Maine, the northeastern jewel of the United States, is not just famous for its picturesque coastline and rugged wilderness. It’s also a culinary destination that offers a unique and diverse array of dishes firmly rooted in the state’s maritime heritage and agricultural traditions. From fresh wild berries to unique desserts, these are the most famously iconic Maine foods that you need to try on your next visit!
With its abundant access to fresh seafood from the Atlantic Ocean, Maine excels in dishes like lobster rolls and clam chowder. Needless to say, while you can get a lobster at just about any seafood chain across the country, nobody knows lobsters and clams like Maine does. But those are just some of the foods you’ll find in “The Pine Tree State.”
If you are making your way to Maine for the weekend but aren’t sure which foods should be on your radar, we’ve compiled a list of must-have culinary treats.
10. Lobster Rolls
Lobster rolls are a beloved seafood delicacy in Maine. They are to Maine, what the cheesesteak is to Philadelphia, and what pizza is to New York. That being said, for a truly authentic lobster roll, you have to pick one up in Maine. These rolls are a must-try for anyone looking to savor the sweet, succulent taste of fresh lobster in a relaxed, seaside setting.
While the star of the lobster roll is, of course, the lobster meat, it is often mixed with mayonnaise, as well as seasonings like salt, pepper, and sometimes even a bit of celery or chives. The mixture is then piled into a split-top, buttered, and toasted roll.
9. Kennebec Fries
Kennebec potatoes are a unique potato from Maine with origins dating back to 1941. As a variety of russet potatoes, most people outside of Maine wouldn’t even know the difference when looking at them. However, cooking with them is a whole other story.
Kennebec potatoes are widely used by restaurants for making crispy, golden, and delicious french fries. Because of their high starch content and low sugar content, Kennebec potatoes are ideal for frying. The result: superior taste, crispiness, and a fluffy interior. In other words, the Perfect French Fry.
8. Seadog Biscuit
Seadog biscuits are a Maine food staple with a rich historical significance. But unless you’ve served in the Navy many years ago, you aren’t likely to have tried them. They were renowned for their extensive shelf life and durability and were a pretty simple mixture of flour, water, and sometimes salt.
Fortunately for you, that’s not the kind of Sea Dog biscuit we are talking about. In Maine, a Seadog Biscuit refers to a delicious ice cream made with two chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream in the middle. It’s the official dessert of any Portland Sea Dog baseball game.
7. Indian Pudding
Another must-try on the famous Maine foods list is Indian pudding. Unlike the name suggests, Indian pudding has nothing to do with the country of India or even Native Americans. Rather, its name comes from one of its primary ingredients: cornmeal. The association is connected to Native American’s use of cornmeal in cuisine. The pudding itself traces back to colonial times.
In addition to cornmeal, Indian pudding often contains ingredients like molasses, milk, butter, cinnamon, sugar, and ginger. Additionally, raisins are sometimes added, or the pudding may be topped with whipped cream or ice cream. This adds an extra dimension of flavor. While not everyone will like it, it is something you have to try.
6. Wild Blueberries
Sure, you can get blueberries in nearly any state, but you won’t find them as plentiful or as delicious as they are in Maine. Native to the state of Maine, blueberries are a staple of numerous baked goods, sauces, jams, and even frozen treats. Celebrating their abundance and appreciation, you’ll find many dishes that incorporate blueberries.
From blueberry muffins to blueberry pies, blueberry ice cream to blueberry smoothies, there’s no shortage of items you’ll find packed with blueberries. And of course, you’ll also find plenty of natural areas where you can just pick wild blueberries right off the bush.
5. Whoopie Pies
If you’ve never tried a whoopie pie, there’s no better place to try one than in the state of Maine. The classic dessert is a dessert staple for residents. You’ll undoubtedly find local connoisseurs who can tell you where to get the perfect whoopie pie.
For those who don’t know, a whoopie pie is not actually a pie but rather a sandwich consisting of two cake-like cookies and a cream filling in the middle. It’s pretty simple but exceedingly scrumptious. Labadie’s Bakery in Lewiston has been making them since 1925, meaning they have been on the list of iconic Maine foods for a long time.
4. Fried Clams
A fresh clam can taste like the ocean, providing a complex salty and sweet flavor that challenges the senses. Fried clams take the experience to a whole new level. Because everything tastes better fried, Maine, too, has discovered the culinary wonders of the fried clam.
They are prepared using soft-shell clams, also known as steamers, which are then battered and deep-fried, like chicken. These are made with the entire clam, including the belly and neck, unlike clam strips, which remove the belly and neck and have a lot different texture and flavor profile.
3. The Holy Donut
(image via Instagram)
If you’re in Maine, you have to try The Holy Donut. With multiple locations across the state, this donut shop is well-known to locals, and with good reason. What sets their donuts apart from any other donut are their unique potato-based, rather than flour-based, doughnuts. If you’ve ever had potato bread, that shouldn’t sound too strange.
Their recipe uses mashed potatoes, which gives their donuts a distinctive texture and flavor. Nobody is making donuts quite like these anywhere else in the United States, so this is definitely one food you have to try in Maine. The bakery has only been around since 2010, and they already have four locations in total!
(image via Instagram)
Like the whoopie pie, Needhams are another traditional sweet treat of Maine. Named after clergyman George C. Needham, a man known for his sweet tooth, Needhams became a common dessert by the late 19th century. They consist of mashed potatoes, coconut, powdered sugar, and butter, along with semi-sweet chocolate used to coat the candy mixture.
While the thought of mashed potatoes for dessert might be jarring at first, those who love the taste of coconut and chocolate will surely love them as you don’t really taste the potato. The potatoes are really just there for texture and consistency.
The Maine Needham Company is one of the largest producers of Needhams in the country, and they’ve been making them for almost 20 years. They truly are one of the most iconic Maine foods!
1. Red Snapper Hot Dogs
Red Snapper Hot Dogs, also known as Red Hots, is a hot dog like no other. They boast a unique flavor and a bright red color, and they are one of the most popular hot dog varieties in the state of Maine. But worry not, there’s no red dye in these hot dogs. The color is derived from natural pork or beef casings that turn red when cooked.
In terms of flavor, they feature a spicier and more complex flavor profile. Additionally, the natural casing gives the hot dogs a satisfying texture and bite. If you want a juicer, meatier, and more flavorful hot dog, getting a Red Snapper in Maine will certainly hit the spot.