Texas Foods

Texas Foods

Texas Foods, Texas is synonymous with BBQ, Tex-Mex, and chili, as well as other dishes. Texas food is a melting pot of our diverse cultures, and we take pride in our so-called Lone Star concoctions including candy. Texas is BBQ, pecan pie, Tex-Mex, and much, much more. Texas is part of the south and as such we have a tremendous repertoire of down-home Texas cooking recipes.

Texas Heritage Recipes

Our Texas heritage recipes were influenced by our Native Americans, and early settlers consisting of German, Mexican, French, Czech, Spaniards, Polish, and Asian all bringing their various food traditions. Also, the food cultures of the Black American settlers, Creoles, and others who migrated here from other states over the years played an important part in Texas Cuisine. European settlers in Texas also consisted of Italian, Sicilian, British, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and Scandinavian among others who provided Texans with the rich cultural diversity that is reflected in Texas’s traditional home cooking.

Soul Food Inspired Waffles with Fried Chicken

Beef plays a significant role in Texas Cuisine. Texans have long been a contributor to beef dishes, as we had the majority of the cattle population in the United States. Cattle drives originated in Texas over 300 years ago. From that time, until Texas’ inception into the United States, cattle roamed free and multiplied in a state with 171,891,725 acres of land at its disposal. To this day, Texas remains the state with the most cattle. Texas also has more farms and ranches than any other state in the nation.

As one of the southern AND southwestern states of the United States of America, Texas is influenced by its bordering states as well as both the south and southwestern regions of the US. Located in the South-Central region of the US, Texas is considered part of the South and part of the Southwest. As such, our foods and resources are diverse. Mix in our proximity to Mexico and you have a lot of cooks stirring the pot so to speak.

Stoneground Skillet Cornbread
Stoneground Skillet Cornbread

Down Home Texas Cooking

Texas Southern Comfort Foods

Texas certainly has its share of southern comfort foods. Down-home Texas cooking encompasses our broad ethnic heritage and mostly rural life in early Texas. Those recipes for comforting foods have been handed down through the generations. Sometimes as Texans, we overlook the down-home comfort aspects of our Texas cooking. Simple, unpretentious foods have always been a part of our Texas heritage. The early settlers cooked cornbread, biscuits, and gravy over a fire pit, which was carried on by our cattle trail herders during the 1800s.

One of our most popular comfort foods is crispy chicken fried steak with white gravy, mashed potatoes, and a side of corn on the cob or fried okra. Texas is known as the home of this popular dish. Other popular side dishes for a crispy chicken fried steak with white gravy are creamy mac n cheese, coleslaw or green salad, and stewed okra.

Green beans are another popular side dish for chicken fried steak. When sautéed and steamed, seasoned with olive oil, red pepper, and garlic, nothing is better. Texas has even declared October 26 as Chicken Fried Steak Day in the 82nd Texas Legislature approved House Resolution 1419 of 2011. A chicken-fried steak should not be confused with a country-fried steak. A country-fried steak is not as crispy and is served with brown gravy.

Traditional Texas Foods

Many of our traditional Texas foods were cooked in cast iron pots and contained saturated fats. Salt pork, fatback, and more recently bacon all played an important role in our Texas Home Cooking. In fact, nothing is better than stone ground cornbread cooked on the stovetop in a heavy cast iron skillet. Even though salt pork is not the healthiest, I still use it in some dishes; you can’t beat the flavor. Of course, you can always substitute lighter oils and lean meat scraps for added flavor.

Fried Chicken
Fried Chicken

Another important aspect of our Texas home cooking heritage includes stocks, such as beef, chicken, and vegetable. Even though store brands are out there and plentiful nothing beats homemade. I personally always keep meat juices in the freezer until needed. Vegetable stock is easy to prepare at home and can also be frozen. One of my favorite memories as a child, living on a farm in Texas was going next door to my granny’s house on Sunday for chicken dinner. Fried chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits was an all-day event starting at dawn when they selected their best-cooking chicken from the brood.

An additional must-have staple in Texas Home cooking is dairy butter which in one form or another has been around for thousands of years. Butter was first introduced in the US by the Jamestown colonist in the early 1600s. In 2020 the United States produced more butter than ever. Today California is the largest producer of butter in the US.

Beef brisket is loved by tourists and locals alike. It is the most ordered food in Texas by tourists. Texas also celebrates its ethnic foods as you can see in the more urban areas of the state.  Texas clearly has a unique culinary presence. Some even say it is the best food state in America, with the city of Austin being a clear leader in food cuisines.

In recent years Texas has become a top producer of rice which plays a significant role in our cuisines and daily food choices. Rice was first produced in Texas as a commercial enterprise in the 1800s. Many of our local dishes are dependent on the Rio Grande Valley which produces sugar, potatoes, citrus fruits, spinach, and various heat-resistant vegetables.

Texas Produce

Of course, we should mention our Ruby Red grapefruits that originated in the valley in 1926. They are in season from November through March. Texas varieties include Rio Red, Flame, and Star Ruby. It is typically the largest, juiciest grapefruit you can buy. And then there are watermelons. Watermelons are the state’s largest annual horticultural crop produced mostly, again in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. However, there are many small producers in Texas, in the valley, as well as East Texas, the high plains, and rolling plains.

In fact, the town of Luling has a yearly watermelon ‘thump’ which began in 1954 as a tribute to celebrate, honor the growers and promote the Luling, Texas watermelon market. Every year in June the 4-day annual event is held and now draws an estimated 30,000 visitors to a town of 5,000.

The biggest Black Diamond champion melon in the festival’s history weighed 141 pounds (2019). Other highlights of the four-day activities include a carnival, concert/dances, food booths, a beer garden with continuous live entertainment, children’s entertainment, and an exhibitor’s market. There are seed-spitting and melon-eating contests, an auction of the top melons, and an arts and crafts exhibit. [SOURCE]

Sweet Ripe Texas Peaches
Sweet Ripe Texas Peaches

Texas peaches are a highlight of the summer, and you can typically find the best ones at roadside fruit stands throughout the state. Some of the best peaches are grown near and around Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country. Peaches are the leading deciduous fruit crop grown in Texas. Of course, tree-ripened peaches are the very best, so again roadside fruit markets usually have the freshest peaches.

Fancy Peach Crumble
Fancy Peach Crumble

More Texas Comfort Food

This brings us to our next Texas comfort food, the peach cobbler. Cobbler originated in the early American colonies. American cobblers are a deep-dish fruit dessert with a thick biscuit-like crust. I love a real deep-dish cobbler lined with crust on the bottom and enclosed with crust on the top. However, the easier versions are also quite tasty with the crust on the top only. The State Official Cobbler of Texas is a peach cobbler. A tart peach variety gives the peach cobbler an additional layer of flavor. If you really don’t want to cook that much you can substitute a cake mix for the biscuit dough which is more like a dump cake but makes a nice dessert if pressed for time.

And speaking of desserts the pecan pie is the State of Texas official pie, another wonderful comfort food. I like plain pecan pies, but they are absolutely to die for with chocolate added which also tempers some of the sweetness. Hey, we even like our salsa with a little sweetness on occasion.

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Texas-shaped skillet

Check out this awesome Texas-shaped cast iron baking dish here.

Texas honey is also one of my personal favorites and Texas produces a lot of it. Honey farms, strawberry farms, and other specialty farms are increasing in numbers all across the United States. Texas is the 4th largest producer of honey in the US to date. Food culture is changing in our country and that includes Texas. People are stepping out of their comfort zones including Texas which has a strong emerging culinary scene even in the more traditional areas such as the Texas Panhandle.

Texas has many small-batch food operations and specialty farms. Pecan farms, lavender farms, quail farms, crawfish farms, watermelon farms, blueberry farms, and even shrimp farms just to name a few. Texas is unique due to its large land mass, with 10 ecoregions and 5 geographic regions making it ideal for specialty crops.

Beef jerky originated in our country with our indigenous people. Native Americans made buffalo jerky and Texas has kept that tradition of creating dried meat although we now use beef as our main jerky staple. Many local Texas meat markets have their own specialty craft jerky which is locally sourced and produced. Okra is a standard Texas crop and we have our own spicy spin on that to.

Of course, the ultimate Texas comfort food is steak on the grill or cooked up in your cast iron skillet on the stovetop. On the stovetop is my favorite way to cook certain cuts of steak. Pan-seared beef is one of the tastiest ways to prepare steak and if cooked correctly will not dry out or get tough like a grilled steak sometimes does.

Pan Fried Porterhouse Steak
Pan Fried Porterhouse Steak

A porterhouse steak cooked in your cast iron skillet is one of the tastiest steaks you will ever have. You only need salt and pepper to season. Paired with leafy greens, baked potato, and other green vegetables such as caramelized Brussels sprouts you cannot go wrong. And don’t forget, for the ultimate comfort food dish, add a thick slice of Texas garlic toast on the side as well.

Texas Germans’

Germans make up the largest immigrant group in America. German immigrants were prone to dishes with meat and potatoes as well as Sauerbraten, Bratwurst, and other finely crafted sausages. They came to Texas in the mid-1800s to start a new life and with them came the finest smokehouses and smokehouse recipes as well as German beers and polka music.

Texas German Sausage

Smoked German Sausage
Smoked German Sausage

Along with dumplings, and spaetzle, their contribution to Texas Comfort food was tremendous. Texans in general like hearty foods and so did the German immigrants. German cooking was one of the biggest influences on Texas comfort food. Authentic Bavarian Food and potato pancakes shout comfort for the foodie soul. German bakeries are the very best, and if you have a local one, I am sure you know what I am talking about.

The Germans introduced Texans to mustards of all flavors both plain and spicy. Two of the most famous are Düsseldorf and Bavarian Sweet. There are countless German sausages, cured, smoked, and fried, among others. Käsespätzle is like our mac n cheese and is the ultimate comfort food. Made with butter, onions, eggs, heavy cream, flour, sea salt, pepper, and shredded Edam cheese, it is a heavenly comfort food delight. They are made with a spätzle maker which is placed over a pot and the dough is pressed through the holes.

Texas French Foods

Boeuf Bourguignon
Boeuf Bourguignon

The French have also influenced our Texas comfort foods with their thick sauces, potato dishes, and stews with duck fat, cheese, cream, and bread. Dishes that will inspire you are Short Rib Beef Bourguignon served with warm crusty bread, French Cassoulet cooked in a clay pot, and Blanquette de veau, a velvety white veal stew with vegetables and mushrooms.

Other popular Texas comfort foods such as Kolaches, Chile con Queso, Migas, and Pralines are all influenced by the diverse ethnic composition in our great state. Some dishes are combinations, such as Chile con Queso Au Gratin with both French and Mexican influences, and is a wonderfully satisfying Texas comfort food.

Texas Fusion Food

The more modern fusion food dishes that have been popping up all over Texas recently are certainly a welcome addition to our diverse Texas Cuisine. This style of cooking tends to be more common in culturally diverse, larger metropolitan areas, such as Houston and Dallas. This style of cooking is a welcome addition since we practically invented it with our numero uno, highly popular Tex-Mex.

Texas has been melding cultures for centuries and of course, we also have our regional spins on what is a better BBQ sauce, how to serve an enchilada, differences in basting marinades as well as others. What barbecue is supposed to taste like is a prime example with each region of Texas having its preferences.

Texas Gulf Coast Foods

Cajun Seafood Boil
Cajun Seafood Boil

Texas Regional Foods

East Texas, Texas Panhandle, Texas Gulf Coast

East Texas loves its cornmeal battered fried catfish, South Texas loves a good steak or beef fajitas being highly influenced by both Spain and Mexico. The Texas panhandle is also steak country with its world-famous Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery, home of the 72 oz. steak. The gulf coast of Texas with its French, Creole, and Cajun influences, as well as a multitude of seafood, love its gumbo, blackened fish, and crawfish boils.

Navajo Fry Bread
Navajo Fry Bread

Central Texas and West Texas

Central Texas is influenced by its German as well as Czech and Polish immigrants who love their smoked briskets, sausages, and chicken fried steaks. West Texas being heavily influenced by our indigenous people is known for its beans, corn, squash, and venison melded with our Mexican immigrants from the south.

Steaks, corn, beans, black-eyed peas, fried bread, sopapillas, posole, and fruits of the prickly pear cactus are part of West Texas history. Much like New Mexico, it is a fusion of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican traditional foods. One of my favorite West Texas drinks is Texas Ranch Water.

Texas Asian Foods

Traditional Korean Bulgogi
Traditional Korean Bulgogi

Traditional Korean Bulgogi dish. Thinly cut, grilled beef, served with rice and vegetables.

Texas Foods, Dallas, and DFW Area

More than 300,000 Asians live in North Texas. The yearly Thai Culture and Food Festival is a free spring event just north of Dallas with food, dancing, and cultural events. DFW Chinatown is located North of Dallas in Richardson with a multitude of specialty restaurants serving everything from braised duck wonton noodle soup to shaved ice desserts. When in Dallas be sure to visit the Trammel & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art in the heart of the Dallas Arts District. [SOURCE]

Texas Frito Pie

Texas Frito Pie
Texas Frito Pie

Iconic Texas Frito Pie

One dish all of Texas claims as a favorite is our iconic Tex-Mex concoction called a Frito Pie. Texas Chili on a bed of Frito Corn Chips topped with shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped onion, tomatoes, and yes sometimes Ranch dressing, is to die for any time of the day or night.

In Conclusion, Texas Foods

In conclusion, Texas Foods are the product of our diverse ethnic culture. Texas is populated by at least 27 ethnic and cultural groups to inspire our Texas Cooking which has brought millions of visitors from all over the world every year to try out our Texas Cuisine. Some of us are lucky enough to live here but if you cannot then come on down for a dish of Texas home cooking.

Thank you for visiting and be sure to check out our copycat Texas Steak Rice recipe served in one of our most popular Texas Steak restaurants.

What are Texas foods?

Famous Texas foods are pecan pie, Texas Chili, barbecue, Frito pie, smoked brisket, steak, Texas gulf oysters, peaches, german sausage, Texas toast, corny dogs, and Kolaches. Texas foods also include various Tex Mex dishes such as brisket enchiladas, Queso, Chili con queso, frijoles, sizzling fajitas, and breakfast tacos. Traditional Texas foods include home-cooking comfort foods, such as chicken fried steak, skillet cornbread, King Ranch chicken casserole, Texas caviar, shredded beef, Texas sheet cake, and peach cobbler. Oh, and did I mention BBQ.

What is chicken fried steak?

Crispy chicken fried steak is a tenderized beef cube steak, battered just like crispy fried chicken; prepped with egg batter, coated in seasoned flour, and fried in oil. Chicken fried steak is served with white gravy (not brown) and mashed potatoes. Other sides are typically a side of corn on the cob or fried okra.

[SOURCE]

Kay Keeton, Ed.

Editor in Chief, Kay Keeton - Texas Lifestyle Expert. Kay is a designer turned author, marketer, storyteller, and influencer. A sixth-generation Texan, Kay is both an authority as well as being passionate about sharing her home state of Texas's diverse culture and lifestyle. Kay is a content writer and editor of content for various local and national online publications.

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