Hand holding Fried chicken and eating in the restaurant
PhanuwatNandee/istockphoto

The Most Popular Comfort Food in Every State

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Hand holding Fried chicken and eating in the restaurant
PhanuwatNandee/istockphoto

All-American Noshes

If you've ever wondered if your neighbors both near and far have the same culinary cravings as you, wonder no more. E-conolight, an indoor/outdoor lighting company, apparently pondered the same question and decided to look into it. To do so, they "identified over 100 foods that people classify as 'comfort foods,’ then used Google Trends to identify which of those comfort foods the residents of each state searched for most in 2020. There are predictable outcomes in the results, as well as some surprises. 


Related: Surprising Comfort Food From Every State

Cheese Grits
AnnapolisStudios/istockphoto

Alabama: Cheese Grits

In a year when more Americans embraced comfort foods, Alabamans were searching for this feel-good dish typically made with hominy or stone-ground cornmeal, cheese, spices, and more. 


Cinnamon Swirl Rolls
Jennifer_Sharp/istockphoto

Alaska: Cinnamon Rolls

Almost unbelievably, this is the only time those ooey-gooey swirls of pillowy dough, sugary icing, and spicy cinnamon are going to appear on this list. Alaskans know a thing or two about carb-heavy goodness, apparently — E-conolight noted in other parts of its survey that the main and side dishes most searched for by residents of The Last Frontier were biscuits and gravy and sourdough bread, respectively. 


Related: We Tried 8 Store-Bought Cinnamon Rolls and These Were the Best

Homemade Southern Chicken and Waffles
bhofack2/istockphoto

Arizona: Chicken and Waffles

This comfort food favorite is going to show up a couple more times on this list, as it's not just residents of the Grand Canyon State that craved it the most during lockdown. In fact, it was the third most searched comfort food in the U.S., according to E-conolight.


Related25 Places to Find Amazing Waffles Across the Country

Chicken or Turkey and Dumplings
Kathy Burns/istockphoto

Arkansas: Chicken and Dumplings

Proving that chicken and, well, carb-laden things are a popular item to eat when you need a little pick-me-up for the soul, denizens of this southern state (and one other — can you guess which?) searched for chicken and dumplings over all other comfort foods in 2020.  


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Grilled Cheese
BlakeDavidTaylor/istockphoto

California: Grilled Cheese

Cheesy breaded goodness was the most searched for comfort food in the U.S. last year, topping E-conolight's research in California and six other states. 

Beef chili with kidney beans and cheese topping
vm2002/istockphoto

Colorado: Chili

Nothing warms up a snowy and frigid day better than a bowl of chili, and that's probably what Colorado's residents were banking on when they searched for this comfort food over all others. Chili also made a showing in two other states … read on to find out where. 


Related: 13 Regional Chili Recipes to Try

Close up shot of strawberry shortcake on a small white plate.
AimeeLeeStudios/istockphoto

Connecticut: Strawberry Shortcake

In the realm of comfort foods, this one at least has fruit on it, so maybe residents of Connecticut were just trying to keep it a little healthier? Somewhat surprisingly, this wasn't the only state where strawberry shortcake was popular. Hint: A New England neighbor's residents also craved this berry-laden dessert.  


Related: 20 Low-Cost Desserts That Are Easy As Pie

Golden Fried Chicken on Plate and Placemat
dbvirago/istockphoto

Delaware: Fried Chicken

Residents of Delaware were among four total states craving some good, old-fashioned fried chicken to calm their pandemic worries. This comfort food, in fact, was the second most searched in the nation, just behind grilled cheese. 


Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Spots for Fried Chicken in Every State

Japanese Chicken Yakisoba Noodles
EzumeImages/istockphoto

District of Columbia: Chicken Lo Mein

The only area of the country searching for this particular dish, this one threw us for something of a loop. Perhaps when the Washington Post noted in a December 2020 article that "American Chinese food is the best American comfort food," it was merely expressing the sentiment of its readers.


Related: Best Chinese Restaurant in Every State


Savory Homemade Corned Beef Hash
bhofack2/istockphoto

Florida: Corned Beef and Hash

Honestly, we have no idea what to make of this development. Did we expect to see key lime pie or conch fritters? Sure. But corned beef and hash in the Sunshine State? Mind. Blown. 


Related: Best Brunch in Every State

Plate of Delectable Golden Brown Crispy Fried Chickens on Wooden Background
lovelypeace/istockphoto

Georgia: Fried Chicken

Another state all aboard the fried chicken train, which leaves two to go. Both are in the South, but which states will they be? 

Classical Cheesecake On Plate
Arx0nt/istockphoto

Hawaii: Cheesecake

Residents of the Aloha State were craving sugar combined with cream cheese, egg, butter, and graham cracker crumbs. Who could hoʻopaʻapaʻa (translation: argue) with that? 


Related: 20 Cheap and Easy Cheesecake Recipes

Pot Roast Dinner
LauriPatterson/istockphoto

Idaho: Pot Roast

Given that the Gem State grows more potatoes than any other, and that potatoes are a classic part of pot roast, this one seems like a natural fit. 

Grilled Cheese Sandwich With Tomato Soup
LauriPatterson/istockphoto

Illinois: Grilled Cheese

The second state to declare love of cheese and bread via Google searches, and four more to go. 

Biscuits and Gravy
TheCrimsonMonkey/istockphoto

Indiana: Biscuits and Gravy

You knew biscuits and gravy would show up somewhere, right? But did you guess it would be the Hoosiers who searched for it? Indiana was the only state where this classic comfort dish made a showing. 

Easter dessert of Pull Apart Carrot Cake Monkey Bread
StephanieFrey/istockphoto
Baked Potato Soup with Sweet Bread
DarcyMaulsby/istockphoto

Kansas: Baked Potato Soup

E-conolight noted that it "saw some unique comfort foods with surprising statewide popularity," and named this pairing of state and soup as an example. We can't argue — didn't see this one coming.  

Matzah ball Soup
LauriPatterson/istockphoto

Kentucky: Chicken and Dumplings

Just like Arkansas peeps, Kentuckians apparently have a love for this dish. And this concludes the chicken and dumplings portion of this list (meaning you won't see it show up again). 

Souther Fried Chicken
rudisill/istockphoto
Homemade Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies
bhofack2/istockphoto
Cheese sandwich
Mariha-kitchen/istockphoto

Maryland: Grilled Cheese

Another state, another love of grilled cheese. Maybe it's the fact that you can do so much to make this simple sandwich more remarkable? At any rate, three grilled cheese states down, three to go. 


Related: 19 Ways to Make an Ordinary Grilled Cheese Extraordinary


Strawberry Shortcake
DebbiSmirnoff/istockphoto

Massachusetts: Strawberry Shortcake

Just like its neighbor to the south, Bay Staters love some comforting strawberry shortcake. Coincidence or conspiracy? 

Bowl of Chicken Noodle and Vegetable Soup
chas53/istockphoto

Michigan: Chicken Noodle Soup

Given that residents of the Wolverine State have seen more than their fair share of COVID-19 cases, we're gonna chalk this one up to the purported medicinal properties of this dish. 

Swedish meatballs in a pan
Yulia_Kotina/istockphoto
Spicy Homemade Cajun Jambalaya
bhofack2/istockphoto

Mississippi: Jambalaya

Jambalaya might be thought of as a quintessentially New Orleans dish, but given the relative proximity of the two states and the amount of shrimp processed in the Magnolia State, again — no huge revelation here. 

Served dish of a bowl of baked potato soup
Azurita/istockphoto
Tomato Soup on wooden table background.
Dontstop/istockphoto

Montana: Tomato Soup

Nothing pairs with tomato soup quite like a grilled cheese sandwich, so we're guessing that Montana residents already know a thing or two about how to make a great cheesy sandwich and have moved their comfort food search tendencies on to this classic soup. 

Serving of chicken noodle soup in a bowl
DNY59/istockphoto

Nebraska: Chicken Noodle Soup

Not sure there are any meaningful conclusions to be drawn here, but here's a fun fact: A doctor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha once conducted lab tests to see if the soup's reputation as a common cold folk remedy was deserved.  

Fried Chicken and Waffles
LauriPatterson/istockphoto

Nevada: Chicken and Waffles

The second of three states that searched for this dish over all others, Nevada residents apparently know there's no reason to settle for one comfort food when you can have two (with syrup). 

Thanksgiving Stuffing
mphillips007/istockphoto
Grilled cheese sandwich in a cast iron skillet
MSPhotographic/istockphoto

New Jersey: Grilled Cheese

Jersey residents are the first of the final three states to search for this mega-popular comfort food above all others. 

Beef chili with kidney beans and cheese topping
vm2002/istockphoto

New Mexico: Chili

Just like their colder neighbors to the north in Colorado, those living in the Land of Enchantment crave chili above all else. 

Grilled Cheese Sandwich
msheldrake/istockphoto

New York: Grilled Cheese

Another state, another point on the comfort food scoreboard for grilled cheese (and a note — this dish won't show up again until near the end of this list). 


Related: 25 Amazing Sandwiches From Around the World

closeup of chicken tenders strips with belgian waffles
mg7/istockphoto

North Carolina: Chicken and Waffles

Given that Travel + Leisure once named Raleigh, North Carolina, as one of "America’s Favorite Cities for Brunch," perhaps it's not too surprising that residents here searched for chicken and waffles above all other comfort foods.  

Homemade Organic Mashed Cauliflower
bhofack2/istockphoto

North Dakota: Mashed Potatoes

Sure, mashed potatoes might seem a little boring on the surface, but given all the extras you can load into them — cheese, butter, sour cream, bacon, etc. — they're the perfect gateway comfort food, no? 


Related: 12 Clever Twists on Comfort Food That Mom Would Make

Chile
rudisill/istockphoto

Ohio: Chili

Given the popularity of Cincinnati Chili, it's a safe bet that a fair number of Buckeyes were putting their comfort food of choice over noodles or hot dogs. After all, notes the What's Cooking America website, "outside of the state of Texas, Cincinnati, Ohio is the most chili-crazed city in the United States."


Homemade pecan pie
Rimma_Bondarenko/istockphoto

Oklahoma: Pecan Pie

It might not be the biggest pecan-producing state in the union, but Oklahoma has plenty of pecan trees with which to make these coveted pies. 


Related: 22 Classic Pie Recipes

zucchini corn fritters
nata_vkusidey/istockphoto

Oregon: Corn Cakes

This one was unexpected, but given the versatility of this comfort food — which can just as easily be served with cheese, sour cream, and scallions as it can a heaping dollop of jam or maple syrup — we're not mad about it. 


Homemade Thanksgiving Dressing Stuffing
bhofack2/istockphoto

Pennsylvania: Stuffing

Remember when we hinted in the New Hampshire portion of this story earlier that there was another stuffing-loving Northeastern state? Yep, here it is. 

Deluxe Pizza with Pepperoni, Sausage, Mushrooms and Peppers
LauriPatterson/istockphoto
Shrimp and Cheese Grits
mphillips007/istockphoto

South Carolina: Shrimp and Grits

Grits make another showing here in the Palmetto State, but this time with seafood instead of cheese. 

Homemade Slow Cooker Pot Roast
bhofack2/istockphoto

South Dakota: Pot Roast

A midwestern state with a love of pot roast? Yep, this tracks. 

Slice Of Chess Buttermilk Pie
DebbiSmirnoff/istockphoto

Tennessee: Chess Pie

If you're not from the Volunteer State or thereabouts, you might not have ever heard of chess pie. If you have a sweet tooth, though, you're missing out. The pie contains mostly humble but delicious ingredients such as cornmeal, sugar, flour, butter, milk, eggs, and more. 


Related: 25 Simple Depression-Era Desserts That Actually Are Indulgent

Fried Chicken, souther buttermilk fried chicken
rebeccafondren/istockphoto

Texas: Fried Chicken

Rounding out the last of our states craving fried chicken is the Lone Star State, where foods like fried chicken are taken to art-form status. 


Related: Best Fried Chicken in Every State

Mashed Potatoes with Melted Butter
Fudio/istockphoto

Utah: Mashed Potatoes

We're not sure one has anything to do with the other, but apparently researchers found the "world's oldest mashed potatoes" in the same state where they were craved above all other comfort foods in 2020. Fun fact, if nothing else. 


Banana Bread
A_Lein/istockphoto
Grilled cheese sandwich close up
Jean Pierre Pinochet/istockphoto

Virginia: Grilled Cheese

Closing out the much-craved grilled cheese portion of this list is Old Dominion, otherwise known as Virginia.


Swedish Raggmunk
sbossert/istockphoto
Fresh baked tomato glazed meatloaf served with mashed potato
4kodiak/istockphoto
Thick soup of dried mushrooms
Tetiana_Chudovska/istockphoto
Homemade Slow Cooker Pot Roast
bhofack2/istockphoto

Wyoming: Pot Roast

Rounding out both our trio of pot roast-loving states and this entire list is the Cowboy State, where we're guessing that no one is truly surprised that meat and potatoes were on the 2020 comfort food menu. 


Related: The Best Spot for Comfort Food in Every State