Classic American Vegetarian Food

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With a rich history and cultural influence, American cuisine has produced many iconic vegetarian dishes that are enjoyed by people of all backgrounds. Let’s take a closer look at some classic American vegetarian foods that have become staples in households and restaurants across the country.

A stone table filled with classic Southern dishes.

What is American Food?

When we think of American food, many iconic dishes come to mind – from burgers and fries to mac and cheese, and everything in between. But what exactly is American food? American cuisine is diverse and multifaceted, drawing on a rich culinary history that reflects the country’s cultural melting pot. Whether you’re craving hearty Southern comfort food, classic New York-style pizza, or innovative fusion dishes, American food has something to offer for every palate.

Close shot of macaroni and cheese.
Southern mac and cheese.

American Food By Region

American cuisine is as diverse as its landscape and people, influenced by the rich history and culture of different regions across the country. First, let’s get to know the cuisines, region by region, as well as some of the most popular dishes. Then, we’ll get into traditionally vegetarian dishes!

Southern cuisine:

  • Fried chicken
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Jambalaya
  • Gumbo
  • Shrimp and grits

Tex-Mex cuisine:

  • Tacos
  • Fajitas
  • Enchiladas
  • Nachos
  • Quesadillas

Appalachian cuisine:

  • Fried apple pies
  • Cornbread
  • Pinto beans and ham
  • Fried catfish
  • Sausage gravy and biscuits

Hawaiian cuisine:

  • Poke
  • Kalua pork
  • Lomi salmon
  • Spam musubi
  • Haupia (coconut pudding)

Southwest cuisine:

  • Green chile stew
  • Navajo tacos
  • Chimichangas
  • Carne asada
  • Menudo

Cajun and Creole cuisine:

  • Gumbo
  • Red beans and rice
  • Jambalaya
  • Crawfish étouffée
  • Po’ boys

Puerto Rican cuisine:

  • Arroz con gandules
  • Mofongo
  • Pasteles
  • Tostones
  • Empanadillas

Chesapeake Bay cuisine:

  • Steamed crabs
  • Crab cakes
  • Oysters Rockefeller
  • Clam chowder
  • Smith Island cake

Midwest cuisine:

  • Chicago-style deep-dish pizza
  • Hotdish (casserole)
  • Cincinnati chili
  • Cheese curds
  • Bratwurst

Pacific Northwest cuisine:

  • Cedar-plank salmon
  • Clam chowder
  • Dungeness crab
  • Marionberry pie
  • Rainier cherries

California cuisine:

  • Fish tacos
  • Kale chips
  • Cioppino (seafood stew)
  • Chia pudding
  • Avocado toast

New England cuisine:

  • Lobster rolls
  • Clam chowder
  • Baked beans
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Boston cream pie

Floribbean cuisine:

  • Jerk chicken
  • Key lime pie
  • Fried plantains
  • Cuban sandwiches
  • Conch fritters
Fried green tomatoes on a plate next to macaroni and cheese.
Fried green tomatoes.

American Vegetarian Food

For vegetarians and vegans, finding classic American dishes that don’t include meat can sometimes be a challenge. But fear not – here’s a list of 23 classic vegetarian American foods that are sure to satisfy your cravings and leave you feeling full and satisfied!

1. Grilled Cheese Sandwich

A classic American sandwich made with melted cheese between two slices of bread, often grilled or toasted until crispy and golden brown.

2. Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole is a traditional side dish made with green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and fried onions, often served during holidays and special occasions.

3. Hush Puppies

Hush puppies are a Southern American dish made with a cornmeal batter that is deep-fried until crispy and golden brown, often served as a side dish or appetizer.

Hush puppies piled high in a bowl.
Hush puppies.

4. Corn On The Cob

A simple yet delicious side dish made with fresh ears of corn that are boiled or grilled and served with butter and salt.

5. Peach Cobbler

Peach cobbler is a classic American dessert that’s perfect for any occasion. Made with fresh peaches and a sweet, buttery topping, it’s a comforting and delicious treat that’s sure to please everyone.

6. Red Beans and Rice

A traditional Louisiana dish made with red beans, rice, and a variety of seasonings and spices, often served as a main dish or side dish.

Close shot of Louisiana red beans and rice.
Red beans and rice.

7. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

A classic American sandwich made with peanut butter and jelly between two slices of bread, often a popular choice for kids’ lunches.

8. Macaroni and Cheese

A classic American comfort food made with macaroni pasta and a creamy cheese sauce, often topped with breadcrumbs and baked in the oven.

9. New York Pizza

New York pizza is famous for its thin slices, crispy crust, and delicious combination of high-quality ingredients. Whether enjoyed on the go or as a sit-down meal, it is a classic American dish that is loved by many.

Close shot of new york pizza slices.
New York pizza.

10. Chow Chow

A traditional southern American relish made with chopped vegetables like cabbage, peppers, and onions, pickled in vinegar, and served as a condiment. You can find a recipe for fermented chow chow in my book Fermented Hot Sauce Cookbook.

11. Pecan Pie

A traditional Southern American dessert made with a filling of pecans, sugar, and corn syrup, baked in a pie crust, and served with whipped cream or ice cream.

13. Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is a classic American dish that’s perfect for summer picnics, potlucks, and barbecues. Made with elbow macaroni, mayo, and a variety of veggies and seasonings, it’s a creamy and satisfying side dish that’s sure to please a crowd.

14. Tomato Soup

A classic American soup made with tomatoes, cream, and seasonings, often served with grilled cheese sandwiches or crackers.

A white bowl filled with red soup.
Tomato soup.

15. Black Eyed Peas

A traditional southern American dish made with black-eyed peas often served with rice. Sometimes seasoned with ham hocks traditionally, so be certain to omit for the vegetarian version.

16. S’mores

A classic American campfire treat made with graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows, often toasted over an open flame. Use gelatin-free vegetarian marshmallows!

17. Apple Pie

A classic American dessert made with apples, sugar, cinnamon, and a pastry crust, often served with vanilla ice cream.

An apple pie.
Classic apple pie.

18. Sweet Potato Casserole

A traditional southern American side dish made with mashed sweet potatoes, topped with marshmallows, and baked until golden brown. Use gelatin-free vegetarian marshmallows.

19. Fried Okra

A southern American dish made with okra that is battered and deep-fried until crispy and golden brown, often served as a side dish or appetizer.

20. Creamed Spinach

A classic American side dish made with spinach that is cooked in a cream sauce. Classic comfort food!

A white bowl filled with creamed spinach.
Creamed spinach.

21. Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes are a classic Southern dish that has become popular across the United States. Made with firm, unripe tomatoes, and a crispy cornmeal coating, they’re a delicious appetizer or side dish that’s perfect for any occasion.

22. Cornbread

Cornbread is a Southern American bread made with cornmeal and baked until golden brown often served with butter or honey.

23. Vegetable Pot Pie

A hearty American dish made with vegetables like carrots, peas, and potatoes, baked in a pastry crust until golden brown and bubbly.

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All images in this post, with the exclusion of hush puppies(shot by me), are courtesy of Depositphotos.

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