Known as the Green Mountain State, Vermont is home to majestic mountains, rolling countryside, and quaint small towns. Foods from Vermont echo this local landscape and can be delightful and surprising to even the most seasoned traveler.
With its deep tradition and history, many of the foods in Vermont are influenced by early European Settlers, Native Americans, and the state’s northern neighbor, Quebec. But make no mistake, foods from Vermont have continued to evolve right up to the present day.
What’s Special About Food In Vermont
Vermont foods are renowned for their locally grown, raised, and foraged ingredients. The state’s been doing farm-to-table before farm-to-table was a thing, taking advantage of the many small farms and wilderness of the state’s beautiful countryside.
You won’t find many chain restaurants here. Rather, Vermonters take pride in their local businesses that are unique to the area. Vermont is also rich in local farmer’s markets where you can buy the best seasonal produce, including berries, squash, and apples, just to name a few.
Most Famous Food In Vermont
Vermont is the top producer of maple syrup in the United States, producing over 2 million gallons of syrupy sweetness a year! Vermont is famous for its maple syrup, as the state accounts for more than half of the maple syrup production in the U.S. Today, the most famous food in Vermont can be found in grocery stores across the U.S.
A tradition handed down to European settlers by Native Americans, it all begins by tapping the sap from native maple trees. After collecting gallons upon gallons of raw sap, it is then boiled down through reverse osmosis into the famous, sticky syrup.
Fun fact about Vermont, it takes about 40 gallons of raw sap to make just 1 gallon of maple syrup!
The syrup can end up as either a light, golden brown, which is poured over pancakes; or a rich dark brown, used for cooking. While known for its sugary sweetness, maple syrup is also packed full of minerals.
You can enjoy maple syrup not only over pancakes – there are maple candies, maple cream pies, maple donuts, maple ice cream, and more! There are so many, in fact, that Vermont foods made with Maple Syrup need their own category.
Vermont Foods Made With Maple Syrup
Similar to soft-serve ice cream, maple creamees are made from a creamy vanilla base blended with Vermont’s famous maple syrup. Its texture is creamier than traditional soft-serve due to its high-fat content, making it a rare, local treat. The rich ice cream is a take on nearby Quebec’s crème glacee, which was then adapted into one of the most classic foods of Vermont.
The maple flavor was first added at the Rutland County Fair in 1981 and was an instant hit across the state. If maple syrup isn’t your jam, you can also find this unique soft serve in classic flavors such as chocolate and vanilla. Also, unlike the usual hard ice cream, creamees tend to be light on the toppings, which can include maple dust, local berries, cookie crumbs, and more.
To get your own maple creamee, head over to a nearby creamee stand. Or, you can also find this sweet treat in general stores, farm stands, maple farms, and berry patches.
Maple Cream Pie
A historic food of Vermont, maple cream pies are custard pies with origins going back to the 18th century. Syrup, egg yolk, brown sugar, vanilla, heavy cream, salt, and milk are mixed together into a custard, which is then poured into a pie crust and chilled until solid. The maple sugar top is then either brulled, or the pie is topped simply with whipped cream.
Maple cream pies were invented as a protest against slavery in the West Indies when New Englanders boycotted the cane sugar grown by slaves on the islands. Today, the pie remains a symbol of New Englander’s simple lifestyles and independent spirit.
Maple Baked Beans
Maple baked beans are a local twist on the classic New England Baked Beans, only with maple syrup thrown into the mix. To make this traditional food from Vermont, the beans are first soaked overnight, then mixed with bacon and a maple syrup sauce. The concoction is then slowly baked for up to 8 hours – so it goes without saying that this dish requires some patience.
Legend has it that New England baked beans originated as a recipe handed down from local Native tribes to early Puritan settlers. This native cooking method was combined with European tradition into the classic baked bean dish we know today and is a must-have food of Vermont.
Although one of the foods Vermont is known for, Sugar Snow is only available seasonally. In the winter, you can enjoy this local sweet treat, which is made with real Vermont snow.
First, the maple syrup is boiled to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, then dripped over a fresh scoop of snow. The result is a taffy-like treat, eaten with a fork and usually paired with sour pickles or donuts.
Local Foods Of Vermont
Fiddleheads are perhaps the strangest of all the local foods of Vermont. Starting in early spring, native Ostrich Ferns are foraged from the nearby wilderness. The tops of the ferns are then rolled up into tight spirals, which are then steamed, creamed, or even sauteed in butter.
Its taste is similar to asparagus, giving you that fresh, green flavor straight from mother nature. To Vermonters, Fiddleheads are the first sign of Spring and are a can’t-miss treat if you want to try something truly unique.
Vermont Cheeses, particularly its white cheddar, are celebrated around the world and are one of the foods Vermont is known for. Voted as the best cheddar in the world, you can find products from the local Cabot Creamery in grocery stores across the U.S. White cheddar is an iconic food in Vermont and is said to have a sharper flavor the regular cheddar cheese.
The state’s artisanal cheeses are made from the milk of Vermont’s own sheep, goats, and cows. The unique flavor of these local cheeses comes from the area’s rich grass and feed. There are over 150 varieties of cheese made in Vermont, and they hold such honors as the World Cheese Award.
If you happen to find yourself in Vermont, visit one of the many dairy farms and creameries across the state where you can sample fresh, Farmstead cheeses made right on sight.
Cheese is so important to the state, that Vermont even has the Vermont Cheese Council. The council’s mission is to promote the production of local cheeses and maintain one of the most iconic foods in Vermont.
Locally Sourced Venison And Fish
Some of the best foods in Vermont come from locally raised meats such as venison and lamb. Vermont is praised for its organic animal farms – because the animals are fed a locally sourced diet, the meat ends up tasting fresh, clean, and unique to Vermont. If that’s not natural enough for you, then make sure to visit Vermont during deer hunting season and try some wild venison.
Sheep farms and deer farms dot the landscape, alongside Dairy farms featuring those classic and picturesque black and white dairy cows. If fish is more your style, head on over to Lake Champlain and get some wild-caught Lake Perch (a.k.a. “Poor man’s shrimp”).
Chicken Pie Supper
For the most local experience you can get, check out the community Fall Chicken Pie Suppers and enjoy some homemade Vermont food! They are typically held at local churches during the months of September and October, and the average price per head ranges from $10 – $15.
The centerpiece of the dinner is the classic Vermont Chicken Pie with gravy, served with mashed potatoes, winter squash, coleslaw, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and apple crisp. These chicken pie suppers are a showcase of some of the more classic foods of Vermont and a great way to really get to know the state.
Snack Foods In Vermont
Gravy fries are just what they sound like – French fries, smothered in Turkey gravy. This savory food from Vermont was first concocted at Nectar’s music venue in Burlington, which opened in 1975 and was host to the band Phish’s first gigs.
Gravy fries were made as a late-night treat for concertgoers, and the tradition still goes strong today. The delightful fusion of flavors between fries and gravy makes for the perfect hearty and comforting snack. Some even like to add cheese curds to make it like classic poutine-style fries.
Fresh Apples / Apple Pie
Dubbed Vermont’s state fruit, apples were originally brought over by European settlers in the 17th century and quickly became a permanent fixture of the landscape and a classic food of Vermont. Vermont is host to some of the oldest orchards in the U.S., which can usually be found nestled in the foothills of its many mountains.
The best way to enjoy this iconic Vermont food is straight off the tree, as most orchards offer the opportunity to pick your own fruit in the fall. A fun fact about Vermont, only here can you find older varieties of apples that have otherwise disappeared.
Vermont is host to apple varieties such as Ginger Gold, McIntosh, Paula Red, Cortland, Crispin, Northern Spy, and Honeycrisp. Many of the state’s orchards also offer pick-your-own peaches in the summertime.
With apples being a state food of Vermont, it is probably not surprising that apple pie claims the honor of being the state’s official dessert. Vermonters typically pair apple pie with world-class white cheddar, or with a scoop of locally made ice cream.
The best Vermont Corn Chowder is made from corn locally harvested in the summertime and is served in the evenings. This comfort food of Vermont is made from a milk-based broth, and mixed in with corn kernels and corn milk is bacon or salt pork, along with other fresh vegetables. The broth is then thickened with either flour or one of Vermont’s famous white cheddar cheeses.
Famous Desserts In Vermont Foods
Ben & Jerry’s
Vermont is known far and wide as the birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which has become one of the more well-known foods from Vermont. The company was founded in 1978 inside a renovated gas station and went on to claim international fame. Although the original shop is long gone, there are still numerous locations you can visit and learn more about the famous ice cream’s history.
The original Ben & Jerry’s was known for mixing large chunks of candy and other sweet treats into ice cream, and today there are almost 100 Flavors for you to enjoy!
Lake Champlain’s Five-Star Bars
If you’re visiting Lake Champlain, one of the more famous landmarks in Vermont, be sure to try their famous Lake Champlain Chocolates which have been lovingly handmade in Burlington, VT for nearly 30 years. At the flagship store on Pine Street, you can find not only chocolates but an ice cream shop, café, and more.
One Vermont food specialty to be found at Lake Champlain Chocolates are the Five-Star Bars. These award-winning chocolate bars and one-of-a-kind Vermont foods are available in seven different flavors, all wrapped up in a gold foil. They are so good, in fact, that these Five-Star Bars were dubbed the ultimate chocolate bar by Vogue magazine.
FAMOUS FOODS IN THE US
Discovering Traditional Food In Vermont
Whether you’re hiking one of its famous picturesque mountains or strolling about one of its many small New England towns, Vermont offers you food and drinks around every corner, all made with its most famous local ingredients.
Foods from Vermont are shaped by hundreds of years of tradition sourcing food from the available land, and the results are both fresh and indulgent, sophisticated and simple.
Should you find yourself in the Green Mountain State someday, be sure to visit the many local restaurants, creameries, maple farms, orchards, and more. Foods from Vermont are celebrated for their local traditions, and you’ll get the best Vermont experience by sticking with these local businesses.