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Dig into Ohio’s Signature Flavors: 10 Iconic Dishes to Try 

Top 10 iconic foods in Ohio

The Buckeye State has always been known for its heartland fare and agricultural roots. Ohio has a rich food culture that you may overlook, but it is a hidden gem when it comes to quality dining establishments and local dishes. Whether you are looking to sample traditional family recipes or try something new, you will find plenty of options in Ohio’s vibrant food scene. From homestyle cooking to authentic ethnic cuisines, there is something for everyone to enjoy. With this blog post’s help, we can look deeper into the unique flavors and styles of foods in Ohio – from big-city restaurants to small-town diners – so that you can experience the best of what the state offers!  

About Ohio cuisine

Ohio is home to a variety of delicious cuisines that reflect the diversity of its people. From traditional Midwestern dishes such as the iconic Cincinnati chili and Lake Erie perch to delicacies from Eastern Europe, including Pierogies and Kuchen with its sweet pastry and thick custard, there are plenty of mouth-watering options for those who love to explore new flavors. In addition, Ohio is known for many styles of BBQ that have been perfected over decades by passionate pitmasters. Whether you’re looking for something mild or spicy, Ohio has a dish to satisfy every palate!  

The importance of experiencing local food culture in Ohio  

Experiencing the local food culture of Ohio is an essential part of understanding and appreciating the state. From Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams to pizza in Cleveland and classic cuts of meat from Columbus, tasting the unique flavors of Ohio can delight the senses and expand one’s palate. With the rise of craft breweries and a boom in wineries, you will feel spoiled for choice. But it doesn’t just stop with beer and wine; for instance, Cincinnati chili stands as an iconic local dish that visitors should taste. Ohio has much to offer food-wise, so take some time to sample its abundance of tempting dishes with the following suggestions:  

Signature Dishes to Try  

  1. Cincinnati Chili

    For a good reason, Cincinnati Chili is one of Ohio’s most iconic dishes. This delicious chili packs flavor from generous amounts of warm spices such as cinnamon and allspice, contrasted with clove, nutmeg, and cayenne. The recipe also calls for a blend of beef and pork cooked in a tomato-based sauce that includes cocoa powder, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. All these ingredients combine to create the signature sweet yet slightly spicy taste of Cincinnati Chili that gets love from Ohioans and visitors alike. If you want to experience a true Ohio classic, Cincinnati Chili should be at the top of the list.  

  2. Buckeyes

    Buckeyes are iconic treats worth trying if you are in Ohio. While they may not look as appealing as some other dishes Ohio offers, such as Cincinnati chili, they have firmly established their place within the state’s cuisine. Amazingly simple yet delicious, these little morsels taste like peanut-buttery heaven and couldn’t be easier to make given their three ingredients: peanut butter, sugar, and chocolate. If you wish to take the Buckeye experience up a notch, try one of the many variations, such as adding crunchy cereal or making them with real butter instead of margarine. A timeless classic in Ohio’s culinary lineup, you would be doing your taste buds a disservice by not trying a Buckeye for yourself.  

  3. Hot Browns

    Hot Browns, originating in the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, have been a staple of Cincinnati’s culinary scene since the 1930s. A warm and hearty comfort food, Hot Browns are a delicious mix of roasted turkey, bacon, and tomatoes topped with gooey mornay sauce and baked to perfection under a layer of cheese and breadcrumbs. For many Ohioans, Hot Browns symbolize all good about home cooking, honed through generations in family kitchens inside the Buckeye state. The rich blend of flavors – the juiciness from the turkey and the smoky aroma from the bacon wrapped in creamy mornay – can transport anyone to nostalgic memories of cool autumns gathered around a cozy table for dinner.  

  4. Pierogi

    Ohio’s signature dish, the pierogi, has been a staple of Polish cuisine for centuries and is now a beloved part of Ohio culture. Though often referred to as boiled dumplings, it’s more complex. Pierogi come in wide varieties and can be enjoyed either boiled or fried with any fillings, including potato, sauerkraut, fruit, cheese, and more. They are simply delicious, and no matter your preference, you can find a pierogi filling that will tantalize your taste buds. Eating a pierogi is like taking a bite into Ohio history. For generations, families have been making pierogi from scratch in their homes for special meals and occasions, continuing the tradition of this beautiful Ohio dish.  

  5. Goetta

    Goetta is one of the most beloved dishes from Ohio. This delicious dish of pork, beef, and oats has been in for generations throughout Cincinnati and other parts of the Buckeye State. Its unique combination of flavors creates a savory and satisfying meal ideal for breakfast or any time of the day. To make your unique recipes, you can experiment with flavors, shapes, and cooking styles. Perfectly cooked Goetta has a crispy exterior while still maintaining its moist interior. If you enjoy this one-of-a-kind signature dish, you would like to start each morning with it off right.  

  6. Sloppy Joe’s

    A beloved local culinary favorite for decades, Ohio’s signature dish Sloppy Joe’s, has a long and notable history. It originated from the 1930’s working-class neighborhood of Scottsdale, Ohio, during the Great Depression. The classic sandwich consists of ground beef with onions, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, or ketchup and spices on a hamburger bun – simple ingredients capable of creating delicious bursts of flavor. Sloppy Joes blur the line between comfort food and irresistible appeal, no matter which way you make it or whatever additions you include in this variation – from cheese to condiments, onions, or mushrooms. Once tasted, this comforting classic will be on your list of iconic dishes from Ohio; each bite brings nostalgic memories that no other food can provide.  

  7. Cleveland-style Pizza

    Ohio’s signature dish is Cleveland-style pizza, a fan favorite of Midwest cuisine. It distinguishes itself from other styles of pizza with its large dollop of tomato sauce liberally applied to the surface of the pizza before baking. This layering adds extra flavor and prevents the dough from becoming soggy when consuming it. The crust also has a unique texture, often described as biscuit-like or cracker-thin due to its preparation in an oiled pan. Additionally, the cheese takes center stage for Cleveland-style pizza topped off with generous amounts of shredded cheddar cheese instead of traditional mozzarella. As someone who’s tried many types of pizza throughout Ohio, it’s no surprise if Cleveland-style pizza becomes your favorite.  

  8. Skyline Chili

    Skyline Chili is Ohio’s signature dish and one of the state’s most iconic dishes. Skyline Chili was started in 1949 by Greek immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides, who brought his homemade chili to Cincinnati. Since then, Skyline has become a local favorite due to its unique flavor. It is generally served over spaghetti noodles with cheese and onions, creating a comforting version of chili con carne that is distinctly Ohioan. Many claim that the secret to its popularity lies in the unique blend of spices used in its recipe. Regardless of why it gained popularity as the state’s signature dish, fans agree that Skyline Chili is delicious.  

  9. Sausage Sandwiches

    Ohio’s sausage sandwich is a highly-regarded treat in the Midwest. It is a savory combination of tangy peppers, sweet onions, and rich hot sausage. This dish can be found everywhere, from festivals to cultural events, and it has a surprisingly long history. Originating in the mid-1800s at German markets, it started as a simple-yet-flavorful way for marketgoers to have lunch on the go. From there, it quickly spread, becoming one of Ohio’s most treasured dishes. Although its popularity may have faded over time, this treat remains ingrained in Ohio’s culture as an iconic dish highlighting the state’s distinct flavor profile. Sausage Sandwiches should fill your cravings if you want an authentic taste of Ohio.  

  10. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    The classic grilled cheese sandwich has become a staple in the hearts of many residents. They have been around for decades. Still, with the recent trend of artisanal cooking popping up in small cities across Ohio, these messy and delectable creations have taken on a new level of deliciousness – genuinely unique to Ohio. From including unexpected ingredients like jalapenos or bacon to upgrading the regular white Kinder’s loaf to an oat-infused ciabatta, these comfort food kings are available at almost any diner or cafe throughout the state. Eating this iconic dish is always guaranteed to bring back a sense of nostalgia, comfort, and great taste.  

Where to find Ohio’s Iconic dishes?  

Ohio is home to unique culinary delights which are sure to please the palate. From Clermont County’s famous Goette and Montgomery County’s German-style coney sauce to Cleveland-Style Polish Boy sandwiches and Cincinnati Chili, Ohio offers many signature dishes worthy of exploration. To sample these dishes, visitors and locals alike can head to local eateries across the state or seek out unique food festivals celebrating Ohio’s homegrown flavors. For a more goods-oriented approach, some specialty shops throughout the state offer authentic takes on these dishes if you want to whip them up at home.


If you’re looking for a more convenient, cost-effective, and personalized way to enjoy the iconic dishes of Ohio in the comfort of your own home, hiring a personal chef service from CookinGenie is an excellent choice. Not only will you be able to taste traditional Ohioan dishes like Cincinnati chili, Lake Erie perch, or buckeyes without setting foot outside your door, but you’ll also have access to preparers who have years of experience crafting these recipes. Plus, you can get these dishes tailored to your specific diet and tastes. Ultimately, with CookinGenie’s personal chefs, you can still indulge in the gustatory wonders that Ohio offers without all the fuss or expense of dining out.

Author Profile

George Zappas

Executive Chef

George Zappas, CookinGenie's Executive Chef, is a passionate culinary professional with 15+ years of experience. George calls Cincinnati home and is dedicated to creating unforgettable dining experiences, mentoring chefs, and inspiring food exploration.

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