We Found Each State’s Signature Food
No matter where you roam, every state has a recipe that is beloved by locals and tourists alike!
Southern Lane Cake
Lane cake, also known as prize cake, was officially recognized as the state cake of Alabama in 2016. This iconic cake is a staple in the American South and was invented by Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama. The original 1898 recipe contained bourbon, raisins, pecans and coconut. Today, numerous variations exist. Here are some of the best cake recipes from every state.
Easy Smoked Salmon
The waters of Alaska are home to five different species of salmon. Every year over 100 million pink salmon are harvested in Alaska, making it one of the state’s most valuable markets. Whether smoked, grilled, roasted or poached—salmon is the signature dish of America’s last frontier.
Was the first chimichanga created intentionally, or by accident? While many claim to be its inventor, there seems to be agreement that Arizona was the birthplace of these tasty deep-fried burritos stuffed with meat and cheese! Chimichangas are always a popular pick on Mexican restaurant menus.
Fried Dill Pickles
While fried pickles seem to be having a moment throughout the country—Lay’s rereleased their Fried Pickles with Ranch chip, recently—they were first popularized in Atkins, Arkansas. The pickles were created in the early ’60s by Bernell “Fatman” Austin at his Duchess Drive-In. Today, the original recipe is only known by a few descendants of Austin, and is used once a year at Atkins’ Picklefest.
Fish Tacos with Guacamole
Spanning nearly the entire western coastline on the U.S., it’s tough to pinpoint a single food that says California (here are all the contenders). When you factor in California’s close proximity to the ocean, booming food truck scene and plentiful avocado farms, however, the choice is obvious. Nothing represents Cali better than a plate of fish tacos topped with fresh guac.
Green Chile Ribs
We challenge you to find a restaurant in Colorado that doesn’t have at least one thing on their menu featuring green chile. Whether topped on a burger, or used as a braising liquid for pork, Colorado natives have a long-standing love affair with this food.
New Haven-Style Clam Pizza
Invented by Frank Pepe at his Neapolitan Pizzeria in New Haven, Connecticut in the ’60s, this famous pie combines two of the state’s local delicacies in one. This white (sauceless) pizza begins with a thin crust that’s topped with Romano cheese, olive oil, garlic and oregano. It’s then charred New Haven-style in a coal oven and finished with raw littleneck clams after baking. See how it compares to other regional pizza styles.
Amish Apple Scrapple
While this dish may have Pennsylvania Dutch origins, it’s Delaware that has taken this dish and elevated it to new levels. The State of Delaware even celebrates this dish annually every October during the Apple Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville, Delaware. Scrapple is a semi-solid meatloaf often made from pork scraps, cornmeal and spices. It’s traditionally sliced thin, fried and served at breakfast.
Cuban Roasted Pork Sandwiches
Home to the highest population of Cuban Americans, it should be no surprise that Cuban food and culture have had a strong influence on this state’s cuisine. Originally served in cafes that catered to Cuban workers in southern Florida, two common variations of the sandwich are popular today: one consists of ham and roasted pork, and the other—found almost exclusively in Tampa—adds salami.
Peaches have been a part of Georgia long before it was even a state. The first peaches arrived to the region in the 16th century when Franciscan monks introduced them to St. Simons and Cumberland islands along Georgia’s coast. Today, they’re a state symbol and celebrated by communities annually at a food festival that celebrate this state’s love of peaches.
Huli Huli Chicken
Huli Huli Chicken has a special place in Hawaii’s history and culture. The dish was created in 1954 by WWII veteran Ernest Morgado. The recipe became popular after he started using his grandmother’s teriyaki-like sauce when barbecuing chicken at fundraisers. Today, Huli Huli chicken can still be found at school and church fundraisers but is also a staple at restaurants and roadside stands.
As Idaho’s official state fruit, you’ll find all kinds of recipes, jams and dips made using huckleberries. Grown at high elevations, these berries depend on winter snow cover for survival which means most berries are produced and sold exclusively within the state by local growers, like these other regional berries.
Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
While some pizza purists will argue that Chicago-style pizza isn’t really pizza, locals remain loyal to their deep-dish version of America’s favorite food. The main difference between deep-dish pizza and other ‘zas is that a true deep-dish ladles the sauce on top of the cheese and other ingredients. This method protects the other ingredients from burning since deep dish pizza often requires a longer baking time than other pizza varieties.
Sugar Cream Pie
If you’re not from the Hoosier State, then sugar cream pie may be a new dish to you. While it’s not as well-known outside of Indiana, residents declared it their state pie back in 2009. This custard-based pie is typically made with ingredients like maple or brown sugar and vanilla cream. Make sure you know the best places to stop for pie on your next road trip.
Stuffed Iowa Pork Chops
Iowa is the No.1 pork-producing state, with nearly 22 million pigs raised and farmed there. Cut thick from the loin, Iowa even has its own pork chop that’s often stuffed before being grilled or broiled. If you’re a fan of pulled pork, you’ll want to check out this list of the best BBQ joints.
Hearty Beef & Cabbage Pockets (Bierocks)
While most people recognize Kansas as cattle country, those who live in the state are all familiar with these tasty little meat pies. Created by German settlers in the area, bierocks are stuffed with beef, cabbage, onions and spices.
Chocolate Bourbon Balls
Recognized as Kentucky’s most famous candy, these boozy little morsels were invented in the ’30s by Ruth Booe, founder of the Rebecca Ruth Candy Co. Combining chocolate, pecans and a little Kentucky-made bourbon, Ruth created a state treasure that has been adapted into countless variations by other chocolatiers.
Louisiana is a mecca for great food that’s created with equal parts history and soul. While Louisiana is home to other indulgent culinary delights like jambalaya and beignets, the people of Louisiana named gumbo their state cuisine. Representing the true melting pot that is Louisiana and Creole culture, gumbo is a marriage of African, French, Spanish, Italian and German cooking techniques.
When people think of what to eat in Maine, they typically think of one thing: lobster. While lobster will often be considered an indulgent luxury, residents of Maine residents are lucky to have close access to fresh lobster almost year-round. Nothing says Maine more than a toasted butter roll filled with sweet, succulent lobster with a side of kettle-cooked chips.
The only food Maryland loves more than Old Bay seasoning is blue crab. That’s why a plate of classic Maryland crab cakes is without a doubt this state’s signature dish. Known for their buttery taste, Maryland blue crabs yield extra tender, flavorful results requiring nothing more than a squeeze of lemon for garnish.
New England Clam Chowder
CHOW-DAH! Is anything more Bostonian than a cup of New England clam chowder served with oyster crackers? With an original recipe older than the United States itself, New England clam chowder became popular well before the Revolutionary War. If you’re a fan of fish, make sure you know some of our best seafood recipes.
Chili Coney Dogs
Michigan’s Coney dogs culture was born more than 100 years ago, when Greek immigrants brought the recipe to the state from New York. Four distinct regional versions of Michigan Coney have evolved, with each locale claiming to be the best or original: Detroit, Jackson, Flint and Kalamazoo. Collectively, there are more than 500 Coney dog eateries in the state today serving up these tasty chili-topped wieners. If you can’t make it to Michigan, check out the other best places to grab a hot dog.
For Minnesota, it’s less about one specific dish and more about a whole category of cuisine known as “hotdish”. If you’re not from Minnesota, or at least the upper Midwest, this may be a new food concept for you. Hotdish describes a whole category of one-dish recipes that are typically comprised of a creamy sauce mixed with a starch, a vegetable and a protein before being topped—most commonly—with tots. Learn how to make a hotdish like a real Minnesotan.
Kansas City-Style Barbecue
Missouri—and specifically Kansas City—is the barbecue capital of the United States. With more than 100 barbecue joints serving the Missouri side of the city alone, it’s a meat lover’s paradise where locals defend their tomato and molasses-based sauces with pride. Check out these Best BBQ Recipes Across America.
Po’ Boy Sandwiches
Po’boy sandwiches are synonymous with the Gulf Coast. While they were originally invented in New Orleans, Mississippi can be credited with taking these sandwiches to the next level by filling their po’ boys with a variety of seafood options from their ocean shores. Mississippi eateries like Bozo’s Fish Market and Rosetti’s Old Biloxi Cafe are recognized as must-stop places to enjoy one of their world-famous po’ boy sandwiches.
Morel Mushroom Ravioli
While wild game like bison and elk are local favorites, Montana residents also prize their famous morel mushrooms. Hunting for this seasonal delicacy is a rite of passage for many Montana youth who scour the mountain elevations for these little hidden treasures. Difficult to find under leaves and forest debris, morels have a relatively short growing season. This can up the price of this delicacy to more than $150 per pound when dried!
You may be surprised to learn that Nebraska may be the source of this popular sandwich! Legend has it that Reuben Kulakofsky and his friends crafted this creation during their weekly poker games held at the Blackstone Hotel. Eventually, the sandwich found its way onto the hotel’s menu and from there, the state’s love for this sandwich grew.
It’s near impossible to visit a brunch buffet in Vegas without seeing herds of groggy gamblers attempting to ward off the revelries of the night before with a Bloody Mary in hand. Bloody Marys are renowned as a “hangover cure” due to their combination of ingredients that are believed to help settle the stomach, replenish lost electrolytes and relieve head and body aches. Here’s how to make the best Bloody Mary bar at home.
Apple Cider Doughnuts
Imagine taking a brisk fall walk through the brightly colored leaves in New Hampshire, nibbling on a fresh apple cider doughnut. With apple orchards scattered throughout the state—some growing 100 different varieties—there’s little doubt that New Hampshire residents love all things apple.
Taylor Ham Sandwich (Pork Roll Sandwich)
While various brands of pork roll exist, most New Jersey natives are loyal to John Taylor’s “Original Taylor Pork Roll.” Similar to SPAM, this pork-based processed meat specialty was invented in Trenton, New Jersey. It continues to hold a special place in the hearts of the locals.
The beloved sopaipilla is New Mexico’s version of a New Orleans’ beignet. While beignets are typically always served sweet, sopaipillas can be sweet or savory. The deep-fried pieces of dough puff as they cook, leaving a hollow center that can be filled with meat and cheese. They can be served as a meal, or left empty and simply drizzled with honey.
When it comes to food, there’s one thing New Yorkers can agree upon—nobody can replicate a NYC bagel. Up until recently, it was believed that their unique taste and texture was solely due to the unique mineral content of New York City water. Their iconic taste actually comes from two critical preparation steps: a slow rise at a low temperature and a quick boiling of the formed dough before baking.
Carolina-Style Pork Barbecue
Like Missouri, the people of North Carolina love their barbecue. However, the state is divided on exactly what defines North Carolina barbecue. While both versions agree on pork, Easterners will barbecue any part of a hog and flavor it with a vinegar-based sauce. In the west, Lexington-style, the pork shoulder is used almost exclusively and incorporates tomato in their sauce. Learn more about different regional barbecue styles.
Pronounced “nip-fla” this creamy, German dumpling soup was brought to the state by immigrants who settled in the region. Today, it remains a staple among families who have called North Dakota home for many generations. Containing mainly potatoes, dumplings and chicken, this dish is comfort food at its finest.
Also known as skyline chili, Cincinnati-style chili is a regional specialty of Ohio that residents all know and recognize as a symbol for their state. The dish is made from a Mediterranean-spiced “chili” that gets served over a pile of cooked spaghetti noodles and topped with cheese.
It’s fair to say that no state loves chicken-fried steak quite like Oklahoma. They named this dish part of its official State Meal in 1988. The meal included fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, black-eyed peas, strawberries and pecan pie. What a feast!
It’s likely that you have never heard of marionberries if you’re not from Oregon. Within the state, they’re well-known and adored. A hybrid fruit cultivated by crossing Chehalem and Olalli blackberries, marionberries are grown exclusively in Oregon and are loved by locals for their tart-yet-sweet flavor.
Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich
Truth time. Locals of Philadelphia don’t eat cheesesteaks as often as the internet may lead you to believe. However, this sandwich has become so ingrained with the city’s food culture, that almost every tourist makes a point to stop to eat one of these famous hoagies while they’re passing through the City of Brotherly Love.
Dad’s Famous Stuffies
If you’re from Rhode Island or have visited America’s smallest state before, you’ve probably seen “stuffies” on a menu or two. Stuffies are quohogs (large clams native to the area) that are stuffed with a blend of chopped clams, bread crumbs, herbs, onion, bell pepper and celery. Natives love to make stuffies at home or grab some at their favorite beachside dive bar with a cold beer.
Named for its place of origin in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, Frogmore Stew is a way of life for the people of this region. The stew is made by boiling corn on the cob, shrimp, potatoes and smoked sausage together in a single pot. It can also contain Old Bay seasoning, hot sauce, beer, onions—even crab claws.
Rich Fruit Kuchens
If you’re from South Dakota, then you’ve probably eaten your fair share of Grandma’s homemade fruit kuchens (koo-kens). Kuchens, which translates to “cake” in German, is a pie/custard/cake hybrid, that can be filled with a variety of different fruits and flavors. Brought to the state by German immigrants, it is the official dessert of South Dakota.
Nashville Hot Chicken
While almost everyone loves fried chicken, few states do it better than Tennessee. Renowned for their special Nashville Hot Chicken, Tennessee residents and tourist alike flock to famous Nashville hot chicken restaurants like Hattie B’s and Prince’s. Most want to try to replicate this sacred fried chicken recipe at home in their own kitchen.
Chili Con Carne
Texas chili con carne is a state specialty that has been adapted into thousands of different recipes and spurred countless chili cook-offs statewide. What makes true Texas-style chili con carne different from regular chili is that it typically contains only beef and assorted chilies. While purists may scoff at the addition of tomatoes or beans, more recipes have begun accepting the inclusion of other ingredients.
Utah Buttermilk Scones
If served to the Queen, she would be baffled by Utah’s definition of a scone. These fried pieces of dough are almost identical to Arizona’s Indian fry bread or New Mexico’s sopaipilla and savored by locals and tourists alike. In fact, one Utah-based restaurant chain estimates that they serve up more than 10,000 Utah Scones every day across their eleven locations.
Vermont Maple Syrup with Pancakes
In any other state, we would call this dish pancakes with syrup, but in the land of maple syrup, your focus is flipped. While Vermont residents serve maple syrup on (almost) everything, few foods are more iconic than this classic breakfast duo. Fun Fact: Vermont produces 47% of the country’s maple syrup!
Virginia is the largest producer of farm-raised oysters in the country, making it the East Coast’s Oyster Capital. With numerous oyster events and celebrations year-round, such as the Chincoteague Oyster Festival and Urbanna Oyster Festival, it’s clear that Virginia is the place for oyster lovers to enjoy all their favorite oyster recipes.
It’s no secret that residents of Washington love their coffee—it is the birthplace of Starbucks, after all. In Seattle especially, coffee is a way of life among Washingtonians. Whether served black, steamed, frothed or with cream or sugar—Washington equals a good cup of java.
Ask a resident what it means to be West Virginian, and they’ll likely mention the Tudor’s Biscuit Sandwich. Residents of West Virginia love their biscuits either served plain with a smear of jam or turned into a breakfast sandwich with eggs, bacon or sausage. A stop at Tudor’s Biscuit World is a must for just about every West Virginia native.
Crunchy Coated Walleye
Outsiders are often surprised to realize that almost every dining establishment in the state of Wisconsin offers a fish fry on Fridays. While battered cod and breaded perch are popular offerings, crunchy piece of fried walleye served with fries, coleslaw and a piece of rye bread is the perfect meal for many Wisconsinites. Enjoyed with the mandatory cold beer, a Friday Fish Fry in Wisconsin is all about food, family and tradition.
Grilled Campfire Trout
There are five distinct species of trout, and four subspecies of cutthroat trout found in the state. This makes fishing in the streams, lakes and rivers of Wyoming a popular pastime for all. While many pack their catch on ice to bring it home, others enjoy their fish fresh, cooked over an open campfire after a long day on the water.