The Absolute Best Desserts In Every State

From sea to shining sea, the United States is full of tasty desserts. Apple pie, red velvet cake, and baked Alaska all call this country home, along with dozens of other iconic treats. Thanks to preserved traditions, Yankees have been making the same home-cooked cookies, cakes, and custards for generations.

These desserts typically have a noticeable American flair. They're either made using scraps of domestic shelf-stable ingredients — like Rice Krispies, graham crackers, or peanut butter, or they're of the melting pot variety — brought here by immigrants and sometimes Americanized by indulgent citizens.

Within the country, regionally beloved goodies are also a thing. It's easy to see how history has played a part in that. In corn-laden Midwestern states like Nebraska, sweets involve popcorn. In whiskey-filled Kentucky, you'll find bourbon in the candies. Sampling these recipes easily illuminates a part of a state's food culture — hopefully, a delicious one. For your next road trip, don't forget to leave room for dessert. Here are the absolute best desserts in every state.

Alabama: Lane Cake

In Alabama, lane cake is one of the state's most cherished treats. This sweet consists of three to four layers of vanilla cake held together by raisins soaked in bourbon (via Mom Loves Baking). White frosting and cherries sometimes decorate the top but not always. Kumquats, pecans, and coconut are also occasionally added to the bourbon-raisin filling, according to Rouses.

Alabama's dessert is so iconic, it's even been immortalized in the Southern-set "To Kill a Mockingbird," written by Alabama native Harper Lee. In the famous '60s book, Lee writes, "Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight." The term "shinny" refers to the cake's alcohol, and "tight" means that the person eating it got drunk, explained Alabama.com. This delicious and intoxicating treat has been a staple of home cooks since at least the 1920s (via Tori Vey). Thanks to the preservation of the lane cake in family cookbooks, we'll be eating this boozy dessert for a while to come.

Alaska: Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska is perhaps one of the more well-known American delicacies, despite being named after one of our most isolated states. But the mainland has had plenty of time to learn about it since this recipe dates back hundreds of years. According to NPR, Baked Alaska was created by scientist Sir Benjamin Thompson, who studied heat. Thompson discovered the recipe for baked Alaska inadvertently during his cooking experiments with meringue. This led to the iconic white swirl that encases each decadent dessert.

However, Thompson neither gave the dish its iconic name nor popularized it. Baked Alaska gained a following through American restaurants such as New York City eatery Delmonico's, writes The Culture Trip. Wealthy patrons came there to sample baked Alaska, which is made with a cake base topped with ice cream, then covered in meringue that is then entirely "baked," though briefly. Even though this dish may not have originated in Alaska, its status as a popular American dessert named after a state earns it a place on our list.

Arizona: Sopapilla

Sopapillas are said to have originated in New Mexico, but these sweet fried doughs are very popular in Arizona. The sweets consist of squares of flour that expand to a pillow-like shape when deep-fried, according to Delighted Cooking. After cooking, each piece is covered in honey or syrup, then coated in cinnamon or powdered sugar. Sopapillas can also be turned into a savory treat, with fillings like meat or beans, but the sugary version of donut-like squares is especially popular, with a crunchy yet delicate shape that's hard to resist. 

According to What's Cooking America, the recipe for sopaipillas is over 200 years old. Despite their age, there are still plenty of restaurants serving them all over Arizona. You can also make them at home if you're willing to invest some time and energy. Most of the ingredients needed are shelf-stable items like flour, sugar, salt, and yeast — meaning you might be ready to make sopapillas at this very moment. Just make sure to serve them hot!

Arkansas: Possum Pie

In the Southern state of Arkansas, possum pie is a popular after-dinner snack. It's luckily not made with possums. Instead, it's composed of delicious layers of vanilla, chocolate custard, and pecans. The crust is typically made from pecan shortbread, the layers are mixed with cream cheese, and the whole pie is completely covered in whipped cream, according to Atlas Obscura. Once covered, each possum pie is decorated with pecan crumbs and sometimes chocolate shavings.

This dessert is special because it utilizes pecans — a nut native to the state of Arkansas — and gives them a starring role. The pecan is even the official nut of Arkansas, says Only in Arkansas. Overall, this regional American dessert is an easy-to-make treat with a satisfying blend of textures — from the crunchy pecans to the crumbly crust to the soft layers to the pillowy whipped cream — and it all comes together to make an exciting dessert full of state pride.

California: Fortune Cookies

The message-filled dessert has roots not in Chinese but in Japanese food culture. But the fortune cookie was actually invented in California. Both Los Angeles and San Francisco claim to be the home of the cookie. It's hard to say which city is on right, however, because it's unclear who invented these treats, though some sources have narrowed it down to two individuals. However, the cookies were certainly first spotted in California during the first half of the 20th century.

Their shape may be complex, but the ingredients in fortune cookies ingredients are not. Egg whites, flour, sugar, salt, water, and some vanilla extract is all it takes. Given that recipe, it's no surprise the cookies are a little bland. Folding them is no easy task, either. The cookies must be folded with their piece of paper inside while hot (but not too hot) so they can harden as they cool, explains Fifteen Spatulas. There's a lot to appreciate about this wisdom-filled dessert.

Colorado: Hot Chocolate

Colorado is home to some of the most popular snow sport destinations in the country. The Rockies attract skiers, snowboarders, and other daredevils to their snowy peaks every year. It only makes sense that after a day on the slopes, the perfect Colorado treat is a hot chocolate. This drink is a popular menu item in places like Aspen, Vail, Telluride, and other adventurous cities located in Colorado.

According to Travel Boulder, the warming drink has inspired creative spin-offs. In Colorado today, there's spiked hot chocolate mixed with alcohol, "sipping chocolate" made from whole melted chocolate, and even cannabis hot cocoa (no surprise there, considering the state's flourishing weed industry). Hot chocolate may be a dessert you drink, but it's still the perfect Colorado sweet. We can sip it in a cozy mountain cabin or easily make it around the campfire with some milk and powdered chocolate.

Connecticut: Nutmeg Cookies

In the Northeastern state of Connecticut, nutmeg is a celebrated spice. The popularity of nutmeg is so widely known there that Connecticut is sometimes called "the Nutmeg State," according to Connecticut State Library. The name comes from pre-colonial times when the spice was traded between settlers. Today, nutmeg is no longer grown or produced in Connecticut. But the nickname remains, along with some cookie recipes.

The recipe includes classic cookie ingredients like butter, sugar, flour, baking soda, and eggs. Ginger, cinnamon, molasses, and nutmeg often provide the "spice" part, says Sarah Cucina Bella. There's also a recipe for a log-shaped version of the nutmeg cookie provided by Bob's Red Mill. Whatever shape the cookie takes, the flavors should result in a cookie that's both sweet and deliciously spiced. These Connecticut cookies are also easy enough to make that you'll want to make them whenever you're in Connecticut.

Delaware: Peach Pie

It may come as a surprise that Delaware's best dessert is a peach pie. You may be asking yourself: Aren't peaches a Southern thing? But actually, the fruit has historic ties to the small Mid-Atlantic state. Delaware's state flower is a peach blossom, according to Delaware Public. It's been the flower mascot since the 19th century when peach fields were common in Delaware. That's no longer the case, but some Delaware cities still hold peach festivals each year, celebrating what once was a major regional crop.

In 2009, Delaware even declared the peach pie their official state dessert (via State Symbol USA). The state's dessert is usually produced annually on National Peach Pie day, reports Delaware Online. To make a peach pie fit for Delaware, simply obtain a good amount of peaches. The fruit is typically sliced, then mixed with a thickening agent like tapioca or cornstarch. Peach variety doesn't seem to matter much either. So enjoy yourself while making your Delaware peach pie!

Florida: Key Lime Pie

A popular dessert to get in Florida — whether it's homemade or store-bought — is Key lime pie. This tropical, old-fashioned pie is right at home in the coastal state housing much of our country's retirees. Floridians have been making Key lime pie since at least the 1950s, but according to Southern Living, the state may not have invented it. A similar pie recipe using lemons (instead of limes) was circulating in New York around two decades earlier than the first Florida Key lime pie recipe.

On a positive note, Key lime pie is known for being especially easy to make. There are few ingredients and even fewer skills involved in making one. To bake a Florida-style Key lime pie, make sure your pie has a crust made from graham crackers. It should also have a yellow center made from condensed milk, egg yolks, and juice from Key limes, the lime variety that grows widely in the Florida Keys (via Visit Florida). Lastly, and perhaps most noticeably, every good Key lime pie is topped with a layer of frothy whipped cream.

Georgia: Peach Cobbler

If you made it through 2021 without hearing Justin Bieber's "Peaches," congratulations. But if you didn't, Bieber probably has convinced you Georgia is full of the fruit. He's not entirely wrong, either. Peaches have been the official state fruit since 1995, according to Round About Atlanta. Georgia is even known as "the Peach State." Despite all the attention, peaches are neither Georgia's largest crop, nor is it the state with the most peaches (via NPR). Cotton and peanuts are Georgia's biggest exports today, reports Morning AG Clips.

All facts aside, a peach cobbler is an iconic Southern dessert perfect for Georgia. You can even make it with three ingredients: butter, cake mix, and canned peaches. Georgians also recommend serving the simple dish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, says 12 Tomatoes. Try waiting until next National Peach Cobbler Day — every April 13th, according to The Culture Trip — to make it. We doubt you'll be able to resist. 

Hawaii: Shave Ice

Hawaiian shave ice is another American favorite invented by expats. USA Today says that the treat in its original form is from Japan, and it's over 1,000 years old. At that time, the dessert we now call Hawaiian shave ice was called kakigōri. Japanese immigrants introduced it to Hawaii around the 1920s, writes What's Cooking America. Since then, the dessert has been a popular treat for Hawaiians and tourists alike.

Shave ice in Hawaii is known for having smaller ice pieces than snow cones, which are typically sold in the mainland USA, explains AllRecipes. Like snow cones, shave ice is typically sold in paper cones or styrofoam cups. Popular flavors include coconut, pineapple, banana, guava, strawberry, and more (via Hawaii Magazine). Asian-inspired toppings have become fashionable as well. But fans will insist on the simple ones: sweetened condensed milk, vanilla ice cream, azuki beans, and mochi balls.

Idaho: Ice Cream Potato

The Idaho ice cream potato is iconic, a little bizarre, and something you're unlikely to experience outside of the state. But Atlas Obscura writes that outdoor venues like drive-ins, fairs, and other Boise (the capital city) locations will usually provide the ice cream potato as a summer snack. The Westside Drive-In movie theater in Boise is the home of the original ice cream potato, writes Insider. Shows like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and Man v. Food visited the spot to try it.

No potatoes are used in the making of this dessert. It may look like a baked potato topped with sour cream, but it's actually an elaborately disguised ice cream sundae topped with sweet whipped cream. The "baked potato" base is made of vanilla ice cream dusted with cocoa powder to give it a light brown, spud-like color. Traditional toppings include cookie crumbs and chocolate syrup.

Illinois: Brownies

Unless you're living in the Midwest, you may not know that brownies were invented in Chicago. As such, the dessert deserves a mention for the state of Illinois. The story goes that the first brownie recipe originated in 1893 at the Palmer House Hotel, according to Time Out. The Chicago establishment was instructed to make a dessert for the World's Fair (which was being held in the Windy City that year). Bertha Palmer, the wife of the hotel owner, then invented brownies as a portable dessert that could be sold as fair food.

The first official brownie recipe didn't come from the back of a box — but we are not saying brownie mix has let us down before. After Palmer, a recipe for blondie-like treats was published in 1896, followed by a typical brownie recipe in 1899, writes Mental Floss. That means Illinois natives have had over 100 years to boast about their famous dessert. Maybe we should let them. Without Chicago, we might never have tasted cosmic brownies.

Indiana: Sugar Cream Pie

Hoosier, or the nickname used by Indiana citizens to describe themselves, has been a prevailing piece of state slang for nearly 200 years (via Indiana.gov). Origins of the name aren't exact, but a poem published in the 1830s titled "The Hoosier's Nest" likely introduced the term to the world. That's why Indiana's beloved pie, sugar cream pie, is sometimes referred to as "Hoosier pie."

Whatever the name or where it came from, recipes for sugar cream pie are well-documented. This is typically a vanilla-flavored pie with very simple ingredients. Once baked, the sugar cream filling solidifies, becoming a Jell-O-like consistency. Hoosier pies are then topped with either cinnamon or powdered sugar. This dessert may taste old-fashioned, but it's a great treat to celebrate your own state with because anyone can make it. Give it a try if you're looking for a simple yet scrumptious dessert that everyone around the dinner table will enjoy.

Iowa: Scotcheroos

Scotcheroos are another homemade American invention based on ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. The popular Iowa treat is made from (mostly) Rice Krispies cereal. As the Des Moines Register put it, a Scotcheroo is like "a Rice Krispies Treat on steroids." These desserts are taken to the next level with the addition of a sugar-filled peanut butter mixture, which is melted then mixed into the Rice Krispies. The Rice Krispies mix is spread into pan, then topped with a chocolate-butterscotch layer that is left to cool. Eventually, the solid treat is cut into cold bars to enjoy (via Lil Luna).

Iowa's best dessert ends up being a little more like a candy than other states'. But because they are so easy to make, they should be celebrated. Scotcheroos "are a potluck staple here in Iowa and are loved by all ages," explains Dance Around the Kitchen. With a prepared cereal as the base and no baking involved, Scotcheroos conveniently come together in minutes.

Kansas: Peppernut Cookies

Kansas' best dessert comes from Germany. The popularity of the cookie in the state is likely due to the fact that Germans were the largest European group to arrive in Kansas, according to the Kansas Historical Society. Thanks to them, peppernut cookies, or pfeffernüsse, (a traditional German spice cookie served around the holidays) have been baked in Kansas kitchens for generations. Traditional Danish and Dutch recipes for similar cookies also likely contributed to the peppernut cookie's appeal.

Today, the cookies are popular with Mennonite or Amish communities throughout the U.S. (via Baker Bettie). Peppernut cookies are named for their use of black pepper, but anise seeds, extract, or oils are usually added as well, creating a licorice flavor in the cookie, reports The Wanderlust Kitchen. Whatever the details, these cookies end up being an orange-brown hue with a spiced flavor. They'll also appear in a small, round shape (like a nut) for a cute visual representation of their name.

Kentucky: Bourbon Balls

Bourbon is a constant in Kentucky desserts. From bourbon bread pudding to bourbon butter cake, chefs didn't forget to add the liquor invented in their state (via History.com) One of the most original desserts is Kentucky bourbon balls. The sweets are traditional homemade candies invented in 1938, writes VinePair. Creator Ruth Hanley Booe came up with the recipe while working at the Rebecca Ruth candy store. The shop sold the candy to the public, who were quickly obsessed. Bourbon balls' appeal was so great that people started making their own.

According to The Spruce Eats, we're most likely to see Kentucky bourbon balls served at get-togethers around the holidays. Key ingredients include crushed vanilla wafers, cocoa powder, chopped pecans, and (of course) bourbon. These are also no-bake treats, meaning the alcohol will not cook down (unlike with other boozy recipes). However, there's typically only a quarter cup of liquor included in the recipe. Once divided among 24 balls in each recipe, you're unlikely to get even a little tipsy from eating Kentucky bourbon balls.

Louisiana: Bananas Foster

Beignets and king cake may come to mind when you think of Louisiana, the state home to New Orleans. But these desserts hardly deserve a state shout-out since the French invented both recipes. Bananas foster, on the other hand, was in fact created in a Louisiana kitchen. Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans came up with the recipe. Their inspiration to use bananas came out of the city's popularity as a port. The fruit was largely entering the United States through New Orleans from Central and South America at the time, according to New Orleans.com.

Ever since then, Bananas foster has entertained Louisiana diners using the show created by the dangerous-yet-stunning flambe cooking method. To make the dessert, butter is melted into a pan with spices like cinnamon. Bananas are next added and slightly cooked. Then, daring cooks can attempt to set the whole dish on fire by pouring rum into the pan. Once the large burst of flames subsides, the bananas can be removed from heat. Then, add them to a bowl of ice cream. For an extravagant finish, pour whatever is left in the pan into the entire dish.

Maine: Whoopie Pies

Giving the whoopie pie to Maine is a move some might see as controversial. New England states continue to fight over which one of them has been making whoopie pies the longest. Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont are all tough competitors. However, some evidence points to Maine being the original state where whoopie pies were made, according to the Farmer's Almanac. Labadie's Bakery in Maine — the first place famously known to commercialize the pies — has been selling the treats since 1925. Evidence from other states comes after that.

In 2008, the state even founded the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival. In 2011, it even declared the whoopie pie the state's official treat, explains LobsterAnywhere. No matter what New England state you're in, the recipe stays the same. Whoopie pies are simply two large cookies made from chocolate-flavored batter with a marshmallow filling. Feel free to enjoy them without worrying about where they are from!

Maryland: Smith Island Cake

Maryland is technically a Southern state — in accordance with the fact that all states below the Mason-Dixon Line are considered the South (via Britannica). But Maryland citizens tend to disagree on this topic, according to CBS polling. The official Maryland state dessert is also inspired by this in-between feeling. Smith Island cake is named for the offshore landmass located near the coasts of Maryland and Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay.

Sally's Baking Addiction claims that the cake was made to feed fishermen during the fall oyster-harvesting season. Those who first baked it lined the vanilla cake layers with fudge instead of chocolate icing so the cake would last longer during the fishermen's journey to the mainland. Thanks to this invention, Smith Island cake is today Maryland's official state dessert, reports Visit Maryland. You can attempt to make your own at home, but be warned: This cake is slightly more difficult to bake than other state desserts. There are nine thin layers to be individually baked and stacked.

Massachusetts: Boston Cream Pie

To start to unpack one of Massachusetts' most iconic desserts, we have to get one thing straight. Boston cream pie is not pie — it's cake. The recipe consists of two slices of "old-fashioned milk cake" with a vanilla custard center and chocolate glaze top, according to the recipe from The New York Times. The "pie" name is left over from the time when the dessert was invented (at Boston's Omni Parker House, to be exact). Around that period, both pies and cakes were baked in the same type of pan (via Bake From Scratch).

Boston cream pie is on the more complicated end of state desserts. But the dish can be worth it. With its rich creaminess and just the right amount of chocolate glaze, it really is a dessert to behold. And you don't have to be in Massachusetts to enjoy it — give it a try anytime, anywhere, and it's sure to be a big hit.

Michigan: Fudge

Up in the Great Lakes area, Michigan is known for its old-fashioned fudge. Lake Huron-located Mackinac Island is where many go to get it. As 12 Tomatoes puts it, "It's a confection that's well over a century old, and those who've tried it absolutely rave about it." While fudge was likely invented in Baltimore during the 1880s, Mackinac Island has been making fudge almost as long, according to Michigan Radio.

To make plain old regular fudge, all you need is chocolate chips and condensed milk. The recipe for Mackinac Island fudge is slightly more complicated. At the very least, butter and sugar need to be added to the melted milk and chocolate mixture before freezing (via Food.com). Other Mackinac fudge recipes recommend adding marshmallows and vanilla extract to heighten the fudge's rich flavor.

Looking to add another Michigan-inspired touch? Add tart cherries. Michigan is the country's leading producer of tart cherries, reports Michigan Grown. If that doesn't fit your taste buds, feel free to use leftover fudge to make another classic Michigan dessert: bumpy cake. The cake is coated with a top layer of fudge frosting (via King Arthur Baking).

Minnesota: Seven Layer Bars

Seven layer bars are a classic Minnesota dessert. These are great to bake for a potluck or event, as they don't require much technique or preparation. The layers typically consist of a graham cracker base with chocolate chips, pecans, butterscotch morsels, coconut, and condensed milk. Even though they're easy, they'll still turn out tasty. With such a delicious mixture of sweet ingredients, it's hard not to fall in love with these sweet treats.

As for history, the association of seven layer bars to Minnesota is a little unclear. But there are plenty of recipes, including those from Twin Cities Pioneer Press and Open Arms of Minnesota that tie seven layer bars to the state. These bars, also sometimes called magic bars or hello Dollys, have at least been around for over half a century. Southern Living reports that the recipe for seven layer bars has existed since at least the 1960s.

Mississippi: Mud Pie

Mud pie is a dessert with a strong attachment to its state. Almost every time you hear about this pie, it will be prefaced with the word "Mississippi." This dessert is also famous for having mysterious origins. According to one common explanation, the pie came to be after a waitress saw a piece of melting cake and said it looked to her like the muddy water of the Mississippi river (via Eater). Another origin story claims that Mississippi mud pie evolved from Mississippi mud cake, which is like the pie without a crust. Both stories place the invention of the mud pie during the 20th century in Mississippi, which is proof enough for us that it's an established dessert of this state.

These pies are known for coming in different shapes and sizes. However, all of them at the very least are chocolate-based. Typically, there's also a graham cracker crust base, a brownie cake layer, a chocolate custard layer, and then a white homemade topping of whipped heavy cream (via New York Times Cooking).

Missouri: Gooey Butter Cake

Missouri's famous gooey butter cake comes from its city of St. Louis. It likely originated in the 1930s. The story goes that a St. Louis baker accidentally invented gooey butter cake while attempting to bake another cake. The mix-up happened when he forgot to add a leavening agent (such as baking powder) to the mix, reports Kitchen Serf. As a result, the flat and chewy St. Louis gooey butter cake was invented.

This dessert is essentially a "boxed cake mix hack," explains Delish. Many recipes require a vanilla or yellow cake mix to start. Then, additional ingredients like butter, eggs, sugar, and cream cheese (seriously) are added. But it's not as easy as it sounds. St. Louis gooey butter cake is made of two layers: one cake layer and one cream cheese layer (via Food.com). In the end, this cake is pie-like in that way. That's obviously only one of the many qualities that make this cake so unique.

Montana: S'Mores

We bet there are quite a few places that would like to claim s'mores as their state dessert, but most aren't that lucky. Georgia could be one of them since the s'mores recipe was first published there in 1927 (via Herald-Dispatch). That year, a recipe for "some mores" appeared in a publication from Girl Scouts (which at the time was based in Atlanta). But Girl Scouts' s'mores cookies aren't the real thing that you make around a campfire. In Montana, they make real s'mores. Those treats have become a frequent indulgence thanks to the state's vast natural landscape, which is perfect for camping.

Bozeman Magazine wrote, "S'mores are a Montana and camping tradition." Blogger Kelli Wong said, "Growing up in Montana, making these gooey and sticky treats over the campfire are some of my fondest memories." A writer at Montana Outdoor even ventured to say, "S'mores would taste good if you baked them in an old shoe." Overall, s'mores may not be Montana's official dessert, but some natives are clearly passionate fans of the graham cracker, roasted marshmallow, and melted-chocolate treat.

Nebraska: Popcorn Balls

Corn is a big part of American culture. It's a leading agricultural export of the U.S., especially in high-producing states like Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska (via Crop Prophet). While Nebraska is only the third-highest state producer of corn, its nickname is "the Cornhusker State," reports State Symbols USA. It's only fitting that Nebraska's dessert should also be corn-themed.

There's even a Nebraskan urban legend behind the invention of popcorn balls. As What's Cooking America explains, the salty-sweet treat was supposedly invented in 1874 when strange weather caused intense heat and intense rain to occur at the same time in Nebraska. During one day of this so-called "Year of the Striped Weather," the heat began popping popcorn kernels right off their husks. As the popcorn piled up, "rain washed the syrup out of the sugarcane," coating giant popcorn balls with sweet syrup.

It's a questionable story with an accurate recipe for popcorn balls: popped corn covered in something sticky and sweet. Feel free to choose marshmallows, caramel, molasses, or even corn syrup to make your own.

Nevada: Gateau Basque

We have the Basque people to thank for providing Nevada's best dessert. Some of them immigrated to the state during the 19th-century Gold Rush, so there's still some of their food and culture left in Nevada (via Nevada Magazine). Gateau Basque is one of the tastiest recipes still popular there, in cities like Reno, Las Vegas, and Elko (where the National Basque Festival is held), according to Travel Nevada.

Gateau Basque is a tart typically filled with black cherry jam, explains Martha Stewart. Sometimes, this dessert is also referred to as a Basque cake and is prepared with cream instead of a cherry filling. Making true gateau Basque is more complicated than making other many of the other desserts on this list because it's made with fresh pastry dough. Once prepared, the surface of this dough must be decorated with a fine crosshatch pattern. To add to the delicate qualities of this dessert, it's sometimes dusted with confectioners sugar.

New Hampshire: Apple Cider Donuts

A typical Northeastern treat like apple cider donuts isn't especially hard to come by. But New Hampshire probably has some of the best of its kind, being in the New England stretch between Connecticut and Maine that takes advantage of their plentiful apple orchards to annually make cider-based donuts (via Mental Floss). These donuts, although mostly found during the fall season today, have only been a solid American tradition since the early 1950s. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the New York Times published what appears to be one of the first mentions of the apple cider donut in 1951.

In New Hampshire, apple orchards, farm stands, and even some pumpkin patches will sell these donuts by the pack during the fall season. Their delicious sweet taste comes from cinnamon sugar that coats them. Even within the donut batter, nutmeg and cinnamon sugar are mixed in with real apple cider (or sometimes apple juice) to deliver that spiced flavor throughout each bite.

New Jersey: Salt Water Taffy

Eating salt water taffy is an essential part of living in New Jersey or visiting the Jersey Shore. This sweet remains one of the most iconic state desserts. Salt water taffy was both invented in New Jersey and continues to be extremely popular there. The Digest Online explains that their creator, David Bradley, was the owner of a candy shop on the Atlantic City Boardwalk when it was flooded with sea foam. After the foam left the shop, Bradley continued to sell the candy that had been coated in salty sea juice, calling it "salt water taffy."

That was during the 1880s, but this New Jersey treat can still be found at the state's many boardwalk destinations today. Some businesses still use the more than 100-year-old recipe to make theirs, according to Insider. And yes, the candies are made with salt, so anyone who loves a salty-sweet combo should give it a try.

New Mexico: Biscochitos

The biscochito has been New Mexico's official state cookie since 1989. According to the New Mexico Secretary of State's website, this made the state the first to adopt its own official cookie. Biscochitos are an event treat, explains New Mexico.org, which excitedly states, "The Anise-scented, lard-enriched shortbread are essential to weddings, graduations, and anniversaries, and are so popular at Christmas that in December, biscochitos comprise maybe thirty percent of the diet of the average New Mexican!"

An alcoholic component is a part of what makes biscochitos different from traditional shortbread cookies, which they are similar to. Jessica Lynn Writes recommends using sweet table wine. Other recipes call for whiskey. Lard is also a strange-sounding addition, but it's essential ingredient to the New Mexico state cookie. The Kitchn explains that lard adds a "delicate crumb" and "rich flavor" to the cookie. All of that only gets enhanced when your baked biscochitos are finally coated in delicious cinnamon sugar in the final step of the recipe.

New York: Cheesecake

Fans will love to tell you that this dessert has its roots in ancient Rome, but New York-style cheesecake is a beloved American invention. The key New York ingredient is cream cheese, which makes up the majority of cheesecake's filling. The original New York recipe was developed in the 1900s by restaurant owner Arnold Reuben, owner of Reuben's Delicatessen in Manhattan, according to Cheesecake.com. Lucky Reuben was such an iconic culinary figure — as you may have already recognized his name — the Reuben sandwich was also named after him (via What's Cooking America).

Like the opposite of Boston cream pie, cheesecake is not cake, but pie. Like many other beloved state pies, the crust is made from graham cracker crumbs. Along with cream cheese filling, sour cream is also sometimes added to the filling. On top, a berry compote or shiny berry sauce usually adds some visual interest and a tart, refreshing flavor.

North Carolina: Sweet Potato Pie

A dessert near and dear to the hearts of North Carolina natives? Sweet potato pie. To those not living in the South, this savory-seeming treat may appear off. But think about Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Sweet potato pie is not far from that. Even better: The North Carolina way method for making it utilizes real homemade megamenu sweet potatoes rather than the canned puree used for pumpkin desserts, according to Our State. In some recipes, the pie is made even sweeter with the traditional addition of vanilla pudding mix and vanilla extract.

North Carolina declared sweet potatoes the "official state vegetable" in 1995, reports North Carolina History. But this pie's culinary inspirations stretch even further back, where they have long been intertwined with Black food culture. As Southern Kitchen explains, the pie is likely inspired by West African cooking traditions, where the sweet potato has played a significant culinary role since the 17th century. In the States, one of the earliest recipes for the pie was then published by African American agricultural scientist George Washington Carver at the turn of the 20th century (via Upworthy).

North Dakota: Lefse

North Dakota is famously full of the descendants of Scandinavian immigrants, especially Norwegians. As a result, the Norwegian homemade dessert of lefse is especially popular. This old-fashioned creation may at first appear like a thick tortilla. But lefse is made from a dough base of potatoes and cream. They're another holiday treat that's stuck itself in the minds of the state through family gatherings, Christmas, and nostalgia. Cooking Channel TV agrees, writing "Lefse, Norwegian potato crepes, are popular in North Dakota, particularly during the winter holiday season."

Like krumkake, another Norwegian dessert popular in North Dakota, lefse is eventually rolled into slender tubes (via AllRecipes). But before that final step, there's a somewhat completed, multi-step process. The potatoes must be peeled, chilled, chopped, boiled, megamenu, and made into a dough. That dough also includes flour, heavy cream, butter, sugar, and salt. Once formed, the dough is divided and flattened into small tortilla shapes that are then pan-fried. Lefse is then served warm, spread with butter and sugar, and eaten as a roll.

Ohio: Buckeyes

Both Ohio's famous Buckeye candies and the Ohio State University mascot are named after the Buckeye tree. The Aesculus glabra tree produces nuts that inspired the shape of the Buckeye candy, explains Old Time Candy. In reality, the treats are peanut butter balls that have been partially covered in chocolate. Ohio resident Gail Tabor invented Buckeyes by accident when she noticed her desserts looked like the favorite nut of "the Buckeye State." According to Bon Appétit, "Tabor brought her buckeyes to Ohio State–Michigan football games for years to great acclaim. The recipe eventually got out, much to Tabor's dismay, and now we can all enjoy these tasty treats."

As TasteAtlas says, "In Ohio, this sweet treat is closely associated with college football games, Christmas, and weddings." To make one of these for your next get-together, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Then, dip the balls into melted chocolate and freeze the entire thing.

Oklahoma: Fried Pies

In Oklahoma, fried pies are a chosen dessert for the state's citizens. The Arbuckle Mountains, a range located in Southern-Central Oklahoma, is where you'll find most of them. According to the Food Network, the mountains "have been home to fried pies since the late 1800s." Typically, Oklahoma fried pies are filled with different fruits, such as apricot, blackberry, or strawberry.

Fried pies are usually bought from a restaurant. They even look a bit like McDonald's apple pies, and both desserts usually come in an open-ended paper container. To make your own Oklahoma fried pies, you'll need to make two components. First, a filling of fruit, sugar, lemon juice, and salt must be cooked down. Then, a three-part pastry dough of simply flour, sugar, and butter has to be assembled. Once all your hard work is completed, you can enjoy the fried pie while it's still warm. This one is going to be a big hit even if you've never been to Oklahoma before.

Oregon: Marionberry Pie

Marionberries, a kind of berry commonly grown in Oregon, are the reason for this state's best dessert. The fruit is a blackberry varietal — with a hint of raspberry flavor — that accounts for more than half of the blackberries produced by Oregon, according to Oregon Berries. This berry was created by researchers at Oregon State University, reports NPR. With all that delicious fruit lying around, making a marionberry pie seems like a great idea.

Since the marionberry is rarer than most other fruits, many may not know what to expect from the flavor of this fruit and its resulting pie. As Cooking Channel TV describes it, the berries themselves are "glossy, black-purple, conical berries with a somewhat tart flavor (though sweeter than the traditional blackberry)." When baked into a pie, the berries will change color to mostly red, but the tart flavor remains strong. To balance the tartness of this pie, Oregonians tend to use a creamy pie crust along with an optional cream cheese layer.

Pennsylvania: Shoofly Pie

According to 2018 population data from Amish America, Pennsylvania is the state with the most Amish people. It only makes sense, then, that an Amish recipe would take the title of the state's best dessert. Shoofly pie is now a dessert celebrated by natives of the entire state, although they tend to disagree on a key component. The dry bottom versus wet bottom debate refers to the presentation of a shoofly pie. One has a crunchy gingerbread-like crust, while one has a molasses custard situation near the plate, reports Bird in Hand.

As Taste of Home explains, "Shoofly pie is to the Pennsylvania Dutch as pecan pie is to a Southerner." So it's important to experience this pie if you're ever in Pennsylvania. When you make a shoofly pie, you'll make a pie shell, fill it with the base (molasses and brown sugar), then top the whole thing with a messy crumb topping.

Rhode Island: Zeppole

Zeppole is a unique dessert you might not understand if you're not from Rhode Island — or Italy. But you're likely to love them, as they're similar to doughnuts. This dessert is an Italian recipe typically served on Father's Day, also known as St. Joseph's Day, which is celebrated on March 19. As Food 52 explains, they're often sold at Rhode Island Italian restaurants as "giant, airy puff pastries filled with sweet, lemony custard, topped with a cherry."

You might be better off finding a Providence bakery to try these in rather than making them yourself. If you want to attempt making a zeppole, you'll have to make custard cream and pastry dough and carefully decorate each pastry with maraschino cherries and powdered sugar, according to Emmy Made. Also, the dough and the custard need to be piped through a decorative bag to give the zeppole its intricate, ridged look (via Cucina di Bella). Good luck with that. 

South Carolina: Coconut Cake

Coconut cake is integral to South Carolina's dessert traditions, as it is in many parts of the South. According to Montclair Local, the coconut cake's origins in the United States are intertwined with slavery. A baker interviewed by the outlet said, "The first coconut cakes in America were made by enslaved people in the south who brought with them from Africa their knowledge of how to break down a coconut."

South Carolinians today are likely to get a slice of this cake in Charleston. Per 12 Tomatoes, "A Charleston coconut cake has up to 12 layers of cake and frosting, making it a towering achievement in cake construction." There are lots of layers and a ton of coconut. There is coconut in each component of the cake, from the frosting to the cake to the coconut cream filling. Coconut flakes are also typically used to decorate the top or sides of the cake.

South Dakota: Kuchen

Kuchen is the official state dessert of South Dakota. The pastry is a thick and cake-y pastry that hails from Germany. In fact, "kuchen" is simply the German word for "cake." However, as Farmers Almanac explains, a kuchen is a lot more like a cross between a pie and cake. According to Travel South Dakota, you can often find these delicious pastries in small towns, primarily in east South Dakota. They may be served with other regional favorites like fried potatoes and bratwurst. Sounds like a perfect meal to us.

As South Dakota Magazine explains, there will be three components to make for your kuchen (kind of like pie). There's a crust, a custard-like filling, and then a crumbly topping. Fruit is also an optional part of the kuchen recipe. Peaches, pears, apples, or blueberries are sometimes used. Feel free to play by your own rules when making it.

Tennessee: MoonPies

MoonPies can be found all across Tennessee. These sweet sandwiches could (may be) be confused with whoopie pies since they are both chocolate sandwiches with a cream center, but they're not the same. Tennessee MoonPies are made with vanilla cookies coated in chocolate icing instead of chocolate cookies. As for the celestial name, MoonPies are usually associated with the history of coal mining in Tennessee. A miner taking a break requested a dessert "as big as the moon," and the MoonPies name stuck (via The Culture Trip).

These cookies are mass-produced today by Chattanooga Bakery, which has been making them since 1917, according to their website. But even though this bakery makes sure their goods are sold at places like Walmart and Costco, you can still make your own MoonPies. This pies can be time-consuming to make, but they really are something special when you make them from scratch.

Texas: Pecan Pie

Pecans are a really big deal in Texas. They're the official state nut and tree of the state, and pecan pie is the official state dessert, according to Spectrum Local News. It makes sense, considering that you can't turn a corner without running into a pecan tree in Texas, it seems. Per Southern Living, Texas produces around 70 million pounds of pecans every year.

Pecan pie is one of the most popular varieties of pie out there, especially during the holidays. Because of that, you shouldn't have a hard time locating one at your local bakery. However, they can also be fun to make at home. To make a pecan pie, you'll simply need to make a crust and a pecan-filled pie center. Once the pecans have been sweetened and baked, your house will smell absolutely amazing, and your guests will all be ready to cut a slice of your beautiful (and usually pretty simple) pie.

Utah: Green Jell-O Salad

Jell-O is technically Utah's "official state snack food," and we think Green Jell-O salad should be its official dessert. This recipe is not a salad at all. Although there are some savory parts — mayonnaise and cottage cheese — this Jell-O-based concoction ends up rather sweet. Along with the aforementioned delicacies, lime juice, lemon juice, heavy cream, sugar, and sometimes chopped nuts are added to the Jell-O (via Saveur).

The state's interest in Jell-O is sometimes tied to the Mormon population there. This dessert has even been referred to as "Mormon Jell-O salad." According to the Los Angeles Times, Utah residents were consuming twice the annual Jell-O average before 2002. It has been postulated that this is mostly due to attendees of the Church of Jesus Christ using cheap, easy-to=prepare Jell-O to serve fellow church members at religious gatherings (via Parade). Others have guessed that Jell-O's wholesome and nostalgic vibe appealed to LDS church values, which are family-oriented, reports Insider. Despite these theories, the connection has somewhat turned into a stereotype, with some going so far as to call the heavily Mormon-populated parts of Utah the "Jell-O Belt" (via What's Cooking America).

Vermont: Maple Candy

Vermont produces more maple syrup than any other state, reports U.S. News. Maple may be their official state flavor, but for some reason, the official state dessert is apple pie with cheddar cheese (via New England Today). However delicious that may sound, Vermont maple syrup candies are the reason we want to take a trip to the small Northeastern state. As Pieces of Vermont explains, "Pure maple candy is expensive to both produce as well as ship around the country, but producing it is a Vermont tradition, and a tradition we're proud to help continue."

These candies typically come in the shape of a maple leaf. They can be purchased as a souvenir, or you can make them yourself. Before you start, make sure that you've bought pure light-grade maple syrup, also known as Grade A Golden Delicate, says Epicurious. Selecting this ingredient is key since the only other one you'll be adding is vegetable oil or butter.

Virginia: Chess Pie

Chess pie is a popular Southern dessert. One origin story claims it was invented when someone asked a baker about their pies, to which the chef replied, "Oh it's jes' pie," (via Washington Post). However, it sounded like "chess pie" because of the cook's Southern accent, so that's what we all call it now. A chess pie is simple a pie involving vinegar, cornstarch, and a crunchy top layer that's similar to pie crust. Why is this pie associated with Virginia specifically? It appeared in the 19th-century cookbook "The Virginia Housewife," says Secret World.

The Cook's Cook tells us that this "vinegar pie" was the original name for this dessert. Although it's a more accurate name, it might be a less appetizing one, they argued: "Chess has nothing to do with this pie at all, but you must admit that 'chess pie' is more palatable on the tongue for modern diners than 'vinegar pie.'"

Washington: Nanaimo bars

Nanaimo bars are a classic Canadian dessert, but thanks to Washington's proximity to the Great White North, the dessert has made its way down to the States. "Given the proximity of Washington to British Columbia, I would sometimes find Nanaimo Bars in bakeries around Seattle," explains Floating Kitchen. The bars are named after the Canadian city of Nanaimo in British Columbia.

They're a little easier to make than the aforementioned cookie bars because they only have three layers. The bottom is composed of chocolate, graham crackers, almonds, and coconut (via Cooking Classy). The second layer is custard typically made with cream and sugar. This layer should be made from custard powder, but if that's not available, pudding mix can also be substituted (via AllRecipes). The top layer is mostly chocolate and butter, creating a fudge-like consistency.

West Virginia: Apple Cake

West Virginia doesn't have an official state dessert, but it is home to the iconic Golden Delicious apple. There's also a lesser-known varietal, Grimes Golden, that's grown in this state, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. These fruits can provide the base for various desserts, but there seem to be a few popular apple cake recipes that hail from West Virginia. One Taste of Home recipe developer explained theirs, saying, "My mom makes it for our annual beach trip to the Outer Banks."

A recipe from the Family Cookbook Project entitled West Virginia Apple Cake said grade school students from the state were instructed to make such a cake for class. A contributor to Food.com's recipe even recommended using native Golden Delicious apples in their own apple cake instructions. They added that the recipe was "My Mother-in-law's recipe handed down to my wife. It's a southern West Virginia recipe."

Wisconsin: Kringle

Outside of the United States, kringles originated in Denmark. Once they arrived in Racine, Wisconsin, during the 19th century, the Danish shared this recipe with locals, leaving a lasting impact on this Midwestern State.

A kringle is a multi-faceted dessert. At its core, the kringle is a pastry formed in the shape of a ring. Within that pastry, there is a filling — usually made from fruits, cream cheese, or nuts (sometimes almonds), according to Platter Talk. Atop the pastry, there's a simple white icing. But there's sometimes an additional layer of caramel glaze added to the top, along with other nuts for embellishment and crunch.

You may know kringles as the large pastries you can get at Trader Joe's. Or maybe you are from Wisconsin, where the dessert is fairly common. TJ's orders their pastries directly from a Wisconsin bakery, according to The Kitchn. But long before Trader Joe's was selling them, kringles have called Wisconsin home.

Wyoming: Cowboy Cookies

Wyoming's cowboy cookies are a dessert like the s'mores: They are perfect for enjoying around the campfire. That's how they were likely first enjoyed, as well. The name of this dessert supposedly comes from when cowboys would take them on the trail as a sweet and energizing snack. But you don't have to go for a horseback ride to enjoy them anymore. These cookies are essentially deluxe oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Pecans or walnuts and shredded coconut make them extra special, according to MasterCook.

Cowboy cookies are a simple pleasure, perfect for the peaceful state of Wyoming. And the state loves them. Blogger Cooking and Beer offered a reason for their popularity there. She compared the lumpy cookies to Wyoming's mountainous landscape, saying these "cookies are basically the definition of Wyoming. Not only are they breathtaking and remarkable, but they are also super loaded with deliciousness."