10 Famous Iowa Foods To Try: Dishes Iowa Is Known For

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Food in Iowa is special because it reflects the state’s deep connection to the land and its agricultural heritage. From succulent pork tenderloin sandwiches and richly flavored ham balls to farm-fresh produce and sweet treats like scotcheroos, the Hawkeye State is full of unique culinary delights that are sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Even if you are just visiting the state for a few days, here are some of the famous Iowa foods you need to try! Get ready for an exciting journey through some of the most delicious dishes in America – all with a distinctly Midwestern flavor.

Most Famous Food In Iowa

Sour Cream Raisin Pie

Sour Cream Raisin Pie is a classic Iowa food with special touches that make it unique. It is believed to have roots in the German or Mennonite culture. 

This Midwestern pie has a flaky crust and a sweet, creamy filling made from sour cream, raisins, sugar, eggs, and a few other ingredients. It is topped with a layer of cinnamon sugar for extra sweetness.

Beyond its tangy sweet flavor, a highlight of Sour Cream Raisin Pie is undoubtedly the texture. The sour cream contributes a smooth and velvety consistency that melts in your mouth. The plump raisins add a chewy texture that makes every bite a treat.

Simple yet delicious, sour cream raisin pie is a popular food in Iowa and you can find it all over the state. If you’re a fan of creamy and tangy desserts, then you’ll definitely want to give it a try. 

Popular Foods From Iowa

Steak de Burgo

Steak de Burgo is a steak dish that was created in the Des Moines Iowa in the 1930s. It consists of a tender cut of beef covered in a buttery garlic and herb sauce .Some folks even like to add a hint of paprika and little bit of wine to the sauce for some extra flavor.

The special flavor profile has earned it a spot as one of the most beloved foods from Iowa. As a true Iowa original, this dish is a local favorite and a must-do for any foodie traveling to the state. 

This steak dish can be served with sides like mashed potatoes or a salad for a complete meal. Whether you enjoy it at the restaurant or make it at home, Steak de Burgo is an excellent way to experience the flavors Iowa has to offer!

Taco Pizza

Taco Pizza is a Mexican-American dish that originated in Davenport, Iowa. It combines two all-time favorite foods – tacos and pizza – into one delicious dish.

It consists of a pizza crust topped with a thin layer of refried beans, seasoned ground beef, and shredded cheddar cheese. Once it’s baked to perfection, a variety of toppings are added like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives jalapenos, and sour cream. 

This combination makes for a unique flavor profile that is sure to surprise you. The salty beef combined with the sweetness from the beans and the creamy sour cream creates a harmony of flavors that will keep you coming back for more! 

This type of pizza has become a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Plus, it’s a great way to experience a bit of both culture – Mexican and American. You can find it on the menu at many local pizza places and it’s even served at some chain restaurants.

Maid Rite Sandwiches

Maid Rite Sandwiches have been a signature food of Iowa for almost a century. This is a loose meat sandwich, meaning it does not contain a specific meat cut but rather a mix of chopped beef. 

It includes a blend of ground chuck, roast beef trimmings, onions, garlic and a few spices. The beef mixture is cooked with a secret special seasoning blend that gives it a distinct taste.

What’s special about Maid Rite Sandwiches in Iowa is that they’re a bit of a cultural icon. Many Iowans have fond childhood memories of stopping by a local Maid Rite restaurant with their families to enjoy a delicious sandwich and some crinkle-cut fries.

This simple yet flavorful dish has been a favorite in Iowa since the 1920s and continues to be popular today. It’s served on a hamburger bun topped with pickles and cheese for an extra dose of yumminess. 

Breaded Pork Tenderloins

Breaded Pork Tenderloins have a reputation for being a signature food of Iowa. They’re a local specialty that’s become a bit of an obsession for many Iowans. 

This dish consists of a boneless pork loin that is pounded thin and then lightly coated with a mix of spices, flour, and breadcrumbs before being shallow-fried until perfection.

The spices gives it a bold and savory flavor that will make your taste buds sing. Breaded Pork Tenderloins are typically served with sides like mashed potatoes or fries but they are a great stand-alone dish as well. 

The golden brown tenderloin is often larger than the bun it is being served on, making it a filling and satisfying meal, even just visually.

If you’re looking for a truly delicious meal in Iowa, this should be at the top of your list. It’s a treat that can be found on almost every menu in the state, from fine dining restaurants to local dive bars. 

In fact, the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is such a popular food in Iowa that there’s even an annual Iowa Pork Producers Association Tenderloin Contest to find the best one in the state!

Snack Foods In Iowa

Iowa Ham Balls

Ham Balls are a classic Iowa food that has been a favorite for many years. Resembling its name, this is a savory mix of ham, pork, and beef that is rolled into a ball shape and then baked. 

The Ham Balls can be served as an appetizer or a main course. They are often accompanied with a sweet glaze made from brown sugar, mustard, and honey that does well to balance out the saltiness of the ham. 

This perfect combination of salty and sweet makes it a unique food in Iowa. Since Ham Balls are rather easy to make, you can regularly see them at family gatherings, potlucks, and other community events.

If you haven’t tried the little balls of goodness yet, you’re missing out. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the state, make sure you try Ham Balls when you visit! It’s a beloved dish that captures the flavors of Iowa.

Iowa Corn

Iowa is known for its rich farming culture and corn production, so it’s no surprise that it is a beloved food in the state. Corn is harvested in the late summer and early fall, and it’s a local delicacy that’s celebrated throughout the state.

Iowa sweet corn is famous for its exceptional flavor and tenderness. It’s so delicious that many Iowans prefer to eat it straight off the cob, with a little bit of butter and salt. However, you’ll also find it served in many other forms like creamed corn, roasted with butter, or even boiled.

The flavor of fresh Iowa corn is one-of-a-kind and can be found at farmers’ markets all over the state. It’s also used as an ingredient for some traditional dishes such as succotash and Corn Fritters. 

Whether you eat it plain or use it to create something unique, sweet Iowa corn is always a treat! So make sure you indulge yourself when visiting this Midwestern State – you won’t regret it!  

Corn isn’t just a delicious food in Iowa, it’s also a key component of the state’s economy. A fun fact about Iowa is that it is one of the top corn-producing states in the country.

Desserts And Sweet Foods In Iowa


Scotcheroos, now that’s a nostalgic treat that’s hard to resist! They are just a classic dessert and food Iowa is known for.

Scotcheroos are made with a mixture of butterscotch, peanut butter, corn syrup, and sugar, poured over crispy rice cereal. It is then topped with a layer of chocolate. The perfect mix of crunchy and sweet makes it a hit with both adults and kids. 

This delectable treat has been a staple at Iowan family gatherings, community events and bake sales for decades. The best part is that they’re so easy to make and always a crowd-pleaser! All you need is a few ingredients and a little bit of time to create the tasty snack everyone loves.

Whether you enjoy them as a simple snack or use them to top your favorite sundae, Scotcheroos do not disappoint. They’re the perfect midwest and Iowa food to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Snickers Salad

Snickers Salad must sound peculiar to foreigners yet all so delicious to fans of the chocolate bar. There is a good reason why it is a favorite food in Iowa. It’s a creamy, crunchy, and indulgent treat that’s perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth.

This is a sweet and savory concoction of crunchy apples, Snickers candy bars, whipped cream, and a few other ingredients or toppings such as caramel or butterscotch sauce.

The rather sinful combination makes it a unique treat that’s sure to be a hit at any gathering or potluck. The apples give the salad a nice texture while the sweet caramel from the Snicker bars adds a delicious flavor. 

Plus, this Midwestern dish is incredibly easy to make and one food that Iowa is known for. It is a tasty twist on a traditional dish that continues to be beloved by Iowans today.

Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb Pie is a beloved Iowa tradition that’s been around for a long time since the 1900s. The rich tart filling and flaky crust make it a true classic food Iowa is known for.

Rhubarb Pie is made with fresh rhubarb, sugar, and often other ingredients like strawberries, apples, or cinnamon for an extra special treat.

The fresh rhubarb contributes the sweet yet tangy flavor, while the sugar and spices are what give this pie its delicious taste. 

Another thing that makes rhubarb pie special in Iowa is that it’s often served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The warm, sweet, and tangy pie pairs perfectly with the cool, creamy ice cream, making it a delightful dessert.

So, if you’re in Iowa during rhubarb season, be sure to try a slice of this delicious pie. 

Discovering Famous Iowa Foods

One of the most special things about food in Iowa is its connection to the state’s cultural identity. Many of Iowa’s signature dishes, like breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches, Maid-Rites, and sweet corn, are deeply ingrained in the state’s history and traditions.

These dishes are often passed down through generations of families and are celebrated at community events and festivals throughout the state. So when you are checking out the famous landmarks in Iowa, don’t forget to also pay attention to the all-so-inviting Iowa food scene.



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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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