Food makes the world go round. It gives us the energy we need to live our lives, it cheers us up when we’re down, and it brings us closer together as people. Whether it’s a date at a Michelin Star restaurant or a family dinner at grandma’s for her famous meatballs, food is what unites us.
Though there’s some dispute over when humans started to cook, early advancements in cooking played a huge part in our evolution into who we are as humans today.
We’ve come a long way from hunter-gatherers cooking meat over an open flame. Now, we have seemingly infinite tools and techniques for preparing food; from our sharp knives to our sous vides, we are capable of creating dishes far beyond what our ancestors could have imagined.
With these advancements comes a huge level of pride in our food. While our favorite dishes vary wildly from country to country and culture to culture, we all love to share what we’re cooking and eating with the world. It could be a five-course meal that we’ve spent hours preparing or a takeout pizza, an elaborate ramen or a late-night kebab; either way, we’ll probably be tempted to snap a quick picture for social media before we dig in.
The vibrant colors and mouth-watering textures of our favorite dishes can truly make for some stunning images, which is likely a huge part of the reason why food photographers are so at risk of having their pictures stolen. But which foods are the most photogenic? Which countries like to show off their favorite foods the most? We decided to put it to the test and find out.
What is the most Instagrammable National Dish?
To discover which national dish is the most photographed, we analyzed Instagram hashtag data for over 300 national dishes from around the world, to decipher which ones inspire people to post their meals to Instagram the most.
Check out the results below and find out if your favorite dish cuts the mustard.
The Most Instagrammed National Dish – By Total Number of Posts
- Pizza, Italy – 57,895,528 posts
- Sushi, Japan – 31,520,383 posts
- Pasta, Italy – 28,826,539 posts
- Taco, Mexico – 14,790,667 posts
- Ramen, Japan – 12,288,288 posts
- Macaron, France – 8,765,088 posts
- Hot Dog, USA – 6,918,462 posts
- Hamburger, USA – 6,631,506 posts
- Crêpe, France – 5,911,743 posts
- Sashimi, Japan – 5,041,292 posts
- Poke, Hawai’i – 3,794,364 posts
- Paella, Spain – 3,453,193 posts
- Lasagne, Italy – 3,315,659 posts
- Dim Sum, Hong Kong – 3,239,235 posts
- Mac ‘n’ Cheese, USA – 3,167,747 posts
- Asado, Argentina – 3,121,260 posts
- Phở, Vietnam – 2,976,869 posts
- Empanada, Chile – 2,857,612 posts
- Ceviche, Peru – 2,718,277 posts
- Tumpeng, Indonesia – 2,566,421 posts
Pizza – The Most Instagrammable National Dish
Pizza. We all know it, we all love it. Evolving from the topped flatbreads often eaten by the ancient Romans, what we know as pizza today is said to have been invented in Naples in the 18th century.
Since then, it has become a weekly favorite in many modern homes. It is a dish with limitless possibilities; it can be traditional Neapolitan with a thin crust, a New York-style slice, or a mega-cheesy Chicago deep dish.
A pizza can be finished with just about any topping you can think of, from the traditional basil topping of a margarita to the much-debated pineapple on top of a Hawaiian pizza.
With so many available combinations and passionate opinions on this revered dinner, it’s no wonder that pizza is the most Instagrammed national dish.
The Top 20 Most Photographed National Dishes
Coming in second place with over 30 million Instagram posts is a dish that’s synonymous with its home country – sushi from Japan.
Made from rice prepared with vinegar, sushi is topped with a huge variety of ingredients, including vegetables and seafood, and served with soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi as accompaniments. Its vivid appearance and unique presentation make it extremely attractive for people to look at, even if they aren’t personally a fan of eating raw fish.
Japan and Italy both fare particularly well, each with multiple dishes in the rankings. Both countries are respected foodie destinations, so it comes as no surprise that their national dishes are photographed and shared online so frequently.
In third place, we have pasta from Italy with over 28 million total posts, and Italian favorite lasagne is also represented at number 13. Japanese ramen and sashimi place in fifth and 10th respectively, amassing a huge 17,329,580 combined posts.
It’s not only savory dishes that found their way into the top 20, so hopefully, you’ve left room for dessert. French macarons nab the sixth spot, inspiring a total of 8.5 million posts across related image hashtags. No trip to Paris would be complete without trying these tasty filled cookies, and with their adorable shape and fashionable pastel colors, it’s easy to see why they are a welcome addition to any Instagram feed. If you are sharing your delicious macarons to your feed, make sure you know how to find a stolen image online, as these highly aesthetically pleasing goodies may be just as tempting to an image thief as they are to your taste buds.
France sees another victorious dessert in the top 20 most Instagrammable national dishes, with crêpes coming in ninth place. These delicious, paper-thin pancakes are a street food staple found in markets the world over, and can be topped with any number of sweet treats from sugar to fresh fruit and Nutella.
Another country that sees multiple entries in the rankings is the USA. As a nation known for our indulgent food and large portion sizes, it’s no surprise to see some of America’s finest exports here on the list.
The most Instagrammed American food
Hot dogs, hamburgers, and mac ‘n’ cheese are about as American as it gets, and these three dishes have spread across the world through American fast-food franchises and the global influence of US popular culture.
With over 16 million posts between them, it’s clear that Americans’ taste in food is echoed across Instagram feeds and nations all across the globe. In fact, you might even say that our tastes have influenced the rest of the rankings too; the number one spot, pizza, is an American favorite, and there will no doubt have been plenty of pizza pics taken by Americans which contributed to its chart-topping ranking. The same goes for tacos, a staple in Mexican cuisine that stands at number four in the rankings. The centerpiece of 14.5 million Instagram posts, tacos are another American favorite, and there’s no doubt that taco fans in Los Angeles, Austin, and New York will have contributed to its victory.
One US state that deserves its own mention is Hawaii, which claimed the 11th position with its national dish. Poke consists of diced raw fish, marinated and served over rice. This colorful dish has been one of the biggest food trends of the last few years, with new poke bowl spots popping up constantly. Its inviting presentation has likely contributed to the dish’s growing popularity and earned it an enormous 3,794,364 Instagram posts across relevant image hashtags included in this research.
Another fish dish that has found its way into the top 20 is ceviche, the national dish of Peru. While it starts off as raw fish, much like poke and sushi, it is then cured in citrus juice (often lemon or lime) which “cooks” the fish. The fish is then seasoned with salt and spices to give us ceviche.
Ceviche isn’t the only entry from South America, however. We have Chilean enchiladas just beating Peruvian ceviche, with 2,857,612 posts.
Asado from Argentina is the subject of 3,121,260 Instagram posts. While asado technically refers to the grilled meats the meal consists of, an asado is also a social event that brings Argentinian families together. Much like a Mexican carne asada, or an Australian barbecue, asado is just as much about the shared experience of preparing the meal as it is about the tender meat itself.
Heading across to the continent of Asia, we have some delicious entries to rival Japan’s ramen, sushi, and sashimi. Tumpeng, the Indonesian rice dish, is the last in the top 20, but it’s certainly not unpopular – its striking conical shape has been documented on Instagram over 2.5 million times across hashtags included in this research.
Meanwhile, Dim Sum, a mainstay of Hong Kong cuisine, garnered over three million Instagram posts. Composed of bite-sized portions of various dumplings, steamed buns, and wontons, this Asian staple is as enjoyable to look at as it is to eat.
Elsewhere in Asia, Vietnamese phở (much like Japanese ramen) is a soup dish that is made of noodles, broth, meat, and herbs. With changing versions and styles available across different Vietnamese cities, phở provides plentiful sustenance to both photographers and hungry bellies.
So there you have it – the most Instagrammed national dishes of the moment. From America to Asia, from crêpes to ceviche, a single slice or a whole pie, we are obviously very proud of our national foods.
If you’d like to start documenting your every bite and helping your favorite climb up the ranks for next time, read on for some food photography tips to help get you started.
How to Photograph Food Well
Food photography can be notoriously difficult, but that doesn’t mean you need to rush out and buy the world’s most expensive camera.
One of the most important tips for photographing food is choosing the perfect angle. This should be suited to whatever dish you’re photographing; while your pizza may look amazing from a bird’s eye view, sushi shot from the top down will look incomplete. Make sure to try a few angles and find out which one really showcases your dish and its main ingredients.
This goes for your set dressing too. A simple white plate on a plain tabletop may make a small fine-dining plate look heavenly, but it might be too boring for a cute bunch of cupcakes.
Try not to use a flash when photographing food, as this can create unappealing shadows which get in the way of showing off the food’s natural texture. Instead, make sure your lighting is on point to avoid the need for a flash entirely. Natural light is always best, but if you can’t rely on good natural light, then artificial light diffused through a softbox will certainly do the trick.
If you’re developing a real talent for food photography, make sure your images are protected from theft. Brush up on image copyright laws, so that you know what to do if your perfect shot of your homemade sushi is stolen by a brand or a rival food blogger.
Next, take a look at our research exploring the world’s most photographed skylines.
Pixsy researched various national dishes from countries across the world to draw up an initial list. We then searched relevant hashtags on Instagram (such as #poke, #pokebowl, and #hawaiianpoke), and pulled the total number of posts with each hashtag assigned to it.
This data was gathered in September 2021, with the figures accurate at the time of research.
Fair Use Statement
Do you think your audience would like to hear about this research? If so, feel free to share the information on your website or social media accounts, and please credit with a link back to this page so they can easily access the original research in full.
Permission to use these images of skylines on the Pixsy site has been granted by the original photographers. If you would also like to use these photos on your website, you should contact the photographers directly to seek authorization to do so.