20 Delicious Native American Foods You Should Taste

Written By Jill Taylor

The Native American culture features an endless list of traditional, mouthwatering culinary masterclasses that will have you coming back for more. Today, we have compiled a list of 20 that represent native history and culture well and that you should try out at least once in your lifetime.

Three Sisters Stew

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Three Sisters stew is a hearty and flavorful dish that combines corn, beans, and squash, a traditional Native American agricultural trio from which the USDA says it gets its name. Typically planted together and, in this case, ending up in a dish together, the “Three Sisters” offer a filling and nourishing meal perfect for any season.

Pemmican

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Pemmican, a high-energy food made from dried meat, fat, and sometimes berries, is a dish that’s traditionally used by Native Americans for sustenance on long journeys. It serves this purpose thanks to its fibrous dietary composition, the nutritional value it brings, its flavors, and the fact that it can be eaten both raw and prepared.

Frybread

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Frybread is a simple yet delicious treat that consists of dough fried until it gets golden brown and puffed up. According to Smithsonian Magazine, some even refer to it as the most relevant Native American culinary symbol. To spice it up, like many others, you can enjoy it plain or topped with ingredients like honey, jam, or savory fillings you’d take with regular bread.

Acorn Bread

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Acorn bread is a unique and traditional Native American food crafted from ground acorns. It is often served during special occasions, and its peculiar, dense texture and ingredients further highlight the resourcefulness and culinary creativity of Indigenous peoples.

Wild Rice

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Harvested from aquatic grass, wild rice is a staple in many Native American diets, coming with a rich, nutty flavor and a chewy texture. It’s often served as a side dish or mixed into soups and salads, and it’s a dish that offers the best when it comes to versatility in serving and nutritional value.

Buffalo Stew

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Buffalo stew is a hearty, protein-rich dish made with tender buffalo meat, vegetables, and seasonings. This savory stew reflects the deep connection between Native Americans and the buffalo, an animal central to their survival and culture, and this means that, for you, each bite offers a taste of history.

Wojapi

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With wojapi, you have a traditional Native American berry sauce, typically made from either chokecherries, blueberries, or other local berries. This sweet and tangy sauce can be served over native frybread and pancakes, or it can even be used as a dip. And its rich, fruity flavor is a delightful addition to any meal.

Salmon

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Salmon has long been a vital food source for many Native American tribes, especially those in the Pacific Northwest. Whether grilled, smoked, or baked, it is celebrated for its rich flavor and nutritional benefits, and this fish remains a central component of many traditional and even contemporary American diets to this day.

Navajo Tacos

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Navajo tacos are a beloved fusion of the historically proximate Native American and Mexican cuisines. Built on a base of frybread, they are topped with seasoned meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes, and all this gives you a flavorful dish that’s satisfying and a favorite at powwows and other gatherings.

Blue Corn Mush

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Blue corn mush is a traditional Native American dish made from blue cornmeal, water, and a touch of ash. It has a creamy texture and a slightly sweet, earthy flavor, and it’s seen by many people as the perfect comforting meal to start the day with, thanks to its nutritious nature and how simple it is to make.

Succotash

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Succotash is a vibrant, colorful dish that is not only visually appealing but also packed with nutrients. It consists of dry corn and dry beans that are sometimes served with other vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, and Today calls it a “nutritional powerhouse” of Native America with Plymouth and Cherokee variations.

Cedar-planked Fish

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Cooking fish on cedar planks imparts a distinctive smoky flavor, and of course, this is why “cedar-planked fish” is so beloved among Native American communities. This method, often used with salmon, is a gentle technique that keeps the fish moist and tender, and it also especially represents old, traditional cuisines from the Pacific Northwest tribes.

Cornbread

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Native American cornbread is a versatile dish that can be savory or sweet. Made from cornmeal and often served as a side dish, it has a distinct, slightly gritty texture and a rich corn flavor, and it could be a choice to complement your soups, stews, and other hearty meals.

Venison

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Venison, or deer meat, is a traditional protein source in Native American diets, and traditional cooking techniques have it prepared in various ways, including roasting, grilling, or stewing. Known for its rich, gamey flavor, venison has remained a staple in native cuisines for thousands of years.

Chokecherry Pudding

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Chokecherry pudding is a sweet dessert made from chokecherries, a tart, and any other fruit to add extra bits of flavor. This pudding, typically thickened with cornmeal or flour, has a rich, fruity taste, is often served at celebrations, and is even argued by some to have medicinal benefits.

Navajo Tea

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Navajo tea, brewed from the leaves of the greenthread plant, offers you a unique and refreshing beverage option. This herbal tea has a mild, earthy flavor and is enjoyed for its soothing properties. Due to its distinctive nature, it has remained a cherished and respected staple in many Native American households.

Bison Burger

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Bison burgers give us a modern take on traditional bison meat, which is a lean and flavorful alternative to beef. These burgers are often spiced up with panko, Worcestershire sauce, and ranch seasoning, and the bison meat in them is known to retain a good amount of juice and tenderness.

Maple Candy

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Maple candy, made from pure maple syrup, is a sweet treat with a rich, caramel-like flavor and a smooth texture. It’s another way the Indigenous people have showcased their love for using natural sweeteners in their diets, even though the U.S. Forest Service shares that some children love to have sugar with theirs.

Green Chile Stew

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Green chile stew is popular among southwestern tribes and combines tender meat, green chiles, and potatoes. It’s a spicy, hearty stew that’s both comforting and flavorful, and, originating from the time Spaniards settled, it is a dish that blends Native American and European culinary traditions.

Hopi Piki Bread

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Hopi piki bread is a paper-thin, blue cornmeal wafer made on a hot stone. This delicate, slightly crispy bread has a unique texture and a subtle corn flavor, and it is a traditional food of the Hopi people, now revered by some as a form of art and often served during special ceremonies.

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