Sometimes there’s nothing better than just eating your feelings and indulging in some favorite comfort food. Everyone has their special pick-me-up meal, usually full of carbs, butter, and some cheese.
Those comfort foods are like a warm hug, self-care in on a plate - they can take us back to a pleasant memory and away from our troubles. Food is a common denominator that brings us comfort during stressful times no matter what part of the world we come from.
Comfort food seems to be the same yet different all over the world. Even though it’s usually something not-so-healthy and typically high in calories, go-to comfort food recipes vary from country to country, region to region, and even city to city.
The comfort food concept is timeless; it’s that combination of taste and nostalgia that makes us crave a bowl of macaroni and cheese, a hearty warm soup accompanied by a sandwich, a slice of pizza or pie.
While moderation is key and we shouldn’t indulge every single day, bringing variety to your comforting Friday night dinners or weekend lunches is a must. What is a better way to go on a culinary adventure without leaving your kitchen than trying some comfort food recipes from around the world?
Eat your way around the world and explore delicious comfort recipes from around the world, starting here. From Singaporean laksa and Filipino chicken adobo to Hungarian goulash and Canadian poutine - find the most delicious and easy-to-make recipes that are guaranteed to hit the spot every single time.
According to Luisa Tam of SCMP: “As comfort foods go, Chinese congee has no equal. It is the food of love, health, home, and the number one mood lifter. Whether you’re sad, lonely, ill, homesick, or just want to share the love, a bowl of congee is the way to go”.
Silky and flavorful rice porridge is the Asian version of chicken soup - it cures everything from a cold to a heartbreak. Congee is a perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s a humble dish that is easy to make and impossible not to fall in love with. Try it yourself!
Recently congee got even more international recognition - it was the main star in the breakfast scene of Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” This General Tso’s chicken in the takeout containers representing Chinese food in film.
The sweet aromatic paprika spice symbolizes Hungarian cuisine and is essential in many beloved Hungarian comfort foods. The word “Paprikash” means paprika in Hungarian and is representative of many hearty stew-like dishes made with meat, onion, paprika, and sour cream.
Traditionally Chicken Paprikash is made without tomatoes and gets all its rich red hues from paprika. It is usually served over dumplings or egg noodles, making it a fantastic comforting meal. Try this Chicken paprikash recipe with roasted garlic.
This humble yet hearty dish made of ground meat cooked in gravy, onions, carrots, celery, and a mashed potato crust is a slam dunk for a cold day when you’re craving to get some comfort from food.
This Shepherd’s Pie recipe is incredibly satisfying, combining the flavors of beef cooked with Worcestershire sauce, Guinness, mixed spices and herbs, and some extra texture from sharp Cheddar cheese.
The American version of dumplings is different from what some may call dumplings in China, Poland, and some other countries. American dumplings are usually pieces of unfilled dough added to sweet or savory dishes.
And Chicken and Dumplings dish has been a staple of Southern cuisine since the mid-1800s. It’s been recognized as one of the most delicious comfort foods the American South has to offer and even has a line dedicated to it in the famous folk classic “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain.” Have some chicken and dumplings yourself and see what all the fuss is about.
The stir-fried noodle dish cooked with Thai spices, tamarind, and palm sugar has long become one of the most popular comfort foods worldwide. It has a fascinating history, created by a military officer who wanted to invent a national dish that brought the nation together and symbolized love for the country.
Our beloved Pad Thai got most of its popularity during WW2 when Thailand was experiencing rice shortages, and people were encouraged to eat rice noodles instead.
Use this easy Pad Thai recipe whenever you’re craving some rice noodles stir-fried in a sweet and tangy sauce with shrimp, tofu, and fresh bean sprouts.
Goulash is a Hungarian National dish, but it has become so popular (rightfully so) that it’s been adapted and personalized by many cultures, including Russia.
Russian-style Beef Goulash is less of a stew and more of a thick sauce with tender and succulent chunks of beef, onions, carrots, and garlic. It is traditionally served over mashed potatoes or noodles.
If we get technical (as in completely nerd out on mac and cheese origin), then according to the Smithsonian, the exact origin of this now American staple is unknown. The first-ever recipe dates back to 1769.
Americans, however, have to thank Thomas Jefferson. While visiting France, he fell in love with the dish and brought the fashionable macaroni and cheese to the United States. In 1802 the president even served it at a state dinner.
Let’s be real, mac and cheese is such an iconic comfort food even the lactose intolerant can’t resist it. If you want to have mac and cheese that will change your life (no jokes, it’s that good), then try this recipe right here.
The secret is homemade roux and your own cheese sauce from Bechamel. Crab is optional, but it sure makes this mac and cheese extra delicious.
Pozole is a Mexican-style stew that can be found in three signature colors, each corresponding to the color on Mexico’s flag - Rojo (red), Verde (green), and Blanco (white). This hearty Mexican stew is pre-Hispanic in origin and has been praised by many Spanish conquistadors simply because it’s delicious.
All of the pozoles contain some kind of meat and hominy kernels. Pozole Verde usually has tomatillos, jalapeños, and cilantro. It’s comfort food at its best - green pozole is like a warm hug in a bowl!
If you don’t have any hominy kernels laying around but still crave this delicious stew, pozole Verde tastes just as delicious with chickpeas.
The world seems divided on poutine - people either love it or have a strong aversion to this Québécois dish made of fresh-cut french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It first appeared in 1950s rural Quebec, and these days you can find it everywhere in Canada - from fine dining menus to fast-food chains like McDonald’s.
What can’t be contested though, is that poutine has become iconic comfort food for many. It used to be served as a late-night snack at clubs in New York and New Jersey in the 1970s by the name of “disco fries.”
There is only one way to find out where you stand on the poutine controversy - try it.
Chicken Adobo is the unofficial national dish of the Philippines; it was even featured on T-shirts that read “Got Adobo?” similar to the famous “Got Milk” campaign. Adobo can be made using pantry staples like vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and vegetable oil.
The word “adobo” means “to marinate” in Spanish (adobar). The chicken is usually marinated in the spices overnight and then simmered to perfection in the same mixture. No Filipino Adobo recipe is the same; every family cooks the dish slightly differently.
It’s beloved comfort food, a Filipino household staple, and a favorite dish of many international visitors. Try making chicken adobo at home using this simple recipe. But feel free to tweak it anyway you’d like. Your Adobo, your rules.
Cacio e Pepe (pronounced ca-cho ee pepe) is one of the most ancient dishes of Italian cuisine. Some call it Italian Mac and Cheese (more sophisticated and elegant). “Cacio e Pepe” literally means “cheese and pepper” in Italian - it’s a simple and delicious dish.
At one point, Cacio e Pepe became a social media sensation. That’s the famous pasta that was theatrically tossed in a wheel of pecorino cheese and served hot on the spot. The traditional recipe is extremely basic for both the ingredients and the cooking technique.
You can easily make this Italian comfort food staple dish in some fifteen minutes using only four ingredients, not counting water and salt.
Laksa is a very popular noodle dish from Maritime Southeast Asia. And while every country has different ways to make it and argue where it came from, everybody agrees that laksa is absolutely delicious. Warm, spicy, and full of flavor, everyone must try this comfort food dish.
In Singapore, Laksa has become a true signature dish, especially the one from the Katong neighborhood where the now legendary “328 Katong Laksa” restaurant is located.
The humble laksa place gained international fame in 2013 after one of the owners schooled celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey after winning a laksa cook-off as part of the 2013 Hawker Hero Challenge.
Ramsey’s team went against 328 Laksa, cooking 1,000 portions of the dish and lost by 19%, making 328 Laksa the best laksa makers in the world. After accepting the win, Mr. Ryan Kor of 328 Laksa said: “If Ramsey had more time and experience, perhaps he would have been the better cook.”
If you can’t plan a trip to Singapore right now but want to know what the famous seafood laksa tastes like, use this recipe and make it yourself.
The popular Louisiana dish has its origins in West Africa. Historians say that one can learn a lot by studying a bowl of gumbo - the Cajun comfort food dish that combines European, Native American, and West African cultures.
Gumbo is an aromatic, well-seasoned stew with okra as a thickener, meat or shellfish, and the Creole “holy trinity” celery, onions, and bell peppers. Gumbo is one of those comforting meals that always hits the spot.
Fish and Chips are an absolute comfort food staple for every Brit. With both Lancashire and London claiming to be the original creators of the special meal, fish and chips can be traced back to 15th Century Portugal. Whoever was first doesn’t matter, though.
All we need to know is that fish and chips taste superb - juicy fish fillets covered in mouth-watering crunchy batter with a side of thick-cut fries! If that’s not excellent comfort food, then what is?
Of course, we know that pizza is the most Italian dish out there, but Pepperoni Pizza is a purely Italian-American invention you wouldn’t find in Italy.
Pepperoni is America’s number one favorite pizza topping; it’s ubiquitous. There are many toppings to choose from, but none are as iconic as pepperoni. Pepperoni pizza is the ultimate comfort food, always there for us when we want a slice of satisfying pizza. Pepperoni pizza can stir up nostalgia like no other!
Make your pepperoni pizza from scratch next time you crave some cheesy goodness!
Khichdi is a rice and mung bean or lentils dish every Indian grew up eating. It is the one dish on our list that has been scientifically proven to be comfort food and can lift you up almost immediately. Khichdi is a powerhouse of vitamins, nutrients, and good carbs.
Khidchi is always made when someone is not feeling well; it is a staple in every Indian household. Try it for yourself, and you will understand why - it’s wholesome, nutritious, and delicious.
French onion soup is an incredibly delicious and comforting dish made of caramelized onions, beef, or chicken stock, served with crunchy toasted bread and gooey melted cheese. This soup is decadently rich and flavorful and is one of the go-to comfort foods not only in France but worldwide.
The legend is that King Louis XV invented this famous French soup out of necessity. As he was spending time in his hunting lodge, the king got hungry and could only find a few basic ingredients in the pantry - butter, onions, and champagne. Having to work with what he had at hand, the French king created the first French onion soup.
In France, this soup is also known as a hangover cure. It’s time you check if it really works.
Poland’s most loved dish everyone must try - pierogi (pronounced pih-roh-ghee) is the very definition of comfort food. This savory, buttery dumpling variety comes baked, fried, or boiled and has dozens of different fillings to choose from.
Versions of this dish can be found throughout Eastern Europe, each having a slightly different spelling. Once you try pierogi, you won’t be able to get enough of these moreish snacks.
Okonomiyaki is loved by Japanese people, foreign visitors, and even those who usually don’t enjoy Japanese food. It literally translates to “grilled as you like” and can be quickly made using cabbage and whatever other ingredients you like or simply have available.
You can find okonomiyaki on restaurant menus, at street food stalls, and at everyone’s home; this Japanese savory pancake can please absolutely everyone.
Jollof rice is an iconic West African comfort food. It is the most common dish found in every West African country, from Nigeria and Ghana to Ivory Coast and Liberia. Every country has a take on this delicious and affordable rice dish. And similar to Filipino chicken adobo, each family likes their jollof rice to be a certain way.
Jollof Rice originated in the ancient Wolof Empire (aka Jolof Empire) in the 1300s. The region was famous for rice farming, and as the empire grew bigger, so did their renowned rice dish.
While jollof rice may use slightly different ingredients depending on the country, the unique spice mix and the sweet onions are essential for this dish.
Banh Mi Sandwich has been repeatedly named the king of sandwiches. This iconic Vietnamese sandwich served in a baguette with a mix of meat and vegetables is an essential part of Vietnamese cuisine. It can probably even compete with Pho in popularity.
It was inspired by a French dish, “casse-croute” - a baguette served with a plate of cold cuts, pate, cheese, and butter. Many Vietnamese couldn’t afford the expensive cold cuts and cheese and modified the dish using more local ingredients.
The famous Banh Mi sandwich was invented in Saigon by a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Le, in the late 1950s. They were the first to put all the ingredients together and make the sandwich an easy on-the-go breakfast. The Le family still runs a small restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon) called Banh Mi Hoa Ma.
The Banh Mi Sandwich is a beloved comfort food in Vietnam and worldwide. It is a must-have if you haven’t tried it before.
Meatballs have over twenty varieties around the world, but Meatballs and Gravy is beloved comfort dish in Sweden (even Ikea serves them).
You might be surprised to learn that the famous Swedish meatball actually came from Turkey. In the early 18th century, Swedish King Charles XII fled to the Ottoman Empire after his disastrous invasion of Russia, resulting in the complete collapse of the Swedish armies. Once the king returned to Sweden, he brought the now-iconic dish to the Scandinavian country.