Good ole’ Kentucky home cooking is on the list of things people miss once they leave the Bluegrass State. We have our own twist on old southern favorites that you might not find elsewhere. Real southern cuisine can be a shock to the system of those who haven’t tried it, and simple food combinations serve up powerful flavors. Some say it is from the love that goes into making it, though that cannot be confirmed for sure. Here are 15 examples of iconic Kentucky foods:

It is amazing what meager ingredients went from survival food to something traditionally served for generations to come. Those who perfected Kentucky home cooking over the centuries have been immortalized via their meals, but every family has its favorites. What are your favorite examples of Kentucky home cooking?

OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.

More to Explore

Kentucky foods

What other things are Kentucky known for?

While food is definitely a big part of Bluegrass culture, we can't forget about its counterpart: drinks! And, of course, bourbon reigns supreme. Bourbon is a quintessential part of the Bluegrass; it isn’t just a Kentucky icon, it’s an inextricable, fundamental, celebrated part of the state’s culture and identity. Kentucky is world-famous for its bourbon, producing nearly 95 percent of the world’s supply of this spicy, sultry spirit. The reasons for this are numerous. Kentucky boasts some of the richest, most fertile soil in the country, ideal for growing the most essential ingredient in bourbon: corn. The water in Kentucky has a high pH and a high proportion of minerals, another key component of bourbon distilling. Geography, too, plays a role: Kentucky sits atop vast deposits of blue limestone, which filters out hard iron and imparts sweet-tasting calcium and magnesium, two elements crucial to the bourbon-making process. In terms of temperatures, Kentucky’s four seasons, and their dramatic temperature swings cause the charred oak barrels to expand and contract, which in turn give the spirit its copper color and distinctive taste.

But the final, and most important, part of the Bluegrass bourbon equation is Kentuckians themselves. Kentucky was first settled by immigrants from Ireland and Scotland, who brought the whiskey-distilling methods of the Old Country. This spirited tradition was handed down from generation to generation, laying the groundwork for the bourbon bounty that would later bloom in the Bluegrass. Today, it's a celebrated and inextricable part of Bluegrass culture -- bourbon lovers can even spend the night in the iconic Maker's Mark home!

In addition to hot browns and bourbon, Kentucky is known for being home to the world's largest underground cavern system, horse racing and the annual Kentucky Derby, the childhood home of Abraham Lincoln, the Houseboat Capital of the World, home to Red River Gorge, and ties to country music!

Explore Kentucky