Breakfast is an all-American staple, and here at The Daily Meal there is a wide range of favorite breakfasts among our editors, everything from English muffins to yogurts to smoothies. But after much deliberation and research, we set out to find you the best breakfast foods each state has to offer in order to open our minds and taste buds to the delicacies available in each part of our country.
As much as we love our cereals, we also love to indulge in some hearty brunches at the local diner. Many of these menu staples from our local joint have interesting histories and origins. You see, breakfast as we know it today took shape over time — the morning meal wasn’t always a plate piled high with waffles and syrup!
Until relatively recently, breakfast was usually made up of everyday staples like bread, cheese, olives, salad, nuts, raisins, and cold meat left over from the night before. There was no gas to cook things quickly, so eating leftovers made more sense in the old days. As civilization evolved, so has our taste for more intricate, cooked breakfasts — and so has the diversity of regional cuisines. So next time you think you’re having a simple fried egg in the morning, keep in mind how many amazingly unique breakfast foods are out there. Read on to discover recipes for the best breakfast foods in every state!
Shrimp and grits first came about as a breakfast for Lowcountry fishermen. And while it’s popular in much of the South, it’s practically Alabama’s official dish. Around the state, you’ll find it made in a range of preparations, including spicy, peppery, cheesy, creamy and even tangy.
Seeing as how Arizona is in close proximity with the Mexican state of Sonora, the flavors often reflect the geography. To combine numerous local favorites, order a deep-fried chimichanga or a breakfast burrito — sometimes called a “burro” — with machaca (dried, spiced beef or pork), green chiles, and eggs, wrapped in a fresh flour tortilla.
While oatmeal is a breakfast staple for a lot of Americans, Arkansas, being the top producer of rice in the country, makes a rice-based breakfast dish with sugar, milk, and a bit of butter (and sometimes cinnamon, vanilla, and/or cocoa) that is often served at the start of the day. Although similar to rice pudding, it is usually referred to as “sweet rice” or “sugared rice.”
With a combination of the influence from nearby Cuba and the constant need to stay in beach shape, Floridians often start their days with a simple and healthy breakfast of coffee, toast, and fruit. To turn it local, make the drink a café con leche, the bread a tostada, and the fruit a juicy, freshly-picked orange or grapefruit.
Flaky biscuits covered in savory sausage gravy are popular all around the South, but the idea originated with the early settlers and became popular with plantation farmers after the Revolutionary War, so we’ll give the nod to Georgia for this starchy breakfast staple.
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Loco moto is the ultimate Hawaiian comfort food, especially following a night of too many tropical drinks. The dish is comprised of gravy atop a fried egg atop a hamburger patty atop white, sticky rice, and its history dates back to the 1940s, when it was used as an inexpensive way to keep the children happy and full.
Everybody knows Idaho is well known for its incredible potatoes, and there’s nothing better than some delicious hash browns or a nice Idaho sunrise to start the day off right.
Illinois is a hardworking state with traditional values. It’s very common to find a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs from one of their local farms. Throw some smoky sausage into there and you’ve got yourself a solid breakfast.
Straight out of Amish Country, fried cornmeal mush, or cakes, is a breakfast staple all over the state of Indiana. A simple dish made of only cornmeal, water, and salt boiled together, cooled, and cut, it is usually consumed with maple syrup or sausage gravy.
If you want a quality melon, what better place to go than Muscatine, Iowa, the “Watermelon Capital of the World”? The melon industry may not be booming as much as it used to, but Iowans still know their southeastern town produces the best on the planet, and residents and visitors alike shouldn’t have any trouble finding a juicy, local melon to sink their teeth into at breakfast time.
As the home of KFC it seems only appropriate to assume chicken and waffles is the breakfast of choice here. The Bluegrass State famously cooks up the former ingredient as good as or better than anyone else — though it’s by no means the only state with a fried chicken restaurant named after it.
The best types of cakes are the ones you can eat for breakfast. On that note, Missouri definitely got things right with gooey butter cake, a flat, dense cake made with wheat cake flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and sometimes cream cheese, and dusted with powdered sugar. Although sweet and rich, the dish’s firmness is more akin to a brownie, but it’s thankfully served like a coffee cake.
Although they originally hail from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, kolache are incredibly popular in the Nebraska and the Mideest in general. Before the soft yeast dough is baked, the pastry center is filled with a generous dollop of sweet filling like cherry, apple, lemon, poppyseed, cream cheese, strawberry-cream cheese, apricot, or prune.
An old-school New England tradition, these doughnuts are worth every glorious calorie. This was a difficult call — New Hampshire is also a huge maple producer, so it was tempting to go with French toast. But the consensus on the street is that these cider doughnuts are the bee’s knees.
Also known as Taylor Ham, the pork roll, a New Jersey classic, was reportedly invented in 1856 by John Taylor and is a prepared pork product that is sliced and pan-fried. The most popular breakfast item generally consists of pork roll on a bun or bagel, with a fried egg, American cheese, sometimes lettuce and/or tomato, topped with condiments such as salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce. It has also been called a “Jersey Breakfast.”
In order to be a true New Yorker, you’ve got a have a bagel for breakfast at least once a week. A lot of bagel shops have become very creative with their cream cheeses, but the ultimate New York breakfast is hands down a bagel, not toasted, with cream cheese and lox. While a bagel and lox is undeniably New York, a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich is considered by some to be an equally classic New York breakfast food.
This German breakfast sausage will revolutionize your idea of sausage. It is particularly popular in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area. Locals often cook their own homemade versions, and usually eat them for breakfast along with condiments like ketchup, syrup, or even grape jelly.
Stu Spivack/Wikimedia Commons
Scrapple is the traditional breakfast meat of Pennsylvania. Developed to minimize food waste, it’s made with pork trimmings leftover from butchering combined with cornmeal and flour. Although it may sound unappealing, scrapple served with some toast and cheddar cheese is a Pennsylvania favorite.
Hearty breakfasts are taken very seriously in this state, and grits are an immensely popular staple throughout the South. It’s safe to say that South Carolinians take their grits the most seriously, especially when they are accompanied by some delicious barbecue.
Virginia is known for having some of the best cured ham and bacon around, so it’s no surprise to see a lot of locals scarfing down some crispy bacon and eggs for breakfast.
The state is the birthplace of Starbucks and Seattle’s Best, but there is also a seemingly-endless number of smaller, independent coffee shops to choose from every morning. There’s no better breakfast in Washington than a cup of joe.
The Golden Delicious apple was created in West Virginia and stars in a variety of homemade pies, cakes, cobblers, and crumbles in every corner of the state. But according to locals, there’s no better role for it than the one it plays in the legendary made-from-scratch apple dumpling.
People in Wisconsin are pretty laid back and like to wake up to something nice and easy, like a light coffee cake, along with their morning cup of joe. Baked goods are very popular here, so it’s no surprise you see many different delicious breakfast cakes lining the windows of bakeries.
Sourdough pancakes have been around in America since the Gold Rush days, when miners and other prospectors ate them for every meal. Although it sounds unappetizing, these are a really nice savory breakfast food, popular in Wyoming and are pretty healthy, too! Once you're finished having breakfast in and around the country, it will probably be lunch time, which would be a great time to find the best taco in every state!
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