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Maryland's Food: The Tastiest Traditional Maryland Dishes

Updated on May 14, 2018
kittythedreamer profile image

Kitty is a self-proclaimed home and hearth goddess. One of her favorite things is creatively cooking and baking for her family.

Maryland is most well known for its delicious blue crabs right from the Chesapeake Bay (among other food)
Maryland is most well known for its delicious blue crabs right from the Chesapeake Bay (among other food) | Source

The Food in Maryland

Growing up in Maryland seems like a lame thing to do when you're a kid, but then you grow up and move away and realize you miss something about Maryland...the food! Southern Maryland in particular has a very traditional and unique cuisine, unlike any others you'll find in the United States. Just as New England has its lobsters, and Wisconsin has its cheese, Maryland has its special food too. And if you get the chance to travel through Southern Maryland, don't forget to stop into a couple local restaurants and try out these tasty dishes. You'll be sure to enjoy Maryland's unique, traditional menu.

Instead of crab cakes, crab balls!
Instead of crab cakes, crab balls! | Source

Maryland Blue Crabs and Crabcakes

The one thing that Maryland is probably best known for is the Maryland blue crabs. And with good reason. The Maryland blue crabs blow the other state's blue crabs out the water! The Florida blue crabs have nothing on the taste and size of Maryland's me, I've had both kinds.

Whenever I visit my hometown in Southern Maryland, I always go for the local seafood and crabs are number one on my list. You can get Maryland blue crabs in many forms in Southern Maryland, especially if you find a local restaurant right on the Chesapeake Bay. Here are just a few of the ways to eat a Maryland blue crab:

  • steamed, covered in Old Bay seasoning
  • soft shell, in a bun and smothered in tartar sauce
  • breaded and rolled into a delicious crab ball
  • breaded, patted, and made into a crab cake (with or without a bun)
  • made into a Maryland-style crab soup with spices and tons of comfort!

While all of these methods of eating crab in Southern Maryland are tasty, the traditional way is to eat a bushel of steamed crabs. You can buy them by the bushel in many places in Southern Maryland, with almost all of them serving the crabs with Old Bay seasoning on top. How then do you eat a whole crab, one might ask. Well, there comes the real fun in Maryland blue crabs...the crab pickin'!

If you want to learn how to have your own Maryland blue crab feast, click here. There is a definite art and science to picking crabs that you will only learn from a Marylander.

If you are visiting St. Mary's County or Charles County, MD, you might want to take some time out of your schedule to eat at one or more of the following restaurants:

  • Captain Leonard's Seafood in Mechanicsville, MD
  • Drift Inn in Mechanicsville, MD (their steamed crabs by the bushel are to die for!)
  • Sandgates Inn in Mechanicsville, MD (oysters are amazing)
  • Seabreeze Restaurant and Crab House in Mechanicsville, MD
  • Captain Billy's Crabhouse in Newburg, MD
  • Captain John's Crabhouse in Cobb Island, MD
  • Thompson's Seafood in La Plata, MD
  • Thompson's Restaurant in Port Tobacco, MD

Grilled Oysters
Grilled Oysters | Source

Oysters and Clams

Who doesn't love a good helping of steamed oysters? Southern Maryland is not only known for its Maryland blue crabs, it's also known for its sumptuous oysters and clams.

Whether you like your oysters and clams fried, steamed, grilled, or sauteed, Maryland has a restaurant that serves these mollusks up the right way - your way! Personally, I'm a fan of the raw oysters, did you know that they are an aphrodisiac?

The majority of the restaurants mentioned above in the crab section also sell oysters and clams, so you won't be missing out on these bad boys either.

Stuffed Ham, Baby!

Since I've moved out of Southern Maryland, and every time I mention having a stuffed ham sandwich, not a single person knows what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about a lot of ham and cheese and such on two slices of bread, oh no. I'm talking about a very traditional and very Southern Maryland dish called "stuffed ham" by Southern Maryland locals. If you've never lived in Southern Maryland, you might not know what I'm referring to. But don't worry...I'll educate you on all things stuffed ham...and have you drooling in no time!

Stuffed ham is a home-made ham that has been stuffed with kale and all manner of spices to give it a zing! The ham is then sliced, and along with the kale and spices the ham is put onto two slices of white bread to make delicious Maryland sandwiches. My great grandmother made stuffed ham better than anyone in the state (IMHO) and one of her recipes was even featured in a locally published cookbook.

If you are ever in St. Mary's County, there is a great local restaurant that serves stuffed ham sandwiches located in Charlotte Hall. The name of the restaurant is St. Mary's Landing (they also have AMAZING Maryland blue crabcakes).

Stuffed Ham is a Maryland tradition that surprisingly not many people know about. Check out Old Line Plate's blog on the topic!
Stuffed Ham is a Maryland tradition that surprisingly not many people know about. Check out Old Line Plate's blog on the topic! | Source

What is Scrapple?

Bacon, eggs, and toast make a well-rounded Breakfast almost anywhere, except in Southern Maryland. One important food is missing from this Breakfast menu. Scrapple! Oh, you've never heard of it? Well, you're missing out my friend.

So, what is scrapple exactly? I'm not sure you'd really want to know. Let's just say it's similar to bacon or uses some of the tasty scraps (hence the name scrapple). But don't worry, once you taste this meaty masterpiece on your plate with Breakfast you'll forget its origins in no time. What you will remember is that Maryland is one of the few states that sells scrapple in grocery stores. You can also find it in Pennsylvania and Delaware. To the Amish, it's known as Pannhaas. It was invented by the Amish in the seventeenth century in Pennsylvania and the tradition continues on today. Since Southern Maryland has an Amish community, the region also gets to enjoy the Amish cuisine. There's also an annual scrapple festival in Bridgeville, Delaware, if you are a fan!

You can order scrapple online at gourmet food stores and even on Amazon. Serve scrapple with your eggs and toast and watch your family go nuts for it. How do you cook it? It's pretty easy. It usually comes in a block, you slice it up and pan-fry it just like you would sausage patties.

Scrapple reminds me of my childhood and always brings back memories of Southern Maryland.

Scrapple is served here with pancakes and eggs. It is a staple in Maryland cuisine.
Scrapple is served here with pancakes and eggs. It is a staple in Maryland cuisine. | Source

© 2013 Kitty Fields


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    5 years ago

    The food looks so good! It makes me want to pack my stuff up and travel to eat at one of the suggested Restaurants! Thanks for sharing! Voted up!

  • tebo profile image


    6 years ago from New Zealand

    Lots of great recipe ideas for my meat or seafood eating family. I shall remember to check back here for inspiration.

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 

    6 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Oh stop! Kitty you are making me so hungry! If I could put in my 2 cents, let me suggest crab cakes at Stoney's on Solomon's Island. When I had theirs, I said that I would never eat a crab cake again, all others would pale in comparison. Can't wait to go back and have another!

  • randomcreative profile image

    Rose Clearfield 

    6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    It's hard to appreciate great food as a selling point for a location as a kid, but you're absolutely right that it's one of the best things about Maryland. I agree with Deborah about the crab cakes. My mouth is watering now!

  • phoenix2327 profile image

    Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

    6 years ago from United Kingdom

    This looks awesome. I'd love to try these.

  • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

    Kitty Fields 

    6 years ago from Summerland

    Awww, thanks so much Debbie. Yes, the crabcakes are to die for!

  • Deborah Brooks profile image

    Deborah Brooks Langford 

    6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

    I love Maryland.. its been a while since I have been tjhere.. my favorite thing to eat from Maryland is the crab cakes.. SO GOOD.. I love your hub I am sharing on facebook



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