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The Best Comfort Food from Every Corner of the USA

We've got comfort covered! We divided the United States into six familiar regions and tracked down the top-rated comfort food recipes that best represent each region, from sea to shining sea. Maybe now's the time for a comfort food staycation!

We couldn't fit everything on the list. Sorry, Juicy Lucy! So if your favorite comfort food didn't make the cut, you'll find plenty more comfort food recipes to choose from.

Here's what comfort food is in different parts of the U.S.A.:

The Northeast

The Northeast has long been America's cultural stew pot. Going back to the beginning, when English immigrants and Native Americans converged along New England’s rocky coast, the culinary results were the chowders, baked bean casseroles, and stews that comfort people to this day.

My Best Clam Chowder

Soul food for New Englanders. Oyster crackers are a must. This traditional cream-based chowder gets a little boost from a splash of red wine vinegar.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder | Photo by Meredith

Lobster Rolls

"I've paid over ten dollars for one of these lobster rolls in Cape Cod and it wasn't half as good or half as big as the ones my Mom taught me to make,' says Starr. "This is a wonderful summer (or winter) treat and makes a fancy luncheon to impress your friends."

Lobster Roll

Lobster Roll | Photo by Meredith

Melissa's Chicken Cacciatore

Here's one that reflects the Italian influence on American cooking. A "hunter's style" one-pot chicken and mushrooms dish baked with tomato sauce.

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore | Photo by Meredith

More New England Recipes

Mid-Atlantic

Maryland Crab Cakes

"Growing up near the Chesapeake Bay you learn that crabs are as valuable as gold," says John. "My mom made crab cakes every Friday in the summer months.

Maryland Crab Cakes

Maryland Crab Cakes | Photo by Meredith

Fried Soft-Shell Crab

Dip whole soft shell crabs in a light batter and fry. Then eat the whole shebang, shell and all!

Fried Soft-Shell Crab

Fried Soft-Shell Crab | Photo by SHORECOOK

Slow Cooker Philly Steak Sandwich Meat

"This makes a fantastic meat for Philly steak sandwiches," says duboo. "It also makes its own au jus, if you like to dip. To serve, saute a sliced onion and sliced green pepper in a skillet. Put meat on a sub bun and top with onion and green pepper and Swiss or provolone cheese on top of that. Leave open-faced and broil until the cheese just starts to brown."

Philly Cheese Steak

Philly Cheese Steak | Photo by Meredith

The Midwest

The cheesy casseroles, pot roasts, and baked pastas of the Midwest. These are the soothing comfort foods that pull us through on a chilly winter evenings -- hearty and simple rather than fancy and frivolous, flavorful but not aggressively spiced. Is comfort food from the Midwest what we mean when we say "American food"?

The Real Chicago Deep Dish Pizza Dough

The famous Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is a world away from the thin-crust Neapolitan style pizza that grew to fame in New York City pizzerias. As the story goes, way back in 1943, a couple of Chicago restaurateurs presented their cheesy, thick-crust pie to a mostly pizza-puzzled Chicago crowd at Pizzeria Uno, and it was not an overnight success. In the early days, they resorted to giving away free slices of pizza with drink purchases at the bar! Not anymore. Today, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is a hit throughout the country.

Chicago Pan

Chicago Pan | Pizza Photo by Meredith

St. Louis Toasted Ravioli

"The St. Louis style of preparing ravioli is unique and delicious," says Barb. "The ravioli is breaded, fried and served with marinara sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese."

Toasted Ravioli

Toasted Ravioli | Photo by Meredith

Real Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds

It seems almost inevitable that Wisconsin would take the leap in cheese technology that resulted in fried cheese curds. Also no surprise, they're delicious paired with a cold beer.

Real Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds

Real Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds | Photo by Allrecipes

Broccoli Chicken Divan

This quick, easy broccoli casserole is one of the comfort food classics.

Broccoli Chicken Divan

Broccoli Chicken Divan | Photo by Reyna

Tater Tot Hot Dish

If the phrase "hot dish" doesn't mean anything to you, you're probably not a Midwesterner. In this perfect autumn casserole, the comfort comes from layers of seasoned ground beef combined with creamy soups, tater tots, and French-fried onion rings.

Tater Tot Hot Dish II

Tater Tot Hot Dish II | Photo by CookinBug

The Northwest

When Americans come together bearing casseroles and other covered dishes to share a meal with friends and neighbors, it's called a potluck. When the Chinook Indians of the Pacific Northwest did it, they called it "potlatch" -- a word that means gift. As with the modern potluck, the potlatch was a "bring your own" affair, a ceremonial feast to which members of the tribe brought gifts of food culled from the rich Pacific Northwest environment, including fresh salmon and other seafood, local mushrooms, berries, and other seasonal foods.

Cedar Planked Salmon

"This is a dish my brother prepared for me in Seattle," says Wendy. "It is by far the best salmon I've ever eaten. I like to serve it with an Asian-inspired rice and roasted asparagus."

Cedar Planked Salmon

Cedar Planked Salmon | Photo by KGora

Chef John's Cioppino

"When you feel like splurging a little, San Francisco's famous Cioppino is a great choice. This spicy fish and shellfish stew is a big red bowl of yummy, and when paired with a loaf of crusty sourdough bread, it's downright otherworldly." -- Chef John

Chef John's Cioppino

Chef John's Cioppino | Photo by Meredith

The Best Mashed Potatoes

A shout out to the Inland Empire here and Idaho's "famous potatoes." Nothing is as simply comforting as creamy mashed potatoes.

Mashed-Potatoes

Mashed-Potatoes | Photo by Meredith

The Southwest

Under the umbrella of Southwestern regional comfort foods, we can drill down to even more specialized expressions -- like Tex-Mex (beef fajitas), Sonoran-style (the chimichanga), Cal-Mex (fish tacos) and New Mexican-style (green chile stew and rellenos casserole). But taken together, they make up a consistent and recognizable style of cooking: Southwest style!

Fish Tacos

"I'm from San Diego and these taste just like home! We live in the south now, and nobody has heard of these! Serve with homemade pico de gallo, and lime wedges to squeeze on top!" -- BREESE823

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos | Photo by Meredith

Green Chile Chicken Stew

"I got this recipe together after months of harassing my friends in New Mexico in search of the perfect green chile chicken stew," says Georgette. "This stew will keep you warm and cozy on those cold winter days! I make it at least once every month. Serve with warm flour tortillas.

Green Chile Chicken Stew

Green Chile Chicken Stew | Photo by Allrecipes

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

This is essentially a chicken enchilada pie. It's a casserole that loves the cream soups, featuring both cream of mushroom and cream of chicken. Sour cream, diced chilies and tomatoes, bell peppers, and spices round out the Southwest flavors. Oh, and don't forget the Cheddar. You’ll layer a casserole with tortillas, chicken, sauce, and cheese. And then bake it until beautifully bubbly.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

King Ranch Chicken Casserole | Photo by Chef John

Beef and Bean Chimichangas

There's an argument raging in Arizona over where these deep-fried burritos were invented.

 

The South

Did we save the best for last? From pithouse BBQ to crispy fried chicken and peach cobbler, the South has comfort food covered. We're just scratching the surface here. In fact, there's so much Southern comfort to be had, we've broken it out and cover it in a separate article.

Fried Green Tomatoes

"Serve these tomatoes outside with a glass of iced tea one summer night and enjoy the sunset with someone you love." -- Diana Swenson-Siegel

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes | Photo by Meredith

Get a Husband Brunswick Stew

Seductively delicious, this traditional Southern stew is thick and hearty, loaded with beef, pork, and chicken, along with cream-style corn, tomatoes, and special seasonings.

Brunswick Stew

Brunswick Stew | Photo by Meredith

Old Charleston Style Shrimp and Grits

This traditional low-country favorite features tender shrimp simmered with andouille sausage, bacon, and colorful bell peppers, all served over creamy, cheesy grits.

Old Charleston Style Shrimp and Grits

Old Charleston Style Shrimp and Grits | Photo by naples34102

More Southern Recipes


Check out our complete collection of Comfort Food Recipes.


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Carl Hanson

About Carl Hanson

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