14 Dishes With Unexpected Origins

Just when you think you know everything, you learn something surprising like the fact that Swedish meatballs aren't from Sweden at all! Here are 14 dishes that come from someplace you'd never expect.

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Apple Pie
TMB Studio

Apple pie

The phrase “as American as apple pie” takes on a whole new meaning when you consider that the delectable dessert doesn’t even originate in the US. It was actually created in England, but Americans arguably perfected it.

Learn how to make the best apple pie here.

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Homemade sauerkraut with cumin in a glass jar


Though it’s hard to imagine a German feast without sauerkraut, the fermented cabbage dish actually originated in China. The dish eventually made its way to Europe via migrating tribes. Fermentation has indeed been around for ages, and it has many health benefits regardless of where it’s used!

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Crab rangoon

When you think of Chinese takeout, you likely think of crab rangoon. However, this deep-fried wonton appetizer is full of cream cheese, and that’s not an ingredient typically used in Chinese cuisine. Authentic or not, you can enjoy these wonton-wrapped treats at home. And while you’re at it, try these other appetizers all using wonton wrappers

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Corned beef and cabbage on a cutting board, Irish traditional dinner
Shutterstock / Elena Veselova

Corned beef and cabbage

Though this dish is strongly associated with Ireland, it actually has its roots in New York. It seems Irish immigrants paired their low-cost homestyle cabbage with the corned beef they first tasted in the Jewish delis and lunch carts of NYC, thereby creating a classic dish that we still enjoy today.

Learn how to make the dish from scratch here.

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Churros with sugar and chocolate sauce on black background.
Shutterstock / nelea33


Several stories exist regarding the true origins of churros, and one states that the cinnamon-sugar treats were discovered in China by Portuguese sailors who then brought the idea to Latin America. While we may never know the true story, whoever is responsible deserves many accolades!

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Chicken tikka masala spicy curry meat food in metal plate, rice and naan bread close-up
Shutterstock / Lisovskaya Natalia

Chicken tikka masala

With a name like chicken tikka masala, one automatically assumes that such a dish would be Indian. In truth, it was apparently created in Glasgow, Scotland, by a chef who made an impromptu spicy yogurt sauce for his chicken to please a customer. Learn how to make it in your pressure cooker.

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Fresh Croissants on rustic wooden background.


Contrary to popular belief, France is not responsible for those heavenly pastries known as croissants, though they were certainly refined there. No, they were created in Austria, albeit a bit less flaky than the croissants we know and love today!

Croissant fan? Try them in these recipes.

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Taste of Home

Swedish meatballs

A tweet from Sweden’s official Twitter account caused quite an uproar when it announced that Swedish meatballs are not Swedish and were, in fact, based on a recipe brought to the country from Turkey. Talk about a revelation!

Check out our favorite recipe for Swedish meatballs.

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Taste of Home


Chimichangas are essentially deep-fried burritos and given their name, the obvious conclusion is that they were created in Mexico. While burritos themselves are Mexican, chimichangas are a product of the good ol’ US of A, supposedly coming about when a burrito was accidentally dropped into the deep-fat fryer. A pretty tasty accident if you ask us.

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Taste of Home


Surprisingly, danishes were not created in Denmark, but in Vienna, Austria! It’s said that when Danish bakers went on strike, pastry experts from Vienna came to the rescue and introduced Denmark to their form of flaky deliciousness.

Try these overnight danishes at home.

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Taste of Home

French fries

Another item France can’t claim is french fries, even though the name points directly to that nation. The origin of those deep-fried potato sticks have been traced back to Belgium instead, and they’ve now made their permanent mark on the USA.

Love fries? Give these 16 recipes a go.

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general tso’s chicken With rice, Chinese food
Shutterstock / kitsinee Phanpipat

General Tso’s chicken

General Tso did exist–he was a general in the Chinese army in the 19th century. His namesake dish, however, was actually created in Taiwan and popularized in the US. Try our healthy take (with cauliflower) with this recipe.

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Taste of Home


Italians weren’t the first to scatter toppings onto dough and bake it. That distinction falls to folks in the Middle East, who began adding ingredients to flatbread long before it became popular, and dare we say it, perfected, in Italy.

Check out our favorite takes on pizza.

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indian chicken vindaloo curry in balti dish close up
Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock


Vindaloo is not Indian in its origins, but Portuguese. While it was created in Goa, it was the Portuguese who brought their method of marinating meat in wine, spices and garlic that was tweaked by the locals into the dish popular today.

Grace Mannon
Grace learned a ton about the nitty-gritty of food and nutrition while earning her master’s degree in food science. She worked for a well-known baby food company and a company responsible for many favorite snack foods before transitioning to being a stay-at-home mom. She loves writing about complicated food science concepts in an understandable way and as a Taste of Home contributor, Grace covers a little bit of everything, from vintage recipes to must-have holiday foods and treats.