50 Iconic Recipes From Each Of The 50 States
The United States of Food is fascinating, to say the least.
There are so many recipes and foods out there that are only familiar in specific geographic locations. Today, I’m going to introduce you to a few of them.
Here, you’ll find out a bit more about unique, state or region-specific recipes around the U.S., so you can cook your way through each of the 50 states.
Alabama: Alabama White Sauce
Alabama has its own version of BBQ sauce, and it’s peppery, tangy, and mayo-based. Use it as you would use traditional BBQ sauce – smothered on chicken, seafood, pork, mixed into salad dressings, etc.
Get the recipe: Alabama white sauce
Alaska: Smoked Salmon Dip
The cold, clean waters of Alaska make for some of the best tasting salmon in the world. This recipe gives instructions for smoking your own fresh salmon, but feel to purchase smoked salmon at the grocery store.
Get the recipe: Alaska smoked salmon dip
Arizona: Navajo Tacos With Indian Fry Bread
In 1864, the U.S. government forced the Navajo people to leave their homeland in Arizona to relocate in New Mexico. Part of the rations they were given included flour, salt, and lard. These simple ingredients were turned into something delicious that is still part of the Navajo culture and can be found across Arizona and the region: Navajo tacos with Indian fry bread.
Get the recipe: Navajo tacos with Indian fry bread
Arkansas: Chocolate Gravy
What do you get when you cross hot chocolate, chocolate pudding, and hot fudge? Ask any Arkansanian and they’ll tell you it’s chocolate gravy! This decadent sauce is most commonly served on homemade biscuits, but is delicious on waffles, pancakes, cakes, and cream puffs.
Get the recipe: Southern biscuits and chocolate gravy
California: California Burritos
California is home to SO MUCH GREAT FOOD. What to pick? This aptly-named California Burrito is filled with grilled carne asada, French fries, guacamole, and other delicious ingredients. Originating in the San Diego area, it’s a must-try when visiting the Golden State.
Get the recipe: California burritos
Colorado: Pueblo Slopper Burgers
When it comes to identifying a most iconic recipe, Colorado is a tough state to crack. What I’ve come to find out is that Coloradans put green chili sauce on a lot of things: Burritos, enchiladas, eggs, fries, chips… and burgers.
Invented in the 1950s, the Slopper burger is a must-have if you’re in the Pueblo area. Sloppers are open-faced hamburgers smothered with Pueblo green chili sauce and topped with chopped onions. If you can’t make it to Pueblo, you can try making this iconic burger at home.
Get the recipe: Pueblo slopper burger
Connecticut: Steamed Cheeseburgers
According to the Library of Congress, hamburgers were first served at Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1895. Before grilling or frying hamburgers was common, one method of cooking – steaming – became popular. At that time, steamed cheeseburgers were sold from horse-drawn food carts in Connecticut.
Steaming creates a very juicy, tender burger. These burgers are served with lots of melted cheese and all the burger toppings.
Get the recipe: Steamed cheeseburgers
Delaware: Slippery Dumplings
Delaware’s slippery dumplings is comfort food at its finest. This dish is similar to chicken and dumplings or a thick chicken noodle soup. But the dumplings in slippery dumplings are flatter and wider than traditional round dumplings.
According to some dumpling fans, it’s important to bite down firmly on slippery dumplings to they don’t slip down your throat!
Get the recipe: Slippery dumplings
Florida: Key Lime Pie
The Key Lime Pie is the official state pie of Florida. Anyone visiting Key West must sample one if not more of the many variations of key lime pie found at the island’s restaurants. For the rest of us, this at-home version will do.
Get the recipe: Key lime pie
Georgia: Boiled Peanuts
Boiled peanuts have been a thing in the south since Colonial times. Peanuts were brought over from Africa on slave ships, and were a staple in the diets of the enslaved West Africans. Plentiful and nourishing, peanuts were more than just snack food back then.
Today, boiled peanuts are a southern staple, sold at convenience stores, delis, grocery stores – and of course, made at home.
Get the recipe: Boiled peanuts
Hawaii: Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Hawaiian macaroni salad is part of the traditional Hawaiian plate lunch, a hearty and affordable plate of food that usually includes a scoop of rice, meat, and macaroni salad.
The plate lunch originated in the 1880s among pineapple and sugar plantation workers. Later, lunch wagons began selling these convenient plates and they can still be purchased all around the state.
Get the recipe: Hawaiian macaroni salad
Idaho: Finger Steaks
Yes, Idaho is known for its potatoes. But how does breaded and deep-fried steak sound to you?
Idaho finger steaks come by the basketful, and are typically served with cocktail or fry sauce. No need for expensive steak to make this recipe at home. Cube steak is the star of the show.
Get the recipe: Finger steaks
Illinois: Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
No one does pizza quite like Chicago. Chicago-style deep dish pizza has an unusually deep crust and is literally filled with cheese, toppings, and sauce.
The dish was invented at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago in 1943. Today, no trip to Chicago is complete without a stop at one of Chicago’s many deep dish pizza restaurants.
Get the recipe: Deep dish pizza
Indiana: Sugar Cream Pie
Sugar cream pie is also known as Hoosier Pie because of its popularity in Indiana. Some call it “desperation pie” because back in the day, when farmers ran out of apples or fruit, they could still make this pie based on the simplicity and availability of its ingredients.
Get the recipe: Sugar cream pie
Iowa: Maid Rite Sandwiches
In 1926, a Muscatine, Iowa, restaurant started serving steamed and spiced ground beef sandwiches. One of the lucky taste testers proclaimed that the sandwich was “made right”, and soon the sandwiches became know as Maid-Rites. They’re still popular throughout Iowa.
Get the recipe: Maid Rite sandwiches
Kansas: Kansas City-Style BBQ Sauce
One of the greatest things about American cuisine is the array and diversity of barbeque styles, from Texas to Tennessee to South Carolina to Kansas (and Missouri).
What makes Kansas City barbeque great? The meat is typically dry rubbed, smoked, and slathered with a sweet/tangy barbeque sauce. This Kansas City-style barbeque sauce will transport you to one of Kansas City’s great BBQ joints.
Get the recipe: Kansas City-style BBQ sauce
Kentucky: Mint Juleps
Kentucky is known for its bourbon. And one of the most famous bourbon-based cocktails in the state – especially at Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby – is the mint julep.
Get the recipe: Mint julep
Louisiana: Creole Shrimp Gumbo
Southern Louisiana’s cajun cuisine has Spanish, French, African, and Indian influences, and there’s really no other cuisine like it (Necessitating a food trip to New Orleans, of course!) Jambalaya, étouffée, red beans and rice, po-boys, muffalettas, beignets – how do you choose?
Start with a great gumbo recipe – and go from there!
Get the recipe: Creole shrimp gumbo
Maine: Maine Lobster Bake In a Pot
When you go to Maine, you have to eat lobster, whether that’s a lobster roll, lobster chowder or something else lobster-based.
This Maine lobster bake is steamed in literal ocean water, if you can access it. So this Maine-esque dish will smell and taste like a trip to the sea.
Get the recipe: Maine lobster bake in a pot
Maryland: Maryland Crab Cakes
A true Maryland crab cake is made without breadcrumbs or other fillers, so each bite is full of real crab – and real crab flavor. Marylanders may have easier access to fresh crab than the rest of us, but these cakes can be made with canned lump crab meat if fresh isn’t an option. And don’t forget the Old Bay!
Get the recipe: Maryland crab cakes
Massachusetts: New England Clam Chowder
Whether you call it New England clam chowder or Boston clam chowder, the idea is the same: Clams, potatoes, and cream make up this thick and rich chowder. It’s been popular in the region since the 1700s (or before) and was even mentioned in Herman Melville’s epic novel, Moby Dick.
Get the recipe: New England clam chowder
Michigan: Mackinac Island Fudge
Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas have two distinct cultures and famous foods, but these two peninsulas come together at charming Mackinac Island.
This picturesque island is home to several fudge shops. You may have seen Mackinac Island fudge ice cream at a local ice cream shop. Now you can make your own Michigan-inspired fudge. Mixing it into your own ice cream is optional.
Get the recipe: Mackinac Island fudge
Minnesota: Tater Tot Hotdish
You may call it casserole where you’re from, but in Minnesota, hotdish (that’s one word) is the only way to go. On the coldest of winter nights, hotdish heats up the kitchen and feeds a hungry crowd. The most classic of Minnesota hotdishes? Tater tot.
Get the recipe: Tater tot hotdish
Mississippi: Collard Greens
Collard greens, a member of the cabbage family, are much loved in Mississippi and throughout the south and are a prime example of Soul Food – a style of cuisine traditionally prepared and eaten by African Americans in the Southern U.S.
The cooking process cuts down on the bitterness of the green, and in this recipe, smoked turkey gives the dish great depth and flavor.
Get the recipe: Soul food collard greens
Missouri: Toasted Ravioli
You may be expecting to see Kansas City BBQ as Missouri’s iconic food – but we gave that honor to Kansas. Instead, Missouri gets to claim toasted ravioli.
Unlike its name suggests, toasted ravioli is actually fried – not toasted. Although the exact origin of the dish isn’t settled, we know that it was conceived in The Hill, an Italian-American neighborhood in St. Louis.
Get the recipe: Toasted ravioli
Montana: Huckleberry Sauce
Huckleberries are the sweetest of treats from Montana. They grow in the mountains and forests of this beautiful state, making their appearance sometime in August .
This huckleberry sauce makes delicious use of Montana’s huckleberries, and can be used on pancakes, waffles or ice cream, mixed into yogurt, or in mixed drinks.
Get the recipe: Huckleberry sauce
Runzas (also called bierocks) are baked bread pockets filled with beef, cabbage, onions, and occasionally cheese.
Runzas have an interesting history, inspired by the Russian pierogi. A group of Germans settled in the Volga River Valley in Russia, quickly adapting the recipe and naming it bierock. Later, many of these German-Russians immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Nebraska, bringing their pocket sandwiches with them.
Get the recipe: Runzas
Nevada: Shrimp Cocktail
If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas, you’ve probably seen signs advertising shrimp cocktail at rock bottom prices. Back in the 1960s, the Golden Gate Casino started selling this cold appetizer for a mere 50 cents. Today, you’ll pay more. But you don’t have to go to Vegas to enjoy this classic dish at home.
Get the recipe: Shrimp cocktail
New Hampshire: Cider Donuts
What’s better than a fresh donut? A fresh donut that tastes like apples.
The best time of the year to get cider donuts? On one of New Hampshire’s crisp fall days. The best place to purchase them? On roadside farm stands and orchards.
Although there are plenty of baked cider donut recipes out there, fried donuts just taste better.
Get the recipe: Cider donuts
New Jersey: Taylor Ham, Egg, And Cheese On A Hard Roll
Taylor Ham, egg and cheese on a hard roll is the quintessential New Jersey breakfast sandwich. In northern New Jersey, they call it Taylor Ham. In southern New Jersey, it’s pork roll.
When ordering, don’t forget to let them know if you want them to add salt, pepper and ketchup – the traditional way.
Get the recipe: Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese on a hard roll
New Mexico: Hatch Green Chili Sauce
Hatch chilis grow in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico, and the season is short, lasting from August to September.
This New Mexico hatch green chili sauce makes great use of fresh hatch green chilis and can be used to top tacos, enchiladas, eggs, tortilla chips, and much more.
Get the recipe: New Mexico Hatch green chili sauce
New York: New York-Style Pizza
New York-style pizza is famous around the world. You’ll know it’s New York style if it’s a thin, hand-tossed crust, sold by the (large) slice, and folded in half by the lucky eater.
This recipe is for a traditional cheese New York-style pizza. Master this recipe – with the signature chewy crust, tangy sauce, and creamy mozzarella – and you’ll be able to enjoy New York-style pizza anytime, anywhere!
Get the recipe: New York-style pizza
North Carolina: BBQ Red Slaw
If you’re looking for a new twist on coleslaw, North Carolina’s got you covered.
Red slaw is different than regular mayo-based coleslaw in that it contains vinegar and ketchup – hence, making it red. If you’re visiting a BBQ joint in North Carolina and you’re asked “white or BBQ?”, they’re referring to the style of slaw: White or red. And if you’re smart, you’ll order it red.
Get the recipe: Carolina style red slaw
North Dakota: Knoephla Soup
Knoephlas are little dumplings, and the namesake for arguably North Dakota’s most famous dish: Knoephla soup.
Knoephla comes from the German knöpfle, which translates to “little button”. For knoephla soup, the dumpling dough is rolled out and cut into little buttons.
It’s a creamy and hearty chicken-based dumpling soup with German and Russian roots, and tastes best on the coldest of winter days.
Get the recipe: Knoephla soup
Ohio: Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati-style chili isn’t your typical chili: A homemade spiced meat sauce is served on top of spaghetti, topped with cheese, and (sometimes) beans, chopped onions, and oyster crackers.
Back in the 1920s, a Macedonian immigrant to Cincinnati invented the chili and started serving it in his Greek restaurant. Business boomed, and 100 years later, people are still crazy about this dish, enjoying its many variations:
- Spaghetti + chili
- Spaghetti + chili + cheese
- Spaghetti + chili + cheese + onions or beans
- Spaghetti + chili + cheese + onion + beans
Get the recipe: Cincinnati chili
Oklahoma: Fried Okra
There are many ways to prepare okra. But ask any Oklahoman and they’ll tell you that the best way to enjoy this vegetable is breaded and fried.
Okra can be slimy, but if you cook it right – a.k.a., if you fry it – it’s hot and crunchy with a golden brown crust – no slime to be found! Dip it in comeback sauce, spicy aioli or your favorite fried-food dipping sauce.
Get the recipe: Fried okra
Oregon: Marionberry Pie
Marionberries grow in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, but the berry was developed in Marion County, Oregon, in 1956.
The marionberry is a member of the blackberry family, and is slightly larger and firmer than the traditional variety. In 2017, marionberry pie was named the official pie of Oregon.
Get the recipe: Marionberry pie
Pennsylvania: Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches
If you love big, meaty sandwiches, the City of Brotherly Love has you covered.
Philly cheesesteak sandwiches originated in Philadelphia in the 1930s.
According to locals and purists, the traditional Philly cheesesteak is made with ribeye steak, topped with cheese (American, provolone or Cheez Whiz) and onions and piled onto an amoroso or hoagie roll.
Get the recipe: Philly cheesesteaks
Rhode Island: Coffee Cabinets
Unlike the name suggests, a coffee cabinet is not a piece of furniture. Rather, it’s a coffee-flavored milkshake that Rhode Islanders are crazy about. It’s made with coffee syrup, which you can purchase or make yourself.
Get the recipe: Coffee cabinets
South Carolina: Mustard BBQ Sauce
If a native South Carolinian is talking about BBQ, they are referring to pulled or chopped pork – nothing else. Served on that pork is South Carolina’s main contribution to the BBQ world: Mustard-based BBQ sauce.
There are many variations of this BBQ sauce, many of which are region-specific. This recipe is a great blend of sweet and mustard flavors.
Get the recipe: Mustard BBQ sauce
South Dakota: Chislic
If you’ve never heard of chislic, it’s time to give it a try.
Strips of steak are marinated in Worcestershire sauce and spices. Then, the steak is deep fried and served with saltine crackers on the side. Chislic can be found in bars and grills all across South Dakota.
Get the recipe: Chislic
Tennessee: Nashville Hot Chicken
Nashville’s version of fried chicken will get you salivating – and reaching for a glass of water.
Nashville hot chicken is breaded, deep fried, and slathered with a spicy paste. It’s been around at least since the 1970s – perhaps longer – and solidified Nashville as a top foodie destination.
Get the recipe: Nashville hot chicken
Texas: Texas Sheet Cake
Perhaps no other state has such culinary diversity (and deliciousness) as Texas.
Hill Country has its brisket. West Texas is known for its massive steaks. The Gulf Coast is known for its seafood. BBQ is popular all over the state. Tex-Mex was invented by Texans of Mexican descent (Tejanos). And sharing a border with Mexico, great Mexican food can be found all over the state.
How are we ever going to settle the debate to identify Texas’ most iconic food? With cake. Chocolate cake. Topped with lots of toasted Texas pecans, of course. Texas sheet cake is popular all over the state, and every home cook has their own delicious take on the classic recipe.
Get the recipe: Texas sheet cake
Utah: Utah Fried Scones
Utah’s version of scones differ from traditional scones in a very notable way: They’re deep fried, not baked. So basically, they’re similar to a donut or fry bread – and no one is complaining.
Top them with powdered sugar and honey, cinnamon and sugar, chocolate sauce or another sweet sauce. And eat them while they’re hot!
Get the recipe: Utah fried scones
Vermont: Maple Creemees
If you want soft serve ice cream in Vermont, you’ll have to ask for a creemee. That’s what they lovingly call soft serve ice cream there.
And if you want to be really Vermont-ish, you’ll order a maple creemee. After all, Vermont is the top maple syrup producer in the U.S.
Get the recipe: Maple creemees
Virginia: Virginia Peanut Pie
Virginia really is for lovers. Peanut lovers, that is.
There are four main types of peanuts grown in the U.S.: Runners, Spanish, Valencia, and Virginia. The Virginia peanuts are grown in Virginia and the Carolinas.
This peanut pie makes great use of peanuts. It’s similar to pecan pie. The salty-sweet combination is irresistible!
Get the recipe: Virginia peanut pie
Washington: Chicken Teriyaki
What are Washington’s most iconic foods? Salmon is popular on the coast, and apple pie is big on the eastern side. But we’re going with chicken teriyaki for the Evergreen State – ’cause you’re here to find new recipes, right?
You’ll find teriyaki restaurants all over Seattle, most offering a cheap meal of chicken teriyaki, rice, and cabbage salad. Although the name suggests Japanese cuisine, Seattle’s chicken teriyaki is also influenced by Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and European flavors.
Get the recipe: Easy chicken teriyaki
West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls
Years ago, coal miners of Italian decent working in West Virginia popularized pepperoni rolls, a humble and portable lunch item that didn’t require refrigeration.
Pepperoni rolls are still popular today in West Virginia and throughout the region, sold in convenience stores, supermarkets, and made at home.
Get the recipe: Pepperoni rolls
Wisconsin: Deep-Fried Cheese Curds
Wisconsin does cheese right. Cheese curds are the unaged version of cheddar cheese, often consumed within hours of being made. They’re delicious (and squeaky!) when fresh, but totally irresistible when breaded and deep fried.
Thank you, Wisconsin.
Get the recipe: Deep-fried cheese curds
Wyoming: Cowboy Cookies
If Wyoming were a cookie, it would be big, loaded with good things, and uncomplicated. Just like these easy-to-make cowboy cookies, which are filled with pecans, oats, chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts, and corn flakes.
Although no one is sure exactly how cowboy cookies got their name, it’s speculated that old west cowboys brought them with on the “road”, kind of like modern-day granola bars.
Get the recipe: Cowboy cookies