North Carolina food is some of the most delicious and diverse you can find in the United States. From classic southern comfort food, to fresh seafood dishes, North Carolinians have a unique way of making their favorite dishes that reflects their culture and history. There is certainly a culinary adventure to be had in the Tar Heel State.
What’s Special About North Carolina Food?
North Carolina cuisine is known for its interesting mix of southern cooking and North American flavors. It also taps into the blessings of the state’s geographical location.
Southern comfort dishes has a huge influence on the Southern states, from Kentucky to Arkansas, and the North Carolina food scene is no different. Barbecue and fried food form a significant part of the culinary experience but with unique local twists.
But that is not all North Carolina has to offer. With a coastline that stretches over 300 miles, seafood is a big component of the state’s cuisine. Oysters, shrimp, crab – you name it, North Carolina’s got it.
And if you’re a fan of craft beer, you’re in luck. North Carolina has a booming craft beer scene featuring over 350 brewers. From Asheville’s famous breweries to up-and-coming spots in Raleigh and Durham, there’s always a new beer to try.
So if you are visiting the state, be sure to try some of these famous foods in North Carolina.
Most Famous North Carolina Food
North Carolina-Style Barbecue
Barbecue is one of the most iconic foods in North Carolina. We’re talking about slow-cooked, juicy, tender pork that’s been smoked for hours and hours over wood coals. It’s a labor of love and sweat, that tastes absolutely delicious.
When it comes to the all-important barbecue sauce and meat parts, North Carolina has two main styles: Lexington style and Eastern style. It may sound complicated but that’s just an extra excuse for you to indulge in more grilled meat.
Lexington-style BBQ uses a sauce that is a little sweeter and thicker, made with a base of ketchup, pepper flakes, and vinegar. The shoulder of the pig is used in the BBQ. You will find this style most commonly in the Western regions and Piedmont areas.
On the other hand, Eastern-style BBQ uses a similar sauce blend that includes vinegar and red pepper flakes, but without tomatoes. This gives it a tangy and spicy taste. And all parts of the pig are used for BBQ; whole hog style.
Regardless of which style you go for North Carolina barbecue is all about the flavor. It’s a little bit smoky, a little bit spicy, and a whole lot of delicious.
And when you pair that pork with some classic Southern sides like coleslaw, hushpuppies, and baked beans, you’ve got yourself a meal that’ll leave you feeling satisfied and happy.
Famous Foods In North Carolina
Texas Pete Hot Sauce
If there’s one sauce that rules the North Carolina food scene, it would be the Texas Pete Hot Sauce. And no, contrary to the name, Texas Pete Hot Sauce doesn’t actually come from Texas. It originated right from North Carolina, Winston-Salem, to be exact.
This beloved spicy condiment is made from a special blend of vinegar, cayenne pepper, and spices. The flavor of Texas Pete is just right – not too overpowering, but definitely not bland either. That makes it super versatile to be used on just about anything.
Eggs? Absolutely. Pizza? Sure, why not. Tacos? Heck yes. It’s a great way to add a little kick to any meal, and it’s especially delicious when paired with some classic Southern dishes like fried chicken, burgers or barbecue.
Texas Pete been around since the late 1920s and has become an iconic part of North Carolina cuisine. If you need a little extra kick, this sauce can definitely deliver!
Carolina-Style Hot Dogs And Burgers
A North Carolina-style hot dog or burger is a classic and delicious way to enjoy a meal. It’s pretty similar to the usual dogs and burgers, but what sets it apart from the rest is its unique toppings.
Carolina-style hot dogs are typically served with beef chili, onions and slaw. Yep, you heard me right – slaw. And not just any slaw, but a delicious, tangy, vinegar-based slaw that adds the perfect crunch and flavor to the dog.
Similarly, North Carolina burgers also come with some special toppings. These include things like chopped onions, fresh tomato slices, pickles, and mustard – all sandwiched in between two soft white buns.
Speaking of buns. Carolina-style dogs and burgers are typically served on a soft, squishy bun that’s been lightly toasted. It’s the perfect vessel for all those delicious toppings.
The combination of ingredients in North Carolina hot dogs and burgers is what makes them so popular and special. And there’s no better way to taste North Carolina food than to get your hands on one of these juicy, yummy sandwiches.
Taking a break from checking out the famous landmarks in North Carolina? It’s time for a Carolina-style Burger recharge! Be sure to give these fast foods a try and maybe even slam some Texas Pete on them for the extra spice.
Calabash is a charming little town on the coast that’s famous for its seafood. And when we say famous, we mean the “people come from all over the country to try it” kind of level.
This coastal North Carolina town is known for its flavorful, lightly breaded and fried seafood dishes. It’s the perfect place to indulge in some fish, shrimp, and oysters.
Calabash seafood is freshly caught from the area’s many rivers and creeks, coated in a special mixture of seasonings and flour, then deep-fried until golden brown. The crispy coating perfectly complements the tenderness of the seafood inside – making it an absolute delight to eat!
You can also get your classic Southern sides with your Calabash seafood. Hushpuppies, coleslaw, maybe some french fries or onion rings all go well to form a fulfilling meal.
There are tons of restaurants around the coast that serve up these delicious creations. Some even do it buffet-style. It’s a great way to satisfy those hunger pangs after hanging out at the beaches in North Carolina.
Beyond the taste, part of what’s amazing is the experience. Many of the food places in Calabash are family-owned and operated, and they take pride in their food and their service.
You’ll often find that the seafood is caught fresh that day, and the chefs know exactly how to cook it to perfection. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and indulge in some tasty food that North Carolina is known for.
Snack Foods In North Carolina
If you’re a North Carolina native, then you will certainly know what livermush is. But if not, it’s perhaps time to get yourself acquainted with this peculiar North Carolina food.
Livermush is essentially a sausage-like dish made of pork liver and cornmeal, among other things like spices and seasonings. It might not sound appetizing at first, particularly if you are not used to consuming innards, but some people fall in love with it.
Livermush can be pan-fried or grilled, depending on the desired texture. It’s usually served as part of breakfast alongside eggs and toast – a North Carolina staple meal.
But it also goes well with other dishes such as grits and biscuits, making it a versatile addition to any meal. Some even use it as a sandwich filling.
In addition, Livermush has been a part of North Carolina’s food culture for over a century, and it’s still going strong. In fact, there are annual Livermush Festivals in some towns to celebrate this beloved food.
Many North Carolinians will tell you that their town has the best Livermush, and they’ll fiercely defend it. It’s a source of local pride as well.
If you’re visiting the area, be sure to give this unique North Carolina food item a try, it’s an integral part of the culture.
Fried Green Tomatoes
When it comes to North Carolina food, fried green tomatoes are a classic.
These tart, juicy and crunchy treats have been around since the 19th century and are still enjoyed today. They are believed to have been introduced by Jewish immigrants.
Fried Green Tomatoes are, as the name suggests, unripe green tomatoes coated in cornmeal or breadcrumbs and fried to crispy perfection. You can then eat them with a variety of toppings like bacon bits, ranch dressing, hot sauce and more.
They’re usually served as an appetizer or side dish in North Carolina restaurants but can easily be included as part of your main meal.
Fried green tomatoes go great with savory dishes like BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. They also make a delicious snack when you want something savory yet light.
If you’re in North Carolina, make sure to give this iconic Southern food item a try. It will warm your heart and your stomach.
This creamy, cheesy goodness is one of the famous foods in the North Carolina. It is usually served as a spread on crackers or in sandwiches.
Pimento cheese is made by combining grated cheddar cheese with pimentos (a type of red pepper), mayonnaise and various seasonings. It’s then mixed together until it forms a spreadable paste-like consistency.
It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with just about anything – from chips to burgers and even celery sticks! It can be used as a spread or dip.
You can find Pimento Cheese on menus all over the state, from high-end restaurants to hole-in-the-wall diners. It’s a go-to snack for tailgating, a staple at church potlucks, and a must-have at any family gathering.
Many North Carolinians have their own recipes for pimento cheese, and some even enter competitions to show off their creations. It’s an core part of North Carolina food culture, so make sure to give it a try if you’re in the area!
Mt. Olive Pickles
If there’s one food North Carolina is known for, it’s pickles. And when it comes to pickles, Mt. Olive Pickles are the reigning champs.
This North Carolina brand has not just stood the test of time but also integrated perfectly into the local community. Having been in the pickle game since 1926, you can say they have perfected their craft over the years.
Mt. Olive Pickles are made from cucumbers that are harvested in North Carolina and then cured with a special brine recipe that includes spices, sugar, vinegar and other flavorful ingredients. They come in different varieties of dill, sweet-hot, garlic, and more!
These delicious North Carolina pickles can be enjoyed alone or as part of a meal – they pair wonderfully with sandwiches, burgers, salads and other dishes. You can also add them to snacks like macaroni and cheese or potato salad.
Mt. Olive Pickles come in those classic glass jars that we all know and love. There’s just something satisfying about that pop when you open up a new jar of pickles.
If you’re looking for an iconic North Carolina food that adds some zing to your tastebuds, give Mt. Olive Pickles a try! There’s nothing like the crunch and tangy flavor when biting into these picked cucumbers.
FAMOUS FOODS IN THE US
Desserts And Sweets Foods In North Carolina
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
These doughnuts are arguably North Carolina’s most famous, if not favorite sweet treat.
Krispy Kreme is a North Carolina-based doughnut chain that has been serving up delicious pastries since 1937. They have a cult following for their classic glazed doughnuts, which are light and fluffy on the inside with a wonderful sugary coating on the outside.
But it doesn’t end there! They also offer plenty of specialty flavors and variations such as salted caramel or raspberry white chocolate truffle, and even Nutella-filled doughnuts. That’s right: Nutella-filled!
All of them are equally delicious in their own ways. When you walk into a Krispy Kreme shop, it’s like heaven in your nostrils. You’re just hit with the most amazing smell – warm, freshly-baked doughnuts.
And the best part? You can get them hot off the line. That’s right! When the “Hot Now” sign is on, you know you’re in for a real treat. There’s nothing quite like biting into a warm, gooey glazed doughnut that’s practically oozing with flavor. It’s the perfect complement to a hot cup of joe.
Krispy Kreme is an iconic North Carolina food, and although you can find the brand even internationally now, it’s a must-try when you visit the origin area.
Whether you get their classic glazed or one of their fancy new flavors, these doughnuts will not disappoint. You can even grab some for snacking as you explore the historical sites in North Carolina.
Made with fresh, juicy peaches that are in season during the summertime, peach cobbler is one of the most beloved food of North Carolina.
This classic Southern dessert is created by cooking ripe peaches in a sugary syrup. It is then topped with a buttery, flaky crust, and baked until golden brown.
This tasty treat can be served either warm or cold and enjoyed with ice cream or whipped cream on top for the ultimate indulgence. And if you’re feeling fancy, you can even try adding other fruits like blueberries or strawberries.
Peach Cobbler has been around since the 18th century and it’s still just as popular today. North Carolinians love to gather around the table and share this comforting dessert during family dinners or parties. It’s always a crowd-pleaser.
For a sweet treat that’s full of Southern charm, Peach Cobbler is the way to go. It’s a classic dish that’s been enjoyed by generations of North Carolinians.
Exploring The Delicious Food Of North Carolina
North Carolina has a unique and delicious food culture that is worth exploring. From Mt. Olive Pickles to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, North Carolinians sure know how to make their food stand out from the rest!
Whether you’re in state for an extended stay or just passing through, be sure to sample some of these iconic food of North Carolina! You will leave with a full belly and a newfound appreciation for the culinary delights that this state has to offer.