Unique Alaska dishes that every visitor should try

Alaska foods to try - salmon candy - roamilicious

Alaska, the Last Frontier, is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and rugged wilderness, but it’s also a hidden gem for unique and delectable foods. From the wild bounty of the sea to the hearty fare needed to withstand the cold winters, Alaskan cuisine offers a culinary adventure like no other. When I visited, I had no idea there were special foods to try. I simply Here’s a guide to some of the most unique and must-try foods you can find in this northern paradise.

Reindeer Sausage (found all throughout Alaska)

Reindeer Sausage is a must-try in Alaska

A quintessential Alaskan delicacy, reindeer sausage is a savory treat that combines the rich, gamey flavor of reindeer meat with spices to create a robust and satisfying sausage. It’s commonly enjoyed in breakfast dishes. You will see it on lots of restaurant menus throughout Alaska. It was on the breakfast menu at the Talkeetna Alaska Lodge and I tried there as well as on the Alaska Railroad where is was served alongside a blueberry bread pudding. I found the taste and texture to be similar to what I’ve tasted as “regular” sausage. Both times if I had not known it was Reindeer sausage I would have been none the wiser. But here’s a good thing about Reindeer sausage: The meat is leaner than traditional pork or beef sausage, making it a healthier option without compromising on flavor.

Fireweed Ice Cream

Fireweed, a vibrant magenta flower that blankets the Alaskan landscape in summer, is transformed into a deliciously unique ice cream flavor. Fireweed ice cream has a subtle, sweet taste reminiscent of honey with a hint of floral notes. I had a sample when I was visiting the small town of Talkeetna and it was lovely. To me, it tasted like a cross between ice cream and sorbet. The bright berry flavor came through, but it wasn’t as sweet or creamy as traditional ice cream. Shirley’s was a cute little stand with the kindest people there! This frozen treat captures the essence of Alaskan summer and is a perfect way to cool down after a day of exploring. I would love to have some other dishes with fireweed, especially savory dishes.

Birch Syrup (prevalent in Alaska)

Move over maple syrup—Alaska’s birch syrup is a game-changer. The rare syrup has plenty of health benefits that are not found in its sister syrup, Maple.

Birch syrup is:

  • Loaded with antioxidants
  • Lower on the glycemic index (especially good for those watching sugar intake)
  • Full of minerals that support bone health and the immune system

Harvested from the sap of birch trees in the spring, birch syrup has a distinctively rich, caramel-like flavor with a hint of spiciness. I got to taste a sample of the early, mid and late harvest and as the season progresses the syrup gets more tangy. I did find it to be far less sweet than maple, so if you love sweet things, this may not be for you.

Birch syrup is costly but has plenty of uses

Unlike Maple syrup, Birch syrup is used to make all kinds of items like jams, mustards, ketchup and even used in their very own Birch syrup water. Because Birch syrup yields far less than maple syrup during its harvest (only about 1,000 gallons are produced a year), it is quite pricey.

The good news is that it takes far less of it, for use in dishes. It’s more robust than maple syrup and is perfect for drizzling over pancakes, glazing meats, or adding a unique twist to your baking. Many Alaska chefs are using it in their dishes.

Salmon Candy (great Alaska souvenir)

Alaska is famed for its salmon, and salmon candy is a delightful twist on this local staple. Made by smoking strips of salmon and then glazing them with a sweet syrup, often maple or birch, the result is a chewy, smoky, sweet, and savory treat. Salmon candy makes for an excellent snack and a perfect souvenir to bring home.

King Crab

No culinary tour of Alaska would be complete without indulging in some fresh Alaskan king crab. These enormous crabs are prized for their sweet, tender meat and are often served steamed or boiled with melted butter. The experience of cracking open the large claws and savoring the rich meat is a must-do for any seafood lover. If you love crab, then you’ve gotta get some when you are in Alaska.

Eskimo Ice Cream (Akutaq)

Eskimo ice cream, known locally as Akutaq, is a traditional dish that has been enjoyed by Alaska Natives for generations. Traditionally made with animal fat, berries, and sometimes fish, modern versions often use Crisco or other fats combined with sugar and berries. This unique dish offers a taste of the cultural heritage and resourcefulness of Alaska’s Indigenous peoples.

Easy Recipe for Eskimo Ice Cream (Akutaq)

Eskimo ice cream, known locally as Akutaq, is a traditional Alaskan dessert that has been enjoyed by Indigenous communities for generations. Modern adaptations of this dish are simpler to make at home. Here’s an easy recipe for a delicious and authentic-tasting Eskimo ice cream.

Eskimo Ice Cream Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shortening (Crisco is commonly used)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 cups berries (traditionally cloudberries or salmonberries, but you can use blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries)
  • Optional: 1 cup cooked and flaked white fish (for a traditional touch)

Instructions for making Eskimo Ice Cream:

  1. Prepare the Ingredients:
    • If using fresh berries, wash and dry them thoroughly. If using frozen berries, thaw and drain them.
  2. Mix Shortening and Water:
    • In a large mixing bowl, beat the shortening with an electric mixer until it becomes light and fluffy.
    • Gradually add the water while continuing to mix until the mixture is well combined and has a creamy texture.
  3. Add Sugar:
    • Slowly add the sugar to the mixture, beating continuously until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
  4. Fold in Berries:
    • Gently fold the berries into the mixture using a spatula. If you want to add a traditional touch, fold in the flaked white fish at this stage as well.
  5. Chill and Serve:
    • Place the mixture in the refrigerator and let it chill for at least 1 hour before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and the texture to firm up.
  6. Enjoy:
    • Serve the Eskimo ice cream in bowls and enjoy this unique Alaskan treat!


  • Berry Selection: While cloudberries and salmonberries are traditional, any berries you prefer or have on hand will work well.
  • Texture Variation: If you prefer a smoother texture, you can lightly mash the berries before folding them into the mixture.
  • Serving Suggestions: Eskimo ice cream can be enjoyed on its own or with a sprinkle of additional fresh berries on top.

Devil’s Club Tea (found in the wild Alaska wilderness)

Devil’s club is a spiny, shrub-like plant found in the Alaskan wilderness. Despite its intimidating appearance, the inner bark and roots of devil’s club are used to make a medicinal tea known for its purported health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties. The tea has a unique, earthy flavor and is often sweetened with honey or paired with other herbs.

Beach Asparagus (Alaska coastline)

Beach asparagus, also known as sea beans or samphire, is a salty, crunchy vegetable found along the coastlines of Alaska. It’s often foraged in the summer and used in salads, pickled, or sautéed as a side dish. Its natural salinity makes it a perfect complement to seafood dishes.


Alaska’s unique foods reflect its diverse ecosystems and rich cultural heritage. From the savory bite of reindeer sausage to the sweet and floral fireweed ice cream, and the robust birch syrup, each bite is a testament to the state’s natural abundance and culinary creativity. Whether you’re a foodie looking for your next adventure or a traveler wanting to savor the local flavors, Alaska’s unique foods are sure to leave a lasting impression. So, pack your bags and bring your appetite for an unforgettable Alaskan culinary journey!

About the author

Malika Bowling

Malika is the author of several books including Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! and the founder of Roamilicious. She is also a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant. Follow us @Roamilicious on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for the content not shared on the blog. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter (subscribe box below) and never miss a contest, giveaway or the latest must visit restaurant!