Courtesy of Dish Society
Texas is known as a foodie destination because of its vibrant and diverse cuisine. Famous dishes from the Lone Star State include barbecue, chili and pecan pie, one of its official state foods. Along with Tex-Mex, Texas also has staples brought by German and Czech immigrants and passed down through the generations.
To assemble some of the best Texas recipes, we reached out to popular Texas restaurants, native food bloggers and even found Texan winners of the annual Pillsbury Bake-Off contest. We called on our our own Texan friends and family to share some of their trusty recipes.
Whether you were born and bred in Texas, are a new transplant or are looking to incorporate more of the state's cuisine into your repertoire, these classic Texas dishes are staples in any recipe collection.
Translated as “green rice,” arroz verde is the perfect accompaniment to any Tex-Mex dish with beans and meat. There are many variations, but all include green veggies (in this case, green onion and green bell peppers) and a rich flavor that comes from cooking the rice in stock. If you want to amp up that signature “green” color, mix cilantro and spinach leaves in a blender and add to the saute pan.
Many Tex-Mex restaurants serve avocado crema as a sauce to dip tortilla chips in or to spoon over pretty much anything on the menu. While it goes particularly well with fish tacos, you can serve this sauce in a dish alongside salsa verde and use it to liven up grilled chicken, steak fajitas and more.
A home cook from Austin, Texas, won the grand prize at the 2006 Pillsbury Bake-off with this healthy and surprising dish of baked chicken with spinach stuffing. This retro dinner recipe gets a breakfasty twist with ingredients like waffles and maple syrup.
This dish was originally invented at legendary Louisiana restaurant Brennan's, but it's served at Brennan's sister restaurant in Houston and has made its way onto menus and into homes across Texas. This show-stopper makes the perfect ending to a romantic dinner.
Courtesy of Dish Society
Fluffy buttermilk biscuits are the basis for an iconic Southern breakfast like biscuits and gravy. At farm-to-table restaurant Dish Society in Houston, biscuits topped with fried chicken and gravy are a house favorite. You can make the restaurant's recipe at home as a meal, side or even as the base for a dessert like strawberry shortcake.
Cornbread is a Southern staple, but jalapeños, cheddar cheese and a cast-iron skillet give it an extra Texas twist. This cornbread is best served warm with butter.
Any Texas home cook will tell you the secret to perfect chicken-fried steak is a three-step dredging method: First dredge the meat in a flour mixture, then a beer batter, then again in the flour mixture. Fry it up in a pan and serve it with white gravy.
Courtesy of Brennan's of Houston
Chile con Queso can be more than just a dip. In fact, it's the star ingredient in this decadent side dish with a Tex-Mex kick. Poblano chiles, chipotle and Chihuahua and pepper jack cheese help elevate this dish to something extraordinary. Chihuahua cheese is just one of many cheeses from around the world that everyone should try.
If you grew up in Texas, you likely grew up eating this guilty pleasure food right out of the Frito bag at high school football games, county fairs and maybe even in your own kitchen. These days, you may find a few restaurants serving up a sophisticated twist on Frito pie, but you can't go wrong with the original, which is basically Texas chili served over a bed of Fritos and topped with all the fixings.
The wave of Germans who immigrated to Texas in the 19th century brought with them recipes for beer, brats and even potato salad. Made with Dijon vinegar dressing instead of mayonnaise, this recipe can be served hot or cold. You can visit many classic German restaurants in small towns settled by German immigrants that still look like they're stuck in time.
Avocado is one of the best foods for weight loss as well as the foundation of a Tex-Mex staple: guacamole. The only guac recipe you'll ever need, this is made with avocados, lime, red onion, cilantro, a bit of garlic and salt. Just make sure you follow this hack to make your guacamole last longer.
Casseroles are one of the ultimate American comfort foods, and one of the best casserole recipes you can make from Texas has a nice added zing. Named for the massive King Ranch in Texas, which is larger than the state of Rhode Island, this casserole includes plenty of cheese, tortillas and shredded chicken as well as cans of soup to make it nice and creamy.
While apple might be the iconic pie associated with America, Texas is all about peaches. One of the simplest ways to enjoy this seasonal fruit is in a peach cobbler. For a truly Texas experience, top your peach cobbler with a dollop of Blue Bell Ice Cream, a beloved brand founded in Brenham, Texas.
Pecan pralines are a Texas tradition that migrated from French Louisiana cuisine and Spanish-inspired Mexican cooking around the same time. Found everywhere from holiday gift bags to host stands at neighborhood Tex-Mex restaurants, pecan pralines are a simple, sweet treat you can also whip up at home. This recipe comes from Molina's Cantina, a Houston Tex-Mex institution famous for its pralines.
A Texan was crowned co-champion at the 1973 Pillsbury Bake-Off thanks to this recipe also using the state's beloved pecans. These simple bars have just a handful of ingredients and a great nutty flavor.
There are many types of beans used in Texas cuisine but the most famous of all is the refried bean. You’ll find this option on every Mexican restaurant menu, almost always served next to a piping hot mound of rice. It's the perfect accompaniment to America's best burritos or whatever Tex-Mex dish you're making at home.
Although it's a popular menu item at America's top chain restaurants, the fajita plate was originally popularized in Texas. Fajitas became a huge hit in the 1970s thanks to Ninfa’s, a Houston restaurant, and can be easily customized at home with a variety of meat, veggie, tortilla and topping options, though steak fajitas are a classic choice.
Typically made by creating a roux of flour and fat and adding plenty of milk or cream, Southern white gravy is best served atop chicken-fried steak or with homemade biscuits. Also known as cream gravy, this sauce is a Southern staple that the rest of the world really needs to try.
This recipe features the 1015 Texas sweet onion, which was developed in Texas and released in 1983. A fun fact about Texas is that these onions have an economic impact on the state of around $350 million per year. Don’t have sweet onions from Texas? No worries, this variety of onions can be grown in a few other states, or you can substitute other sweet varieties like Walla Walla or Vidalia onions.
Barbecue sauce is a hotly debated topic in Texas. Many barbecue masters have insisted over the decades that good barbecue doesn’t need a sauce. But tell that to the masses of people who can’t help but love a sweet, tangy sauce atop their barbecue. Just don’t overpour in front of the pitmaster.
The name “Texas caviar” is a tongue-in-cheek riff on the infamously expensive luxury item. This black-eyed pea dip is best scooped up with tortilla chips and can be enjoyed year-round but typically makes an appearance in Texas households on New Year's Day to bring luck in the new year.
Courtesy of Jack's BBQ
In the great American chili debate over beans versus no beans, where you fall on the matter likely depends on what region in the country you are from. For Texans, chili does not have beans in it. This no-bean recipe is bursting with flavor thanks to three different kinds of chili peppers.
Thick-cut, slathered in butter and then grilled on the stove, Texas toast is simple, buttery and delicious. Buy a loaf of unsliced white bread and slice it thick. Serve this alongside chicken-fried steak or any meat-and-potatoes dish and you’ll understand why this is one of the many Southern recipes every Northerner needs to try.
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