The Most Delicious Food from Every State
These delicious dishes from every state are going to make you want to go on a cross-country road trip.
America the tasty
Reader’s Digest teamed up with our sister publication Taste of Home to produce America the Tasty. More than 70 editors and field editors from Taste of Home submitted their state’s favorite noshes. And Taste of Home and Reader’s Digest readers also weighed in with stories about their state’s most delicious eats. If you’re curious, this is what all 50 states look like designed out of food.
Signature dish: Chicken in white sauce. During the 1920s, Alabamians flocked to railroad worker ’s backyard on the weekends for hickory-smoked chicken smothered in his own vinegar-and-mayonnaise sauce. His Decatur restaurant and his chicken and white sauce are still institutions.
Signature dish: King crab legs. “Even before the rise of Deadliest Catch, I loved king crab legs. On a dream trip to Alaska, we ordered them, and the legs were longer than my arm.” —Renee Page, Taste of Home field editor
Signature dish: Posole, a stew made from pork shoulder and hominy. “Posole is a wonderful hearty soup that we ate with our Hispanic neighbors for New Year’s or Christmas.”
—Lisa McNeil, Taste of Home reader
Signature dish: Fish tacos. “Sitting at the beach, watching the sunset and the surfers, and having a fish taco. Not many other states can claim this experience.” —Kallee Krong-McCreery, Taste of Home field editor
Signature dish: Green chile pork. “Colorado is one of the few states where you can find green chile. It’s on almost every menu, served alone or slathered on something. Some of my favorite memories are the smell of my family’s kitchen when my dad was making this dish with our family-raised pork.” —Crystal Jo Bruns, Taste of Home field editor
Signature dish: Scrapple. The ultimate mystery meat is actually made of pork scraps, cornmeal, flour, and spices. Wanna learn how to serve it? The World Championship Scrapple Recipe Cook‑Off & Expo is held every year in Newark, Delaware.
Signature dish: Cuban sandwich. While most people think of Miami as the capital of Cuban American culture, Tampa claimed the Cubano as its signature sandwich in 2012. The Tampa version is a triple threat, featuring sweet ham, roast pork, and Genoa salami—and exactly three pickles. These are the strangest food laws in every state. Have you broken any?
Signature dish: Kalua pig. “Hawaii residents typically take the shortcut and start with a pork butt (rather than going whole hog) and roast it in the oven or cook it in the slow cooker until the pork is fall-apart tender. Often chopped cabbage is cooked with it. And it’s typically shredded and served over rice. I make it all the time!” —Jeanne Ambrose, former Taste of Home editor
Signature dish: Fried trout. More than 75 percent of trout in the United States is from Idaho, much of it farmed. But on one stretch of the Snake River, there are 6,000 wild rainbow trout per mile.
Signature dish: Deep-dish (aka not that flimsy New York City–style) pizza.
Who Knew? In 1893, the organizers of the World’s Columbian Exposition asked Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer, the wife of the owner of the Palmer House Hotel, to provide a dessert for the event. She requested that the chef at the hotel make a “ladies’ dessert” that would fit into a boxed lunch. Today we call them brownies.
Signature dish: Hoosier pie, or sugar cream pie. A favorite of the Amish and Shakers who settled in Indiana, this custardy, nutmeg-dusted pie is also known as desperation pie, since it’s cheap to make.
Signature dish: Breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. “Opening up one of those pork sandwiches to eat on a flight back home from Iowa elicits groans and complaints. ‘Why didn’t you bring enough to feed the whole aircraft?’” —Reader Bill Spikes, San Jose, California
Signature dish: Hot Brown. After dancing the night away at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Prohibition-era revelers would head to the hotel restaurant for this open-faced turkey-and-tomato sandwich doused in Mornay sauce, sprinkled with cheese, broiled, and topped with bacon.
Signature dish: Gumbo. “Let me just say, gumbo is the food of the gods. All the variations of gumbo reflect the many origins and cultures of the people of Louisiana.” —Reader Anne Maverick, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Signature dish: Crab cakes. “The best is when you would go crabbing and head home to steam the crabs yourself. Beer, not water, and plenty of Old Bay Seasoning. There was much screaming when the crab missed the pot and hit the floor. I never saw my children move so fast!” —Reader June Fauver, Glen Burnie, Maryland
Signature dish: Boston baked beans. Originating from Native Americans, the slow-cooked dish is flavored with molasses or maple syrup and bacon. The Puritans made it on the Sabbath.
Signature dish: Meat pasties. These came from Cornish copper miners on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “It’s a circle of piecrust filled with minced beef, potatoes, onions, carrots, and rutabaga, then folded in half, crimped, and baked. Sometimes the wives of the miners left room in a small corner of the pasty to put chopped apple, sugar, and cinnamon for the last bite, as dessert.” —Reader Micki Anderson, Eugene, Oregon
Signature dish: Hotdish. A casserole made with cream of mushroom soup, vegetables, meat, and a starch such as Tater Tots. “My dad didn’t like vegetables in his hotdish, so my mom would leave them out. I was baffled when I had my first Tater Tot hotdish with vegetables in it at the age of 20!”—Reader Saunia Okerman, St. Cloud, Minnesota
Signature dish: Catfish. These days, catfish are mainly raised on fish farms. Mississippi is home to more than half of the catfish farms in the United States. If you’re not a fan of catfish, this is where you can get the best hot dog in every state.
Signature dish: Barbecue. Kansas City is known for its barbecue, and the Show Me State’s first barbecue establishment, opened in 1908, was actually run out of a trolley barn. Also big in Kansas City? “Burnt ends—the outer parts of a smoked beef brisket, cut into small chunks with the delicious outer smoked char and the succulent inner meat.” —Reader DeAnna Anderson, Pleasant Hill, Missouri
Signature dish: Chicken-fried steak, which is dipped in egg and flour and then fried, and is often served with a white gravy.
Signature dish: Runza, a pocket sandwich similar to Kansas’s bierocks, with extra cabbage. The sandwich chain Runza, a Midwest favorite, got its start in Lincoln.
Signature dish: Shrimp cocktail. To compete with the other gambling houses in town, Italo Ghelfi, the owner of the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, decided to bet on this seafood starter, selling it for 50 cents in 1959. It has been a conspicuously affordable Sin City staple ever since.
Signature dish: Poutine is not the most appetizing name, and it’s actually worse when you translate the French word—it means either “hodgepodge” or “mess.” But this French Canadian recipe for cheese curds, french fries, and gravy is justifiably a Granite State favorite.
Signature dish: Taylor ham. “In North Jersey, it’s called Taylor ham, and in South Jersey, it’s called pork roll. Whatever you call it, it’s delicious.” —Reader Chris Lamazza, Mahwah, New Jersey
Signature dish: Buffalo wings. The beloved appetizer was born in Buffalo’s Anchor Bar in 1964.
Signature dish: Barbecue. The bar for barbecue in the Tar Heel State is high. To become a stop on the state’s Historic Barbecue Trail, pits must cook meat with wood or charcoal, make their own sauce, provide a sit-down dining experience for the public, and “enjoy the high esteem” of their community.
Signature dish: Cincinnati chili. “Cincinnati chili can be customized from the most basic one-way (chili only—but trust me, NO ONE eats it this way) to the gold standard five-way: chili, spaghetti, beans, raw onions, and shredded cheddar. I was making this at home by the time I was ten.” —Deb Mulvey, Taste of Home copy chief
Signature dish: In 1988, the Sooner State designated a whole official meal. Served up is chicken-fried steak, sausage with biscuits and gravy, corn bread, corn, fried okra, black-eyed peas, barbecued pork, squash, grits, and strawberries, topped off with a piece of pecan pie. Hope you’re hungry!
Signature dish: Philly cheesesteak. Except that you should never say “Philly” or “cheesesteak” when ordering one. Instead, ask for a “Whiz wit” (Cheez Whiz with fried onions) or a “Prov witout” (provolone, no onions).
Signature dish: Doughnuts. Rhode Island is home to just over a million people and more than 200 doughnut shops. Online you can even find an eight-stop Donut Trail.
Who Knew? The Ocean State is the smallest in the union, so perhaps it’s fitting that it has an official state appetizer: calamari.
Signature dish: Chislic. Bite-size portions of beef, lamb, venison, or mutton that are grilled or deep-fried and served on a stick. These are the best coffee shops in all 50 states.
Signature dish: Nashville hot chicken—fried chicken prepared with plenty of cayenne pepper.
Signature dish: Fry sauce. One part ketchup, two parts mayo, maybe some lemon or pickle juice, and onion seasoning. “Every local burger joint has fry sauce ready for you. I’ve seen other Utah residents try to make their own with little packets when traveling out of state.” —Elisabeth Larsen, Taste of Home field editor
Signature dish: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Their inspired flavors fill freezers today, but it wasn’t until Ben Greenfield got rejected from medical school and Jerry Cohen’s pottery wasn’t selling that they opened an ice cream shop in Burlington.
Signature dish: Grilled wild salmon. “We have certain times when we can fish for salmon. One year, I went out with the boys and got seasick—bad. But one taste and it was all worth it.” —Elizabeth Bramkamp, Taste of Home field editor
Signature dish: Pepperoni rolls. The state’s favorite snack was invented for miners by an Italian immigrant. Today, three giant pepperoni rolls serve as mascots for the West Virginia Black Bears, a minor-league baseball team in Morgantown.
Signature dish: Cheese curds. “You will find some form of fried cheese curds in almost every restaurant, bar, and venue that serves food in Wisconsin. They’re usually coated in a beer batter—of course made with Wisconsin beer.” —James Schend, Taste of Home deputy editor
Signature dish: Bison or beef jerky. Cowboys on the range have been chewing it for more than 150 years. Now that you’re ready to cook up a tasty dish, make a shopping list and head out to the best supermarkets in every state.