Here are the 15 official state food symbols of Texas

In an era where every day seems to be a food holiday, it should come as no surprise that Texas has its own list of official foods representing the great state.

These state symbols fall under various categories, including the state bird (the mockingbird), the state motto (simply, “Friendship”) and other such things someone somewhere thought were worth specifying a symbol for. So, who exactly designated them? The Texas State Library and Archives Commission puts forth a list, which is then voted on by the Texas legislature.

As helpful as it is to know that the state plant is a prickly pear cactus, it’s the food-related ones we’re really curious about. Are we maintaining a Texan-enough diet? Let’s check the list and find out.

Official state bread: pan de campo

It may not be widely available in restaurants and grocery stores, but this crumbly carb known also as “cowboy bread” was a product of cowboys and vaqueros in South Texas making their own loaves over open campfires. How did it earn “state bread”? Perhaps thanks to its thick and hearty texture, serving as the ideal vessel to polish off chili or saucy baked beans with.

Peach cobbler made with Texas peaches.

Greg Morago / Greg Morago

Official state cobbler: peach cobbler

Other states may gawk at cobbler as a category, but in Texas, it’s practically its own food group—with plenty of mouthwatering variations to indulge in. As far as which fruit-filled dish reigns supreme in the Lone Star State, that would be peach, likely due to the bounty of peaches in Hill Country.

Official state cooking implement: cast iron Dutch oven

These may be fighting words, but you aren’t Texan if you don’t have a cast iron Dutch oven in your kitchen, apparently. The handy cooking tool wins for versatility, as it takes braising meat, baking casseroles and crafting desserts to the next level.

Official state crustacean: Texas Gulf shrimp

A perk of being just a hop, skip and a car ride away from the coast? Plentiful, delicious Gulf gems such as shrimp, which serves as the state crustacean. Texans love their crawfish, soft shell crab and lobster, and Texas Gulf shrimp is a champion among them.

Beans or no beans?  That is the Texas chili question.

Beans or no beans? That is the Texas chili question.


Official state dish: chilli

While the argument over with beans versus without beans may be difficult to settle, the consensus on chili being the official dish of Texas is one the legislature can fully agree on.

Official state fruit: Texas red grapefruit

Grapefruits have long grown in Texas, but it was the mutation of a single tree almost 100 years ago that produced the beloved Texas ruby ​​red grapefruit. It hasn’t been fully determined if this led to the popularity of tequila-fueled Palomas in Texas, but surely it doesn’t hurt.

Grapefruit makes a great paloma cocktail.

Grapefruit makes a great paloma cocktail.

Billy Calzada, Staff / San Antonio Express-News

Official state mushroom: Texas star mushroom

If you haven’t incorporated the Texas star mushroom into your diet, no need to freak out. This particular fungus isn’t exactly edible, but it makes the list due to its star shape and because it’s almost unique to Texas.

Official state pepper: jalapeño

Texans like their heat, and there are no shortage of fantastic peppers worthy of being the state’s top representative. But jalapeños, as a must-have condiment with Tex-Mex, barbecue platters and truly anything else, get all the glory.

A jalapeño pepper plant at an edible garden created with the help of Rooted Garden.

A jalapeño pepper plant at an edible garden created with the help of Rooted Garden.

Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

Official state native pepper: chiltepin

While the jalapeño is Texas’ official pepper, the chiltepin is the native state pepper. You won’t forget a taste of this capsicum: What it lacks in size, it makes up in fiery flavor.

Official state pastries: sopaipilla, strudel

Weirdly, sopaipilla and strudel’s time as official state pastries both ended in 2005, but we still hold them dear as noteworthy representatives of the state. Anyone who has dined at a Mexican restaurant in their Texan lifetime will agree that sopaipillas deserve the recognition, while fruit-filled strudels are on-tier with kolaches and Shipley’s donuts.

Sopaipillas were once the official Texas state pastry.

Sopaipillas were once the official Texas state pastry.

Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle

Official state pie: pecan pie

Pecan pies may be ever present at restaurants, bakeries and Buc-ee’s locations across the state, but their popularity may not be the only reason it’s the state pie. Pecan trees are native to Texas, and luckily for us, the nuts are abundantly available to bake with. This also confirms why the “state health nut” is the pecan.

Official state snack: tortilla chips and salsa

Few will argue that there is another snack more serving. Whether it’s the diligent refilling of baskets at Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants, or the tasty combination of salty and spicy, chips and salsa are forever superior.

Tortilla chips and salsa are a Texas snack staple.

Tortilla chips and salsa are a Texas snack staple.

Courtesy of Gringo’s Mexican Kitchen

Official state squash: pumpkin

In a state of what feels like endless summer, pumpkins may not come to mind when thinking of Texas, except as a reminder that Halloween, Thanksgiving and cooler temps are inching closer. But the vibrantly colored squash is actually abundant in West Texas and serves multiple purposes, including being a fan favorite in the pie department.

A pumpkin patch at Magnolia's First Baptist Church.

A pumpkin patch at Magnolia’s First Baptist Church.

Michael Minasi / The Potpourri

Official state vegetable: sweet onion

The mild flavor and versatility of sweet onions make them a no-brainer for state vegetable, whether they’re cooked down as a base for a sauce, sprinkled raw over cheesy enchiladas or baked into a savory sweet onion pie.

Leave a Comment