Wondering exactly what is Alaska food? Then you’ve come to the right place!
If you’re looking for inspiration and an exotic taste of the north, you’ve come to the right place. Food is an essential part of any trip, especially if you travel to Alaska. You will want to try all the extraordinary dishes the North has to offer. Because you are often far from the comforts of home, dining becomes an adventure in itself.
Alaska’s diverse landscape and climate produce a wide variety of natural foods that have been part of Alaskan native cuisine for thousands of years.
Fish, oysters, and crab are among the most popular catches, and thanks to strict sustainability regulations, Alaskan seafood is some of the freshest in the world. Throw in an array of game meats and dishes, originally eaten for survival by the first Alaskan natives, and you’ve got quite the diverse culinary scene.
Whether you are searching for a quick bite, shopping for fresh seafood, or browsing through grocery stores, food is exceptional when you are in Alaska.
While you’ll find all the usual dishes across Alaska at restaurants and cafes, there are also some fantastic venues serving up the native Alaskan fare to hungry guests.
With a unique food culture to match the scenery, it’s no wonder Alaskan cuisine is as eye-catching as it is appetizing. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the most iconic dishes from the 49th State, as well as those dishes influenced by Alaskan natives. So whether you’re an Alaskan expat or just passing by, sit back and enjoy this feast of the ten must-try Alaska dishes.
Table of Contents
Ten Must-Try Alaska Dishes
Try a taste of Alaska with this specially created, grillable sausage, made by reindeer herders in the state. Lay it on a barbecue or skillet and let the rich, smoky flavor burst through.
For decades, Alaskans have preserved game meat. In addition, there are several smoked and cured types of meat from non-native reindeer.
During the late 19th century, Alaska was introduced to these animals. As a result, Alaska’s culinary scene has made their meat (especially spicy reindeer sausage) a staple, appearing on menus across the state. A versatile food that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, reindeer sausages are seasoned, smoked, and sometimes combined with other cuts.
What makes reindeer sausage unique is the texture – a combination of fatty and lean meat that gives it a pleasantly chewy bite.
Reindeer sausage can be found in almost every restaurant, and if you want to take this staple for the road, grab a bag of reindeer sausage jerky.
Smoked salmon is a classic Alaska grilling staple, and we all know it is fresh, mouth-watering, and very popular. It can be enjoyed fresh, smoked, baked, or with cream cheese on a bagel. But how about trying something different this time?
Try a smoked salmon chowder bowl. If you’ve never had a chowder bowl, you’re in for a treat! The salmon is so fresh it will melt in your mouth, and the chowder is so creamy and thick it will fill you up fast.
Spicy, hearty, yet so delicate, all at the same time. While many chowder recipes call for a wide variety of fish and shellfish, this is an Alaskan twist that doesn’t need more than salmon to be delicious. Try a locally smoked salmon bowl that will give your taste buds a vacation of their own!
If you are a fan of seafood, you’re going to love black cod! If you have never been to Alaska, you may not be acquainted with how good fresh black cod can be. It is a white fish that is more tender and flavorful than any fish you have ever tasted.
This fish is unbelievably delicious. It’s one of those things that you have to try at least once in your life – it’s that good. Alaskans are known for the famous Black Cod, which has been a staple on their menus for centuries.
They grill it to perfection with soy sauce and lemon juice before serving, providing an unforgettable taste sensation. Seared on the outside but moist and tender on the inside, it is sure to be the talk of your table during your next dinner party!
Serve this mouthwatering fish with rice or potatoes and steamed vegetables for a filling meal!
I know the title will catch your eye, so hear me out. Chocolate bread is an iconic experience in Alaska. The brownies are very rich and tasty, but chocolate bread takes the cake.
The combination of moist bread with semi-melted milk chocolate chunks makes this baked good unlike any other; it practically melts in your mouth! Delicious, mouthwatering, and irresistible!
With moist, dark chocolate chunks baked right inside the bread, it’s the ultimate portable food for an Alaskan adventure. This is great with coffee or eaten all on its own, but make sure you have plenty of napkins handy!
Let your chocoholic side run wild because you likely won’t find anything like it outside Alaska, except maybe heaven!
It is Alaska’s largest deep-water sport fish and one of the region’s most important commercial catches.
This meat is white and flaky, with an amazing flavor that makes it an excellent dish to eat. They’re served grilled, seared, and baked; they come cooked in sauces and within chowders.
The best way to experience Alaskan cuisine is to try fried halibut in beer batter-basically the state’s version of boardwalk chips. You can’t go wrong with a perfectly grilled fillet with a lightly-seasoned crust. Nothing beats it.
Fresh produce is available from spring to fall, with the summer months being prime time. Halibut is available at most restaurants, year round.
They are also available at grocery stores and specialty seafood retailers. Halibut fillets can be relatively pricey depending on the catch and timing, comparable to Chinook salmon. Watch for deals at grocery stores and warehouse stores during the summer months.
If you’re out for a visit to Alaska, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the best locally grown berries at their peak. Berries are often overlooked because they seem simplistic, but you can enjoy berries in so many ways, and Alaska has them in abundance!
Poached or baked, whole or juiced, pureed or battered, berries always seem to shine.
Among the many wild berries they have are blueberries, cranberries, salmonberries, raspberries, blackberries, and more. You should definitely order anything “berry,” and I highly recommend High Bush Cranberry Jam or, of course, any wild berry cobbler.
Berry cobblers are also another perfect way to enjoy Alaska’s berries. Visit a bakery and order yourself a berry cobbler topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Featuring a cake-like cover and caramelized sugar topping, your taste buds are in for a treat!
Eskimo Ice Cream
A real Alaskan treat that few get the chance to enjoy is Eskimo Ice Cream, better known as “Agutuk” or “Aqutak.” The recipe for this Eskimo treat might sound obscure, but believe me, it is delicious!
This traditional dish resembled an ice cream and typically contained animal fats, caribou meat, fish, berries, snow, and seal oil. This “recipe” requires no cooking but instead relies on the natural freezing process of winter temperatures to complete the creation of the tasty treat.
Despite the unusual combination, the dish’s high-fat content allowed it to withstand extreme temperatures, and they eat it during hunting expeditions.
It turns out the dish is more than just ice cream with big chunks of meat mixed in; it’s a cultural staple, surviving off the land.
A bowl of akutaq like the Alaskan native’s once enjoyed is hard to find today. So, if you do find a traditionally made bowl, make sure you grab it!
Alaska’s food is as big and bold as the state itself. When you think of food in Alaska, it pretty much comes down to one thing; seafood. But besides the traditional salmon dishes or fish and chips, Alaskans have some rather unusual fish dishes on their menu.
One thing you should try if you are brave enough is Muktuk!
Muktuk is made from the skin, blubber, or meat of a whale. It can be eaten raw, frozen, stuffed with other foods, or prepared as jerky.
Muktuk is an Alaskan’s favorite menu item. Native people have been eating this for over 500 years, but the Eskimos in Nome, Southcentral Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Denmark, Siberia, etc., also eat this menu item.
This traditional dish can be quite a challenge, but eating it is well worth it. The combination of the crispy tough skin and the sweet fatty flesh is truly a culinary treat.
A popular treat that comes with numerous health benefits, including fertility!
In the last few years, the demand for yak meat has surged throughout the United States. Whether it’s from adventurous eaters or those looking for a healthier alternative than beef or chicken, you’ll find it in restaurants and markets across the US. Yak-based products are now popping up in stores and can be used to spice up all sorts of dishes, from stews to steaks.
Although yak is becoming more popular, it’s still not easy to find. It would be a treat to find this delicious and juicy meat example.
Whether you’re craving yak burgers, braised yak soup, barbecued yak ribs, or just simple yak meatballs, I guarantee you will love them. They have an incredibly delicious taste and leanness compared to other red meats like beef or pork, which makes them the perfect addition to any meal.
Love at first bite. Perhaps it’s the crunchy, golden brown outside that’s reminiscent of a donut or the pillowy, soft clouds on the inside!
Fry Bread, also known as Indian Fry Bread, is a tradition of the Native Alaskans. Before the white man came with their cookbooks and baking goods, Native Alaskans had to use what they had on hand. This nutritious dish was made from harvest wheat flour, sugar, and lard or vegetable oil.
The traditional snack is sure to satisfy your carb cravings. They make Fry Bread by pressing dough into a round, and then the edges are pinched and folded to create a crust-like top and flat bottom.
Fry Bread is eaten plain or with various toppings such as honey, sugar, powdered fruit drinks, peanut butter, jam, ground cooked meat, etc.
It is a tradition that connects generations of Alaskans to their past. The round, simple shape brings back memories shared with loved ones and creates new memories to be enjoyed with friends and family.
Summary Of The 10 Must-Try Alaska Dishes
Alaska is home to some of the world’s most scrumptious fare. There are dishes so iconic it’s almost impossible to avoid them when traveling there.
Alaska’s native foods and flavors help define the culture and keep traditions alive. Whether by catching your own food or enjoying a meal prepared by a local, you can taste Alaska yourself!
So pull up a table, grab an extra napkin or two, and dig into your next traditional Alaskan meal.
Visiting other destinations in Alaska? Check out our other guides:
- Interview with The Longest Way to Alaska: Extreme Budget Travelers
- 10 Best Anchorage Restaurants, Alaska
- 11 Best Restaurants In Fairbanks, Alaska
Which of these Alaskan foods do you want to try first? Let us know in the comments section below!
Igor Jovanovski is an aspiring digital nomad, travel blogger and graphic designer who really loves food. He also has a creative side, and he works as a freelance graphic designer in his spare time. He has traveled across Europe quite a few times since he was young and recently started his mission to visit every country in the world! Igor’s favorite thing about traveling is the way he gets to know new people, food, places and cultures.
This exciting experience helps him create his own stories and make memories that will last forever