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Typical American Recipes

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In this Lesson you will Learn

  1. What are typical ingredients in American cooking, including regional cuisines?
  2. What are some regional cuisines in the U.S.?
  3. Which dishes and recipes are considered typical of American cuisine?


Some people give American food a bad wrap for being nothing but greasy fast food burgers, grilled hot dogs on white buns, or store-bought frozen dinners. These stereotypes, though unfair, are understandable in face of America's growing obesity problem and its (in some respects) dwindling food culture. Still, the fact remains that "American food" encompasses a wide variety of regional and ethnic cuisines which far surpasses this limited view of what American food is.

Typical Ingredients

The United States has a huge array of foods to offer. Produce ranges from native blueberries, cranberries, beans, corn, and squash to "immigrant" foods from other regions that are now grown in the U.S. and considered very traditional, such as apples, sweet potatoes, peanuts, avocados, and citrus fruits.1 Americans eat more meat per person than almost any other country in the world, with beef, chicken, pork, turkey, deer, and bison as commonly consumed meats.

In addition to foods cultivated across the country, each region has its own specialties. The northeastern states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, etc. offer plentiful seafood, including lobster and crab, as well as the beloved pancake topping maple syrup.2 The Midwest is known for its corn and dairy. Common ingredients in Southern cuisine include black-eyed peas, collard greens, okra, sweet potatoes, pecans, peanuts, and buttermilk.3 The South's Cajun and Creole cuisines in Louisiana, on the other hand, were heavily influenced by the French and distinguish themselves from the rest of the South. Their stews, gravies, and other dishes often include the "holy trinity" of bell pepper, onion, and celery, as well as rice, cayenne pepper, sassafras (or file powder), collard greens, okra, sausage, crawfish, and shrimp.4 Finally, head west and the influence of Spanish and Mexican cuisines becomes clear—traditional dishes, such as tamales, tacos, and guacamole, as well as Americanized versions (so-called "CalMex" or "TexMex" dishes) are popular fare. Sweet and spicy peppers, avocados, cilantro, and other typically Mexican/Spanish ingredients are common.5 Local and organic food movements are also taking root along the West Coast.

Typical American Recipes

While American food can easily be considered to include German, Polish, Italian, Chinese, Korean, and Mexican dishes—or the dishes of any other immigrant group—not to mention Native American cuisine, this section will focus on the most typical (and perhaps stereotypical) American fare.

Breakfast: Pancakes
Main Dish: Chowder (Northeast)
Main Dish: Crab Cakes (Northeast)
Main Dish: Barbecue Ribs (South)
Main Dish: Fried Chicken (South)
Main Dish: Jambalaya (Cajun)
Main Dish: Chili con carne (Southwest)
Main dish: Baja fish tacos (California)
Main Dish: Cheeseburger
Side Dish: Boston Baked Beans (Northeast)
Side Dish: Macaroni and Cheese
Side Dish: Cornbread (South)
Side Dish: Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows
Dessert: Apple Pie
Dessert: Brownies
Dessert: New York Cheesecake
Dessert: Key Lime Pie (Florida)
Dessert: Strawberry Shortcake

Recommended Read

Taste of Home Recipes Across America

735 of the Best Recipes from Across the Nation offers typical American recipes from many regional cuisines.

check it out »


  1. The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink
  2. American Regional Cuisine
  3. The Kitchn - Sense of Place: Southern Flavors and Ingredients
  4. Lafayette Travel - Eat
  5. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America


  1. Typical ingredients for American baking/cooking: apples, berries, beans, corn, squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes, pork, chicken, beef, lobster, crab, buttermilk, black-eyed peas, collard greens, peanut butter, and maple syrup.
  2. Regional cuisines in the U.S. include the seafood-heavy cuisines of the northeastern U.S. and West Coast, Midwestern cuisine, Southern cuisine, Cajun and Creole cuisines, and TexMex/CalMex.
  3. Typical American recipes: chowder, barbecue ribs, fried chicken, chili, cheeseburgers, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, apple pie, and brownies.
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