama: Pecans + Pecan Pie
Alaska: Alaskan King Crab
We’d be remiss not to pick Alaskan king crab (Did you know Alaska boasts 10 crab species?). While super fresh Alaska crab is amazing eaten plain with some butter, we also really love crab cakes.
Salad might not be the first thing you think of when you think of a desert state like Arizona. But Yuma, Arizona produces about 90 percent of the country’s head lettuce, leaf lettuce, and romaine.
Arkansas’s watermelons might be the sweetest in the country. Why? Long, hot summers provide optimal ripening conditions. Plus, some regions’ sandy topsoil and limestone foundation is said to yield higher sugar content in fruits. Whether you eat ’em sliced, pickled or ice creamed, we’ve got watermelon recipes for days.
Want guacamole? San Diego County is California’s avocado capital, as it produces 60 percent of the state’s total crop.
Between bison burgers and rocky mountain oysters—(which can be made with bison testicles, yikes!)—the American buffalo is a clear favorite of this western state.
Clams might seem like an odd choice for Connecticut, but New Haven is famous for its weird, yet tasty, white clam pizza.
Delaware has been growing peaches since Colonial times (75 ways to eat juicy, chin-drippin’ farmer’s market peaches right here). At the peak in 1875, peach growers shipped 6 million baskets to market. Peach pie is still Delaware’s official dessert, so go ahead and grab a slice.
Find our favorite pie recipes across America.
The Sunshine State grows nearly 70 percent of the nation’s citrus supply and 40 percent of the entire world’s orange juice supply. If you visit, sip on some fresh-squeezed.
Georgia might be known as the Peach State, but it grows more peanuts than any other U.S. state. Try our favorite pie.
Hawaiians love their Spam. In fact, they consume more Spam than any other state, with the average citizen eating more than five cans a year. Theories abound, but the popularity is likely due to practicality: the affordable, long-lasting, hearty meat product is a pantry staple in a secluded island state, where most fresh foods are shipped in from elsewhere.
Haven’t tried it? Add a few ingredients to make this tasty hash.
Craving some baked or mashed potatoes? They’re a hot commodity in Idaho where so many big, starchy russets are grown. Conditions are excellent: sunny days, cool nights, and mineral-rich soil. Use ’em up in these 80 (yep) recipes for serious potato lovers.
Illinois: Hot Dogs
Forget deep-dish pizza: It’s all about the Chicago-style hot dogs. While hot dogs first came to Chicago during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, they didn’t become a state staple until the Great Depression. For the ultimate Chicago dog, load your bun with mustard, relish, onion, tomato and celery salt — but never, ever ketchup.
Not only did popcorn-maker Orville Redenbacher call Indiana home, but Weaver Popcorn (which is also based in Indiana) uses tens of thousands of acres to make 30 percent of the world’s popcorn supply. The best way to make popcorn is the old-fashioned way.
As the No. 1 producer of corn in the U.S., Iowa turns out billions of bushels a year. Each bushel weighs approximately 56 pounds—so that’ s a lot of corn. After you’ve eaten enough plain corn on the cob, try one of these 70 ways to eat corn.
No wonder Kansas is called the “Wheat State”: It produces one-fifth of the country’s supply, and it has produced an average of 328 million bushels per year over the past five years. What to do with all that wheat? Try making a local favorite: bierocks, a traditional European recipe for soft rolls filled with meat and cabbage.
Kentucky is known for bourbon companies like Jim Beam and Wild Turkey. Why? Its water is characteristically high in magnesium and calcium but low in iron, making it perfect for fermenting the liquor. Throw back a stiff one or use the spirit to make bourbon ham balls.
Not only is crawfish one of Louisiana’s most popular exports, New Orleans holds the NOLA Crawfish Festival every year, where attendees can snack on over 5,000 pounds of hot boiled crawfish. Whether you eat it by itself or turn it into a spread, crawfish is a consistent crowd-pleaser.
It doesn’t get more quintessentially Maine than lobster. About 80 percent of lobster served in American restaurants are sourced from Maine’s shores. Last year, Maine’s lobstermen caught 130 million pounds of the delectable crustacean. Lobster roll, anyone? Or splurge on lobster tail (yes, you can make them at home!).
Maryland: Old Bay Seasoning
While you wouldn’t eat old bay on its own, the medley of spices was first created in Maryland and is used on basically everything in its home state. Sprinkle it on your Maryland blue crab, or sprinkle it wontonly over your fries, eggs, popcorn or chicken.
People in Massachusetts really love their baked navy beans: They’re the state bean, and Boston is nicknamed “Beantown.” A side of Boston baked beans is good with anything, from clam chowder to lobster mac and cheese.
Mackinac Island, which is just off the coast of mainland Michigan, has been making delicious fudge since the late 19th century and is considered America’s fudge capital. With tons of finger lickin’ good fudge shops, it’s a great place to indulge your sweet tooth.
While Minnesota is known for Juicy Lucy burgers and a hefty supply of Jell-O salads, its residents also boast a healthy record: Minnesotans eat 132 percent more raspberries than any other state. The state’s soil and climate is perfect for growing raspberries. Try these fresh raspberry recipes.
Mississippi: Gulf Shrimp
Missouri: Frozen Custard
Most locals will agree that frozen custard’s the thing to eat in Missouri. Several national treasures like Ted Drewe’s and Andy’s Frozen Custard originated in the Show-Me State. Fortunately, you don’t have to be in Missouri to whip up a bowl for yourself.
Though Montana’s picking season is short, starting in mid-July, if you’re there then you can usually spot locals intently picking their own tart berries to add to a pie.
Nebraska: Corned Beef
The Reuben sandwich was born during the 1900s in Omaha, Nebraska, which makes its core meat a local celebrity. Try making it yourself with our step-by-step guide (one of our most popular how-to’s!).
Don’t be fooled by its desert appearance: Nevada’s warm, dry climate is actually a great place to grow garlic, which is why it’s one of the country biggest producers. Warning: these recipes are for garlic lovers only.
New Hampshire: Pumpkin
New Hampshire has hosted an annual pumpkin festival for over 25 years, not to mention pumpkin is the state food. Whether you make a pumpkin pie or roast the seeds, you can’t go wrong with this seasonal treat.
New Jersey: Saltwater Taffy
Saltwater taffy has reportedly been around since the 1800s—and continues to be the cornerstone of New Jersey snacks. The state churns out hundreds of thousands of pounds each year, so if you visit, you’ll find no shortage of taffy.
New Mexico: Chili Pepper
If you’re looking to turn up the heat, New Mexico produces tons (as in 65,000 tons in 2013) of chili peppers. Going out to dinner? Get ready to decide if you want your food topped with green chilies, red chilies, or “Christmas,” which means both! These enchiladas are a classic way to get your chili fix.
New York: Bagel
Ever wondered why bagels taste so much better in New York? The state is the country’s largest supply of unfiltered water which is notoriously soft (aka low in calcium and magnesium). When you add soft water to dough, the result is soft and fluffy. Whether covered in cream cheese or topped with lox, very few things can rival a classic New York bagel. You can make ’em at home…but they won’t be quite the same.
North Carolina: Sweet Potatoes
Nearly half of America’s sweet potato supply is produced in North Carolina — the state harvested almost 95,000 acres of ’em last year! Locals have no excuse not to make sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving.
North Dakota: Sauerkraut
It might sound, well, weird that the state has been celebrating Sauerkraut Day for 90-plus years. But in some circles, North Dakota’s Logan County considers itself the “Sauerkraut Capital of the World.” Sauerkraut historically pairs well with sausage, but you can put it on just about anything.
Speaking of sausage, a German-inspired sausage and grain mash called Goetta is one of Cincinnati’s most beloved meals.
As a warm-season crop, Okra bonds well with Oklahoma’s hot summers. Along with cornbread and barbecue pork, fried okra is a classic local dish.
A cross between ‘Chehalem’ and ‘Olallie’ blackberries, marionberries were first bred in Oregon in the early 20th century and continue to be a local favorite. Treat yourself to a slice of marionberry pie.
America’s love of chocolate doesn’t get any sweeter than in Pennsylvania—it’s where Hershey’s bite-sized kisses were first made in 1907. To this day, Hershey’s chocolate is still made with fresh milk from farms within 100 miles of its Pennsylvania factory. In our neighborhood, these peanut butter cookies are as famous as the kisses that top ’em.
Rhode Island: Coffee
Rhode Island may be small, but its residents’ obsession with coffee is unmatched. Try a jolting sip of coffee milk (the state’s official beverage, which is made with coffee syrup).
South Carolina: Oysters
Consider South Carolina the best place to shuck and slurp Eastern oysters. The coastal state’s been serving up delicious oysters for decades and has begun to adapt new practices for growing better oysters, faster and cheaper. Translation? More oysters for us!
South Dakota: Kolaches…or Kuchens?
When choosing a state dessert, South Dakota faced a tough choice between the classic German kuchen and the Czech kolache. While they ultimately chose kuchen, we’re including both: after all, two pastries are better than one! If they’re not for sale in your local bakery, try making kolaches or kuchen at home!
Tennessee: Banana Pudding
Anyone who loves banana pudding must head to Tennessee. Not only is the dessert a local favorite: Tennessee hosts an annual National Banana Pudding festival.
Though New Mexico is a close second, Texas is the chili capital of the country. Not only is the hearty meat-and-chiles (no beans in Texas chili!) meal the official dish of Texas, but the Lone Star State has been hosting the annual International Chili Cook-Off since 1967. Craving some chili? Check out our top 10 chili recipes.
Utah’s popular pastrami-laden cheeseburger gives your rye bread sandwich a run for its money. Local burger shop Crown Burgers has been cooking up this weird combo since 1978—and it’s still a local favorite.
Vermont: Maple Syrup
Nothing can sweeten a stack of pancakes or French toast like some Vermont maple syrup—a state specialty. Vermont’s the No. 1 producer of maple syrup in the U.S., making a whopping 1.9 million gallons in 2016.
With 2,900 miles of brook, rainbow and brown trout streams, Virginia is one of the best places to hook a trout—or just eat one. We’ve got a recipe you can cook over a campfire.
New York may be known as “The Big Apple,” but Washington actually has the biggest selection of apples, as it produces 100 million 40-pound boxes of them per year. How you like them apples?
West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls
Not just a pizza topping, pepperoni is at the heart of West Virginia’s unofficial state food, pepperoni rolls. You can thank Giuseppe Argiro, an Italian baker who brought the savory treat to Clarksburg, West Virginia, in 1927.
If those iconic cheesehead hats aren’t an indication, people in Wisconsin love cheese. Each year, the state produces over three billion pounds of cheese and over 600 types, ranging from mozzarella to muenster. Try our cheesiest recipes ever.
Whether fried, baked, or grilled, any iteration of beef has Wyoming’s stamp of approval. Yet there are very few things that tap into its cowboy roots like beef jerky. Historically, the dried snack was a handy way to preserve beef as a filling bite that was easy to pack for a trip.
From fruit to meat to, yes, even bourbon-laced desserts, America is in no short supply of tasty food.If you think your home state has a more delicious food that we missed, sound off below!