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The United States of Breakfast: 50 Specialties Across the USA

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

What's for breakfast?

What's for breakfast?

Regional American Breakfast Dishes

There are 50 states in the USA—and 50 different ways to have breakfast.

Many of these dishes are well known; however, I'll admit a few of them were made up (by me) based on state-favorite foods and regional classics. To eliminate any perceived bias or favoritism, I'm listing them alphabetically. Let’s get started.

Alabama

Alabamians love their pecans. This walnut-like tree nut (the only one native to North America) has been commercially produced there since the early 1900s. In 1982 the State Legislature designated the pecan as the official state nut. I can’t imagine a more fitting breakfast to celebrate the State of Alabama than these bourbon pecan sticky buns.

Alaska

When I began to research this article, I knew that for the State of Alaska I would feature wild Alaska salmon. Since they’re “free-range” (not farm-raised in a pen and fed pellets), Alaska salmon eat a diverse, nutrient-rich diet, which they then pass down to you and me. Alaska salmon is a lean source of protein and offers a bountiful supply of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.

My next decision was the recipe itself—they are so many options. Avocado toast, egg benedict, and scrambles are all very popular (on the internet), but I prefer these simple wild Alaska salmon and egg breakfast tacos which really let the true flavors of the fish shine.

Arizona

Many cultures have found their home in the area now known as the State of Arizona, and each of those ethnic groups has left its mark on the local cuisine. The Arizona burrito came to be with the arrival of migrant farmers from Sonora and Chihuahua and that’s my choice for the breakfast of Arizona. But, these are not the mission-style burritos of today’s fast-food restaurants. Arizona burritos, like these ultimate breakfast burritos, are large, a substantial, protein-packed meal guaranteed to keep you full and happy.

Arkansas

The name of this Arkansas breakfast might take you aback. One food that is uniquely Arkansas is biscuits with chocolate gravy. Biscuits are great, and biscuits with gravy is even greater, but chocolate gravy? (I can hear your incredulity from 1,000 miles away). To be honest, the name gravy is a misnomer. The gravy is actually dark, rich chocolate sauce, a recipe created in the Arkansas Ozarks many, many years ago. This recipe takes it even one step better with the addition of some warm spice; please try dark chocolate gravy with cinnamon biscuits.

California

I have a surprise for you; I’m going to propose a California-themed breakfast that is not avocado toast. In the mining camps of the 1850s California gold rush, Hangtown fry was the original one-pan meal. Live oysters were gathered in and around San Francisco Bay, stored in barrels of seawater, and delivered to the goldfields. This was not a bargain meal by any stretch of the imagination. The cost per plate was $6, the equivalent of $210 today. Being able to order Hangtown fry was a mark of prosperity. Doug Noble, columnist for the Mountain Democrat shares an entertaining (and perhaps partly true) story of the first meal of Hangtown fry in his blog.

Colorado

The history of the Denver omelet is somewhat murky. (May I say that it’s scrambled?) This savory concoction of eggs, ham, green bell peppers, onions, and cheese is said to have been popular with cowboys working on cattle drives. But some people say it was popularized by Chinese cooks working on the transcontinental railroad (a portable egg foo yung?) This baked Denver omelet takes only 30 minutes and is perfect for brunch.

Connecticut

Connecticut is the "nutmeg state." These cinnamon-nutmeg-oatmeal muffins are moist and tender with a crunchy top—and they will make your whole house smell delicious!

Delaware

Peach pie is the official dessert of Delaware. Here’s a healthy breakfast alternative. Peach pie pancakes have the same sweet flavor as peach pie, but they’re also packed with eight grams of protein.

Florida

Did you know that Florida is the second-largest producer of citrus in the world? And they are the largest producer of 100-percent orange juice in the United States. Sure, you could start your day with a simple glass of OJ. Instead of simple, why not simply delicious with these glazed orange juice muffins?

Georgia

Georgia is known as the peach state (there’s even a peach on the license plates) because Georgia growers have a reputation for producing fruits of the highest quality. Peach cobbler french toast bake is prepared the night before. In those wee hours, while you are sleeping, the bread soaks up all that luscious, sweet, eggy custard.

Hawaii

It’s time to go for something healthy. I’m in the mood for a meal-in-a-glass breakfast drink. This Hawaiian tropical smoothie contains all the tropical flavors we associate with the islands—coconut, coconut milk, kiwi, banana, and (of course) pineapple. It’s sweet, creamy, vegan, and dairy-free.

Idaho

What do we know about Idaho?

  • It’s nicknamed the Gem State—72 precious and semi-precious stones are found there.
  • Hells Canyon in northern Idaho is the deepest river gorge in North America.
  • The majority of the nation’s trout comes from there.

But what Idaho is best known for is the potato. Anyone can do hash browns or cottage fries (boring). Have you ever considered a twice-baked potato for the first meal of the day? The Idaho Sunrise, baked potatoes filled with bacon, sausage, eggs, and cheese is the perfect brunch meal.

Illinois

For 21 years Ann Sather worked at a meat-processing plant, but this was not her life’s ambition. She wanted to operate a restaurant where she could offer kindness, hospitality, and low-cost home-style meals. Her dream became a reality in 1945 when the owners of a local restaurant posted a For Sale sign in their window. Ann quit her job, plunked down her life savings ($4,000), and bought The Swedish Diner. It was renamed Ann Sather’s Restaurant and became the go-to spot for comforting meals of Swedish meatballs, fruit soup, bottomless coffee, and, most notably, Ann Sather cinnamon rolls. After 35 years, Ann retired and sold her business to Tom Tunney who promised to stay true to Ann’s original recipe.

Indiana

Morels in Indiana are about as common as a Starbucks in Washington State (they’re everywhere) and that’s why I think this morel mushroom and feta frittata should be declared the state breakfast of Indiana.

Iowa

Situated between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, this Midwest state of rolling plains is definitely corn country. Iowa leads the nation in the production of corn.