If you’re a big US foodie, Ohio is the place for you. With three huge cities and several smaller ones, it’s easy to find somewhere to grab some tasty grub across the state.
Some people will tell you to go to Cincinnati because of their chili. Others will say go to Cleveland because they have the best sports team in the country. In Columbus, you must try their egg sandwiches at Arnold’s.
However, many people don’t realize that these cities and all of Ohio have incredible food that rivals anything other US cities can offer- Ohio food is truly that varied and impressive!
While Ohio is right in the middle of the US Corn Belt, you should not be concerned. This state offers far more than corn with its eclectic history and diverse population.
There is a solid German and Polish heritage in Ohioan cuisine, with foods from those countries finding their way into several unexpected dishes.
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The Best Ohio Food
Buckeye candy is almost exclusively found throughout Ohio, made with a peanut butter mixture partially dipped in chocolate.
Ohio’s nickname is “The Buckeye State,” which comes from the Buckeye tree, indigenous to the state and the candy source.
It’s safe to say that anything closer than Cleveland is considered to be better candy, but if you prefer the taste of Buckeye peanut butter, then fill your munchies bowl with this Old Fashioned Buckeye Candy.
However, calling it “candy” may be a stretch. This famed Ohio treat can be found in many different places around the state and pops up in each season. They pretty much taste like all other peanut butter-based candies, except they are slightly larger and sweeter.
Shaker Lemon Pie
Lemon Pie is also known as Ohio Lemon Pie, made from lemons, sugar, and eggs, and once prepared, resembles a lemon curd or custard.
The pie is traditionally served warm and is topped with a flaky crust.
Rich, buttery, flaky, and not too sweet, Ohio Lemon Pie is a dessert that people love or hate. The filling is made up of lemons, sugar, and eggs. Also, the lemon peel isn’t strained out! So you end up with little micro scratches of lemon peel through your pie.
The word ‘chili’ has been linked with Cincinnati ever since the heyday of American chili parlors in the early 20th century. However, the history of Cincinnati-style chili starts before World War II, where it was completely different from its current form.
It is a chili dish special to Cincinnati, made with a thin meat chili, usually served over spaghetti and topped with shredded cheese. It is also sometimes done over hotdogs. It’s one of the area’s most beloved dishes; those who dwell in Cincinnati and the surrounding area will recognize this right away.
Cincinnati chili is known for its unique way of preparing the dish. The spicing is done with a limited selection of ingredients, but what the recipe lacks in variety makes up for flavor.
It’s important to understand that Cincinnati chili is not a type of chili – most people mistakenly refer to it because they are accustomed to Tex-Mex or other types of chili.
If you live in Ohio, there is a good chance you have eaten goetta at least once. But, no, there’s more than one way to eat it. And yes, it’s still made from steel-cut oats and ground pork.
Goetta is a delicacy popular around Cincinnati and Ohio in general. Often served with syrup, ketchup or applesauce, or even eggs, this unique dish is traditional for those who have lived in the area for some time.
For others, goetta is an exciting dish to try when visiting some local German-American restaurants and bakeries.
Goetta most similarly resembles scrapple, if you’re familiar with that dish!
Sausage is a staple of the Polish people, coming to Ohio for more than a century. Sausage, which had almost fallen out of fashion among all of Ohio’s ethnic groups, is now making a comeback.
Kielbasa is a large, juicy variety of sausage traditionally made from pork, beef, and/or veal (you’ll find sausage links that are all one kind of meat or another in most markets).
This fine cocktail wienie is brined before being smoked. Popular in Ohio’s eastern counties, it is typically served on a sandwich with sauerkraut, mustard, and dill pickles.
Traditionally fried in butter with onions, pierogies are stuffed with potatoes, sauerkraut, ground meat, or cheese filling, and are a Polish dish.
Thousands of Poles annually visit the United States, yet few Americans have tried or even heard of this traditional food.
As a matter of fact, it is not commonly known that pierogy is the plural form of pierogi.
Fried chicken originating from Barberton is Barberton chicken or Serbian fried chicken. The chicken pieces are cut from the whole bird and dredged in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs before being fried in lard.
Belgrade Gardens first offered this fried chicken specialty, a diner founded during the Depression by Serbian owners Manojlo Mike and Smiljka Topalsky.
Smiljka prepares and fries the chicken, which has its roots in Serbian cuisine, which she inherited from her mother.
Roasted Pig Head
The Greenhouse Tavern’s impressive-looking roast pig head dish resonates with people when they visit The Greenhouse Tavern in the Tremont area of Cleveland, Ohio.
It is a classic dish that tastes absolutely beautiful. However, it can be slightly daunting when you first set eyes on this dish, which I liked about it — it was so different.
Tangy BBQ sauce on soft brioche buns, scrunched-up yellow mustard seeds on top, and a piece of pig’s ear complete the look of this stunning dish.
Shredded Chicken Sandwich
Ohio’s northern and central regions are known for shredded chicken sandwiches. This dish is made by cooking and shredding chicken that is then cooked in chicken broth or condensed chicken soup combined with flour, bread crumbs, or crushed potato chips.
Before being served on hamburger buns, the mixture is seasoned with black pepper. Sandwiches were trendy in the 1960s when they were offered on school lunch menus, dairy bars, and church functions.
Since it was made from leftover old and tough chicken meat, anyone can make creamed chicken and serve it with buns or biscuits.
Cleveland’s Polish boy sandwich consists of kielbasa sausage, coleslaw, fries, and barbecue sauce on a bun.
A restaurant owner named Virgil Whitmore is thought to have invented Polish boy in the 1940s by combining smoked beef sausage and other ingredients from his restaurant.
Today, Polish boy is still popular, but with some variations, such as adding pulled pork to the already colossal sandwich.
Summary Of The 10 Best Ohio Dishes
I don’t think you can beat Ohio when it comes to food. Even though the state is not very large, it has much to offer for a weekend getaway.
Also, with the abundance of fertile farmland, Ohio is a great place to pick up locally grown and organic fruits and vegetables.
So, you have the option of visiting large cities (Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus), historic sites, or a bridge that spans the entire state. Knowing where to eat and where to go will ensure that you return.
Visiting other destinations in Ohio? Check out our other delicious guides:
- 15 Best Cleveland Restaurants
- 13 Great Must-Try Ohio City Restaurants
- 11 Must-Try Tremont Restaurants
- 10 Must-Try Toledo Restaurants
- 20 Best Restaurants In Cincinnati
- The 10 Best Restaurants In Cleveland OH
- Best Tremont Pizza Restaurants
- 10 Best Things To Do In Cleveland, Ohio
Now that you know all about Ohio food- which dish do you want to try first? Let us know in the comments section below!
Igor Jovanovski is an aspiring digital nomad, travel blogger and graphic designer who really loves food. He also has a creative side, and he works as a freelance graphic designer in his spare time. He has traveled across Europe quite a few times since he was young and recently started his mission to visit every country in the world! Igor’s favorite thing about traveling is the way he gets to know new people, food, places and cultures.
This exciting experience helps him create his own stories and make memories that will last forever