When most of us think of Maine, we don’t necessarily think about food. Despite being an awesome place for tourism, we rarely see Maine as a foodie hotspot. However, Maine cuisine is much more than buttery lobster rolls. There’s a lot of variety, based on the cuisine of local Native American tribes, with important influences from English, French, Irish, Italian, and Portuguese cuisine. Corn, beans, potatoes, dairy products, seafood, and a huge selection of baked goodies are the mainstay of Maine cuisine. Let’s delve deeper into this delicious topic!


#1 – Chowder

You can’t start a Maine cuisine guide without this iconic dish. Pronounced chowdah! by locals, this delicious thick soup comes in two varieties, seafood chowder, and New England clam chowder. 


The pure or original chowder, as the locals call it, is the New England clam chowder, which is extra thick and hearty, with a distinct creamy texture and flavor. Based on a rich mix of milk and cream, it also includes potatoes, onions, butter, and pork, as well as a healthy dose of clams.


On the other hand, seafood chowder is made with Maine seafood, typically mussels and oysters, but also clams or lobster, to give it an additional boost in flavor. 


#2 – Potato Donuts

These donuts are Maine’s take on traditional donuts, and they are delicious! The original idea to make donuts from potatoes is almost 200 years old. Firstly mentioned in a cookbook from 1833, potato donuts quickly became popular in New England, especially among families who wanted a way to make a cheap dessert by reducing the amount of wheat flour (which was very expensive at that time). Potatoes were cheap and were everywhere in Maine, so potato donuts were the obvious pastry.


Potato donuts are made with potato flour or mashed potatoes, and are surprisingly light and doughy when compared to wheat donuts. They are so popular that Maine even has a local donut chain that sells them – the Holy Donut. Don’t get your hopes up, though; they are only present in Maine!


#3 – Fiddlehead Ferns

One of the most famous traditions in Maine is the annual harvesting of fiddlehead ferns. The unique nature-made snack which you can only find here, is very taste and vegan, so you can’t go wrong with it. 


So what are fiddleheads? They are the small sprouts, usually rolled-up tips of young ostrich ferns. Found near wet areas, marshes, lakes, and streams, fiddleheads are harvested in spring, typically from April to June, before they grow too much. Often described as a delicate combination of mushrooms, asparagus, and spinach, you can eat fiddleheads raw, grilled, steamed, or sauteed in salads, or with pasta. Fiddlehead ferns are rich in fibers, vitamins A and C.


 Maine even has a festival dedicated to fiddleheads, the Fiddlehead Foodie Fest, where you can enjoy the dish, participate in contests, watch concerts, and mingle with the locals.


#4 – Needhams

Needhams are delicious New England home-made confectionery dessert bars, made with potatoes. The recipe also includes butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, chocolate, and coconut. The mashed potatoes are mixed with melted butter, then vanilla and coconut are added, to create a spread. 


After cutting the bars into small squares, they are dipped into melted chocolate to create a crunchy layer. Originating sometime in the 19th century, needhams are believed to be invented by evangelist George Needham. Now, they are particularly popular as a Christmas dessert, but you can find them in cafes and restaurants all-year round. 


#5 – Maine-style Lobster Rolls

A staple of New England cuisine, Maine-style lobster rolls consist of a few scoops of lobster salad tucked into split-top buns. The salad is made from knuckle and claw meat, with a healthy dose of mayonnaise, celery, salt, and pepper. Other additional ingredients may include mustard, chives, or lemon juice. The buns are buttered and toasted, and served hot, which is contrasted with the cold salad, making it even more delicious.