The Most Popular Holiday Dish in Every State (and How to Make It Eco-Friendly!)

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"We studied past search data to determine the most popular holiday dish in every state. Can you guess yours?"

It’s officially time to start crafting your holiday menu. Whether you’re preparing for a Thanksgiving feast, looking ahead to Christmas, or are simply enjoying the traditional dishes of the season, everyone can agree that food is central to the holidays.

A whopping 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten for Thanksgiving, and 122 pounds of eggnog are consumed every holiday season. But which holiday recipes reigned supreme? In our latest report, the Brightly team studied past Google search data to determine the most popular holiday dish in every state.

Certain regions had unique holiday favorites. Midwest states, Indiana and Michigan, are fans of Buckeyes—peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate. Chess Pie (a custard pie with a crisp, browned topping) came out on top in Tennessee, and Pozole (a traditional Mexican stew) was the top search in New Mexico. There were also plenty of traditional favorites all around, with the most popular being pecan pie and sugar cookies.

most popular holiday dishes in every state

As much as we all love to leave the holiday dinner table feeling stuffed, having a countless number of dishes creates a lot of food waste—and even more carbon emissions. For example, livestock alone accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions every year—the same amount as the emissions from all transportation methods (cars, airplanes, ships, and beyond) combined.

Luckily, you don’t need to give up any of your favorite holiday recipes in order to make your menu more sustainable. Instead, consider making some planet-friendly swaps. Maybe that’s using plant-based milk instead of cow’s milk in your mashed potatoes. Or, cutting red meat and opting for a more sustainable meat option or vegan protein instead.

Every step, no matter how small, makes a difference. That’s why we’re sharing inspiration on how to make each of these top holiday recipes a little more eco-friendly. From dairy-free pies to mouth-watering mushroom steaks, you’ll find everything you need to reduce your carbon footprint this holiday season.

most popular holiday dishes in every state

Our Methodology

The Brightly team studied Google search data from November and December 2020 for each of the 50 U.S. States. Using that data, we determined the most popular holiday dish in every state. Keep reading to see the most popular holiday recipe in your state—and learn how to give it a planet-friendly boost.

1. Alabama: Eggnog

Photo: Minimalist Baker

Recipe to Try: Easy Vegan Eggnog

Since animal products have a hefty environmental footprint, swapping in plant-based ingredients can benefit the planet. A single egg requires 50 gallons of water to produce, and cow’s milk produces three times more carbon emissions than any non-dairy alternative.

Luckily, you can make eggnog without dairy and eggs. This plant-based version is still just as creamy and delicious thanks to blending coconut milk, maple syrup, and plenty of warming spices.

2. Alaska: Pumpkin Pie

Photo: Nora Cooks

Recipe to Try: Vegan Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is a classic holiday dish, and this version is ridiculously easy to make. Put all your ingredients in a blender—including coconut cream, pumpkin purée, and spices—then pour the mix into a pie crust. It’s also a great way to use leftover pumpkin you have on hand from other holiday festivities.

3. Arizona: Standing Rib Roast

Photo: My Quiet Kitchen

Recipe to Try: Seitan Jackfruit Ribs

Beef is one of the worst types of meat for the planet, producing twice the emissions of pork and four times the emissions of chicken. Opt for a more sustainable meat option, like turkey or chicken that has “Certified Humane” or “Animal Welfare Approved” labels. Or, try something entirely different, like these juicy ribs made from jackfruit.

4. Arkansas: Fudge

Photo: Conscious Plant Kitchen

Recipe to Try: Vegan Chocolate Fudge

Traditional fudge is made using ingredients like milk and butter. Go the eco-friendly route with this recipe that swaps in plant-based alternatives. You can even go an extra step by opting for Fair Trade chocolate, which ensures products are produced under strict social, environmental, and economic standards that benefit people and the planet.

5. California: Cranberry Sauce

holiday recipes
Photo: Shane & Simple

Recipe to Try: Cranberry Sauce Recipe

The great thing about cranberry sauce is that it’s already very eco-friendly. This homemade option only requires four ingredients: fresh cranberries (opt for organic to cut down on pesticide use, which is harmful to bee populations), maple syrup, juice from an orange, and water.

6. Colorado: Pecan Pie

Photo: Namely Marly

Recipe to Try: The Best Vegan Pecan Pie

Typical pecan pies include a filling made with eggs and butter. The crust may also contain lard, which is 100% animal fat. Despite this line-up, it’s really easy to give the classic holiday dessert a planet-friendly twist. This recipe, for instance, uses tofu—a plant-based protein that can transform into pretty much anything.

7. Connecticut: Ham

Photo: The Cheeky Chickpea

Recipe to Try: Vegan Seitan Ham

Pork is one of the worst types of meat for the planet, right above beef and lamb, generating 12.1 kilos of CO2 per kilo consumed. Instead of ham, swap in a more sustainable meat option, like turkey or chicken with “Certified Humane” or “Animal Welfare Approved” logos. Or, try something new, like this ham made from seitan—a vegan meat substitute made using vital wheat gluten.

8. Delaware: Stuffing

Photo: Jessica in the Kitchen

Recipe to Try: Vegan Stuffing Recipe

Don’t toss out your veggie scraps! Instead, use them to make a veggie broth that flavors this stuffing. Paired with sourdough bread, vegan butter, celery, garlic, and some warming spices, you’ll have the ultimate side for your holiday meal.

9. Florida: Coquito

Photo: Babe Made

Recipe to Try: Easy Vegan Coquito

Coquito—which means “little coconut” in Spanish—is a traditional holiday drink similar to eggnog. The typical recipe contains ingredients like sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, and eggs. You can make it more planet-friendly (without losing its creaminess!) by using a mix of evaporated coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut condensed milk, and plant milk.

10. Georgia: Sweet Potato Casserole

holiday recipes
Photo: Chocolate Covered Katie

Recipe to Try: Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

One of the best parts of sweet potato casserole is the melty marshmallows on top. The dish is also made with a lot of butter. To make it more eco-friendly, swap in almond butter for butter and use vegan marshmallows on top. Unlike the real deal, they’re not made of gelatin—an ingredient that comes from the bones, skin, and connective tissues of cows and pigs.

11. Hawaii: Prime Rib

Photo: Meals by the Mountain

Recipe to Try: Vegan Prime Rib with Mushroom Au Jus

If you want a creative way to cut down on your meat consumption, try this juicy vegan prime rib. This version is made with a mix of vital wheat gluten, liquid, and mushrooms, giving it a great flavor and texture. The best part, though? The mouth-watering au jus. Typical au jus is made with beef fat drippings, but this mushroom version is just as flavorful.

12. Idaho: Standing Rib Roast

Photo: Green Smoothie Gourmet

Recipe to Try: Juicy Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks

If you’ve yet to try a portobello mushroom steak, this recipe won’t disappoint. They offer a meaty texture, minus the meat. The flavor is also on-point with the simple marinade made from balsamic vinegar, olive oil, tamari sauce, garlic, and cayenne pepper.

13. Illinois: Sugar Cookies

Photo: It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken

Recipe to Try: Perfect Vegan Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are a seasonal staple. Once you have the perfect recipe, you can use it to create festively decorated treats for every holiday. This dough doesn’t require eggs. Instead, the recipe uses a vegan egg made with ground chia or ground flax.

14. Indiana: Buckeyes

Photo: I Heart Vegetables

Recipe to Try: Vegan Buckeyes

Have you ever heard of Buckeyes? The peanut butter and chocolate treats are made to resemble the nuts that grow on buckeye trees. While it’s the state tree of Ohio, many Midwest states love these homemade candies. You can make them more planet-friendly by opting for Fair Trade, dairy-free dark chocolate over typical store-bought milk chocolate.

15. Iowa: Puppy Chow

Photo: Purely Kaylie

Recipe to Try: Vegan Puppy Chow

Puppy Chow—a Midwest favorite that combines Chex cereal, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and powdered sugar is always a crowd-pleaser. If you bring a bowl to a holiday party, you’re bound to find nothing but crumbs by the end of the night. You can make the dessert more eco-friendly by using Fair Trade, dairy-free dark chocolate over typical milk chocolate.

16. Kansas: Fudge

Photo: Delightful Mom Food

Recipe to Try: Peppermint Chocolate Fudge Balls

This year, switch up your traditional fudge recipe with this peppermint ball option. To make them, simply form dough balls from ingredients like gluten-free flour, cocoa powder, vanilla, and maple syrup. Then, roll them in a crunchy peppermint candy coating.

17. Kentucky: Sweet Potato Casserole

Photo: My Darling Vegan

Recipe to Try: Classic Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

This sweet potato casserole isn’t just delicious and eco-friendly—it’s also lighter than traditional recipes. The casserole is made with sweet potatoes, non-dairy milk, vegan butter, brown sugar, and spices. Then the sweet pecan topping brings everything together.

18. Louisiana: Pecan Pie

Photo: Daughter of Seitan

Recipe to Try: Pecan Pie Energy Bites

If you want a pecan pie recipe you can snack on all day long, try these energy bites. It’s all the flavor you know and love, rolled into bite-size balls. Better yet, the only ingredients you need are oats, pecans, dates, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt.

19. Maine: Fudge

Photo: Half-Baked Harvest

Recipe to Try: Creamy Vegan Chocolate Fudge Pops

Sure, regular fudge is great. But when’s the last time you had fudge pops? This version makes for the perfect post-meal snack and uses all plant-based ingredients. Each is also dipped into a chocolate coating, taking the flavor to the next level. Opt for vegan, Fair Trade chocolate to make them even more planet-friendly.

20. Maryland: Eggnog

Photo: Addicted to Dates

Recipe to Try: Vegan Eggnog Cheesecake

Eggnog… but make it a cheesecake. This unique holiday recipe is so decadent you’d never guess it’s both dairy- and egg-free. Instead, it’s made with ingredients like cashews, coconut milk, and maple syrup.

21. Massachusetts: Mashed Potatoes

Photo: Know Your Produce

Recipe to Try: Vegan Mashed Potatoes

This vegan alternative to traditional mashed potatoes is made up of potatoes, almond milk, vegan cream cheese, and vegan butter. If you want to add even more flavor, consider garnishing with roasted garlic, caramelized onions, or even freshly-chopped chives.

22. Michigan: Buckeyes

Photo: Contentedness Cooking

Recipe to Try: Vegan Buckeye Brownies

It doesn’t get much better than peanut butter and chocolate. Unless it’s a planet-friendly version of the pair, of course! Instead of making traditional Buckeye candies, try these Buckeye Brownies. There’s no eggs or dairy needed. Also, opt for Fair Trade chocolate.

23. Minnesota: Beef Tenderloin

Photo: The Mushroom Den

Recipe to Try: Vegan Roast Beef

Plant-based roast beef? It might sound crazy, but it’s completely possible—and it’s truly mouth-watering. Using wheat gluten and veggie stock, you can make a planet-friendly roast the whole family will love.

24. Mississippi: Turkey

Photo: Nora Cooks

Recipe to Try: Vegan Turkey Roast

When we think of Thanksgiving dinner, we think of turkey. While turkey is one of the more sustainable meats, cooking a 16-pound turkey still emits about 32 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. So why not give this roast a try that’s made up of chickpeas and wheat gluten?

25. Missouri: Pecan Pie

holiday recipes
Photo: Be Plant Well

Recipe to Try: Vegan Pecan Pie Bars

Everything is more fun when it’s bite-sized, including pie. Using maple syrup, plant milk, and vegan butter, you can turn a fall classic into a delicious vegan dessert.

26. Montana: Pumpkin Pie

holiday recipes
Photo: Vegan Richa

Recipe to Try: Vegan Pumpkin Pie Bars

This year, enjoy your beloved pumpkin pie in bar-form. This recipe put an eco-friendly spin on the classic holiday dessert using non-dairy alternatives.

27. Nebraska: Stuffing

holiday recipes
Photo: Erin Baker’s

Recipe to Try: Plant-Based Stuffing

Packed with vegetables, herbs, and spices, this plant-based stuffing is the perfect planet-friendly side dish. Topped with apples, it blends sweet and savory. And the bread, oats, and nuts provide many layers of texture.

28. Nevada: Mashed Potatoes

Photo: Savory Thoughts

Recipe to Try: Garlic Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes without the potatoes? This recipe uses leftover cauliflower to imitate super-creamy mashed potatoes (and cut down on food waste!). As an added bonus, it cooks in an Instant Pot, so it’s a perfect low-maintenance side dish. Not into cauliflower? Go with regular potatoes and use non-dairy milk and butter.

29. New Hampshire: Ham

Photo: Seitan Society

Recipe to Try: Maple-Glazed Holiday Vegan Ham

Everything you need to know about this ham is in the name. Made with seitan, this mouthwatering, maple-glazed ham is topped with caramelized pineapple and oranges.

30. New Jersey: Cranberry Sauce

Photo: Plant Based on a Budget

Recipe to Try: Homemade Cranberry Sauce

It’s not hard to make planet-friendly cranberry sauce, because it’s already super sustainable! This homemade recipe is a holiday classic. It’s loaded with sweetness, and a pinch of cinnamon gives it an additional festive touch.

31. New Mexico: Pozole

Photo: The Nut Free Vegan

Recipe to Try: Plant-Based Southwestern Pozole

Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup that’s rich in flavor. Typical recipes are made with meat, but this one swaps in plant-based chicken for an eco-friendly boost. Made with chile peppers and spiced with cumin and coriander, it’s the perfect dish to warm with this holiday season.

32. New York: Green Bean Casserole

Photo: Minimalist Baker

Recipe to Try: Traditional Vegan Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole is already mostly plant-based. By substituting dairy for a plant-based alternative, you’ll instantly have a more planet-friendly version of this holiday classic.

33. North Carolina: Cranberry Sauce

Photo: Darn Good Veggies

Recipe to Try: Cranberry Barbeque Sauce

Everyone loves a holiday classic, but there’s nothing like a fresh take on a traditional dish. Instead of eating cranberry sauce plain, why not incorporate it into a new dish? This recipe for vegan meatballs includes a barbeque cranberry sauce that will pair perfectly with your holiday spread.

34. North Dakota: Sugar Cookies

Photo: Nora Cooks

Recipe to Try: Vegan Sugar Cookies

These cookies are simple, delicious, and fun to decorate! Better yet: They’re made using only planet-friendly ingredients, swapping dairy for plant-based alternatives.

35. Ohio: Green Bean Casserole

Photo: The Almond Eater

Recipe to Try: Green Bean Casserole with Cauliflower Sauce

If you’re looking to spice up your holiday favorites, this green bean casserole is exactly what you need. It replaces the traditional mushroom cream sauce with a non-dairy cauliflower sauce that’s just as decadent.

36. Oklahoma: Green Bean Casserole

holiday recipes
Photo: Live Eat Learn

Recipe to Try: Vegan Green Bean Casserole

Yep, green bean casserole is a popular holiday dish. This recipe calls for mushrooms, garlic, and a homemade sauce made with almond milk instead of condensed dairy milk.

37. Oregon: Standing Short Rib

Photo: Vegan Heaven

Recipe to Try: Vegan BBQ Short Ribs

Animal agriculture has both a large water and carbon footprint. To decrease these footprints, try a vegan alternative to your favorite short rib recipe. These ribs are tender and delicious, and you may even like them more than traditional short ribs.

38. Pennsylvania: Sugar Cookies

Photo: Delicious Everyday

Recipe to Try: Vegan Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are deliciously sweet, and they’re really easy to swap in eco-friendly ingredients. Instead of eggs, this recipe uses applesauce to add moisture.

39. Rhode Island: Gingerbread

holiday recipes
Photo: Domestic Gothess

Recipe to Try: Vegan Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are the perfect holiday dessert, and you can even use them as fun, edible decorations for your table or tree! This recipe uses alternatives like vegan butter (or coconut oil), so it’s both delicious and planet-friendly.

40. South Carolina: Stuffing

Photo: Love & Lemons

Recipe to Try: Vegan Stuffing Recipe

Many stuffing recipes have been passed down for generations, most of which include animal products. However, you can start a new tradition with this totally vegan stuffing that’s loaded with flavor thanks to mushrooms, onions, garlic, and plenty of herbs.

41. South Dakota: Muffins

holiday recipes
Photo: Audrey Dunham

Recipe to Try: Sweet Vegan Cornbread Muffins

There are so many options when it comes to muffins. This vegan cornbread version makes for a great holiday side, opting for vegan butter alternatives and almond milk over dairy ingredients. Plus, there’s a twist: The recipe also incorporates maple syrup for added sweetness.

42. Tennessee: Chess Pie

holiday recipes
Photo: Recipe Magik

Recipe to Try: Vegan Chocolate Chess Pie

Most Chess Pie recipes call for eggs, but not this one. Instead, cornstarch helps keep everything together. The filling is also totally plant-based, using unsalted vegan butter and almond milk.

43. Texas: Gingerbread

holiday recipes
Photo: Little Swiss Baker

Recipe to Try: Vegan Gingerbread House

Building gingerbread houses is a great way to have a friendly competition between friends and family. Now, you can make your houses more eco-friendly by switching up the icing. This recipe uses aquafaba from chickpeas, so no heavy cream or dairy is necessary.

44. Utah: Turkey

holiday recipes
Photo: Wicked Healthy Food

Recipe to Try: Country Fried, Crispy Tofu Turkey

While turkey tends to be a more sustainable option than beef or pork, plant-based foods will always be better for the planet than animal products. If you’re looking for a plant-based alternative this Thanksgiving, try this crispy fried tofu that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.

45. Vermont: Sugar Cookies

holiday recipes
Photo: The Baking Fairy

Recipe to Try: Vegan Confetti Sugar Cookies

Who doesn’t love confetti sugar cookies? This recipe is crispy, chewy, and delicious, all without using any eggs or milk. Instead, it uses aquafaba, dairy-free butter, vanilla, and a handful of other ingredients.

46. Virginia: Gingerbread

holiday recipes
Photo: VegAnnie

Recipe to Try: Vegan Gingerbread Cake Bars

Instead of making gingerbread cookies or houses, try something new: gingerbread cake bars, perhaps? These cake bars are gluten-free, oil-free, and sugar-free, and they require a secret ingredient: yellow squash. They’re easy to make, and you can even add frosting on top.

47. Washington: Pecan Pie

Photo: Lazy Cat Kitchen

Recipe to Try: Mini Vegan Pecan Pies

These pecan pies are bite-sized and perfect for snacking! You can use cookie cutters to cut out the size of your pie crust, and once the recipe is complete, feel free to add dairy-free whipped cream on top. These mini pies are both eco-friendly and family-friendly, so you’ll definitely want to share them.

48. West Virginia: Fudge

holiday recipes
Photo: The Spruce Eats

Recipe to Try: Dairy-Free and Vegan Fudge

Fudge is surprisingly easy to make, and believe it or not, vegan fudge is even easier. This holiday recipe recommends using vegan butter and any non-dairy milk of your choice. If you love chocolate, feel free to add vegan chocolate chips instead of walnuts to the mix. Even better if the chocolate is Fair Trade.

49. Wisconsin: Pecan Pie

Photo: The Vegan 8

Recipe to Try: 6-Ingredient Vegan Pecan Pie Cookies

Yes, these cookies only require six ingredients. You’ll need rolled oats, pecans, ground flaxseed, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and vanilla extract. To top it off, pick any dairy-free icing, whipped cream, or even ice cream of your choice.

50. Wyoming: Sugar Cookies

holiday recipes
Photo: Short Girl Tall Order

Recipe to Try: Vegan Candy Cane Sugar Cookies

We’ve listed plenty of sugar cookie recipes, but there’s one more that’s worth trying: candy cane sugar cookies. If you love peppermint, you’ll love these cookies. They’re also eggless, which is great because egg production emits greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. By eliminating eggs in this recipe, you’re decreasing your carbon footprint.


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We studied past search data to determine the most popular holiday dish in every state. Can you guess yours?

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