17 American Dishes Europeans Warn Others Not to Try

When it comes to food, tastes can vary dramatically across cultures. We’ve compiled a list of 17 American dishes that often surprise Europeans in comparison to the traditional cuisine you may find across the continent. Find out why these American staples might not be everyone’s cup of tea!

Spray Cheese on Crackers

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It may be a quick snack in the U.S., but many Europeans find the idea of spray cheese to be unappetizing because of its highly processed nature and artificial flavor. Europeans are famed for their traditional cheeses, which are celebrated for their distinct flavors and textures—something that aerosol cheese just can’t compete with.

Root Beer Float

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A sweet beverage made by adding vanilla ice cream to root beer, many Europeans don’t like the combination of earthy flavors and sweet ice cream found in a root beer float. According to Britannica, “It is thought that modern, carbonated root beer was originally inspired by the non-carbonated medicinal root teas made by Indigenous North Americans.”

Grits with Cheese

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Grits are a staple in southern American cuisine but are not commonly found in European households. In America, it’s often served as breakfast or as a side dish, but the mild flavor and soft texture are very different from the herby or spicy grain dishes found in Europe.

Corn Dog

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Coating a sausage in cornmeal batter and deep-frying is a classic American treat, but most Europeans see it as overly unhealthy and greasy. Generally, sausages in Europe are served grilled without any kind of coating, reflecting their emphasis on using fresh, natural ingredients.

Jell-O Salad

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You may not find a Jell-O salad at most tables nowadays, but in the 1950s, they were the height of sophistication. Atlas Obscura says that after World War II, “instant gelatin became a popular way to prepare snacks and sweets that once would have constituted labor-intensive projects.”

Biscuits and Gravy

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In Europe, ‘biscuits’ are generally what Americans refer to as ‘cookies,’ which can cause confusion around this dish. Europeans will often dip bread in quality olive oils and vinegars, so the heavy texture of the gravy with the soft biscuits is unfamiliar to them.

Sloppy Joes

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Sloppy Joes are a distinctly American treat that represents the U.S. love of quick, hearty meals. Made with ground beef, onions, tomato sauce, and other seasonings inside a hamburger bun, this dish is different from the lighter and more formal meals Europeans are used to.

Ambrosia Salad

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According to the National Post, ambrosia salad is “a daring combination of jet-puffed marshmallows, shredded coconut, pineapple and mandarin oranges.” Yogurt or whipped cream is often mixed into this traditional holiday recipe, creating a sweet, creamy dish that doesn’t appeal to most Europeans.

Chicken Fried Steak

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A pan-fried breaded beef cutlet, this southern dish is often served with a thick, peppery white gravy. Many Europeans find the fact that it’s beef to be confusing, as they expect to be served chicken. On top of this, the generous breadcrumbs and rich gravy can be overwhelming compared to the light, grilled options normal within Europe.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows

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Pairing a combination of sweet and savory elements is unusual for Europeans, and this dish is very different from most of the holiday dishes you find across Europe. USA Today reported that “the first recipe of mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows dates to 1917.”

Tater Tot Casserole

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Layers of ground beef, condensed cream of chicken soup, and tater tots topped with cheese are considered bland and mushy by Europeans, who generally opt for fresh ingredients and a variety of flavors. In the U.S., however, many people love the cheesy, creamy dish as a comforting meal.

Chitterlings (Chitlins)

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Chitterlings are a traditional southern dish consisting of fried or stewed pig intestines. As you might imagine, cleaning, preparing, and cooking chitterlings results in a distinctive smell that a lot of people find overwhelmingly unappetizing. On top of this, the chewy texture is off-putting to many.

Peanut Butter and Mayonnaise Sandwich

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An unusual twist on the classic PB&J, a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich creates a mix of creamy, sweet, and tangy flavors that many aren’t used to. More commonly found in the South and Midwest, this dish shows the diverse American cuisine, but most Europeans tend to prefer sweet and savory condiments to be eaten separately.

Red Velvet Cake with Traditional Lard Icing

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This deep red cake with a mild chocolate flavor is commonly eaten across Europe as a result of American influence; however, most Europeans have switched out the traditional lard icing. Instead, many opt for a butter or cream-based frosting that suits their palates better.

Fried Butter

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A ball of butter coated in dough and deep fried, this dish is often used to demonstrate the unhealthy food Americans are famous for creating. Many Europeans find the idea of deep-frying pure butter to be shocking and unappealing, instead opting for lighter treats.

Meatloaf with Ketchup Glaze

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Meatloaf is a mix of ground meat, onions, breadcrumbs, and seasonings that is baked into a loaf pan and topped with a sweet ketchup glaze. In America, this is a comforting dish, but Europeans tend to avoid sweet, artificial ingredients when it comes to serving meat dishes.

Peanut Butter and Fluff Sandwich

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Often called the ‘Fluffernutter,’ this sandwich combines crunchy or creamy peanut butter with Marshmallow Fluff spread. Americans love this mix of intensely sweet marshmallows with the salty, rich peanut, but in Europe, overly sweet dishes like this are not as common, with people generally opting for fresher snacks.

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