America’s Favorite Foods: The 50 Most Popular Foods in America
You'll never guess which food ranked number one!
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Ask a handful of people to guess America’s favorite foods, and you’ll likely get some similar answers. It’s no secret that pizza, burgers, and fries are big sellers at both fast-food and traditional restaurants. But would you have thought about gyoza or hummus? It might surprise you to learn that America’s top 50 favorite foods go way beyond the stuff you’d find in a typical high school cafeteria.
There are many different ways to calculate the country’s top food picks, but we turned to Grubhub to see what Americans were craving in 2022. The delivery platform, which includes 320,000 restaurant partners in more than 4,000 cities, analyzed data from hundreds of thousands of users to find out just which foods (and a few drinks!) we keep ordering again and again. You’ll surely spot some of your favorites (the best burgers are tough to top), but other items may surprise you.
50. Sesame chicken
This fried chicken dish found at Chinese restaurants actually originated in the United States. It’s coated in a sweet-and-salty sauce comprised of honey, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil. Four years ago, it was eclipsed by the similar General Tso’s chicken in Grubhub’s poll, but this year it reigns supreme. Have you heard about these foods which taste like chicken?
Psst! Make your leftovers taste just as crispy and flavorful as day 1 with these tips on how to reheat fried chicken.
Here’s some food trivia for you: This beloved bar snack can be traced back to 1943, when chef Ignacio Anaya García threw together tortilla chips, cheese, and jalapeño peppers to satisfy hungry customers in a pinch. In 1977, they became a stadium standard, thanks to Frank Liberto, who brought them to Arlington Stadium, home of the Texas Rangers.
48. Seaweed salad
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This classic mixture coated in soy sauce, mirin, sesame, and yuzu juice is a go-to appetizer in Japanese cuisine. (You’ve probably seen it beside miso soup on menus here in the States as well.) If you’ve ever wondered how it gets that otherworldly green color, here’s a quick science lesson for you: Chlorophyll has a high melting point, and when seaweed is boiled, other pigments disappear, leaving the bright green shade.
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People are passionate about their chili, so much so that the World Championship Chili Cook-Off is one of the biggest food competitions in the world. Whether Americans are ordering Cincinnati- style chili, chili con carne, or classic Texas red, it’s clear we can’t get enough of it.
46. Pizza margherita
The simple yet iconic pie made of basil, mozzarella, and tomato is a staple in many Italian restaurants here in the United States, but legend has it that the style originated in Naples. The history of pizza is a bit murky, but the pizza margherita was supposedly created by Raffaele Esposito in honor of Italy’s unification in 1889 and was named after the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. Today, pizza-obsessed tourists in Naples can find a plaque marking Pizzeria Brandi, the birthplace of the pizza margherita.
The global hummus market is currently at about 2.95 billion dollars but is expected to grow to 6.6 billion by 2028. So while hummus is at a modest number 45 this year, we expect big things from the Middle Eastern dip.
44. Sweet potato fries
If your face lights up whenever a waiter asks if you’d like regular or sweet potato fries with that, you’re clearly not alone. Agricultural scientist George Washington Carver is credited with finding more than 100 new uses for the humble sweet potato (not to be confused with yams). His pioneering recipes, including sweet potato cakes and hash-browned sweet potatoes, likely set the stage for the fry to shine.
43. Cheese quesadilla
Original quesadilla recipes would have used masa tortillas filled with Oaxaca cheese. Today, you’ll find tons of variations on this Mexican favorite, many now made with flour tortillas, stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese, and paired with salsa and fresh avocado.
42. Chicken tenders
Americans consume eight billion (yes, billion) chickens each year, so it’s no surprise that chicken pops up a couple of times on this list. Fried chicken was invented by the Scottish, but chicken tenders (don’t confuse them with chicken nuggets) are said to have been invented by a restaurant in New Hampshire.
41. Wonton soup
It should come as no surprise that this Chinese cuisine standard is popular with those ordering food delivery. Small dumplings filled with minced pork floating in salty briny chicken broth—what’s not to love? They date back to the Qing Dynasty (spanning from 1644 to 1911), so you know this dish has staying power.
40. Salmon avocado roll
People often turn to sushi and sashimi for healthy dining options, and these sushi rolls certainly fit the bill. A six- to eight-piece salmon-and-avocado roll provides protein and healthy fat and clocks in at just over 300 calories.
39. Garlic knots
This is another Italian restaurant favorite that was actually invented in the United States. Food historians have narrowed the location to New York, either Brooklyn or Queens, although exactly where in those boroughs is a hotly debated topic. They became a popular dish because they were the perfect way for restaurants to use up excess pizza dough.
38. Bean burrito
Bean burritos ranked number one on this list back in 2018, but they seem to have lost some of their luster in recent years. They’re an Americanized version of Mexican food, and you wouldn’t find them in Mexico, at least not in the form you’re familiar with.
37. Cheesy fiesta potatoes
Yes, this refers to the famous Taco Bell favorite. The dish is made up of lightly breaded and crispy russet potatoes coated in nacho cheese and reduced-fat sour cream. The chain took them off the menu for six months in 2020, but after much petitioning by fans, it added them back to the menu in March 2021.
36. Thai iced tea
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It may not be a meal in and of itself, but it’s the perfect complement to countless dishes (as evidenced by the fact that diners order it more often than dozens of other foods). Thai iced tea recipes vary, but for the most part, the drink is made up of brewed black tea, sugar, and spices like star anise, cardamom, and tamarind. Fans will also want to try chai tea and bubble tea for full-flavor sips.
Milkshakes as we know them took off in the 1940s and 1950s, thanks to the invention of drink-mixing machines. You may feel like you can’t get enough of them, but the world’s largest recorded milkshake was mixed up in New York and rocked a volume of 6,000 gallons. That seems like enough, right?
Few foods are as iconic as the humble hamburger, and we have Connecticut to thank for this all-American meal. Louis Lassen of Louis’ Lunch served steak sandwiches to workers back in 1895, but he hated to waste any extra beef, so he ground it up, grilled it, and served it between bread. Voilà! The hamburger was born. The restaurant is still in New Haven and still in the family, if you feel like checking it out.
33. Chips and queso
Forty pounds. That’s how much cheese the average person eats per year, according to a 2020 Statista report. So it’s not surprising that cheesy queso dip ranks high among our favorites. The homegrown version often involves Velveeta, but true queso can have such a huge range of ingredients that an entire book was dedicated to its many variations. At the base level, it’s melted cubed cheese mixed with green chili peppers, milk, and tomatoes. And it is delicious.
32. Traditional chicken wings
The National Chicken Council estimates that Americans ate 1.42 billion chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday in 2021. Just to give you an idea of how many wings that is: If you laid them out end to end, it’s enough to circle the Earth three times. The good news is that you don’t have to wait for Super Bowl Sunday to dig in. Just try one of these amazing wing recipes.
National Doughnut Day is the first Friday in June, but we think this fried treat is worth celebrating all year long. And judging from its number 31 slot, so do a lot of other Americans. There are more than 8,500 Dunkin’ locations in the United States, and while the brand is instantly recognizable today, it didn’t always go by that name. In 1948, when Bill Rosenberg opened his first restaurant, he named it Open Kettle. He changed the name to Dunkin’ Donuts in 1950, and in 2018, the company dropped the “Donuts” to go by Dunkin’ alone.
30. White rice
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In the United States, people eat an average of 26 pounds of rice per year, and while that may sound high to you, we’re nowhere near the 221 pounds consumed per person annually in China. Out of all 50 states, Hawaii ranks highest in rice-eating, averaging 100 pounds per year.
This Mexican classic has certainly been Americanized—just look at Taco Bell for proof. While your go-to version may not match the traditional tacos you’ll find south of the border (you won’t get hard taco shells in Mexico, for instance), it’s still tasty enough to warrant a taco Tuesday every week. Fun fact: Taco Tuesdays is actually a trademarked term! It was developed in the ’80s by Taco Johns, a Wyoming restaurant chain that used the phrase to launch its deal for two hard-shell tacos for $1.
28. Chips and guacamole
Americans will put guacamole on pretty much everything. One of the most popular foods in America, guacamole has even been to the moon! Astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission brought some with them in 1969. They didn’t end up eating it, however, because Buzz Aldrin ate all of the crew’s chips before the ship even left Earth.
27. Crab rangoon
This Polynesian-inspired appetizer can trace its roots back to the 1940s and the renowned Los Angeles tiki restaurant Trader Vic’s. Unlike the crab rangoon many of us order from American Chinese restaurants, Trader Vic’s dish was made with real crab meat and A.1. Steak Sauce in addition to cream cheese.
26. Shrimp tempura roll
Crispy, light tempura batter is made with just three things: flour, ice water, and egg yolks. It’s a recipe the Japanese inherited in the 1500s from Portuguese missionaries, who introduced the Japanese to lightly fried string beans (peixinhos da horta) and made a mark on the country’s cuisine. Now, tempura is generally associated with Japanese dishes. Anything cooked in tempura tastes great on its own, but when it’s tempura-coated shrimp joined by avocado and cucumber, then wrapped in sushi rice? Yum.
25. Apple pie
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There’s a reason for the saying “It’s as American as apple pie”: Apple pie became America’s favorite dessert centuries ago and remains one of the most popular foods in the country today. There are a couple of crucial elements to a truly great apple pie: the flaky, buttery crust and, of course, the apples themselves. For more sweet goodness, check out the best dessert in your state.
24. Cheese fries
One reason cheese fries rank among America’s favorite foods? The variety. There’s the New Jersey staple, disco fries, which are made with gravy. There’s the Canadian standard, Poutine, which is made with gravy and cheese curds. And there are chili cheese fries, made with beef, chili, and cheese. In the 1950s, the orangey cheese version that’s so readily available today entered the scene, thanks to the launch of processed Cheez Whiz.
23. Greek salad
Considering the glut of delicious yet less-than-healthy food available in the United States, it’s pretty amazing that a salad made the top 25 favorite foods. But Greek salad (also known as horiatiki salad) is covered in feta cheese, which adds a richness that’s hard to beat. Though not actually Greek, the salad gained popularity at Greek diners in America.
It’s hard to eat just one of these Japanese fried dumplings (often filled with pork and cabbage). It’s especially hard when you’re going for an eating contest record. Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Champion Joey Chestnut also has the record set for gyoza. In 2014 at the Day-Lee World Gyoza Eating Championship, he ate 384 in 10 minutes. Not even Chestnut has been able to beat that record—he scarfed down just 314 in 2020. Hungry yet? Try the best hot dog in your state.
21. Spicy tuna roll
When Grubhub looked at its sushi stats in 2016, it found that Boston residents order spicy tuna rolls eight times more than the rest of America. Interesting, right? But it’s Denver that has bragging rights over the crunchy spicy tuna roll, which residents eat 15 times more than the average American.
20. Chicken sandwich
It’s no secret that there’s a battle for the best fast-food chicken sandwich in America. You’ll find enticing options at Popeyes, KFC, McDonald’s, and more. But as of 2020, the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich reigned supreme, with 45 percent of the market share.
19. Boneless chicken wings
In 2022, boneless chicken wings beat out their traditional counterpart in terms of popularity. It makes sense: They offer the same flavor with less mess and more meat. So what are boneless wings, exactly? In essence, they’re breaded and fried boneless breast meat. Because there’s no skin, they need that breading to get the golden color found naturally on the skin of fried wings. Need something cold to go with those wings? Check out the best craft beer in every state.
18. Onion rings
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When it comes to onion rings, people typically have very specific preferences concerning everything from the kind of onion used to the onion-to-batter ratio. Burger King is known for extra-crispy rings with limited onions, while old-fashioned recipes focus on a huge chunk of onion. Whatever your batter preference (tempura, flour and egg, or beer batter, for instance) the best way to get it to stick to the onion is by keeping it cold right up until frying.
17. Caesar salad
Raise your hand if you thought Caesar salad’s origin had to do with the Roman emperor Julius Caesar. You’re wrong, but good guess. Chef Caesar Cardini came up with the salad when he became overwhelmed serving American tourists in Tijuana, Mexico, in the 1920s (the place to go for alcohol during Prohibition). He had only a few ingredients around, so he threw them together: romaine, croutons, oil, egg, Parmesan cheese, and anchovies. In order to be a true Caesar salad, it has to have anchovies!
16. Chicken tikka masala
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The vivid orange-red sauce is unmistakable (and delicious), but chicken tikka masala is made of way more than just tomato paste. The chicken is marinated in yogurt before it even gets cooked, and the sauce itself is comprised of, among other ingredients, tomato paste, butter, garam masala, paprika, garlic, and fenugreek.
15. Waffle fries
Waffle fries aren’t made using a waffle iron, but they sure look like they were. To create your own version of this popular food, use a mandolin set with a crinkle-cut blade. If you run the potato over the blade only once, you’ll get the shape of a traditional ridged potato chip. To get the waffle pattern, run the potato over the blade, then turn the potato and run it over the blade once more. Another fun Chick-fil-A fact: Waffle fries are the most popular order.
14. Macaroni and cheese
Nowadays, people often visit restaurants and delis just to score a plate of delicious mac ‘n’ cheese. Chefs use multiple cheeses, fun-shaped noodles, and oodles of cream to get the perfect bite. But macaroni and cheese comes from humble beginnings. Popularized by Thomas Jefferson—or, rather, his enslaved Black chef, James Hemings—mac ‘n’ cheese became a go-to dinner in the 20th century, largely thanks to its simplicity and cost-effective ingredients. Processed cheese and noodles were a cheap way to fill up.
13. Chicken quesadilla
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The plain cheese quesadilla ranked 43rd on this list, but the most commonly ordered version, with chicken, is a full 30 spots higher. According to YouGov, chicken quesadillas are the third most popular Mexican dish in the United States (after nachos and burritos).
12. California roll
This list is packed with sushi, but the Americanized California roll ranks first among them. Invented in Los Angeles (hence the name), the sushi roll was introduced in the 1960s at a restaurant called Tokyo Kaikan. The chef needed a replacement for tuna, so he used avocado and crab. He also turned the roll inside out, placing the white rice outside the nori to appeal to Americans who might not love the idea of eating seaweed.
11. Chicken nuggets
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Despite news that chicken nugget sales are dropping around the country, they’re still super popular. The reason for the downturn is that many of us prefer chicken tenders, a (sometimes) less-processed option. You can’t say “chicken nuggets” without conjuring an image of the classic McDonald’s menu item. With that in mind, here are a couple of interesting nuggets of information for you: McDonald’s revamped its nuggets back in 2016, but they still come in four shapes.
10. Miso soup
A staple of Japanese take-out orders, miso soup is the perfect meal to warm you up in the winter. But even some of its most ardent fans are clueless about the main ingredient: Miso paste, which gives miso soup its umami flavor, is made from fermented soybeans. It’s essential for miso soup, but the paste also tastes great in salad dressings and marinades.
More soybeans! Miso soup is made of fermented soybeans, whereas edamame is made up of young soybeans that have been harvested before they ripen. They are then boiled in salt water and served as an appetizer or side. Just remember to toss the shell!
8. Garlic naan
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Grilled dough? Count us (and the rest of America) in! Naan gets coated in butter and rises in a tandoori oven or on a skillet until it’s puffy and ready to eat. Interestingly, garlic naan made the list, while the basic version didn’t. The difference here is that minced garlic is pressed into the dough before cooking. If you want to go all in, you can also brush on some garlic butter after the bread is finished cooking.
7. Mozzarella sticks
People have been frying cheese since the Middle Ages, but the bar snack we’ve come to know and love originated in Wisconsin in the 1970s. There’s no doubt Wisconsin knows its cheese. The state produces 600 varieties, boasts more cows than people, and even has a festival dedicated to the stuff. Getting hungry? Find out which is the best all-you-can-eat buffet in your state.
6. Pad thai
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In the 1930s and 40s, the Thai government took steps to Westernize the country. Not only did it change the country’s name from Siam to Thailand, but it also developed pad Thai. The national dish, made with rice noodles, has since become an American favorite.
Next, check out these funny food names that sound ridiculous but are totally real.
5. French fries
The average American eats 48 pounds of french fries a year, and yet the people of Belgium beat us, demolishing 165 pounds per year. French fries have been around for more than 200 years, but they didn’t find their soul mate, ketchup, until the mid-1940s.
4. Cheese pizza
As much as Americans love experimenting with toppings, tossing everything from pepperoni and sausage to pineapple and anchovies on their pizzas, nothing beats a plain cheese pie. They call it a classic for a reason. Also a classic (and a delicious post-pizza treat)? Ice cream. Here’s the best ice cream shop in every state.
3. Hash browns
Both hash browns and home fries are favorites at diners across the country, but only one is popular enough to make this list. Sliding in at number three are hash brows, grated breakfast potatoes that are pan-fried until they’re crispy on the outside and softer in the middle. Home fries are also cooked in a skillet, but they’re made of diced potatoes that are cooked with onions and paprika.
Is there anything more American than a hamburger? Yes, a cheeseburger, which lands in the number two slot on this list of America’s favorite foods. According to research done by National Today, American cheese is the most popular cheese for topping a burger, followed closely by cheddar, then pepper jack, Swiss, and provolone. Speaking of burgers, find out which restaurant is crowned as the maker of America’s best fast-food burgers.
1. Burrito bowl
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Chipotle lovers have often debated whether the burrito or burrito bowl is better, with some fans claiming burrito bowls offer more food. This year, the bowls have it! The dish ranked second in Grubhub’s 2020 survey, only to rise in ranks this year. The upward trajectory is pretty impressive, considering the dish only became popular in the 2000s.
- Demarquis McIntyre, spokesperson for Grubhub
- Globe Newswire: “Hummus Market to Grow at USD 6.60 Billion by 2028”
- USDA National Agricultural Library: “George Washington Carver”
- Statista: “Per capita consumption of cheese in the United States from 2000 to 2020”
- Edison Trends: “In QSR Chicken Sandwich Wars, Chick-fil-A Rules the Roost with 45% Market Share”
- YouGov: “Quesadilla”