Get to Know Native American Cuisine

December 2016

Diners’ love for cuisines from different cultures, from Italian to Caribbean and Korean, is growing. In addition, patrons are seeking fresh, local ingredients across the menu. To meet the demand for fresh flavors with a unique flair, chefs are beginning to introduce customers to Native American dishes.

While Native American cuisine has been predicted to move to the culinary forefront for a number of years, its popularity has yet to peak. There are more than 500 Native American tribes recognized throughout the U.S., each with different key ingredients and cooking techniques. This can lead to a sense of ambiguity about what diners expect when it comes to Native American foods—but it also opens many culinary possibilities.

Some chefs are using ingredients reminiscent of the ones Native American tribes would have used in their cooking. These include buffalo, elk, caribou, deer, rabbit, turkey, chokeberries, cherries, heirloom squash varieties, puffed white rice, amaranth and corn. Mitsitam, a native foods café, serves dishes such as wild rice baked fritters, sweet red chile and orange rubbed turkey, and sumac-crusted bison tenderloin. Other chefs are using traditional ingredients and dishes as a base for modern-day adaptations, such as fry bread tacos served at Tocabe Native American restaurant.

Whether you’re cooking classic dishes or creating new ones, the philosophy behind Native American cuisine remains the same. It’s about understanding indigenous food systems, foraging, fishing, hunting and stewarding land. Using Butterball turkey in your dishes is a great place to start. That’s because Butterball wouldn’t be the world's largest vertically integrated turkey processor without its network of family-owned farms. Butterball turkeys are raised on family-owned farms, where individual farmers provide the daily care of the animals in accordance with the American Humane Association.

Browse our selection of products to find the perfect pick for your next Native American-inspired dish.


Deruy, Emily. Why Isn’t Native American Food Hip?, The Atlantic, June 2016.

6 ways noncommercial foodservice will change in 2017, FoodService Director, October 2016.

Fitzpatrick, Tara. Chefs revive indigenous cultures through food, Food Management, September 2016.

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