25 American Dishes That Are Inspired by Other Cultures

25 American Dishes That Are Inspired by Other Cultures

America is a mix of cultures, and its food reflects that diversity. Throughout the country, the flavours of different immigrant communities have combined with local ingredients to create a variety of dishes. Whether it's the bold taste of Tex-Mex or the familiar warmth of Italian-American pasta, each dish tells a story of people coming together, adapting, and being creative.

1. Pizza – The Italian-American Evolution

Pizza, as we know it in the States, is a far cry from its Italian ancestor. It evolved in the bustling streets of New York City, where Italian immigrants added their touch to the classic. The result? A thicker crust, more cheese, and a variety of toppings have become staples in American households.

pizza-3010062_1280.jpgImage by zuzana gazdikova from Pixabay

2. Tex-Mex Cuisine – A Spicy Blend of Borders

Tex-Mex is a delicious testament to Mexican and American culinary fusion. Originating in the Texas-Mexico border region, this cuisine blends traditional Mexican ingredients with American tastes. Think nachos, burritos, and chili con carne - dishes that embody the spirit of two cultures coming together.

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3. California Roll – Sushi with an American Twist

The California Roll, a type of sushi, was born in Los Angeles. It’s a perfect example of how American ingenuity can reinvent a traditional dish. By replacing raw fish with avocado and crab, it made sushi accessible and beloved by a whole new audience.

california-roll-2186520_1280.jpgImage by Jonathan Valencia from Pixabay

4. General Tso's Chicken – A Chinese-American Classic

This dish is a staple in Chinese-American cuisine, though you’d be hard-pressed to find it in China. Sweet, slightly spicy, and deep-fried, General Tso's Chicken reflects the American palate's love for bold flavors and textures. It's a perfect example of adaptation and reinvention.

general-tso-chicken-4985986_1280.jpgImage by Sunday133 from Pixabay


5. Spaghetti and Meatballs – An Italian-American Comfort

Though inspired by Italian cuisine, spaghetti and meatballs got its unique identity in America. Italian immigrants, finding meat more affordable in the U.S., began adding hearty meatballs to their pasta. The result? A dish that's now a staple in American households.

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6. Cuban Sandwich – A Taste of Florida’s Cuban Community

The Cuban Sandwich, iconic in Florida, showcases the culinary influence of the Cuban diaspora. A delicious combination of ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, it's served between two slices of Cuban bread, perfectly toasted.

bread-1867208_1280.jpgImage by Pexels from Pixabay

7. Chop Suey – America’s Chinese-Inspired Invention

Chop Suey, often considered a Chinese dish, is actually an American creation. It’s said to have been invented by Chinese immigrants in California, who threw together leftover ingredients. The result is a stir-fry that’s become synonymous with American Chinese cuisine.

sharon-chen-L1ZhjK-R6uc-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Sharon Chen on Unsplash 

8. Philly Cheesesteak – Philadelphia’s Iconic Sandwich

Originating from the Italian-American community in Philadelphia, the cheesesteak is a testament to simple yet flavourful combinations. Thinly sliced beef, melted cheese, and a long, crusty roll come together to create a sandwich that's beloved nationwide.

steak-2936531_1280.jpgImage by Stefan from Pixabay

9. Korean Tacos – A Fusion Food Phenomenon

Korean Tacos are a brilliant blend of Korean and Mexican cuisines. This fusion dish, popularized in Los Angeles, combines Korean-style marinated meats with the classic Mexican taco format. 

taco-4709325_1280.jpgImage by adamlot from Pixabay

10. Egg Foo Young – An American Take on Chinese Omelettes

Egg Foo Young is a Chinese-American creation that mirrors an omelette. It features beaten eggs, vegetables, and sometimes meat or seafood, all fried to perfection. 

omelette-2808678_1280.jpgImage by Dagny Walter from Pixabay


11. Bagel and Lox – A Jewish-American Staple

This iconic New York breakfast combines a Jewish staple, the bagel, with lox, a type of smoked salmon. Cream cheese, capers, and onions are often added to create a dish that's as New York as the Empire State Building.

food-5981227_1280.jpgImage by Romjan Aly from Pixabay

12. Fortune Cookies – An American Invention with an Asian Flair

Contrary to popular belief, fortune cookies aren’t a traditional Chinese custom. They were actually invented in California and have become a quirky and beloved end to many American-Chinese meals. Each cookie contains a paper slip with a fortune or aphorism.

fortune-cookies-2503077_1280.jpgImage by NoName_13 from Pixabay

13. Gumbo – A Melting Pot Dish from Louisiana

Gumbo is a quintessential Louisiana dish with roots in several cultures, including African, French, and Native American. It's a hearty stew that combines meats or seafood, a strong stock, and the “holy trinity” of vegetables: celery, bell peppers, and onions.

cajun-5354597_1280.jpgImage by Elaine from Pixabay

14. Bánh Mì – Vietnamese Influence in an American Sandwich

Bánh Mì sandwiches reflect the influence of French colonialism in Vietnam, adapted by Vietnamese immigrants in America. It typically includes a French baguette filled with a variety of ingredients, such as cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots, and various meats or tofu.

bread-1761197_1280.jpgImage by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

15. Chicken Tikka Masala – An Indian Dish, Reimagined

Although it has roots in Indian cuisine, Chicken Tikka Masala was actually popularized in the UK and then found its way to America. It’s a creamy, tomato-based curry that’s become a favorite in American households, illustrating the global journey of culinary traditions.

curry-5517287_1280.jpgImage by Iril Kolle from Pixabay

16. Gyros – Greek Flavors in a Quick American Bite

Gyros, a Greek dish, have become a popular street food in the U.S. Thin slices of meat, usually lamb, are cooked on a vertical rotisserie and served in a pita with tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, and onions. It's a taste of the Mediterranean on the go.

gyros-4544061_1280.jpgImage by Samir Biscevic from Pixabay


17. Tandoori Chicken Pizza – An Indian-Italian-American Fusion

Tandoori Chicken Pizza is a delightful fusion that combines Indian spices with the beloved Italian pizza. It features spicy tandoori chicken as a topping on a classic pizza base.

india-1481494_1280.jpgImage by GOLDINPIC from Pixabay

18. Sushi Burrito – A Japanese-Mexican Crossover

The Sushi Burrito is a trendy fusion that combines the convenience of a Mexican burrito with the ingredients of Japanese sushi. Filled with sushi rice, raw fish, and vegetables, it's a handheld delight that represents a fusion of East and West.

sushi-2112350_1280.jpgImage by Bernadette Wurzinger from Pixabay

19. Fajita – Texan Innovation from Mexican Tradition

The Fajita, originally from Texas, evolved from the cooking practices of Mexican ranch workers. Grilled meat is served on a flour or corn tortilla, a nod to the Mexican culinary tradition, but with a distinctly Texan twist.

fajitas-5933057_1280.jpgImage by Muhammad Ragab from Pixabay

20. Baklava Cheesecake – A Greek-American Dessert Fusion

Baklava Cheesecake combines the nutty, honeyed layers of Middle Eastern baklava with the creamy richness of American cheesecake. It's a decadent dessert that marries two distinct culinary traditions in a surprisingly harmonious way.

baklava-1759329_1280.jpgImage by djpresc16 from Pixabay

21. Jambalaya – A Creole and Cajun Delight

Jambalaya, a staple in Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine, has influences from Spanish, French, and African cooking. It's a flavorful mix of rice, meat, seafood, and vegetables, often spiced with andouille sausage and Creole seasoning.

paella-4142573_1280.jpgImage by AURELIE LUYLIER from Pixabay

22. Pad Thai Pizza – A Thai-Italian-American Mashup

Pad Thai Pizza is an adventurous blend of Thai and Italian-American cuisines. It tops a pizza crust with the classic flavors of Pad Thai, including peanuts, bean sprouts, and a tamarind-based sauce, creating an unexpectedly delicious combination.

thai-1267051_1280.jpgImage by echi echi from Pixabay


23. Falafel Burger – Middle Eastern Flavors in an American Classic

The Falafel Burger is an American twist on the traditional Middle Eastern falafel. It places spiced, ground chickpea patties in a burger bun, often with lettuce, tomato, and a drizzle of tahini or yogurt sauce.

falafel-4544137_1280.jpgImage by Samir Biscevic from Pixabay

24. Ramen Burger – A Japanese-American Novelty

The Ramen Burger, a recent invention, uses ramen noodles as the bun for a beef patty, blending American burger culture with Japanese noodle craft. It's a quirky, fun fusion that's gained a cult following in foodie circles.

ramen-4647411_1280.jpgImage by ally j from Pixabay

25. Hawaiian Pizza – A Controversial Canadian Creation

Lastly, the Hawaiian Pizza, while often associated with America, actually originates from Canada. It’s a polarizing but popular choice that tops a pizza with ham and pineapple, a sweet and savory combination that challenges traditional pizza norms.

pizza-5501075_1280.jpgImage by denithy from Pixabay