The Most Iconic Food From Every State

0 Ratings

Also called prize cake or Alabama Lane cake, this dessert consists of tender layers of white sponge cake filled with bourbon-soaked raisins and coconut. It's a staple at weddings and Southern holidays, but its roots are all Alabama. It was invented by Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama, in the 1890s, and was named the official state dessert in 2016.


Alaska: Salmon

Cold-water seafood is an integral part of the cuisine in Alaska. The state is a major producer of trout, crab, cod, halibut, pollock and, of course, salmon. Alaskan king salmon is the official state fish, and there's good reason. The quality is second to none, especially when prepared as a poke bowl or when you know how to grill salmon to perfection.

Arizona: Chimichangas

The chimichanga is one of those dishes you may not realize are American in origin. This Southwestern staple has a bit of a contested history, but as the story goes, the chimichanga was invented at El Charro in Tucson, Arizona, when the restaurant's founder Monica Flin accidentally dropped a burrito in a deep fryer. It was a beautiful accident, though, resulting in this crispy, iconic dish.

Arkansas: Cheese dip

Cheese dip is huge in Arkansas food culture, and nearly every restaurant has some variation of it. Though most Mexican restaurants have queso fundido, with chorizo and plenty of spice, on their menu, Arkansas cheese dip differs because it contains processed cheese and oftentimes includes other added meats and vegetables.

California: Avocado toast

No state has embraced the avocado quite like California. This creamy fruit is practically a lifestyle in the Golden State. Avocado toast is an easy dish to mock, but you can't deny California's impact on making this regional meal a must-have brunch dish.

Colorado: Rocky Mountain oysters

Rocky Mountain oysters are among those foods that aren't quite what they sound like. No, they're not shellfish; they're actually calves' testicles, thin-sliced, breaded and deep-fried. They're iconic cowboy fare and are served at bars and restaurants all across Colorado. Heck, you can even get them at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies.

Yelp / Nikki N.

Connecticut: Cheeseburger

One's mind may not immediately turn to ritzy New England when thinking of the humble cheeseburger, but this all-American classic was invented in Connecticut. New Haven's Louis' Lunch invented the burger in 1898 and still serves its flame-broiled beef patties between two slices of toasted bread to college students and tourists to this day. All burgers are good, but the burger at Louis' Lunch is one of the 101 iconic dishes you need to try.

Delaware: Scrapple

Scrapple - a loaf made from pork scraps, cornmeal, flour and spices - was actually invented by the Pennsylvania Dutch, but it's really taken off in Delaware. The First State is the largest producer of this regional breakfast dish you need to try, and every fall, scrapple is honored at the annual Apple Scrapple Festival in Bridgeville, Delaware.

S C./Yelp

Florida: Key lime pie

Key lime pie is the dessert in Florida. This tangy, creamy citrus pie was invented in the Sunshine State in Key West, and is perhaps the state's best-known dish. Key lime pie is an official Florida icon; it was named the official state pie in 2006.

Georgia: Peaches

Georgia is nicknamed the Peach State, for goodness' sake, so of course the stone fruit is the most iconic food from this Southern state. Travel to Georgia, and you'll find an array of peach desserts, grilled peaches and fresh fruit ripe for the picking.

Hawaii: Spam

Hawaiians love their Spam. This canned lunch meat was popularized on the islands during World War II, when the shelf-stable product was served to servicemen. Though no one really knows what the name Spam stands for (if anything), the salty canned pork can be found on menus throughout Hawaii.


Idaho: Potatoes

Idaho is known for its potatoes, and the Gem State wants it to stay that way. In 1937, the Idaho Potato Commission was founded to market Idaho potatoes to the rest of the U.S. No matter which way you cook your potatoes, that's a state that's dedicated to its crops.

Illinois: Pumpkin

Illinois, particularly Chicago, has no shortage of famous food offerings. You can eat your way around the Windy City with deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef. But the most famous export from the Land of Lincoln is its pumpkin. In fact, 85 percent of consumed pumpkin in the United States happens to come from Illinois. The state is so dedicated to this crop that one of the best parts about Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie, was named the official state dessert in 2015.

Indiana: Sugar cream pie

Sugar cream pie supposedly first appeared in 1816, the year Indiana was established. The pie incorporates sugar, heavy cream and vanilla extract to make a custardy filling that is baked inside a flaky butter pie crust. It's so synonymous with the state that it's nicknamed Hoosier pie and Indiana cream pie.


Iowa: Corn

Corn and Iowa are one and the same, basically. If you drive through the state for more than 15 minutes, you're going to run into fields of growing corn. No matter how you cook your fresh corn from Iowa, it's guaranteed to be delicious.

Kansas: Bread

Did you know Kansas produces more wheat than any state in the union? It's true! Kansas' nickname, the Wheat State, is well-earned. While barbecue is a staple in the Kansas side of Kansas City, the state's production of wheat and bread isn't just dust in the wind.

Kentucky: Bourbon

Try to name a spirit that's more quintessentially American than bourbon. We'll wait. Even though it technically doesn't have to originate in Kentucky to be called bourbon, bourbon production is largely concentrated in Kentucky and is then distributed across the country and world. Sure, it's a drink, but it's far and away the most iconic product from the state.

Louisiana: Gumbo

Creole and Cajun cuisine are full of iconic dishes, from jambalaya to crawfish etouffee to red beans and dirty rice. But perhaps the most famous food from New Orleans, and thus Louisiana, is gumbo. This richly flavored stew is jam-packed with seafood, sausage and chicken and is one Southern dish every Northerner needs to try. Louisiana and gumbo are so synonymous, it was deemed the official state cuisine in 2004.

Maine: Lobster rolls

Sure, you can get a good lobster roll outside of Maine, but for the real deal, you have to head to the Pine Tree State. There, you'll find a mayonnaise-based lobster salad piled on top of a perfectly buttered and toasted roll, but plenty of places also serve it warm and buttery. Trust us: It's worth traveling to Maine for.

Maryland: Blue crab

Blue crabs are frequently found in the Chesapeake Bay of Maryland, and the meat in these particular crustaceans is so sweet and tender, it's second to none. Crab in Maryland is a treasured seafood that's served at countless seafood shacks, and it is perfect in crab cakes and crab dip or simply steamed with plenty of Old Bay seasoning.

Massachusetts: New England clam chowder

True Bay Staters know it's pronounced "clam chowdah," but no matter how you say it, this creamy soup is a true icon of Massachusetts. Fresh clams, bacon, potatoes, cream and fish stock make for a hearty chowder that perfectly exemplifies the native cuisine of New England.

Michigan: Cherries

While Michigan has its own pizza style and a signature dish (the pasty), this state is all about cherries. Michigan is one of America's leading producers of cherries; over 90,000 tons of this fruit is harvested in the state every year. Traverse City, Michigan, one of America's must-visit coastal towns, honors the cherry every July by hosting the National Cherry Festival, and that celebration just so happens to be one of the best food festivals in America.

Minnesota: Honeycrisp apples

One of the most popular apple varieties today, the Honeycrisp apple was developed at the University of Minnesota and was named the official state fruit of Minnesota in 2006. A cross between Macoun and Honeygold apples, the Honeycrisp has gained a cult following because of its crisp texture and extremely juicy interior.

Mississippi: Biscuits

The South has plenty of delicious, buttery biscuits, but Mississippi is home to the Biscuit Capital of the World, Natchez. This title comes courtesy of chef Regina Charboneau, who championed this title and has a passion for biscuits. She started making biscuits at age 10, went to culinary school in the '80s, and is still working to perfect her flaky biscuit recipe to this day. Mixing together French styles and Southern styles, the biscuits in Mississippi are like nothing else you'll ever try.

Missouri: Toasted ravioli

This twist on an Italian classic is said to have been invented in St. Louis and is served across the state as an appetizer and a main course. Despite their name, toasted ravioli are deep-fried, not actually toasted. It's a classic Missouri way to make a relatively healthy dish indulgent and one of those dishes you will only find in the Midwest.

Montana: Huckleberry

Referred to lovingly as "Montana's purple gem," huckleberries are often closely associated with the smaller blueberry, but anyone from Montana would tell you that is not the case. Large, round and delightfully tart, huckleberries are the perfect in pies, ice cream, muffins, jam and cocktails.

Nebraska: Runza

A Russian-German cousin of a calzone, a runza is a stuffed sandwich of sorts, with a rectangular yeast dough bread pocket enveloping a filling mixture of beef, sauerkraut, onions and other seasonings. In Nebraska, the chain Runza specializes in this dish, and it's the best sandwich in the state.

Caroline C./Yelp

Nevada: Shrimp cocktail

Nevada loves its shrimp cocktail. This simple yet iconic appetizer was introduced to the gaming public en masse by the Golden Gate Casino in 1959 and it caught on quickly as an incredibly popular (and cheap) dish. While shrimp cocktail's popularity comes and goes in the rest of the U.S., you'll still find it on nearly every restaurant menu in the Silver State.

New Hampshire: New England boiled dinner

When you think of a New England-style boiled dinner, you may assume you're about to eat a lobster boil or some steamed clams. But really, this iconic food from New Hampshire hearkens back to the colonial days. This traditional dish is made of corned beef or smoked ham, cabbage, potato, root vegetables and onion boiled together in one pot. It's hearty enough to get you through any long, cold winter.

New Jersey: Pork roll

New Jersey is obsessed with the pork roll. Also known as Taylor ham, the pork roll was reportedly invented in 1856 by John Taylor and is made of salty ground pork that's shaped into a baloney-like log, sliced and pan-fried. Similar in texture to Spam, this processed ham is usually eaten with egg and cheese on a hard roll, one of the best breakfasts in the country.

New Mexico: Chiles

Red and green Hatch chiles are practically a way of life in New Mexico. The chile is the official state vegetable, and a spicy sauce made from chiles is served with practically every meal. Can't decide if you want red or green chiles with your food? Just order "Christmas." It's slang, but everyone knows that means you want both.

New York: Bagels

Ask anyone living in New York: You just cannot find a decent bagel outside of the state (Jersey has some good ones, but that's about it). There's something in the water (literally) that makes the outside perfectly crisp while maintaining a soft, doughy inside. Whether you eat your New York bagel with lox and cream cheese or go for the classic BEC (that's bacon, egg and cheese), the bagel is an icon of New York City and beyond.

North Carolina: Pork barbecue

There are a lot of regional barbecue styles, but in North Carolina, good barbecue revolves around the pig - the whole pig. Traditionally, the whole-smoked, chopped pork is doused with a tangy vinegar- or mustard-based sauce before being piled onto a roll for a perfect pulled pork sandwich.

North Dakota: Chippers

No, a chipper is not mulch; it's a chocolate-covered potato chip. Invented by the best chocolate shop in North Dakota, Carol Widman's Candy, chippers are the perfect mix of sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy. It's an underrated treat in most of the country, but it's everywhere in North Dakota.

Ohio: Buckeyes

Ohio's nickname is the Buckeye State, but because the actual nut from the buckeye tree is highly poisonous, Ohioans had to make their own treat to resemble their icon. The buckeye is a creamy, mega-sweet peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate. It resembles the nut itself and, in our opinion, tastes 100 times better than any peanut butter cup.


Oklahoma: Chicken-fried steak

Chicken-fried steak is exactly what it sounds like: thin, pounded-out steak that's breaded and deep-fried as if it were fried chicken. While you can find it across the South, many claim that Oklahoma is home to the best chicken-fried steak in the country, and it's quite plentiful there.

Oregon: Marionberries

The marionberry is a cross between two different kinds of blackberries; it was developed and cultivated at Oregon State University in the 1940s and introduced to the state in 1956. Oregon's climate is practically perfect for the growing of marionberries, but because the fragile fruit doesn't ship well, it's not seen much outside of the region. It's primarily used in marionberry pie, jam and ice cream.

Pennsylvania: Cheesesteaks

If you want to find America's best cheesesteaks, you have to go to Pennsylvania. This sandwich is a true signature of the state. Thinly chopped rib-eye is cooked quickly on a griddle and slapped on a long roll with cheese (usually Cheez Whiz), diced onions and occasionally other toppings like peppers. It's the perfect indulgent, greasy, salty food.

Rhode Island: Coffee milk

You've heard of chocolate milk and even strawberry milk, but unless you're from the Ocean State, you probably haven't heard of coffee milk. No, it isn't a healthy creamer for your coffee, it's actually just sweet coffee-flavored syrup and milk, mixed together. Weird? Kind of! But it's the official state beverage of Rhode Island.


South Carolina: Boiled peanuts

Boiled peanuts are salty and slightly mushy peanuts that almost take on the form of beans, and can be found at roadside stands and gas stations across the South. But people from South Carolina have such a fondness for this food product that they named boiled peanuts the official state snack in 2006.

South Dakota: Frybread

Frybread is the official state bread of South Dakota. Like a lot of foods with simple names, frybread is exactly what its name implies. It's just a flat round of dough, deep-fried in oil or lard. It can either be served sweet with powdered sugar or honey or savory by being turned into what is called a "Navajo taco" with ground beef, beans, shredded cheese and other classic taco toppings.

Tennessee: Nashville hot chicken

Nashville hot chicken is taking the country by storm, but its roots (as the name implies) are all in Tennessee. Allegedly first created by a lover scorned, who in turn wanted to scorch her dining partner, Nashville hot chicken truly is h-o-t, with a deep red color and a fiery oil-based sauce that will light your tastebuds on fire.

Texas: Chili con carne

Texas' food is so unique, it's inspired an entire cuisine: Tex-Mex. Texans have plenty of iconic dishes, including tacos, fajitas and queso, but the official state dish is all Texas: chili con carne. This spicy stew originated in The Lone Star State and is now a favorite tailgating dish across the country. Just remember: no beans!

Utah: Fry sauce

If you order a side of fries in Utah, don't forget the fry sauce. Popularized by burger chain Arctic Circle, fry sauce is the simple yet irresistible combination of ketchup and mayonnaise. It's perfectly creamy and tangy, and it's honestly baffling it isn't more widespread. Heinz may call this combination mayochup, but Utahans know it's fry sauce.


Vermont: Maple syrup

If you had to pick just one natural icon from the state of Vermont, it'd have to be the maple tree. The maple tree is the state tree, and the state even named maple its official flavor. There's no product more singularly popular from the Green Mountain State than maple syrup. Drizzle it on waffles, pancakes or in your coffee if you want, but true Vermonters know that "sugar on snow" (which is maple syrup drizzled on top of snow) is the best way to eat it.

Virginia: Country ham

Smithfield, Virginia, is known for its namesake country-style ham, which is salt-cured, aged for up to several months and smoked (as opposed to its more commonly found cousin, city ham, which is wet-cured and smoked, and not aged). Country ham can be found throughout the South, but many of the country's top producers, including Edwards and Calhoun's, can be found in Virginia. Country ham is at its best when it's seared and served alongside some red-eye gravy, or tucked into a freshly baked biscuit.

Washington: Coffee

Washington State is famous for a lot of things: Its fresh salmon, oysters, geoduck and apples are all icons of the region. But few things about Washington are as world-famous as its coffee. Yes, the biggest and best coffee chain in America, Starbucks, got its start in Seattle in 1971. Today, the mega-chain has over 13,000 stores nationwide.

Washington, D.C.: Half-Smokes

Half-smokes are served in Washington, D.C. and its surrounding areas. This link is typically larger and spicier than your average hot dog, and the meat within the casing is coarser. It may be a bit of a tourist trap restaurant, but D.C. locals will tell you to head over to Ben's Chili Bowl to get their iconic half-smoke, served with mustard, fresh onions and homemade chili sauce.

Yelp/Sherri M.

West Virginia: Pepperoni rolls

Drop in to any convenience store in West Virginia, and you're likely to find pepperoni rolls. Like the name implies, the pepperoni roll is a yeast bread roll with pepperoni and occasionally mozzarella cheese baked inside. As the rolls bake, the oils from the pepperoni seep into the dough, creating a crusty yet seriously satisfying texture and meaty flavor.

Wisconsin: Cheese

Wisconsin is nuts about its cheese. Seriously. The residents of this state refer to themselves as Cheeseheads, the state's official animal is the dairy cow, and they've even designated cheese as their official dairy product. The best way to eat cheese in the Badger State? Fried cheese curds, of course.

Wyoming: Jerky

Is there any state that's more true to the wild, wild West than Wyoming? The state's trademark is a bucking horse and a rider, for goodness' sake! So of course, its most famous food is jerky. Beef jerky and turkey jerky are all fine and good, but the most quintessentially Wyoming food has to be bison jerky. Lean bison meat comes from the state mammal of Wyoming, and if you haven't tried bison yet, you really should. Perhaps they serve it at the best steakhouse in your state.More from The Daily Meal:

The Best Food and Drink in Every State

Regional Dishes You've Never Heard Of

101 Best Casual Restaurants in America

The Best Pizza in Every State

The Weirdest Regional Slang Across America
No comments found. Sign up or Login to rate and review content.

More Stories