Food preferences vary wildly, depending on both personal and cultural influences. While many of us like to play it safe, sticking to the conventional dishes, snacks, and sauces we grew up eating, others are adventurous culinary pioneers who dare to push the envelope.
Many of the most beloved food combinations and recipes were once strange and worthy of skepticism from more conventional eaters. Today, pushing the culinary envelope by combining unlikely flavors and textures is a fashionable exploration of haute cuisine.
There’s a whole world of flavors around the globe, with some combinations that you wouldn’t even be able to think of. Food is different everywhere – so, food combinations vary wildly too!
Below, you can explore a long list of weird food combinations that are either longstanding culinary traditions or new fads. You can raise your eyebrow all you’d like while reading about these odd foods, but as your adventurous eater friend would say, “don’t knock it ‘till you try it!”
35 Weird Food Combinations to Try if You Dare
When we mean weird, we mean weird! Perhaps you’ll have hear about some of these combinations we are about to explore, but some will surely serve as inspiration for your next dishes!
If you’re ready to get out of your comfort zone, the following list of 35 weird food combinations is worth trying. Who knows, they could become your culinary norm.
1. Chocolate and Cheese
Chocolate and cheese are some of the most beloved foods around which centuries of culinary practices revolve. Both are the height of richness, creaminess, and decadence.
Pairing the two could either be ingenious or too much of a good thing. Apparently, the combination of chocolate and cheese has started to surface in dishes like chocolate and cheese pizza and cubes of sharp cheddar cheese for dipping in chocolate fondue.
2. Pizza and Ranch Dressing
Pizza and Ranch dressing may sound commonplace to most Americans, but to the rest of the world, it’s an unlikely pairing. Ranch dressing is an American invention and a favorite salad dressing or dipping sauce for crudité, consisting of mayo, buttermilk, onion and garlic powder, and herbs.
Ranch seasoning is a beloved flavoring agent for everything from chips to roasted vegetables. Ranch dressing provides a creamy tang that tastes as delicious on pizza as it does on salads.
3. Popcorn and Hot Sauce
If you’re a spicy food fan, popcorn and hot sauce are worth a try. It’s as normal as butter and popcorn in Mexico, where movie theater condiment stations have canisters of Salsa Valentina to drizzle over tubs of fresh popcorn.
Considering we dip tortilla chips in hot sauce, popcorn is another logical recipient as both are corn-based, crunchy snacks. Hot sauce is also a healthier, fat-free alternative to butter.
4. Grapes and Pimento Stuffed Olives
This weird food combination is one of the strangest yet, but it comes compliments of experienced chefs. That said, most of us can appreciate chasing something sweet with something salty and vice versa.
That’s the idea behind this unlikely pairing. You get a sweet, cold pop of red or green grape, followed immediately by a meaty, umami saltiness with a hint of pepper. If you ensure that the grapes are cold and the olives are at room temperature, you’ll get a nice temperature contrast to boot.
5. Fried Chicken and Waffles
A longstanding Southern tradition, Chicken and Waffles is now a nationwide sensation with novel twists. The classic pairing involves boneless chicken breaded and fried to a golden crisp and placed over an airy and light Belgian-style waffle with plenty of maple syrup or honey drizzled on top.
It’s no wonder this weird food combination has become one of the most popular brunch dishes nationwide. Crunchy, savory chicken over a light, slightly sweet waffle with rich maple syrup is an explosion of complementary textures and flavors.
6. Balsamic Vinegar and Vanilla Ice Cream
While you might be used to pairing balsamic vinegar with olive oil for bread and salads, you’ve probably never considered drizzling balsamic vinegar over vanilla ice cream.
Nevertheless, balsamic has a sweetness to its tartness that blends well with more decadent, fattier ingredients. Vanilla is a rich and unmistakable flavoring agent that’s undoubtedly the most popular ice cream flavor on earth. Its creamy sweetness and aromatic vanilla flavor get a nice tangy pop from the balsamic.
If you want an even fancier adaptation, try balsamic reduction over vanilla ice cream.
7. Marshmallows and Popcorn
Popcorn is a crunchy and corny foundation for numerous flavors. If you’ve ever received a holiday popcorn bin, you’ve probably delighted in cheese, caramel, and butter popcorn varieties.
With cracker jacks, you get caramel corn and nuts. The newest combo to try is marshmallows in your popcorn. The corny, buttery crunch of popcorn interspersed with chewy sweet mini marshmallows is reminiscent of a deconstructed rice crispy treat.
8. Watermelon and Salt
Salt is the most important seasoning agent, and you’ll see it as an ingredient in every recipe, from main dishes to desserts. Salt’s many utilities include complementing flavors, neutralizing sweetness, and bringing out a food’s inherent flavors.
Every dessert recipe calls for a pinch of salt, not to make the dessert salty, but to help accentuate aromatic flavors over an overriding sweetness. This is the case with watermelon and salt. By sprinkling a bit of salt on your watermelon slice, you get a burst of watermelon flavor along with the general sweetness of the fruit.
9. Cheese and Guava Jelly
A popular delicacy in tropical countries like Mexico and Cuba, guava jelly comes from a pungent yet sweet fruit. The jelly itself is less like a spread and more of a fusion between fruit leather and jello.The firm texture and unique guava flavor pair perfectly with a crumbly white cheese like feta. The pairing is a popular finger food appetizer during the holidays. Just top a buttery ritz cracker with a small cube of guava jelly and feta or other type of creamy, salty cheese, and you have a delicious and sophisticated crowd-pleaser.
10. Honey on Pizza
We’re not talking about dessert pizzas, but savory, cheesy meaty pizzas drizzled in honey. If you haven’t tried this weird food combination, you’re missing out! Honey drizzled on pizza is a popular menu item at most Neapolitan pizzerias.
Hot honey, which is honey infused with chili, is incredibly delicious when paired with pepperoni or Italian sausage.
11. Macaroni and Ketchup
Macaroni and cheese is one of the most comforting dishes in America. There’s nothing more comforting than pasta covered in cream and cheese. Embellishment may be unnecessary, but macaroni and cheese have seen their fair share of additives, from lobster to bacon.
Ketchup may not be as fancy as lobster, but it adds a delicious sweet and tangy tomato essence. Think of it as a poor man’s tomato cream sauce.
12. Butter and Sugar Sandwiches
Bread and butter are a match made in culinary heaven, but butter sandwiches? And with sugar no less? This food combination may take a bit of convincing.
That said, butter and sugar are the essential ingredients in all the best desserts. You could toast a thick baguette filled with butter and sugar for a sweet and decadent snack.
13. Peanut Butter and Bacon
Peanut butter is a versatile ingredient that tastes as good in a sweet dish as in a savory one. Its rich and creamy texture and nutty flavor stand up to intense flavors best, whether they’re sweet, savory, spicy, or sour.
Bacon is one of the best examples of savory at its strongest. Thus bacon and peanut butter are a worthy match. Plus, crispy bacon and smooth peanut butter are decadently complementary textures.
14. Mango, Chili, and Lime
Putting spicy powder over sweet fruit may sound like a weird food combination. In Mexico, however, it’s customary to squeeze lime juice over fruit before dusting it with a layer of chili powder.
If you try it, you’ll never want to eat fruit any other way! Chili powder is spicy, lime juice is tangy, and mango is sweet and refreshing. Altogether, chili, lime, and mango are a powerhouse of flavors.
15. Milkshake and French Fries
This all-American combo has been a treasured pairing since the origin of burger stands and dipped cones. Anyone who’s ever ordered a burger, fries, and a milkshake has undoubtedly dipped a fry in their milkshake.The burger chain Wendy’s has even marketed their thick milkshake “Frosties” to be the ultimate pairing for their French fries.
16. Peanut Butter and Sriracha
As mentioned, peanut butter is a nutty, rich, and creamy spread that stands up to any strong flavor you pair it with. Sriracha is a pervasively famous red pepper-based sauce that adds flavor and heat to soups, sauces, salads, and sandwiches.
A blend of sriracha and peanut butter balances the heat with creaminess while still giving you a peppery finish. You could blend the two with a bit of hot water to make a yummy sauce for an Asian noodle salad.
17. Strawberry and Balsamic Vinegar
Just as Mexicans squeeze limes over their fruit, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar over strawberries adds an exciting and elegant acidity. At modern, hip burger joints and ice cream shops, you’ll often see strawberry and balsamic vinegar milkshakes on the menu.
If you want to upgrade this combo, you should spring for balsamic reduction, which acts as a lusciously sweet and tangy syrup for a dainty bowl of strawberries.
18. Beet and Chocolate
Chocolate is inherently bitter while offering a rich, chocolate flavor. In order to achieve the creamy, sweet product we all know and love, chocolate blends with a hefty amount of sugar and milk.
Instead of sugar and milk, beets are a perfect sweetening agent. Plus their earthiness compliments the chocolate flavor. You’ll find countless beet and chocolate cake recipes that attest to the pairing’s compatibility.
19. Avocado and Chocolate
Avocados have become the “it” food over the past few decades, with every restaurant offering some form of avocado-based dish, from avocado toast to guacamole.Avocados are the wealthiest creamiest fruits, with a neutral flavor that lends well to sweet, salty, tangy, or spicy flavors. If you’re avoiding dairy products, or are venturing into the world of veganism and plant based foods, beets are the perfect substitute. It provides a creaminess and heft to a mousse, brownie, or chocolate frosting.
20. Peanut Butter on a Grilled Cheese
This weird food combo pairs two super creamy and rich ingredients, which may sound like a bad idea. It’s not! If you use a sharp, strong-tasting cheese like white cheddar or smokey gouda, peanut butter just adds a layer of creaminess and nuttiness.
Slather on a hefty portion of nutty, all-natural peanut butter to one thick slice of bread before grilling the sandwich for an utterly decadent grilled cheese.
21. Melon and Prosciutto
Leave it to the Italians to invent this famous pairing. Thinly sliced prosciutto is a delicious cut of cured pork, offering the perfect balance of salt and savory. It tastes delicious on a charcuterie board or a pizza, but one of the most common ways to eat it in Italy is over slices of cantaloupe.
The sweet melon flavor provides a delicate and juicy complement to the savory, chewy prosciutto.
22. Berries and Steak
Instead of blue cheese or Bearnaise sauce for your steak, give fruit a try. Fruit and meat isn’t a likely pair, but dark red fruits like berries or pomegranate have become widespread reductions to drizzle over red meat.
Berries and steak are a prime example of why opposites attract. A tangy, sweet, blueberry or pomegranate reduction is a delicious addition to a meaty, savory steak.
23. Potato and Bread
If you want to break your Atkins diet plans, potato and bread are a weird food combination with a lot of potential. Bread and pasta made from potatoes are commonplace (think, potato buns and gnocchi).However, we’re talking about mashed potatoes on bread, almost like a mashed potato sandwich. In Mexico, such a sandwich is a popular street food called a Pambaso, which entails stuffing a white sandwich bun with mashed potatoes, chorizo, and onions, dipping the sandwich in spicy salsa, and frying it on a flat top.
24. Fried Egg and Jam
The origin of some food combinations is baffling, but it’s easy to guess how fried egg and jam became an item. Indeed, a breakfast eater used his jam-covered toast to soak up the remnants of runny eggs and encountered a eureka moment!
Many breakfast sandwich recipes use chili jam or onion jam as the condiment to pair with a fried egg. You could even take it a step further and use strawberry jam with a fried egg for a delightful and savory duo.
25. Cheddar Cheese on Apple Pie
Both cheddar cheese and apple pie are proudly American-born. While at opposite ends of the flavor spectrum, they’re both fixtures in the American diet. Melting a slice of cheddar cheese over apple pie is an old tradition with roots in England.
In the 19th century, melting cheese over apple pie was commonplace in the dairy-producing Midwest and northeast before the invention of freezers brought the possibility of ice cream as the favored accompaniment.
It’s still popular in those regions and makes a lot of sense considering how delicious apple slices and cheddar cheese or roasted apples on a grilled cheese taste.
26. Olive oil and Ice Cream
Swapping chocolate syrup for olive oil over vanilla ice cream is a hard sell, but we’ll try to argue the merits of this unlikely pairing anyway. Both foods are fats, but they have wildly different textures and flavor profiles.
Olive oil is earthy, rich, and viscous while ice cream is creamy, cold, and sweet. The earthiness of olive oil brings out the aromatic flavors of ice cream. They also add a shot of antioxidants.
27. Chili Pepper and Hot Chocolate
Another Mexican pairing that has since garnered pervasive popularity, chili pepper and hot chocolate is a powerful trifecta of sweet, spicy, and savory. You’ll even find artisanal chocolate bars laden with diced dried chilies in supermarkets.
A spicy kick adds complexity to hot chocolate that sets it a cut above the more straightforward sweet kind. If you really want to spice things up, add cinnamon and chili to a milk-based hot chocolate.
28. Peanut Butter and Pickle
Peanut butter and jelly are the classic match made in sandwich heaven, but pickles are a worthy opponent. Whereas peanut butter and jelly are both gooey and mushy spreads that make for a soft, sticky bite, pickles add a crisp crunch that instantly upgrades the sandwich.
The best pickles for a peanut butter and pickle sandwich are butter pickles. They’re crunchy and have a slightly sweeter, less acidic flavor profile. That said, peanut butter’s creaminess stands up well to a sour jam or even a garlicky dill pickle.
29. Cheetos and Milk
Dairy lovers rejoice! If you’ve run out of cereal, try pouring a bag of Cheetos into a bowl of milk. The crunchy Cheetos saturate with creamy milk, while the milk gets infused with the sharp tangy powdered cheese from the Cheetos.
You could even blend Cheetos and milk in a blender and you’d have the equivalent of a cheese sauce for your macaroni or cauliflower.
30. Funyuns and Cream Cheese
Funyuns are a constant fixture in most middle school diets along with hot Cheetos and Mountain Dew. While the other two may fall out of favor by the time we’re adults, funyuns remain delicious. They are essentially the chip version of onion rings.
Their tangy, oniony crunch is the perfect pairing for an equally tangy cream cheese. A clever way to enjoy this weird food combo is to make a cheese ball by rolling balls of cream cheese in funyun crumbles. It tastes like crunchy sour cream and onion dip.
31. Corn and Cheese
Corn and cheese is a beloved pairing in cultures across the globe, even if it may sound weird in North America. Mexican street corn involves drowning kernel corn in cheese, mayo, chili, and lime.
In South Korea, Corn Cheese is a popular side dish for Korean barbecue, consisting of yellow sweet corn and diced veggies fried, and then blended with mayo and mozzarella cheese.
In essence, every time you eat a hard-shelled taco from Taco Bell, you’re consuming a form of corn and cheese.
32. Nutella and Salted Chips
Just as dipping French fries in your ice cream is a beautiful combination, so too is dipping potato chips in Nutella.
It may not be the healthiest snack, but the oily, salty, and earthy potato chips are the best flavor complement to the rich, nutty, chocolatey Nutella. Plus, crunchy chips and creamy dip are the best possible texture pairing.
33. Beans and Brownies
With all the food intolerances and fad diets that have surfaced over the last few decades, people have gotten creative with food substitutes. A case in point is black beans and brownies. We aren’t talking about dumping a can of black beans over baked brownies, but instead using black beans as the key carbohydrate instead of flour.
Black beans have become the secret weapon for extra fudgy, gluten-free brownies. Mashed beans create a fudgy consistency and their neutral flavor is all but masked by the richness of the chocolate.
34. Ketchup and Ranch Dressing
If you’ve ever wondered what they put in the “special sauce” at your local burger joint, the answer is always some blend of ketchup and mayo. Considering ranch dressing is mayo-based, this pairing is logical and a great option to slather over a burger or chicken sandwich.
The sweet and tangy ketchup mixes wonderfully with creamy, herby Ranch dressing.
35. Banana and Bacon
Bacon is a savory, greasy, and crunchy pork product that’s amongst the most beloved meats. Whether it's in bits over a baked potato, wrapped around a piece of shrimp, or eaten in strips at breakfast, it’s an upgrade to any dish.
Bacon-wrapped banana may be a lesser-known pairing, but it’ll soon be a favorite for fancy breakfast finger foods. The savory juices from fried bacon seep into the sweet, starchy banana, creating a triumphant sweet and savory flavor profile. Plus, there’s nothing more luxurious than a crunchy charred crust and a warm, gooey filling.
Whether you’re looking for a new snack, novel meal plan, or need a creative substitute for a missing ingredient, our list of weird food combinations offer surprisingly delicious options. They may sound strange or downright off putting, but that’s how most popular food combinations get their start.