The Quintessential Dessert From Your State

Across the expansive and diverse United States of America, there's at least one thing that unites us all: sugar. People of all ethnic and racial identities love sweets, and every state has at least one celebrated dessert. While dessert preferences vary from one palate to the next, or from one region to another, at the end of the day, almost everyone can rally behind cakes, pies, and cookies.

In honor of the eclectic and varied food tastes that define America, indulge in this list of iconic desserts from every state. From the beaches of Hawaii to Maryland's Chesapeake Bay, from Montana to Texas, South Carolina to South Dakota, grab a fork and dig in.

Photo: Steven Depolo / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

  • This delicious layered sponge cake is filled with egg yolks, butter, sugar, raisins, and whiskey. The story goes that an Alabamian named Emma Rylander Lane, who published the Lane cake recipe in her 1898 cookbook, won a baking contest at a Georgia county fair, and news of her special cake spread throughout the South.

    Thanks to its mention in Harper Lee's 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, the Lane cake is now a piece of literary history. In the novel, Maude makes a Lane cake to welcome Aunt Alexandra when she visits the Finches. Just like in the book, Southerners tend to save the Lane cake for special occasions.

  • Alaska: Wild Berries
    Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Thanks to its temperate summer climate, Alaska is fertile ground for one of the planet's most delectable natural harvests: berries. From blueberries to lingonberries, the state boasts a wealth of berry picking spots, and every native Alaskan has their preferred location.

    When it's berry season, these little fruits are cooked in everything, pies and muffins included. They are also preserved in jams or dried to keep folks satisfied in the colder months.

  • This Southwestern dessert brought over by Spanish colonizers in the 16th century is rooted in a tradition out of southern Spain: frying dough in olive oil. Adapted by natives in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, these airy, hollow squares of fried dough are often served with honey.

    Sopaipilla is the perfect light treat after indulging in a chile-heavy meal.

  • Don't worry, there aren't any actual possums in possum pie. Like the creature it's named after, possum pie fakes out those who order it. They aren't aware that beneath all that whip cream exists a pie filling bursting with flavor.

    This filling varies, but it's most often a type of chocolate custard. The custard's flavor is usually enhanced by an extra layer of sour scream, cream cheese, or vanilla pudding.

  • California has a unique and wonderful doughnut history. As of 2019, Los Angeles County boasted more than 600 doughnut shops. Why are these round, sugar-filled, and frosted snacks such a big deal?

    Thanks to Southern California's multicultural population, immigrants took cues from popular local doughnut chains like Winchell's and invested in their own neighborhood shops. One such person, a Cambodian refugee named Ted Ngoy, brought his family to LA in 1975, and within five years opened 20 doughnut establishments.

  • Western Colorado's Palisade Valley, nurtured by the Colorado River, is the ideal location for fruit farming, and one of its most popular summer harvests is peaches. Orchards abound, and residents flock to the area to get their share of the sweet, fuzzy goodness.

    While these peaches are used in an infinite number of dishes and drinks, the classic way to enjoy them is by baking them in a rustic pie. Every family has a different approach to making the pie, and all of them are tasty.