The Most Iconic Foods From All 50 States That Everyone Should Eat at Least Once

The United States is diverse, and nowhere is that diversity more pronounced than in the foods eaten. Each state of the Union has at least one or more iconic foods that are specifically associated with it and should be tried at least once. Follow along on this culinary drive through America and get a hint of what you’ve been missing.

1. Alabama: Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding
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You don’t have to be from the South to appreciate the deliciousness of banana pudding. It’s a reasonably simple baked dish made with freshly sliced bananas, vanilla wafers, banana-flavored pudding, and the optional meringue topping. It’s heaven in a bowl.

2. Alaska: Alaskan King Crab Legs

Steamed Alaskan king crab. ready to eat
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When the food has the state’s name on it, it will be its representative! Alaskan king crab legs are distinct from other king crab legs due to their sweetness in taste, smooth texture, and enormous size, with legs that span up to five feet long. They’re a seafood lover’s delight.

3. Arizona: Chimichangas

Chimichangas with Mexican condiments and sauces
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The chimichanga was accidentally invented at a Mexican restaurant. A cook dropped a burrito into hot oil, creating a new dish. Called chimis for short, they can be filled with beef, chicken, or shrimp.

4. Arkansas: Fried Dill Pickles

Atlanta, Georgia / USA - August 22 2012: Closeup of pile of delicious dill pickle slices, battered and deep fried, with tangy dipping sauce on plate served at Hooters restaurant
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This humble appetizer was created in 1963 by a restauranteur who wanted to attract customers to his new business. Since his restaurant was located across the street from a pickle processing factory, he devised the idea to fry them, and a casual food staple was born.

5. California: In-N-Out Burgers

Los Angeles, California - October 6, 2019: IN-N-OUT Burger - Hamburger and french fries in a tray on the table inside the fast-food restaurant
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Founded in Southern California in 1948, In-N-Out Burger is where everyday people, celebrities, and tourists can be found anytime. Their burger varieties, including the Double-Double and the secret menu, make this chain a must-visit during your lifetime.

6. Colorado: Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops
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Natives of the state say they have the best lamb in the world. If the strong taste of traditional game meat isn’t your thing, the lamb chops in Colorado, with their light game taste, may appeal to you more.

7. Connecticut: Hamburgers

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Did you know hamburgers were invented in Connecticut? The original burgers were made from ground steak and placed between two white bread slices. You can still find restaurants in the state that still stick to this original recipe.

8. Delaware: Scrapple

A piece of scrapple on a plate
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The Pennsylvania Dutch may have invented scrapple, but the state of Delaware can lay claim as the biggest manufacturer in the world of the popular breakfast side. It’s made from scraps of pork, but fry it until it’s browned and serve it with eggs and toast, and you have a meal.

9. Florida: Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie. Classic traditional American dessert favorite. Key lime pie, raw mixture made with the juice from Key West lime juice, condensed milk sugar and eggs poured into graham cracker crust.
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Where else but Florida are you going to find authentic key lime pie? A few hints: Real key lime pie has a yellow hue, not green, it’s not covered in meringue, and it has a graham cracker crust. Anything else isn’t the real deal.

10. Georgia: Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler ~ Vanilla Gelato ~ Bourbon Caramel Sauce
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It’s only natural that the iconic food for the Peach State is peach cobbler. Combining ripe sweet peaches with a golden, perfectly baked, flaky homemade crust is one of the best desserts ever.

11. Hawaii: Poke

Hawaiian salmon poke bowl with roes, avocado, and lemon. Poke bowl flat lay. Healthy eating raw food, raw fish. Sashimi poke on white table. Poke bowl with copy space.
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While this traditional Hawaiian dish has recently gained popularity in the rest of the U.S., many people still don’t know what it is. Poke (pronounced “po-KAY”) is made from raw ahi tuna soaked n sesame oil and soy sauce, mixed with seaweed and onions on a bed of white rice. No wonder poke spots are popping up everywhere.

12. Idaho: Potatoes

mashed potatoes
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Idaho is known for its potatoes, one of the most versatile foods. Potatoes can be baked, deep fried, sauteed, boiled, mashed, and riced. With all this variety, food doesn’t get more perfect than the potato.

13. Illinois: Deep-Dish Pizza

Deep-Dish Pizza
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Thin crust, thick crust, and stuffed crust pizza can move over to make way for the special treat of deep-dish pizza. You haven’t had a full pizza experience until you dive into a thick crust that requires being eaten with a knife and fork because it’s impossible to eat by hand.

14. Indiana: Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Traditional Indiana Pork tenderloin sandwich similar to the Wiener Schnitzel and is popular in the Midwest region of the United States,
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The breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is a flattened pork cutlet that’s breaded, fried, and served on a bun or between two pieces of white bread and is a traditional dish popular across the Hoosier state. Don’t let its unassuming presentation fool you – that sandwich has a lot of flavors!

15. Iowa: Sweet Corn

Sweet Corn
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Sweet corn only makes up a small fraction of the corn grown in Iowa, which produces approximately three times as much corn as Mexico. But sweet corn is so revered in the state; there are annual festivals dedicated to the product. With that kind of devotion, it has to be good.

16. Kansas: Barbecued Anything

Woman eating Barbecue
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Kansas is known for its delectable, finger-licking, barbecued foods, including sandwiches, ribs, brisket, and chicken. If it has a sweet, tomato-based sauce and meat with burnt ends, that’s Kansas-style barbecue.

17. Kentucky: Hot Brown Sandwich

The hot brown sandwich is a signature open face turkey sandwich originally created by Fred K. Schmidt in Louisville, Kentucky at The Brown Hotel.
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Even though it is associated with the Kentucky Derby, the hot brown sandwich is a year-round treat for Kentuckians. It’s an open-faced turkey sandwich served on Texas toast and topped with bacon and Mornay sauce. Don’t wait for the famous annual race to have this sandwich.

18. Louisiana: Beignets

Homemade New Orleans French Beignets with Powdered Sugar
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The quintessential Louisiana desserts are these fluffy rectangles of fried dough lavished in powdered sugar. They’re perfect for satisfying a sweet tooth without feeling weighted down.

19. Maine: Lobster Rolls

_lobster rolls
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The state of Maine is practically synonymous with lobsters and lobster rolls. The latter consists of steamed lobster on a roll with melted butter. It’s a wonderfully messy dish that you won’t regret trying. You’ll need to wear a huge bib.

20. Maryland: Blue Crabs

Blue Crabs
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If Maine is synonymous with lobsters and lobster rolls, then Maryland is synonymous with blue crabs. Once it’s steamed, the mildly sweet taste of the crustacean is perfectly offset by a generous topping of old bay seasoning. Blue Crabs are another delightfully messy dish that requires an even larger bib.

21. Massachusetts: Clam Chowder

Bowl of New England clam chowder, Wellfleet MA, USA
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In Massachusetts, there’s only one legitimate type of clam chowder, and it isn’t Manhattan style. New England-style clam chowder is thick, creamy, and loaded with clams and potatoes. Remember the side of oyster crackers, too.

22. Michigan: Mackinac Island Fudge

Michigan, Mackinac Island. Island specialty, assorted flavors of home made fudge.
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This smooth, rich snack has various flavors to please even the most selective fudge connoisseur. You’ll have difficulty deciding which one to buy with flavors like butterscotch, cherry, Michigan maple walnut, and butter pecan.

23. Minnesota: Hotdish

Homemade Tater Tot Hotdish Casserole with Beef and Cheese
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Minnesotans don’t consider hotdish a casserole, but it’s cooked in one pan like a casserole. Hotdish is made up of meat combined with frozen vegetables, canned soup, and topped with tater tots. It may not be a casserole, but it still sounds tasty and filling.

24. Mississippi: Mississippi Mud Pie

Mississippi Mud Pie
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A chocolate lover’s dream, Mississippi mud pie is a brownie with a chocolate custard topping drizzled in chocolate sauce, resting on top of a chocolate crust. The dessert’s name comes from the brownie part of the pie, which is said to look like the muddy bank of the Mississippi River.

25. Missouri: Toasted Ravioli

Fried Ravioli with Sauce. top view. isolated on white
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Toasted ravioli are deep fried, not toasted, and sound fantastic: lightly breaded ravioli-shaped pasta filled with ground beef and served with a marinara sauce. It’s hard to resist those crunchy little squares filled with beefy goodness.

26. Montana: Huckleberry Flavored Foods

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Huckleberries are unique to Montana, and during their peak growing season (late July through early September), you’ll find restaurants serving huckleberries in different forms, including pies, milkshakes, ice cream, and pancakes.

27. Nebraska: Runza

Omaha, Nebraska - 2021: Runza Restaurant meal with a Runza sandwich, onion rings, and drink. Bag with Runza logo and "Runza makes it all better" motto.
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Runza is a sandwich pocket filled with seasoned beef, onions, and cabbage with a taste far superior to its smell, say fans of this unique take on a sandwich. Tasting is believing.

28. Nevada: Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp Cocktail
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When you think of Nevada, you think of Las Vegas, and Las Vegas is the birthplace of the shrimp cocktail. Invented in 1959 to draw people to the city’s gaming sites, shrimp cocktails with cocktail sauce to dip them in quickly became a phenomenon that went well past the city’s borders.

29. New Hampshire: Poutine

Poutin fries loaded with mayo dip isolated on wooden board top view on table fastfood
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The French-Canadian heritage of a large swath of the population in the state is evident in the popularity of this poutine, which are fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It may sound like an odd combination of ingredients, but trust me when I say poutine is delicious.

30. New Jersey: Tomato Pie

Fresh tomato pie on grey wooden background
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Please don’t call a tomato pie a pizza because it’s not. There are major differences between the two. The tomato sauce goes on with a pizza; then it’s covered with cheese. With a tomato pie, a layer of cheese is added on top of the dough first, then a layer of sliced, diced, or crushed tomatoes is put on top of the cheese.

31. New Mexico: Green and Red Chile Sauce

Three mexican sauces with vegetables and mexican flag on gray background
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Also known as salsa verde (green sauce) and salsa roja (red sauce), the green sauce is hot, and the red sauce is mild. Since chile is the official state vegetable, it stands to reason that chile sauce is the must-have condiment in New Mexico.

32. New York: New York Cheesecake

Cheesecake with caramel sauce on black background. Tasty homemade caramel cheesecake
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There are cheesecakes, then New York-style cheesecake, which uses cream cheese as its primary ingredient, giving the dessert the density and richness it’s famous for. Did you know the first mass production of cream cheese occurred in the Catskills of New York?

33. North Carolina: BBQ Pulled Pork

The Original BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich with salad and chilli sauce served in a dish isolated on background side view of fastfood
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North Carolina’s barbecue culture is split along an east-west divide: the western part of the state uses a tomato-based sauce. In contrast, the eastern part uses a vinegar base. Depending on your preferences, you may like one over the other or even like both.

34. North Dakota: Knoephla

Chicken and gnocchi soup, chicken and spinach cream soup , Italian traditional
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Knoephla is a thick soup made from dumplings, potatoes, and chicken. The knoephla dumplings are the main attraction of this dish. Fun fact: knoephla is from the German word for a button or little knob.

35. Ohio: Cincinnati Chili

Homemade Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti with Red beans Cheese and Onion close up in the plate on the black wooden background. Horizontal
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Cincinnati chili is different from most chilis Americans are used to. It has a light meat sauce served over spaghetti or hot dogs. The dish can be topped with shredded cheddar cheese or beans and onions.

36. Oklahoma: Chicken Fried Steak

chicken fried steak covered in gravy with sunny side up eggs and breakfast foods at restaurant
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This is giving beef the fried chicken treatment. First, the steak is breaded, then deep fried in hot oil. It’s especially good when topped with gravy.

37. Oregon: Voodoo Doughnuts

Portland Oregon / USA - August 22 2020: Popular tourist destination Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon. Funky and colorful donuts in PDX.
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These doughnuts are more than iconic; they’re legendary. Voodoo Doughnuts takes the all-day treat to new extremes with unique toppings like chocolate cookies and unconventional shapes like the voodoo doll doughnut in the form of a voodoo doll.

38. Pennsylvania: Philly Cheesesteak

Philly cheese steak sandwich holding in hand with other sandwiches in background.
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Of course, Pennsylvania is represented by the Philly cheesesteak. Thinly sliced beef cooked on a grill with (or without) onions and layered with Cheez Whiz, provolone, or American cheese served on a long roll. You can only call yourself a visitor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania if you’ve had a cheese steak.

39. Rhode Island: Coffee Milk

Greek Coffee in Rhodes
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This blend of milk and coffee extract is the official state drink and a great alternative to regular coffee. It can be purchased premade in bottles or can be made to order. Coffee milk comes in different varieties to suit different palates. Sample some to discover which one you like best.

40. South Carolina: Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits with chorizo cream sauce
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This dish brings together two of the finest, tastiest foods out of South Carolina: thick, cheesy grits and juicy shrimp. It’s a wonderfully savory traditional breakfast food that can be eaten for lunch and dinner.

41. South Dakota: Kuchen

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If you’ve never heard of Kuchen, you must travel to South Dakota for the pleasure of its acquaintance. The dessert combines a pastry, cake, and custard stuffed with fruit in a sweetened crust. If the fruit stuffing isn’t enough, the dish is topped with even more fruit. Kuchen tastes as good as it looks.

42. Tennessee: Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich

Tasty nashville hot chicken sandwiches on plates over brown stone background. Top view, flat lay
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The deep red color of this chicken lets you know before you take one bite that things are about to get heated. If you enjoy spicy food, a Nashville hot chicken sandwich may be what you want. Don’t leave Tennessee without trying this specialty dish.

43. Texas: Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas
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A famous skillet dish courtesy of Mexico is a Texas staple; the mixture of vegetables and well-seasoned skirt steak is colorful and delightful. Fajitas aren’t just pleasing to look at and good to eat; they’re also easy to prepare.

44. Utah: Fry Sauce

Thousand Island dressing
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Reminiscent of Thousand Island dressing, fry sauce is made from lemon juice, eggs, ketchup, and other ingredients that have been closely guarded. Fry sauce is an excellent alternative to ketchup, giving french fries a new taste.

45. Vermont: Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup
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Once you try authentic Vermont maple syrup, you’ll never look at breakfast syrups the same way again. Its smooth, natural sweetness is lower in calories than corn syrup and contains minerals such as calcium and iron. Find out how much better your waffles and pancakes taste when using authentic Vermont maple syrup.

46. Virginia: Boiled Peanuts

Boiled Peanut chat
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Boiled peanuts are not only a woefully underappreciated snack food, but they also taste great with Pepsi. You can eat boiled peanuts in or out of the shell. If you shell them, add the peanuts to a Pepsi glass bottle for an authentic Southern experience.

47. Washington: Salmon

Woman eating Salmon
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Washington State has so many species of salmon; it’s the unofficial salmon capital of the world. Grocery and seafood store salmon are fine, but nothing beats the taste of freshly caught wild salmon.

48. West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls

The thinly sliced ​​pepperoni is a popular pizza filling in American-style pizzerias and is used to fill the West Virginia pepperoni roll.
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The official state food of West Virginia, these pepperoni sticks baked inside a long roll, were created by Italian immigrant coal miners who needed a filling lunch that didn’t require refrigeration. They continue to be a popular food throughout the state.

49. Wisconsin: Cheese Curds

Homemade Baked Wisconsin Cheese Curds with Mayo and Marinara
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If you have yet to try fresh or fried cheese curds, you’re missing out on a snack loved by kids and adults. Kids love the mild taste and spongy texture, and adults love how great they pair with beer.

50. Wyoming: Fry Bread

Fried navajo bread on the black plate, tomatoes cherry and some green for snack. Tasty indian navajo bread.
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A traditional food of Indigenous Americans, fry bread is flattened pieces of dough deep-fried in hot oil. This versatile food can be eaten plain or topped with meat, cheese, and vegetables.

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