Knowing the 50 States Most Loved Foods and Desserts to Enjoy while on an extended road trip across the U.S. multiplies the enjoyment of the scenery. Get to know the favorites and specialties both in the savory and sweets for each state when you stop for the night. Use this State favorite foods list to guide your taste buds across the nation. The foodie in you will be very happy.
Alabama – Alabama’s pride belongs to Cheese Grits. Northerners know nothing about this filling southern staple at the table. At breakfast, lunch and dinner, you will find cheese grits often as a combination with bacon, ham or even shrimp. Side dishes are always available to add to any meal in Alabama. What do Alabamians love for dessert? Peaches are the state fruit, so you can bet on peach pie hot and ready for vanilla ice cream in the local diner, but Buttermilk pie is a classic. Check them both out with a takeout bag.
Alaska – King salmon is the state fish and you can bet you will find it on almost every menu, grilled, baked, fried or sauced. Personally, I liked the king crab dipped in butter with a side of lemon. As for dessert, baked Alaska or course!
Arizona – So close to the Mexican border, Arizona foods have a flare for the spicy. When on your roadside stop at lunch, be sure to indulge in a chimichanga. It isn’t the state food, but you will find a chimichanga in versions for breakfast, lunch and dinner to love. Warning… they are fattening. There is no state sanctioned sweet designation however with our research and the heat in Arizona, frozen desserts are leading the list. Sopaipilla run a close second drizzled with honey.
Arkansas – Interestingly we have found that Arkansas is one of the leading producers of rice in the country making it the official grain. You will find rice cooked every which way they can including rice pudding. Catfish comes out second as a favorite in Arkansas. Straight from Steel Magnolias, red velvet cake is a dessert specialty in this state.
California – Artichokes are the state vegetable. Grilled artichokes over a hot fire grill with a secret sauce are not to be missed. Because California is so big you will be best to have the wine and crabs in the north, avocados and artichokes in the south and Mexican food pretty much anywhere in the state. Real tacos with freshly made tortillas will spoil you forever. Because citrus is easily grown in California, you will find the Meyer lemon cake out of this world.
Colorado – Being one of the top cattle states, your steak or lamb on the menu will be a perfect choice, however with the high Hispanic influence, the enchiladas are not to be missed. Have a hot sipping chocolate with whipped cream to settle your meal.
Connecticut – Connecticut is well known for shellfish and adding it to another favorite, pizza gives you their specialty – the white clam pizza. If you like clam sauce on pasta, try this and you will be hooked. State dessert in Connecticut is ice cream. Residents have described perfection by adding the cinnamon-sugar-coated snickerdoodle cookie to the top. You are the decision maker here.
Delaware – Delaware is a tiny state with some really-big food choices. Topping the list are the blue claw crabs or the fried chicken. Crack your own crabs at the table but don’t wear your best clothes. You will get messy. Another finger eating food special is the fried chicken. Crispy beyond belief. Try it yourself and add dumplings to the meal. Handmade ice cream at the seaside is the perfect treat for a hot summer afternoon.
Florida – Florida had stone crabs starting on Oct. 15 thru Mother’s Day. If you have never tried them and you like seafood, you must. Bring your credit card though. Stone crabs cost a pretty penny. Key Lime pie is the cool tangy dessert, the topping is debated, however. Some like the whipped cream and others like the meringue. You choose your favorite.
Georgia – Everyone knows BBQ is king in Georgia. Just cross the state line and start counting how many BBQ places you see. That’s a tell-tale sign. Dessert is a toss-up. Pecan pie or peach pie? Both are famous in this state. I like the peach and just get the pecans as a snack for later.
Hawaii – Tropical breezes and beach laulaus are a tradition. If you don’t have an opportunity to attend one, try the Poke bowls. You get to build your own from the menu of ingredients including your favorite sushi. It definitely beats the island favorite of spam – any day. Dessert serves up fresh pineapple and lilikoi fruits. There is nothing like the fruit that is in Hawaii.
Idaho – You know Idaho is known famously for its potatoes but try the croquetas with any of the filling choices made fresh in the downtown Boise Basque Market. The state fruit is Huckleberry and you will find plenty of huckleberry fruit choices to indulge upon. Do it! Fresh huckleberry is a dream fruit that takes nearly two decades to mature. The picking spots are family secrets in Idaho.
Illinois – When in Illinois you must try the Chicago-style deep dish pizza. It is totally different than any pizza you know. You will probably have to eat it with a fork and take leftovers back to your hotel so make sure you have a way to heat it up the next day. Second choice is the hotdog, Chicago Style. For dessert, popcorn is the official snack food of Illinois.
Indiana – Hoosiers love their pork tenderloin. Pork is big in Indiana. Try the breaded pork tenderloin and have the beans on the side. If you still have room, order up some Sugar Cream Pie. This state pie will finish off your meal in Hoosier style.
Iowa – Corn. It is sold on stands on the side of the road everywhere and get it hot off the grill right on the cob dripping with butter. It makes a whole dinner if you eat enough. When you have had enough corn, try the Iowa exclusive Blarney Stones. Not a stone at all but a yellow cake covered with frosting and a salted Spanish peanut topping. Yum
Kansas – is a cattle state with plenty of options. BBQ ribs or maybe a buffalo burger are two safe bets to satisfy your hunger in Kansas. Peppernuts (or Pfeffernusse Cookies) are German specialties in Kansas. Watch out, trying one leads to many more. Best to pace yourselves.
Kentucky – Corn pudding is this writer’s choice. Don’t miss it on your trip. You may want to ask for the recipe. Bourbon flavors everything including the desserts in Kentucky. You have lots of choices but go for the Walnut Bourbon Fudge Pie. You won’t regret it until the 5 extra pounds set in.
Louisiana – Cajun is king in Louisiana. Gumbo tops the list of what you must try with a side of dirty rice. If spicy is too much for you, go for the Po-Boy sandwich with shrimp and oysters. Desserts hands down are one choice in New Orleans. Sit with a cup of café au lait and the beignets dusted freely with powdered sugar. Prepare to walk those calories off looking at the street art in New Orleans.
Maine – Do we even need to tell you? Lobster, Lobster and more lobster. Get it steamed with a side of butter and lemon for one meal. Next meal have it in a lobster roll sandwich. Next have a lobster omelet. Top off the lobster dinner much later with the old fashioned whoopie pie. See if you can get it home made in the hotel!
Maryland – I think it is safe to say, crab cakes are king in Maryland. Blue Crabs run neck and neck for popularity but are way messier. Get the crab cakes. The Smith Island Cake boasts up to 11 thin layers of cake sandwiched with chocolate icing. Although it can be only 3 inches tall, you may never taste anything like it.
Massachusetts – We have two toss-ups both in the food and desserts here. Clam Chowder and Ipswich Fried Clams – just eat both sometime in your travels. Desserts are of course Boston Cream Pie and the Toll House cookie. All four are native to Massachusetts.
Michigan – With all those lakes, you have to know the fishing is great. Rainbow trout, being the state fish is best served broiled or grilled. From German roots, many of the citizens just love the Schnitzel. They make it so big there, it is falling off the plate. When in Detroit you must have the Sicilian-style square pizza. Dessert is another subject. Lines fall out the doors for Paczki. What is it? Paczki is a Polish doughnut stuffed generously with stewed plum jam. Plenty of other varieties are offered if stewed plum jam isn’t your favorite. It is a Michigan specialty.
Minnesota – Feast on walleye for dinner. See if they cook it with beer. The blueberry muffin rules in Minnesota. Blueberry anything will suffice. As the state fruit, it is a fresh summer treat.
Mississippi – Get them while they are hot and creamy. Biscuits and Gravy are a meal to last the whole day. I like mine with fried potatoes underneath all the gravy and I never eat anything else for the whole day. Forget dessert for me but if you are still hungry, don’t miss out on the Mississippi Mud pie. Not really mud and not quite a pie. You decide
Missouri – BBQ is king in Missouri. A perfectly charred, sweet and crisp BBQ rib will leave you wanting for more. Top it off with the state’s official dessert, ice cream. Pick your flavor.
Montana – Yup, Rocky Mountain Oysters are what’s for dinner in Montana. You’ve gotta give it a try. Montana makes it work. IF you are not brave enough, get the blackspotted trout and top off dinner with a fresh slice of huckleberry pie.
Nebraska – Runzas are so popular the term has been copyrighted in the state. Runzas are pockets of dough filled with ground beef and a section of other ingredients. Try them! Follow up with a popcorn ball. Popping corn is a Nebraska grown product and they know how to fashion it into a tasty dessert. Have one or save it for later.
Nevada – Nevada is known for the all you can eat buffets. Eat hearty at the buffet. Although not a coastal state, Nevada boasts the Shrimp cocktail was originated there in 1959. They invented it, so you can give it a shot. Room for dessert? May I suggest the ice cream sundae. It is hot in Nevada, you need to cool off.
New Hampshire – On the shore, I have to say, seafood. Lobster, clams, lobster, clams, lobster clams. No that was intentional in case you were not paying attention. Pumpkin is the state’s fruit so now we know who is responsible for pumpkin … well everything. Cider doughnuts are a state specialty. Hot cider doughnuts can not compare to any other doughnut in the land. Get a cup of coffee while you are at it.
New Jersey – The ripper hotdog. IT is famous because it rips open when you bite into it. Not grilled but deep fried and it is good. Very good. Load it up with onions, cheese and a chili-like sauce and sit down to enjoy. Top it off with what else but a stroll on the boardwalk for some salt water taffy. Pick your favorites and create a box to take home.
New Mexico – The Hispanic influence is everywhere especially the food in New Mexico. How Spicy? Your choice when eating in New Mexico. Try the chili when there and ask for sour cream on top. You cannot go wrong. As far as a little dessert goes, the state actually has a state cookie, the bizcochito. They are cinnamon flavored little biscuits shaped like stars.
New York – Pizza. Need we say more? New York Pizza is like no other. We won’t steer you to one perfect place because we had so many. Look for the thin crispy crust and try them all. If you are up in the north part of NY, get the real deal Buffalo Wings! Dessert, of course we have the cheesecake from the downtown deli. We prefer plain to taste the richness of it.
North Carolina – Fresh blueberries, like nowhere else. You just have to try them. Pulled pork BBQ would be the sandwich we recommend. Get the pulled pork sliders with extra sauce to dip.
North Dakota – Bison is very popular in the state. Try the bison burger. We tried and found bison to be very similar to beef and now we can say we had bison. Start your day with Chokecherry jelly on top of your muffin. Chokecherries are common primarily to North Dakota with a sour, sweet flavor all their own.
Ohio – Cincinnati Chili, Chili Mac or whatever you want to call it, it is worth having and really filling. Finish off your day with Buckeye candy, a sweet ball of peanut butter dipped in chocolate creating the perfect combination of the two.
Oklahoma – As the story is told, an abnormally cold winter in 1893 caused the origin of this dessert. Ranchers were so tired and miserable of the winter when one resourceful woman started cheering them up with fried pies. Try a fried pie from the Fried Pie Lady and indulge your taste buds. No supper needed.
Oregon – In summer, the barbecue menu is full of treats just waiting for you to top off with a slice of marionberry pie. Known as Oregon’s dirty little secret.
Pennsylvania – Cheesesteak and forget the diet for that week. Add the works for a gooey sub you will never forget. Who needs dessert after that?
Rhode Island – Clam Cakes with lemon. Some prefer tarter sauce but lemon for me. Try them. Coffee milk should be your beverage of choice for dessert. Trust us.
South Carolina – Collard greens are the official state vegetable and if anyone can prepare them right, it is a South Carolinian. You will have to try them at least with one meal which should be BBQ. BBQ is everywhere in the south and the Carolina’s have their own way of preparation. She Crab Soup is the eastern S.C. Treat. It is similar to bisque and will win you over forever! Peach pie is the favorite dessert for this writer. Sweet Tea tops everything off or all by itself.
South Dakota – You are only going to get Kuchen (German for cake) in South Dakota. There are many flavor options to choose from you will need a nap after.
Tennessee – Heirloom Tomatoes are plentiful, and home grown. There is nothing like a freshly ripened tomato salad when visiting Tennessee. After that, Hot Chicken is what’s for dinner. Hope you like spicy and crunchy!
Texas – Queso dip with chips. Nobody makes a queso dip like Texans and you should have BBQ Brisket to follow. Pecan pie was offered, and we are glad to tell you it was amazing.
Utah – Fry Sauce on everything. Popular to Midvale and served pretty much everywhere. Fresh cherries first then hot cherry pie. We stuck with dessert. (take some Fry Sauce home with you)
Vermont – There is no where on earth for breakfast better than Vermont. Pancakes with warm butter and Maple Syrup. The apple pie covered with sugar baked into the crust – you should never turn down if you see it on the menu. Add a slice of Vermont Cheddar to make it heaven.
Virginia – Virginia is known for country ham which when added to a plate of biscuits and gravy or eggs and grits pares perfectly. Baked apples on the side or for dessert.
Washington – On the west coast with the ocean right there you are going to find the best Seafood Chowder you may ever eat! Don’t miss it.
West Virginia –The Pepperoni Roll Rules in West Virginia. Originally created for the Coal Miners as an easy to eat lunch or dinner, now considered the state food. It is like your own personal pizza rolled up into a warm gooey treat. Not to be missed.
Wisconsin – Fried Cheese Curds are a Wisconsin favorite. Bumpy lumps of cheddar deep-fried to perfection. Have a cold beer too while you are there.
Wyoming – Have a steak. You cannot go wrong with the Cowboy steak cooked as you like it. Grass fed right off the range. Can’t get fresher than that. Take home some beef jerky to the family for a souvenier.
We hope this list helps you in your travels around the U.S. for what foods to indulge yourself in while you move around. Share our page with your family and friends and stop back by for new information as we keep traveling.