58 Most Popular and Traditional American Dishes/Foods

American dishes result from blending various culinary influences with local incentives to create tasty and convenient options.

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Basic Information

American Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Grains, meat, seafood, dairy products, fruits, vegetables.

Common Cooking Methods

Baking, deep-frying, grilling, assembling, boiling, pan-frying, simmering, roasting.


Main Course, Appetizer, Dessert.


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Key Taste

Sweet, Savory, Sour.

Eating Etiquette

Eat with forks, knives, and spoons; use a napkin at a sit-down meal; avoid slurping or making loud noises; engage in light and polite conversations with other diners; tip when eating out.

Meal Presentation

Serve dishes in many types of meal settings; use multiple utensils, plates, and glasses for a full-course meal; prepare special dishes with elaborate garnishes on holiday feasts.

Culinary Festivals

Christmas, Thanksgiving.

Influence and Fusion

American dishes are considerably influenced by Native American, Dutch, German, Italian, Greek, French, Mexican, Chinese, Caribbean, and African cooking traditions.
Origin and Region

American Food: Origin and Region


United States

Cuisine’s Geographical Territory

Northern America

Country’s Region

Northern US, Central US, Southern US, and Western US
America Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of American Food

  • Sandwiches

    American sandwiches are typically prepared by serving savory ingredients between two slices of bread.

    Most sandwiches in the US are savory finger food or dishes for the main course, but some are sweet desserts.

    A typical American sandwich is filled with cold cuts (such as ham and bacon), cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and other vegetables.

  • Bread and Doughs

    Many staple American dishes belong to the category of bread and doughs, including pizza.

    Certain types of bread are deeply rooted in Native American cuisine, while others hail from Europe.

    American bread can be plain or baked with various savory ingredients.

  • Grilled and Barbecued Dishes

    American cuisine offers many grilled and barbecued dishes made from pork, beef, and poultry.

    These dishes usually go with starch-based or vegetable-based sides.

    Certain dishes are staple options for American celebratory meals.

  • Casseroles and Bakes

    Baking is a popular way of preparing food in American cuisine, and a casserole (or baking dish) is a common cooking tool.

    Most American baked dishes are savory and hearty items for the main course.

    These dishes are ideal for preparing a large amount of food and feeding many people.

  • Snacks

    There are many types of snacks in the US, from sweet to savory treats.

    Many of these dishes are prepared by frying and boast a crispy exterior.

    American snacks are usually available as delicious and convenient street eats at food carts, fairs, and street stalls.

  • Desserts

    Americans enjoy many types of desserts, including cookies, pies, and cakes.

    There is a blend of traditional and modern recipes in American desserts; many dishes either originated in Europe or were created by locals in relatively recent times.

    Desserts in American cuisine are sweet and sometimes feature the creaminess of dairy products or fruits.

American dishes are the food offerings that the US people have created or adapted from other cuisines throughout their history.

The diversity that characterizes the US profile is evident in its foods, which are strongly influenced by Americas’ culinary culture, European delicacies, Asian fare, and Africa.

Adding to the varieties of American dishes are the many US regional cuisines. From Tex-Mex cuisine in the south to the vibrant food scene of New York City in the north, you will be spoiled for choices when enjoying local dishes.

Inventiveness is a major driving force of American cuisine, with many dishes created from existing recipes in other cooking traditions or out of sheer ingenuity. American fast food and street eats are also worth checking out.

For each dish introduced in this list, I will mention its origin, main ingredients, cooking technique, flavor profile, and other helpful facts, such as its history and accompaniments.

Next, I will go into the main characteristics of American cuisine and recommend suitable beverages to enjoy with local dishes.

Below are 58 well-known dishes from America:

58 Most Popular American Dishes with Filters



  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Hamburger, or burger, is an iconic American sandwich consisting of a ground beef patty served between two halves of a bun. Common toppings include lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onions, pickles, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise.

Interestingly, although hamburgers have their name derived from the German port city of Hamburg, the connections between the two are ambiguous. Modern hamburgers apparently appeared in the 19th century, and there are multiple claims of invention from various individuals.

Nowadays, hamburgers are among the most popular snacks and fast food in the US, with countless possible variations in toppings and styles. Americans love them because of their high protein content and the convenient dining experience they offer.

Cheeseburgers American


  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Cheeseburger is a classic American dish prepared by adding cheese to a hamburger and letting it slightly melt under the heat of the cooked meat. Common choices of cheese include American cheese, cheddar, Swiss cheese, and mozzarella.

While this American twist on the hamburger emerged in the 1920s or 1930s, its exact origin is disputed among several US restaurants.

However, Lionel Sternberge, the son of a sandwich shop owner in Pasadena, California, is widely credited as the inventor of cheeseburgers.

Pepperoni Pizza

Pepperoni Pizza

  • Fusion
  • Traditional

Pepperoni pizza is an American pizza dish that gained popularity in the mid-20th century. It was created partly to satisfy American soldiers who returned from the European front after WWI and wanted something to remind them of Italian food.

A typical pepperoni pizza features a hand-tossed and slightly chewy crust, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and slices of pepperoni (a spicy Italian-American salami made from cured pork).

This distinctive American pizza variety first appeared in the 1950s at a pizzeria called New Heaven. Today, sliced pepperoni is the most preferred pizza topping in the US.

Since pepperoni pizza is an American creation, you’re unlikely to find it in Italy, the birthplace of pizza.

Hot Dog

Hot Dog

  • National
  • Street Food

Hot dog is a universally popular American dish consisting of grilled or steamed sausage served in a sliced bun and with various toppings. The sausage is usually made of beef or a blend of pork and beef and is based on German frankfurter.

There are multiple regional topping variations in hot dogs. For example, the New York style has sauerkraut and mustard, while Chicago-style hot dogs are loaded with anything from pickles and tomato slices to celery salt but never ketchup.

Hot dogs were invented by German immigrants in the mid-19th century and quickly became a symbol of American cuisine. This convenient street food has long been associated with public events and sports in the US.

There are some theories regarding the origin of the name “hot dog.” For example, the name might have stemmed from the expression “to put on the dog” or the phrase “doggy hots.”

French Fries

French Fries

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

French fries are a ubiquitous side dish in American cuisine. Although they originated in France or Belgium, these crispy bites are widely served with various dishes in the US, from hot dogs to hamburgers.

US-style french fries are typically cut into thin strips, deep-fried until crispy, and salted. There are many ways to prepare this potato-based dish, including crinkle-cut, waffle, and curly fries.

In terms of dipping sauces, Americans usually enjoy crispy french fries with ketchup, mayonnaise, or ranch dressing.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

  • National
  • Traditional

Apple pie is a famous American dish that symbolizes local culture and tradition. Interestingly, while there is a saying “as American as apple pie,” this pie actually hails from medieval England and only became popular in the US in the 20th century.

An American apple pie is characterized by its flaky, buttery crust and a sweet, cinnamon-spiced apple filling made from sweet-tart varieties. Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Honeycrisp apples are the preferred ingredients for this pie.

The most beloved way of serving apple pies is apple pie à la mode, meaning to enjoy each slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Fried Chicken Waffle

Chicken and Waffles

  • Traditional

Chicken and waffles, or Southern fried chicken, is a popular American dish in the Southern region. It was created in the 17th-century Pennsylvania Dutch country.

Chicken and waffles involves seasoning and coating chicken pieces in flour or batter, then deep-frying them until crispy and golden brown. Popular sides for this combo are mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and biscuits.

Originally, fried catfish was served with waffles, but Americans replaced it with chicken. The mix of fried chicken and waffles is often associated with soul food and African-American cuisine.

Pancakes Bananawalnut


  • Traditional

Pancake is a breakfast staple in American cuisine. A light, fluffy pancake is commonly prepared from a batter of flour, eggs, milk, butter, and a leavening agent like baking powder.

Some versions of pancakes feature blueberries, chocolate chips, or bananas in the batter for added flavor.

People often serve pancakes in stacks and serve them with maple syrup, jam, or fruits. But feel free to customize this versatile dish to your heart’s content, such as pairing it with savory sausage and bacon or beverages like tea and milk.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • Traditional

Chocolate chip cookie is an American classic baked treat that was invented by Ruth Wakefield in Massachusetts during the 1930s.

Americans prepare this type of cookie from a dough of flour, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, and numerous semi-sweet chocolate chips. These ingredients create a buttery treat with crispy edges and a soft yet chewy interior.

Macaroni And Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

  • Traditional

Macaroni and cheese, also known as mac and cheese or mac ‘n’ cheese, is a beloved American comfort food with European origins.

The main ingredients of macaroni and cheese are cooked macaroni pasta and a creamy cheese sauce, which consists of a mixture of cheeses and is baked until bubbly and golden. Breadcrumbs are sometimes added to the top of this dish.

Since the 18th century, mac and cheese has been a cornerstone of both home-cooked meals to upscale restaurant menus in the US.

Barbecue Ribs

Barbecue Rib

  • Traditional

Barbecue rib, or BBQ rib, is a famous American smoked or grilled dish hailing from the Southern region in the early 20th century. It is famous for its rich, savory taste and fall-off-the-bone tenderness.

To make this grilled staple, pork or beef ribs are seasoned with a dry rub (a mixture of spices and salt) or marinated in a rich, tangy barbecue sauce before being smoked for many hours or even days on hot coals. The slow cooking process lends a rich and deep flavor to the dish.

People often serve barbecue ribs with coleslaw, baked beans, and cornbread. Popular BBQ rib varieties include Kansas-style, Carolina-style, Texas-style, and Memphis-style BBQ.

Buffalo Wings

Buffalo Wing

  • Street Food

Buffalo wing is a famous appetizer and main dish made with chicken wings. It is a 1960s invention of a bar in the city of Buffalo in New York, hence the name.

A Buffalo wing consists of a deep-fried chicken wing that is topped with a special sauce (including spicy cayenne pepper sauce and melted butter) before serving.

Americans often enjoy Buffalo wings with celery sticks or fresh carrots and blue cheese while they are still hot and crispy. These side dishes help balance the spicy, tangy, and savory flavors of the deep-fried wings.

Banana Split

Ice Cream

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Ice cream is a prevalent dessert in American cuisine and comes in many various flavors. The high fat content makes American ice cream stand out: it is always at least 10%.

While ice cream was already popular in the US in the mid-19th century, improvements in refrigeration in the 1920s and 1930s elevated it into a mainstream indulgent treat.

A particularly famous American ice cream treat is the banana treat, which was invented by David “Doc” Strickler in 1904 in Pennsylvania. This recipe pairs a split banana with ice cream and tops it with whipped cream, nuts, and cherries.

Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwiches

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

  • Traditional

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a beloved American dish that is particularly among children. Its origins trace back to the early 20th century when both peanut butter and jelly became widely available.

The popularity of this kid-friendly sandwich lies in its simplicity, affordability, and sweet and salty flavor combination. Americans even dedicate April 2nd each year to celebrate National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day.

Brownie Chocolate


  • Traditional

Brownie is a renowned American dessert and snack characterized by its dense, fudgy texture and rich chocolate flavor. Its main ingredients are flour, butter, sugar, eggs, chocolate or cocoa powder, and nuts or chocolate chips.

Since their introduction in the late 19th century, brownies have been a well-liked treat to pair with milk or ice cream, offering a contrast between the crispy exterior and the moist, chewy interior.

Interestingly, people categorize brownies as cookies or cookie bars, not cakes.

New York Cheesecake


  • Traditional

Cheesecake is a rich and creamy American baked dessert that stands out for its dense, smooth texture and slightly tangy flavor. These qualities result from the use of cream cheese, eggs, and sugar, plus the fresh fruits on top.

There are two major cheesecake varieties in the US: New York-style and Chicago-style. The main difference between these two versions is the content of cream cheese.

Americans love cheesecakes so much that they have designated July 30th as the National Cheesecake Day.

Cornbread Bread


  • Traditional

Cornbread is a traditional American bread that is particularly prevalent in Southern cuisine. It dates back to Native American cuisine and was adopted by European settlers

The core ingredients of cornbread are cornmeal, flour, milk, eggs, a leavening agent, and optional additions like cheese and jalapenos. Depending on the components, cornbread can be sweet or savory.

Cornbread goes well with many savory dishes, such as chili con carne and BBQ ribs.

This classic bread comes in two main varieties. The Northern (or original) cornbread has a buttery taste and a spongy, appealing cake-like texture, while the Southern version is drier, more crumbly, and less sweet.

Biscuits And Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy

  • Traditional

Biscuits and gravy, or biscuits ‘n’ gravy, is a classic American dish in the South. It dates back to the late 19th century and is often enjoyed as a filling breakfast or brunch item.

In this combo, the biscuits are smothered in a creamy, savory gravy traditionally made from the drippings of cooked pork sausage, flour, and milk. The flaky, buttery biscuits complement nicely the rich, meaty gravy, creating a wonderful comfort dish.

Tater Tots

Tater Tots

Tater tots, or tots, are an American side dish invented in the 1950s to utilize leftover potato scraps. The potatoes are grated, mixed with spices, then formed into small, cylindrical pieces and deep-fried until crispy.

Americans typically serve golden tater tots with ketchup or other dipping sauces to enjoy the crispy exterior and fluffy interior of this wonderful deep-fried potato-based dish.

When you enjoy tater tots, don’t forget its inventors: the two brothers F. and G. Nephi Grigg of Ore-Ida, a frozen food company.

Breakfast Sausage

Breakfast Sausage

  • Traditional

Breakfast sausage is a well-known American dish for the early meal of the day. Its main ingredients are ground pork (including lean meat and fat), herbs, and spices, though some versions use turkey or chicken or even add maple syrup for a touch of sweetness.

Traditional breakfast sausage is formed into small patties or links and pan-fried, baked, or grilled into a savory, spiced dish. Feel free to pair it with eggs, pancakes, sandwiches, or waffles.

Mashed Potato

Mashed Potato

  • Traditional

Mashed potato is a creamy and buttery dish that most Americans are familiar with. The most popular way of making this potato-based dish is by boiling potatoes and then mashing them with butter, milk, and seasonings.

Mashed potatoes are a versatile side dish for various savory specialties for all occasions, from casual family dinners to Thanksgiving feasts. This ubiquitous side dish is a major contribution of British cuisine to the US.



  • Fusion

Nachos are a widely enjoyed appetizer and snack in the US, especially in Tex-Mex cuisine. While nachos originated in Mexico in the 1940s, they are now a common sight in many American bars, restaurants, and sporting events.

The American version of nachos typically consists of tortilla chips topped with melted cheese, jalapeños, and optional ingredients like meats, beans, guacamole, and sour cream.

BLT Sandwich

BLT Sandwich

  • Traditional

BLT is a classic American sandwich. Its name is formed from the initials of its main ingredients, which are bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes.

In a BLT sandwich, its namesake ingredients are put with mayonnaise between slices of toasted bread, offering a mix of crispy, crunchy textures and savory, refreshing flavors.

This simple sandwich was invented in the early 1900s. Its origins trace back to late Victorian tea sandwiches in Britain.

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich

Philly Cheesesteak

  • Traditional

Philly cheesesteak is an iconic American sandwich made from thinly sliced sautéed ribeye beef and melted cheese on a long hoagie roll. Onions, peppers, and mushrooms are common additions.

The key to an authentic Philly cheesesteak lies in the choice of cheese (often Cheez Whiz, provolone, or American cheese) and the preparation of the beef.

Philly cheesesteak was created in the 1930s in Philadelphia and quickly became a renowned street food.

Reuben Sandwich

Reuben Sandwich

  • Traditional

Reuben sandwich is a renowned American sandwich consisting of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing. These ingredients are grilled between slices of dark rye bread.

Reuben sandwiches offer a complex flavor profile, combining the saltiness of the beef, the tanginess of the sauerkraut, and the richness of the cheese and dressing.

While this gourmet sandwich dish was named after its creator or the restaurant he worked at, various people claimed to have invented it. Omaha (Nebraska) and New York City are the two probable candidates for its birthplace.

While many kosher-style restaurants and delicatessens provide Reuben sandwiches, this sandwich type isn’t kosher-friendly.



  • Traditional

Cobbler is a well-known American dessert, especially in the Southern states. It consists of a fruit filling poured into a large baking dish and covered with a biscuit or dough topping before baking.

Cobbler is a rustic, comforting dish with a juicy fruit base and a soft, doughy crust. Americans often serve it with ice cream or whipped cream for extra indulgence.

Seasonal fruits are the key to making a cobbler successfully. Peaches, berries (often blueberries), and apples are popular choices.

Lobster Roll

Lobster Roll

  • Traditional

Lobster roll is a hearty American sandwich native to New England, particularly Maine and Massachusetts. The first restaurant to offer lobster rolls in 1929 is Perry’s in Milford.

A standard lobster roll has chunks of succulent lobster meat lightly dressed with mayonnaise or melted butter and served in a grilled, buttered New England-style hot dog bun. The freshness and quality of the lobster are a celebration of local seafood bounty.

Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

  • Traditional

Clam chowder is a superb American soup representing Northeastern cuisine, especially the cooking traditions of New England. It was apparently created by the Pilgrims in the early 17th century.

The main ingredients of this exquisite seafood soup are clams, diced potatoes, onions, celery, and a milk or cream base. Characterized by its thick consistency and comforting flavors, clam chowder is often served with oyster crackers or bread.

Manhattan clam chowder is a notable variant that features a tomato-based broth and a tangier flavor.

Marshmallow Smores


S’more is a beloved American campfire treat consisting of chocolate and a roasted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers. The first recipe was published in 1927.

The name of s’mores was shortened from “some more,” reflecting the irresistible appeal of this campfire treat.

The combination of gooey, melted marshmallow with melted chocolate and crunchy crackers can easily evoke nostalgia for many Americans, bringing them back to the time they sat with their friends under the stars and ate s’mores together.

Corn Dogs

Corn Dog

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Corn dog is a popular snack and street food usually sold at American fairs and food carts.

It is made by coating a hot dog sausage in a thick layer of cornmeal batter, deep-frying it, and serving it on a wooden stick.

Corn dogs originated in the early 20th century thanks to German immigrants. This crispy-outside, juicy-inside snack typically goes with ketchup or mustard.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

  • Traditional

Key lime pie is a famous American dessert hailing from the Florida Keys. This pie features a crumbly graham cracker crust and a smooth, creamy filling made from Key lime juice, egg yolks, and condensed milk.

Since the late 19th century, Key lime pies have been a symbol of Floridian cuisine. The juice of Key limes contributes a pleasant tang, while the crust and toppings are wonderfully sweet and creamy.

Some people even top a Key lime pie with whipped cream or meringue for added flavor. You can say that this type of pie is even more “American” than apple pies.

Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

  • Traditional

Pecan pie is an American dessert deeply rooted in Southern cuisine. This sweet pie consists of a pie crust and a filling made from pecans, eggs, butter, and a sweetener such as corn syrup, sugar, or molasses.

Although a pecan pie is already sweet, rich, and nutty, Americans usually serve it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Pecan pies are a staple during holiday seasons, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Breakfast Tacos


  • Fusion

Taco is a popular dish in many regions of the US, especially the Southwest. Hailing from Mexican cuisine, it consists of soft flour or corn tortillas filled with various ingredients, such as bacon, cheese, scrambled eggs, salsa, cilantro, avocados, etc.

Tex-Mex cuisine is particularly well-known for its colorful and flavorful tacos. Make sure you try breakfast tacos, a renowned taco variety served for the early meal of the day.

By some estimates, Americans consume up to 4.5 billion tacos every year.

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Chicago Deep-dish Pizza

  • Fusion

Chicago deep-dish pizza is an interesting American pizza variation that originated in Chicago in the century. It is the most famous example of Chicago-style pizza.

A typical Chicago deep-dish pizza has a pie-like appearance, with a high-edged, buttery crust containing a large amount of cheese, meat, vegetables, and sauce. The sauce is placed on top of the cheese and fillings to prevent the dough from becoming soggy.

To make Chicago deep-dish pizza, people prepare it in a round steel pan that can be as tall as 2 – 3 inches. When served, this hearty pizza spills out the cheesy content like a savory version of lava cake.

Cobb Salad

Cobb Salad

  • Traditional

Cobb salad is an American main dish that originated in the 1930s at the Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles. It was named after its creator, the restaurateur Robert Howard Cobb.

The classic ingredients in Cobb salad include grilled chicken, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, avocadoes, cheese, and tomatoes, all of which are presented in neat rows over a bed of chopped lettuce.

From a dish made of leftovers, Cobb salad is now a well-liked choice to go with baked sweet potatoes, cheese breadstick, and many other side dishes.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

  • Traditional

Eggs benedict is an essential American breakfast dish with multiple origin theories. What’s clear is that it originated in New York City in the late 19th century.

A serving of eggs benedict consists of an English muffin topped with poached eggs, bacon or ham, and hollandaise sauce. Hollandaise sauce is a creamy concoction of butter and egg yolks.

Served with a side of potatoes or greens, eggs benedict creates a rich and creamy breakfast. April 16 is celebrated every year as the National Eggs Benedict Day.

Spaghetti Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Fusion

Spaghetti and meatballs is an American dish created by people of Italian ancestry. It consists of spaghetti, well-seasoned meatballs, and a generous serving of marinara sauce.

A staple in Italian-American cuisine, spaghetti and meatballs is much heartier and include more meat and sauce than traditional Italian spaghetti dishes.

Mozzarella Sticks

Mozzarella Stick

  • Traditional

Mozzarella stick is a popular American appetizer prepared by coating elongated pieces of mozzarella in seasoned breadcrumbs and deep-frying them until golden and crispy.

Mozzarella sticks have a crispy exterior and a gooey inside. Locals often dip them in marinara sauce.

This iconic American appetizer became more popular in the early 1980s when people bought mozzarella sticks in bowling alleys or sports bars. Today, cheese sticks are also sold in many fast food stores.

Pot Roast

Pot Roast

  • Traditional

Pot roast, or Yankee pot roast, is a classic American comfort food. Locals traditionally prepare it by braising or slow-cooking a tough cut of beef, such as chuck roast, in a pot with broth, herbs, potatoes, carrots, onions, and other vegetables.

Originating from the British practice of Sunday roasts, pot roast is now a cherished American delicacy with hearty, savory flavors. Families or friends often gather on the weekends and prepare a large amount of pot roast for a filling, home-cooked meal.

Meatloaf Ketchup


  • Traditional

Meatloaf is a classic meat-based comfort food in the US. Its preparation involves mixing ground meat (usually beef, pork, or veal) with breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasonings, then forming the mixture into a loaf shape and baking.

Many American families improve the savory flavor of meatloaf by glazing it with ketchup or barbecue sauce to add a tangy sweetness. The resulting meat-heavy dish goes well with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Meatloaf has European roots and became popular in America in the 19th century. During the Great Depression, many households opted for meatloaf as a substitute for actual meat.

Salisbury Steak

Salisbury Steak

  • National
  • Traditional

Salisbury steak is a popular American steak dish named after its creator, James Henry Salisbury. He was a physician who recommended a high-protein diet of lean beef and invented this steak in the 19th century.

To make Salisbury steak, people shape ground beef into patties, add seasoning, pan-fry, and serve them with a rich gravy made from beef broth and onions. The steak is often accompanied by mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Salisbury steak shares many similarities with hamburger steak. In fact, at some periods when anti-German ran high in the US, “Salisbury steak” was used as an alternative name for “hamburger.”

Roasted Turkey

Roasted Turkey

  • National
  • Traditional

Roasted turkey is a common American dish to serve at Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. To make this festive dish, people season the turkey with herbs, butter, and aromatics, then slow-roast it to achieve a golden, crispy skin with tender, juicy meat.

Generally, roasted turkey also has stuffings, cranberry sauce, and gravy. Most turkey stuffing recipes include bread, diced vegetables, sausage, and chicken broth.

Although roasted turkey was already a popular dish to serve at American celebratory meals in the early 1800s, it was only associated with holidays in the mid-19th century, thanks to writers like Charles Dicken and Sarah Josepha Hale.

Fish Fry

Fish Fry/Fish and Chips

  • Traditional

Fish and chips, also known as fish fry, is a popular American fast food derived from the British dish of the same name. It is very well-known in the Midwest and Northeast.

Americans prepare fish and chips by breading or coating fish filets (like cod or haddock) with a seasoned batter, deep-frying them in oil, and serving them with french fries. American fries are often thinner than the British ones.

Coleslaw and tartar sauce are other classic accompaniments for American fish and chips. In the South, a more popular form of this fast food includes deep-fried catfish, chips, coleslaw, pickles, raw onion, and a slice of lemon.

Onion Rings

Onion Ring

  • Traditional

Onion ring is an American snack and appetizer by deep-frying thick slices of onion dipped in batter or breadcrumbs. People usually serve it with ketchup or similar dipping sauces.

Onion rings were first mentioned in a 19th-century English cookbook and popularized in the US in the early 20th century. This snack and appetizer offers a contrast between the crunchy exterior and the soft, sweet inside.

California Roll

California Roll

  • Fusion

California roll is a famous American fusion dish created in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Adapted from Japanese sushi, it is an inside-out sushi roll featuring rice, crab meat (or imitation crab), avocados, cucumbers, and sesame seeds or roe.

While not originating in California, this American sushi dish acquired its name since it incorporates staple ingredients in Californian cuisine. In addition, many of its original customers came from this state.

Besides Los Angeles chefs, Hidekazu Tojo, a Japanese chef based in Vancouver (Canada), is often cited as the creator of California rolls.

Cioppino Bowl


  • Traditional

Cioppino is an American seafood stew that originated in San Francisco in the late 19th century. Italian immigrant fishermen came up with this hearty dish and originally cooked it with leftovers.

Today, cioppino is often made with crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish, with garlic, wine, and herbs for seasoning. Crusty bread is the ideal side dish for this stew.

The name “cioppino” was inspired by the Italian term “ciuppin,” referring to a traditional soup with seafood obtained on a sea voyage in Liguria.

Holiday Glazed Ham

Glazed Ham

  • Traditional

Glazed ham is a staple dish in American celebrations, particularly Easter and Christmas. The ham is typically cured and smoked, then baked with a sweet glaze made from ingredients like honey, brown sugar, mustard, and spices.

Glazed ham offers a succulent texture and a balance of sweet, savory, and sour flavors. Americans typically serve it with sides like mashed potatoes, green beans, and rolls.

The tradition of welcoming Easter and Christmas with glazed ham apparently began in the 20th century in the US.

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast

Avocado toast is a relatively new American dish that is quickly becoming popular among health-conscious eaters. Since the 2010s, it has been a common sight at many cafés and breakfast restaurants in the US.

This simple type of toast consists of ripe, mashed avocado spread on toasted bread. There can be additional toppings, like poached eggs, salmon, tomatoes, or radishes.

San Francisco Sourdough Bread

San Francisco Sourdough Bread

  • Traditional

San Francisco sourdough bread is a unique American bread variety famous for its tangy flavor, chewy texture, and crisp crust. It results from a strain of bacteria only growing in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dating back to the California Gold Rush, San Francisco sourdough bread is made using a natural leavening process that involves a “starter” culture and artisanal baking techniques.

Like other types of sourdough bread, this San Francisco specialty is ideal for pairing with various savory foods.

Indian Fry Bread

Fry Bread

  • Traditional

Fry bread, or frybread, is a popular American fried dough dish hailing from Native American cuisine. Today, it represents Southwestern cuisine and is a symbol of the resilience and adaptation of the indigenous peoples.

Fry bread is made from a simple dough of flour, water, and a leavening agent. The dough is rolled out flat and deep-fried until puffy and golden.

There are many suitable toppings for fry bread, such as honey, syrup, baked beans, steak, or vegetables.



Twinkie is an iconic American snack cake that was introduced in the 1930s by the Hostess Brands company. It has the form of a golden, thin sponge cake filled with vanilla-flavored cream.

At first, Twinkies were filled with banana cream, but when the banana became scarce due to WWII, the vanilla flavor was used.

Twinkies are very popular with children and are famed for their long shelf life and presence in popular culture.

Fortune Cookies

Fortune Cookie

  • Fusion

Fortune cookie is an American dessert with origins in early 20th-century California. Despite its association with Chinese cuisine, it is actually an American invention and is largely unknown in China.

Fortune cookies are prepared from a simple batter of sugar, flour, water, and oil. The cookies are baked into flat circles, then quickly folded with the fortune inside while still warm.

The “fortune” is a piece of paper with a proverb, aphorism, or a vague prophecy. Fortune cookies are mainly served at Chinese-American restaurants.



  • Fusion
  • Traditional

Jambalaya is a flavorful one-pot stew in the American state of Louisiana. Hailing from Creole cuisine, it combines Spanish, French, and African culinary influences.

Jambalaya boasts a bold and savory flavor derived from meat or seafood, vegetables (like onion, celery, and bell pepper), rice, tomatoes (optional), and various spices, with cayenne peppers and bay leaves as must-have options.

Jambalaya is often served in a communal style and is a staple of Southern American cuisine.

Po Boy

Po’ Boy

  • Traditional

Po’ boy is a traditional American sandwich from Louisiana, particularly New Orleans. It consists of a baguette-like New Orleans bread filled with either fried seafood (like shrimp, oysters, or catfish) or roast beef.

A typical po’ boy is often “dressed,” meaning to add lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise, and hot sauce or gravy to the filling. The crisp crust and fluffy center of the bread is vital to the savory flavor and diverse texture of po’ boy.

Created in the 1920s as a cheap, filling meal for streetcar workers, po’ boy has now become a symbol of New Orleans’ rich culinary tradition.

Surf And Turf

Surf and Turf

Surf and turf is a luxurious American main dish that combines a steak and seafood (often lobster, shrimp, or scallops) on the same plate. The word “surf” means waves or seafood, while “turf” refers to grass or beef.

Surf and turf was originally served in upscale restaurants and for special occasions. This fancy dish was popular among middle-class Americans in the 1960s and 1970s, but you can order it at many outlets these days.

Italian Stromboli


  • Fusion

Stromboli is a well-known baked turnover in the US, a contribution from Italian-American cuisine. It was invented in the 1950s and named after a volcanic island near Sicily.

Stromboli resembles a rolled-up pizza or a calzone. Ingredients like Italian meat products, cheese, and, sometimes, vegetables are rolled into a log and baked until the exterior is crispy while the interior is gooey and tender.

Next, stromboli is cut into slices to serve. Tomato sauce is a popular condiment for this Italian-American turnover.

Baked Bean

Baked Bean

  • Traditional

Baked beans are a traditional American dish that originated in Native American cuisine and was adapted by European settlers. It consists of navy beans slow-cooked in a sauce made with tomatoes, molasses, brown sugar, and pork or bacon.

Baked beans offer a sweet, savory, and smoky flavor. Most Americans serve it as a side dish at barbecues, picnics, and casual family meals.



  • Traditional

Jerky is an American meat product prepared by trimming meat of fat, cutting it into strips, adding seasoning, and drying the meat strips. American jerky is made primarily from beef, but turkey or bison is also an excellent alternative.

This form of meat preservation has been practiced for centuries in the US and is particularly widespread in the American West. Historically, pioneers, cowboys, and travelers had this high-protein food during their journeys.

Today, jerky is a convenient snack for long trips or a food ingredient to add to soups for stews.

List of American Dishes

  • Guamanian Food Dishes

    17 Famous Guamanian Food Dishes

  • New England Food Dishes

    20 Best New England Dishes and Food Culture

  • Hawaiian Food Dishes

    22 Best Hawaiian Dishes/Foods to Try

What Are the Characteristics of American Dishes?

Hamburger America
American dishes typically come in large and hearty portions.

The cuisine of the US is distinct from many culinary traditions around the world for the following five reasons: culinary influences, regional diversity, innovation and fusion, abundance and large portions, and fast food and convenience.

Due to the country’s numerous immigrant communities and diverse ethnic makeup, American cuisine has received inputs from various countries in all inhabited continents.

The Native American cuisine laid the foundation for the cooking traditions of the US. Other major influences are Dutch, German, Italian, Greek, French, Mexican, Chinese, Caribbean, and African cooking traditions.

Of course, many other cuisines have influenced American dishes over the years, but there are so many it’s difficult to name them all.

The US is a large country with a wide range of climates, cultures, and historical influences, leading to distinct regional cuisines. Here are notable regions that shape American cuisine.

  • Northern US: This region includes urban centers with diverse food offerings, such as New York City and Philadelphia. Seafood is plentiful.
  • Central US: The Midwest is the birthplace of many traditional American dishes, with staples made from agricultural produce, dairy products, game meats, and Native American food.
  • Southern US: The South consists of Southeastern states (with soul food and Creole and Cajun cuisines) and Southwestern states (with strong Mexican and Native American influences and Tex-Mex cuisine).
  • Western US: The Pacific Northwest boasts great seafood bounty. California is a source of many fusion and sustainable food creations.
  • Others: Alaska and Hawaii are famous for their seafood and other exotic delicacies.

Innovation is a byword for American cuisine, with many famous dishes invented or improved by genius individuals.

Fusion dishes blended from different culinary traditions are also popular, illustrating the diversity of the US as a melting pot.

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on seasonal, local, and sustainable food practices within American cuisine, which significantly influences the innovativeness of American cuisine.

Americans usually serve food in large portion sizes, and most dishes are available year-round. These traits demonstrate the abundance of local cuisine.

As the birthplace of fast food, the US offers plenty of options for convenient dining. Countless dishes are easy to prepare and consume, and many are available in packaged forms or at food carts and various dining establishments.

To help you get a complete understanding of American cuisine, I will cover ideal beverages for pairing with local dishes.

What Beverages to Pair With American Dishes?

American Dishes Pair With Beverages
Combining wine with savory dishes, such as grilled meat, is common in American cuisine.

I recommend serving American dishes with the following four beverages, which are among the most consumed drinks in the US.


Coffee is an ideal beverage for pairing with breakfast dishes as well as various snacks and desserts. Common accompaniments are pancakes, tacos, cheesecakes, and brownies.

Soft Drinks

Americans love carbonated soft drinks with a sweet taste and hints of acidity. This type of beverage can complement light dishes of any type, especially snacks and fast food.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, and pizza are classic American dishes for soft drinks.


A light beer is a refreshing accompaniment for grilled or meat-centric dishes, including barbecue ribs, buffalo wings, hamburgers, and nachos.


Pairing savory yet light American dishes with wine is an excellent idea. Whether you love red or white wine, consider enjoying it with lobster rolls, surf and turf, or barbecue ribs.

If you find my list of well-known American dishes helpful, please share it with your friends. I’d also love to hear your thoughts and feedback; your input is a huge motivation for me!

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert


Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On Fifteen.net, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.