America is often called a melting pot. You can see this mixing of backgrounds, cultures, and local ingredients in the pots and pans of our country’s bakers. Born out of European influences, traveling immigrants, Great Depression ingenuity, and farm-fresh crops, here’s favorite desserts from every state to inspire your next confection.
1. Alabama’s Lane Cake
Alabama designated Lane Cake as an official state dessert in 2016, but it has been a symbol of Southern culture and identity for much longer. Emma Ryland Lane from Clayton, Alabama, created the original recipe in 1898 for the county fair baking competition. Readers of “To Kill a Mockingbird” might remember this traditional bourbon layer cake with coconut pecan icing given as a welcome gift.
2. Alaska’s Baked Alaska
Sometimes referred to as an omelet surprise, French chef Charles Ranhofer invented Baked Alaska at Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City. In 1867, Ranhofer served this classic dessert to celebrate America’s purchase of Alaska from the Russians at his iconic Wall Street restaurant.
3. Arizona’s Sopaipillas
Sometimes referred to as the Navajo taco, fried Sopaipillas can be savory or sweet. Invented in the southern part of the state by indigenous Navajo people, this fried dough treat is served today with sugar, cinnamon, and honey.
4. Arkansas’ Possum Pie
Don’t let the name fool you. Its name comes from “playing possum,” meaning to hide or pretend to be something you’re not. The possum pie’s delicious chocolate layer hides under lots of whipped cream. This popular chocolate cream pie can be found all over the state.
5. California’s Avocado Parfait
While California doesn’t have an official state dessert, as the largest US producer of avocados, its Avocado based dishes have become the de facto state treat. Mix up one with half an avocado, your favorite yogurt or pudding, granola, and choice of fruit.
6. Colorado’s Palisade Peach Cobbler
Colorado is known for its Palisade peaches, planted by settlers in the 1880s in the Grand Valley. This part of the state has hot days and cool nights and creates sweet, juicy, delicious peaches. Whip up an easy cobbler that keeps the fruit as the star of the dish.
7. Connecticut’s Snickerdoodle Cookie
Brought to the U.S. by English, Scottish, and Dutch immigrants, it’s still beloved today by Connecticut residents. So don’t wait for a special occasion to make this New England favorite soft cookie topped with cinnamon sugar.
8. Delaware’s Peach Pie
The official dessert of Delaware signifies the importance of peach farming in the state’s history. In the 19th century, Delaware was the leading producer of peaches, explaining the peach blossom as the state flower.
9. Florida’s Key Lime Pie
The state’s official dessert mentioned in Hemingway’s works makes the most of the smaller, tarter lime grown in the region and across Florida. While’s is not clear who invented this dessert, there is frequent mention of a key lime pie created by Aunt Sally, a cook of William Curry, Florida’s first self-made millionaire, in the late 1800s. If you’re taking a road trip from Miami to Key West, try the infamous deep-fried version at Porky’s in Marathon.
10. Georgia’s Peach Cobbler
It’s no surprise that iconic dishes in the Peach State are made with locally grown fruit. Grab a slice of the world’s largest peach cobbler made every year at the Georgia Peach Festival, or make one at home tonight.
11. Hawaii’s Shaved Ice
Kakigōri, a Japanese ice dessert flavored with syrup and a sweetener, has been a decades-long favorite in Japan. Brought to Hawaii by Japanese immigrants and plantation laborers who used their tools to shave flakes off large ice blocks and added juice or sugar. Shave Ice stands appeared in the early 1900s, and iconic shops like Oahu’s Matsumato’s opened in 1951, offering a wide variety of brightly colored flavored syrups.
12. Idaho’s Ice Cream Potato
In a state widely known for its potatoes, it’s no surprise that Idaho’s favorite dessert resembles a loaded baked potato. Vanilla ice cream is formed and rolled in cocoa to look like a baked potato with whip cream added to mimic a sour cream topping.
13. Illinois’ Brownies
Did you know that Brownies were invented in Chicago? The origin of the brownie points to the wife of the historic Palmer House Hotel’s owner. She wanted to create a special dessert to celebrate the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in the city, the first world’s fair held in Chicago. The recipe was first published in Chicago-based Sears Roebuck’s catalog in 1898 and remains a favorite dessert around the country, and the world, today.
14. Indiana’s Sugar Cream Hoosier Pie
Indiana’s state pie originated in eastern Indiana’s Shaker communities despite the widespread belief it was invented in the northeastern part of the state. This 200-year-old custard pie was created during the depression when ingredients and money were hard to come by as it didn’t require eggs and only needed a tad of butter and cream.
15. Iowa’s Caramel Corn
The leading producer of corn in America celebrates its local crop every year at the Iowa State Fair. Caramel Corn, one of many fair favorites, is made by mixing melted caramel and popcorn for a treat that’s both sweet and salty.
16. Kansas’ Peppernuts
These small but mighty cookies originated in European kitchens as a Christmas treat. When Russian Mennonites immigrated to Kansas in the 1870s, they brought pepernoten with them. Now peppernuts are made in homes, churches, and bakeries across Kansas today.
17. Kentucky’s Bourbon Balls
It’s not a surprise that the birthplace of bourbon and producer of 95% of the world’s supply counts Bourbon Balls as one of their favorite desserts. They were developed in the 1930s by Ruth Booe, co-founder of the Rebecca Ruth Candy Company, after a local dignitary suggested spiking the chocolate confections with bourbon.
18. Louisiana’s Beignets
First known as donuts, beignets became the official state donut in 1986. First served by New Orleans’s Cafe de Monde in 1862 in the French Quarter, this iconic landmark is a must-stop for vacationers. In 1958, the donuts were rebranded to beignets, reflecting the French influence in this part of the state.
19. Maine’s Whoopie Pie
While Whoopie Pie recipes originated in Pennsylvania Dutch Amish communities, Maine’s Labadie Bakery in Lewiston first commercially produced this treat in 1925. Either way, this cake-like sandwich with frosting in the middle is beloved in Maine, Pennsylvania, and beyond.
20. Maryland’s Smith Island Cake
Maryland’s Smith Island is a 400-year-old fishing village with about 250 residents, but its cake put the community on the map. The state’s official dessert with multiple thin layers of cake and frosting has varied recipes based down from generation to generation.
21. Massachusetts’s Boston Cream Pie
The owners of the historic Parker House Hotel in Boston hired French chef Sanzian for its 1856 opening. He remade a traditional American pudding cake into a custard-filled, chocolate ganache topped dessert served in pie wedges. Thus, the Boston Creme pie was born and deemed the official state dessert in 1996.
22. Michigan’s Cherry Pie
In a state that produces 70% of tart cherries, it is no surprise that cherry pie is one of Michigan’s favorite desserts. So whether you enjoy a slice in Traverse City, the annual National Cherry Festival, at a local restaurant, or at home, top it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
23. Minnesota’s Seven Layer Bars
Minnesota’s favorite dessert, seven-layer bars or magic cookie bars, combines sweet and salty ingredients that taste like kitchen wizardry. This ooey-gooey dessert includes butter, graham cracker crumbs, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, butternut scotch chips, sweetened condensed milk, and nuts.
24. Mississippi’s Mud Pie
In 1927 the banks of the Mississippi River flooded. Some say a waitress named Jenny Meyer compared a popular chocolate pie to muddy banks across the state, and the name stuck. No matter the origin, this popular southern dessert is often served with ice cream and topped with even more chocolate.
25. Missouri’s Ice Cream Cone
Did you know that Missouri is credited with serving the first ice cream cone at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis? Four years later, it became Missouri’s official state dessert. Grab an old-fashioned ice cream treat when visiting historic downtown Branson at Mr. B’s Ice Cream Parlor.
26. Montana’s S’mores
In Big Sky country, S’Mores are a camping tradition. No one knows for sure who created them, but a 1927 Girls Scouts publication gives credit for the “Some More” recipe to Troop Leader Loretta Scott Crew, who made them by the campfire.
27. Nebraska’s Sweet Corn Ice Cream
The Cornhusker state celebrates its sweet summer crop even in ice cream. Start with a vanilla ice cream base and add sweet corn for a regional treat that’s an acquired taste.
28. Nevada’s Gateau Basque
Basque settlers first arrived in Nevada in the mid-1850s Gold Rush and brought their recipe for Gateau Basque from the Pyrenees region of France. This state favorite has a flaky crust completely surrounding pastry cream and sometimes jam. They go great with a cup of coffee or tea.
29. New Hampshire’s Pumpkin Pie Bread
While pumpkin became the state’s official food in 2006, pumpkin recipes were first published as early as the 1670s. So mix up your pumpkin-based desserts and give pumpkin pie bread a try this fall.
30. New Jersey’s Saltwater Taffy
Despite its name, this soft taffy, first made and marketed in Atlantic City, doesn’t contain any saltwater. Instead, its name comes from a candy store owner, David Bradley, who referred to his candy as Salt Water Taffy after a storm flooded his shop in 1883 and the salty Atlantic Ocean water soaked his taffy.
31. New Mexico’s Biscochitos
Biscochitos are an anise-cinnamon-scented cookie with a long history. Some say its introduction stretches back to the arrival of Spaniards in the 16th century in what is now known as Santa Fe. In 1989, New Mexico was the first state to declare an official cookie, and biscochitos remain a favorite cookie still today.
32. New York’s Cheesecake
Cheesecake has a lengthy history, predating New York state. It may have been at the 1st Olympic Games in Greece in 776 BC as a power source for athletes. More recently, Arnold Reuben received credit for New York-style Cheesecake first featured at his mainstay midtown Manhattan restaurant. This indulgent version includes additional cream cheese and egg yolks for a more decadent, creamier take on cheesecake.
33. North Carolina’s Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet potatoes have been grown in North Carolina for centuries, and today, the state is the leading US producer. Celebrating the state’s official vegetable, this pie is similar to pumpkin pie, but with pureed sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin.
34. North Dakota’s Krumkake
Before its statehood, Norwegians began arriving in North Dakota in the 1870s and brought the Krumkake, or curved cake, with them. This waffle cookie resembles an Italian cannoli or an ice cream cone with mascarpone filling.
35. Ohio’s Buckeye Candy
These chocolate-covered peanut-butter-based balls are made to resemble the nut of the Ohio buckeye, the state’s official tree, and the name of The Ohio State’s collegiate sports teams. They remain a favorite across the state, especially during the football season.
36. Oklahoma’s Pecan Pie
Part of the Oklahoma official state meal, pecan pie has been the official dessert since 1988. This extensive meal includes fried okra, cornbread, barbeque pork, squash, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, chicken fried steak, strawberries, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas.
37. Oregon’s Marionberry Pie
Marionberries are to Oregon as apple pie is to America. This king of blackberries is exclusively grown in Oregon, created by George F. Waldo in 1948. Waldo, who worked at Oregon State University, experimented by crossing different berries in Marion County. There is marionberry jam and ice cream, but marionberry pie remains a favorite.
38. Pennsylvania’s Funnel Cake
While funnel cakes are now a favorite at state and county fairs across the country, it owes its origins to the state of Pennsylvania. German-speaking immigrants who came to the Lancaster region in the 17th and 18th centuries invented one of America’s first fried foods in their Pennsylvania Dutch communities.
39. Rhode Island’s Frozen Lemonade
Del’s frozen lemonade remains a favorite dessert in Rhode Island since the first stand opened in Cranston, Rhode Island, in 1948. Five generations of the DeLucia family have been making frozen lemonade since great-grandfather DeLucia first made it in Naples, Italy, and brought it to America at the turn of the century.
40. South Carolina’s Coconut Cake
South Carolina’s favorite dessert, coconut cake, comes from the Peninsula Grill restaurant in Charleston. The Planter’s Inn’s first Executive Pastry Chef Esthi Stefanelli created this multi-layered coconut dessert, trademarked as the Ultimate Coconut Cake, for Valentine’s Day 1997.
41. South Dakota’s Kuchen
Kuchen is a traditional German pastry that found its way to South Dakota with German immigrants in 1880. In 2000, the state officially recognized kuchen as its favorite dessert, and different fruit varieties can be found all over the state.
42. Tennessee’s Moon Pies
Made by the Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee, since 1917, this sweet southern snack combines chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers in a convenient on-the-go pack. Enjoyed first by coal miners and then military service members, they are so popular that over a million are produced a day.
43. Texas’ Pecan Pie
Texas was so proud of its pecan pie that it became the state’s official dessert in 2013. While Texas had pecan-based recipes as early as the 1870s, pecan pie didn’t appear in print until a Texas woman’s recipe materialized in a St. Louis cookbook in 1898.
44. Utah’s JELL-O
Utah residents love JELL-O so much that the state recognizes JELL-O as its official snack. Historically, Utah has consumed more of this gelatin dessert than any other state in the country.
45. Vermont’s Apple Pie
Apple pie is the official favorite pie of Vermont, approved by the state in 1999. Additionally, the legislation also specified that a good faith effort should be made to meet conditions when serving apple pie in Vermont. Therefore, the recipient of the apple pie should have a glass of cold milk, a cheddar cheese slice, or a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.
46. Virginia’s Chess Pie
Virginia Chess Pie is a Southern specialty that dates back to Martha Washington’s “Booke of Cookery” from the mid-1700. When pecans and other nuts were hard to come by, this sugar-based pie made from ingredients cooks already had in their chests grew in popularity.
47. Washington’s Nanaimo Bars
Nanaimo Bars originate from Washington’s neighbor, Nanaimo, British Columbia. The bars have three layers of wafer, nuts, coconut crumb, custard, and chocolate.
48. West Virginia’s Hot Dogs
Don’t let the name fool you. These long, split eclair-shaped doughnuts with cream in the middle can be found throughout the state. Donut shops throughout the state sell these sweet treats, so grab one on your next trip.
49. Wisconsin’s Danish Kringle
Kringles are a Danish-like pastry, first introduced in Racine, Wisconsin, in the late 1800s by immigrant bakers. The butter-based Danish Kringle can have fruit, cheese, or nut filling, drizzled with icing. In 2013, the Kringle officially became Wisconsin’s favorite dessert.
50. Wyoming’s Huckleberry Ice Cream
Huckleberries are native to Wyoming, and while they look like large blueberries, they are less sweet. You’ll find huckleberry ice cream throughout the state’s ice cream shops. Those on a road trip to Grand Teton National Park will want to stop at the infamous Pioneer Grill for a milkshake made from local huckleberry ice cream.
Linda is the Founder of TheCentsofMoney.com. She’s out to teach financial education and inspire a greater comfort about one of life’s great stresses. She uses the financial skills honed by decades of professional experience to help others.