The 10 Most Popular American Dishes & 10 That Aren't So Popular

The 10 Most Popular American Dishes & 10 That Aren't So Popular

From coast to coast, the country boasts a variety of dishes that have become staples at American dining tables and iconic symbols of the nation's culinary landscape. Here are the ten most popular American dishes, exploring the flavours that make each one a beloved choice among food enthusiasts.

1. Hamburgers

Originating from German immigrants, this dish has evolved into a national obsession, with countless variations available at diners, food trucks, and high-end restaurants. Whether it's topped with cheese, bacon, or a unique sauce, a juicy hamburger never disappoints.

hamburger-7191898_1280.jpgImage by leonardovieira260998 from Pixabay

2. Apple Pie

Made with crisp apples and a flaky pastry crust, apple pie is a comforting end to any meal. It's a celebration of American agriculture and ingenuity, often served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for that perfect warm-cold contrast.

pie-5601656_1280.jpgImage by congerdesign from Pixabay

3. Fried Chicken

Southern fried chicken has crossed regional boundaries to become a nationwide favourite. This dish is all about its crispy, seasoned coating and tender, juicy meat. Often accompanied by sides like mashed potatoes and gravy, it's a hearty meal that speaks to the soul of American comfort food.

fried-chicken-1207252_1280.jpgImage by Matthew Leppert from Pixabay

4. Barbecue Ribs

Smoked, grilled, or slow-cooked, ribs are slathered in a variety of sauces or dry rubs, resulting in a rich, flavourful, finger-lickin' good experience. Whether you prefer them fall-off-the-bone tender or with a bit of chew, barbecue ribs are a true American classic.

spare-ribs-7410911_1280.jpgImage by -Rita-👩‍🍳 und 📷 mit ❤ from Pixabay


5. Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, with its creamy, cheesy sauce and tender pasta. It's a simple dish that can be found on nearly every American family's dinner table at some point. From boxed versions to gourmet recipes featuring a blend of artisan cheeses, mac and cheese is loved by all. 

macaroni-and-cheese-5347210_1280.jpgImage by Amanda Whitlatch from Pixabay

6. Hot Dogs

Another immigrant-inspired dish, the hot dog is a staple at American sporting events, picnics, and barbecues. These versatile sausages can be boiled, grilled, or fried, and are usually served in a bun with a variety of condiments like mustard, ketchup, onions, and relish.

hot-dog-657039_1280.jpgImage by Hannah Chen from Pixabay

7. Cornbread

Cornbread is a traditional American side dish, especially prevalent in Southern cuisine. Its sweet and savoury flavours make it the perfect accompaniment to chili, barbecue, and greens. 

corn-bread-6982426_1280.jpgImage by Ray Shrewsberry • from Pixabay

8. Thanksgiving Turkey

The Thanksgiving turkey is more than just a dish; it's a central part of a holiday that brings families together. Roasted to golden perfection and often stuffed with a savory filling, it's the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. This tradition celebrates the harvest and American history, making the turkey a symbol of gratitude and family.

turkey-315079_1280.jpgImage by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

9. Bagels and Lox

Bagels and lox, with their roots in Jewish-American cuisine, have become a breakfast staple across the country. A chewy bagel topped with cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, and onions is a classic combination. 

sandwich-5501212_1280.jpgImage by Kai Reschke from Pixabay

10. Chili Con Carne

Chili con carne is a spicy stew that embodies the spirit of American innovation. Combining meat, beans, tomatoes, and chili peppers, it's a dish that varies from region to region, with each version claiming superiority. Whether it's served over rice, with cornbread, or simply topped with cheese and onions, chili is a dish that everyone can find a little comfort in. 

chili-con-carne-378952_1280.jpgImage by kalhh from Pixabay

These lesser-known, sometimes controversial dishes offer a unique glimpse into the varied tastes and traditions across the United States: 


1. Lutefisk

Lutefisk, a dish of Nordic origin, involves dried whitefish and lye, resulting in a gelatinous texture that's not for the faint of heart. Traditionally eaten during the holiday season, it's a testament to the diverse heritage of America, albeit not a widely embraced one.

fish-6282216_1280.jpgImage by congerdesign from Pixabay

2. Chitterlings (Chitlins)

Chitterlings, or "chitlins," are the small intestines of pigs, slow-cooked and often served with hot sauce or vinegar. This Southern dish has roots in African American history, symbolizing resilience and tradition. 

animals-4028140_1280.jpgImage by Michael Strobel from Pixabay

3. Scrapple

Originating from Pennsylvania Dutch country, scrapple is made from pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, seasoned, and formed into a loaf. Sliced and fried until crispy, it has a unique taste and texture that divides opinion. 

meat-cheese-1260712_1280.jpgImage by congerdesign from Pixabay

4. Pickled Pigs' Feet

A dish with deep roots in Southern and soul food traditions, pickled pigs' feet are exactly as they sound: pigs' feet that have been pickled in vinegar and spices. The result is a tangy, gelatinous snack that's cherished by some for its flavour and texture but often passed over by the uninitiated due to its appearance and concept.

food-photography-675566_1280.jpgImage by joe lie from Pixabay

5. Livermush

A blend of pig liver, head parts, and cornmeal, livermush is a Southern delicacy that's typically fried and served with grits or in a sandwich. Its name and the inclusion of organ meat make it a less appealing option for many, despite its cultural significance in parts of the Carolinas.

ground-meat-1747910_1280.jpgImage by Alexa from Pixabay

6. Hákarl (Fermented Shark)

Though not originally American, hákarl has made its way to the U.S. with Icelandic immigrants. This dish of cured and fermented shark meat is notorious for its strong ammonia-rich scent and fishy taste. 

fish-market-3250828_1280.jpgImage by 🌸♡💙♡🌸 Julita 🌸♡💙♡🌸 from Pixabay


7. Rocky Mountain Oysters

Contrary to what the name suggests, Rocky Mountain oysters are not seafood but rather deep-fried bull, pig, or sheep... reproductive organs. A novelty dish in parts of the American West, it's appreciated for its unique origin and flavour, though many are squeamish about trying it due to the nature of the ingredients.

sheep-1822137_1280.jpgImage by 🌸♡💙♡🌸 Julita 🌸♡💙♡🌸 from Pixabay

8. Menudo

Menudo is a Mexican soup made with beef stomach (tripe) in broth with a red chili pepper base, often eaten as a weekend or special occasion dish. While it's a beloved cure for hangovers in Mexican culture, its texture and the idea of eating tripe turn some Americans away.

tripe-5002136_1280.jpgImage by ivabalk from Pixabay

9. Jellied Eels

Brought over by English immigrants, jellied eels are eels boiled in a spiced stock that sets into a jelly when cooled. This dish is rare in the U.S. and remains a niche food item, primarily due to its texture and the unfamiliarity of eels as a mainstream dish.

eel-7029526_1280.jpgImage by ai subarasiki from Pixabay

10. Durian Fruit

Though not a dish in its own right, durian fruit makes the list due to its polarizing nature. Known as the "king of fruits" in Southeast Asia, its potent aroma is often compared to rotten onions or garbage, making it a controversial item in the American palate, despite its creamy texture and sweet taste for those who can get past the smell.

durian-3597242_1280.jpgImage by 🆓 Use at your Ease 👌🏼 from Pixabay