25 Foods That Roar With The Essence Of American Cuisine

Published 4 months ago

The United States is a melting pot of diverse cultures, and nowhere is this more evident than in its culinary landscape. Recently, someone took to Reddit to ask Americans a thought-provoking question: “What do you consider to be a cultural food of the United States?”

The responses flooded in, showcasing a rich tapestry of flavors that reflect the nation’s history, immigration patterns, and regional influences. In this article, we’ll delve into some of the best examples of cultural foods in the United States, as shared by the Reddit community.

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Image source: Sensitive_Pickle247, Hermes Rivera

Mac ‘n’ cheese. My non-American wife first thought it was called ‘mecan cheese,’ which she assumed was short for American cheese. She had never seen the word in writing before, and I’d often talk about how I missed my mom’s homemade mac.


Image source: OhSeesOhMees, Joel Sowers

The Cuban sandwich – originated in Tampa Bay.


Image source: Estellus, Engin Akyurt

There are a lot of great American foods, but I don’t think anything will ever be as quintessentially ‘American’ as a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise, a side of french fries with ketchup, and a milkshake. This meal right here is the heart and soul of American cuisine.


Image source: raygan, Kevin

Chicken fried steak.

Yes I know some of you are going to say “what about German schnitzel?” … IT IS NOT THE SAME AND YOU KNOW IT.

The size of a dinner plate and served with white gravy.


Image source: RedBattery, Freddy G

I was grocery shopping recently when a very nice German guy approached me for advice. He had friends coming to visit from his home country and he wanted to introduce them to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and could I advise him on the best ingredients? He already had some kind of b******t artisan bread from the bakery department in his cart. I told him to put that back, go to the bread aisle and get the crappy white Wonder Bread. Then there was discussion about the merits of Welch’s grape jelly vs. strawberry jam, and how most big brand peanut butter is optimal as opposed to the oily natural kind. Lastly he learned to use the term “PB & J.” He went away delighted, and it felt great to be a cultural ambassador!

DukexNukemx007 replied:
Cheap and mass-produced PB&J is an American staple, and eating one is part of the cultural experience of living in the US. From sea to shining sea, we all, at some point, ate a Walmart-tier PB&J.


Image source: Musician-Round, hspauldi

fried oreo’s from the state fair. Pretty much anything deep fried at the state fair is American culture.


Image source: slabby, Mike Mozart

Ranch dressing. Anything you dip in ranch dressing is American by baptism.


Image source: DukeOfPoose, cottonbro studio

As someone not from the states I would k**l to try a peach cobbler or a pumpkin pie


Image source: 3SquirrelsinaCoat, 1950sUnlimited

Betty Crocker recipes. Betty defined the classic middle American dinner for decades. Think: chicken breasts topped with provolone slices, covered in cream of chicken soup, then covered with stuffing mix and butter and baked at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.


Image source: Deadpussyfuck, Boys in Bristol Photography



Image source: A214Guy, Matheus Bertelli

Tex-Mex – it’s not Mexican food but rather a Texas creation that extends even to fajitas and margaritas


Image source: tdly3000, Gonzalo Mendiola

Tater tots


Image source: [deleted], senanur ulusoy

Grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch on a cold winter day.


Image source: kanelflixka, Janine Beth Salazar

Americanized Chinese food. Even while living in Asia, I would crave General Tso’s chicken and honey walnut shrimp because it’s just not the same abroad.

AppHelper replied:
Americanized Chinese food, and specifically East Coast Chinese food. Stuff like General Tso’s chicken, egg rolls, egg drop soup, oily, soy sauce–laden lo mein, beef and broccoli, and fortune cookies. Funny enough, this stuff doesn’t exist in Asia. I was so happy to see that an American Chinese restaurant opened in Shanghai, but it closed down.


Image source: anon, Mathieu Plourde

Philly Cheesesteak


Image source: anon, Alpha

The USA are fierce contenders against mainland Western Europe for the greatest breakfasts in the world. You people are visionaries when it comes to breakfast. Like, chicken and waffles? Who the f**k thought of that? You did, that’s who, you beautiful bastards. It shouldn’t work, but by god, it does. And steak and eggs? Who the f**k eats steak in the morning? THIS GUY, THAT’S WHO. I LIKE YOUR STYLE, AMERICA.


Image source: swamp-hag, micheile henderson

Chili. It’s based on New World ingredients, every region of the US has its own variation, families have their own recipes, and internet wars have been fought over how to define ‘real’ chili. (Most of us can agree that Cincinnati is wrong.) We’ve mass-produced it, added it to fast food, and made it even worse for you by adding tons of cheese and pouring it over fries.


Image source: kilertree, Yanuar Putut Widjanarko

Fried Chicken. It’s a combination of a Scottish cooking style where they fried unseasoned food in Lard and west African seasonings.


Image source: greygringo, Swift Benjamin

Creole food like jambalaya and gumbo. This cuisine is arguably the most truly ‘American.’ Aside from a handful of cooking techniques taken from the French, the dishes are really unique.

Cajundawg replied:
Cajun and Creole cooking. It’s a derivative of French cooking, but it’s so far removed now that it’s a unique cuisine. You’re not getting boiled crawfish made properly anywhere outside of southern Louisiana.


Image source: Renmauzuo, Pixabay


Pizza and burgers may be more commonly eaten here, but they’re really adaptations of food from Europe. Brisket, ribs, or pulled pork, slow cooked in a pit smoker and smothered in barbecue sauce, are more American in origin, and extraordinarily delicious.

There are lots of regional variations too. Mostly a result of what resources were available (ie, it’s smoked with whatever wood is readily available in that region), but now they are a strong point of regional pride, and the topic of endless “which region has the best BBQ” debates. (I’m a fan of Memphis style, myself, but it’s all good.)


Image source: JamesGarrison, Michael Kmak

Biscuits and gravy, but not just any gravy. Sausage gravy.


Image source: OVERLYLOUDCOMMERCIAL, Trình Minh Thư

Clam chowder — specifically, white chowda, and none of this red sauce shenanigans. And lobstah, of course. I know it’s a global food at this point, but the best lobster in the world is from New England (mostly Maine), and wow, is it good.


Image source: afaerieprincess80, Los Muertos Crew

Chocolate chip cookies. I live in the Netherlands now, and they have foods resembling chocolate chip cookies here, but they are mediocre at best. And they call them all ‘American cookies’ — which I think is hilarious. I once made chocolate chip cookies from scratch and gave some to our Italian neighbors. Watching their faces as they ate them for the first time was amazing. There’s nothing like that crispy edge, soft middle, and buttery, chocolaty deliciousness.


Image source: Drife1994, Meraj Kazi

Buffalo wings, s’mores, biscuits and gravy, grits, jambalaya, BBQ, apple pie, Chocolate chip cookies, Jerky, meatloaf, cornbread.


Image source: agate

Oh my god so many things. Popcorn, peanut butter and jelly, turkey, Caesar salad, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin pie, soda, breakfast cereal, sure.

But also pizza, lasagna, French fries, hamburgers, tacos, nachos, jambalaya, fried chicken, barbecue, apple pie, egg foo young, sweet and sour chicken, pancakes, omelettes, hot dogs, doughnuts, bourbon whiskey, bagels, grits, clam bakes and fish poke.

“Hold up”, you say, “most of that second list is bastardized versions of other countries’ cultural foods, and I’m not really sure about all the stuff in the first list either. You even included some indigenous peoples’ dishes!”

Exactly. **The hallmark of American cuisine is borrowing, adapting, and combining stuff from cultures around the world to make our own unique food landscape.** You claim chicken adobo as your unique national dish? That’s great, Americans are gonna put it on a pizza.

And let’s be clear: every country does this. Italy didn’t invent noodles, or tomato sauce. Vindaloo is borrowed from Portugal, massaman curry isn’t originally Thai. Every old-world dish that contains tomatoes, potatoes, corn, or peanuts was invented after these ingredients arrived from the Americas.

But American cuisine is defined by its variety and its willingness to be inspired by and combine foods from the whole world.

You wanna know what makes America great? We’re the land of the kalbi taco, spam musubi, the kimchi quesadilla and the tandoori pierogi.

Okay I just invented tandoori pierogi for this post, but now I want one. And that’s the point.

Saumya Ratan

Saumya is an explorer of all things beautiful, quirky, and heartwarming. With her knack for art, design, photography, fun trivia, and internet humor, she takes you on a journey through the lighter side of pop culture.

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American cultural food, American foods, Amrican cuisine, cultural food, diverse American food, foods considered American
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