When you think of the letter Z and food, only a few foods are likely to come to mind. Perhaps zucchini or ziti, for instance, pop out instantly. But there are tons of other foods that also start with Z.
There’s the succulent zhaliang, savory zwiebelrostbraten, and sweet zoni, to name a few.
On this list are 51 extraordinary and exotic foods that draw on cultural and traditional tastes. Giving a wide variety of choices, there’s sure to be a new favorite that you have yet to hear of.
51 Foods That Start With Z
On this list are foods from Asia, Europe, the United States, and many more. With all kinds of origins, there is sure to be something new and exciting to give a try.
Zucchini is a popular summer vegetable that is typically cooked. There are a variety of ways to cook zucchini, but it is most often roasted or steamed and paired with chicken, fish, or another main dish.
Zhaliang is a Cantonese dish made by wrapping rice noodle around youtiao (Chinese fried dough). It’s typically eaten with soy sauce, hoisin sauce, or sesame paste and topped with sesame seeds. Zhaliang are both sweet and salty, and chewy and crisp.
Zabaione is an Italian light custard dessert made with egg yolks, sugar, and a sweet wine. It is also sometime a beverage and some versions incorporate spirits instead of wine.
Zingers are a brand of Hostess snack that are common in gas stations around the United States. This dessert snack has a rich, creamy center inside of either a vanilla or chocolate cake, with matching icing on top.
Zwetschkenknödel are German or Austrian plum dumplings typically made with prune plums and a potato-based outer dough. The recipes vary by region, with some recipes using yogurt cheese, cinnamon, and sugar. The final touch is a delicious breadcrumb butter.
Zwieback is a form of rusk or biscuit common in areas of Europe, such as Poland, Germany, Scandinavia, Italy, and more. It originated in East Prussia and is a type of crisp, sweetened bread that is double baked.
Zinnia is a genus of sunflower plants that is part of the daisy family. They are completely edible, though the petals are most used in cuisine. Zinnias are bitter tasting, making them best fit for use as garnish or mixed in with salads.
Zwiebelrostbraten is a dish from Swabian and Austrian cuisine and is considered a typical Viennese dish. Zwiebelrostbraten is a relatively simple dish consisting of roast beef briefly fried in a pan, topped with onions and gravy.
Zeppoli are a crispy Italian deep-fried dough pastry similar to the American doughnut. They are typically small and topped with powdered sugar. Zeppoli have a variety of fillings, including custard, jelly, cannoli-style pastry cream, and butter and honey mixtures.
Zander is a light, delicate fish with few bones that pairs well will a variety of sauces. Often enjoyed grilled, Zander typically pairs best with tartar sauce, ketchup, and lemon-garlic sauce.
Zerde is a Turkish sweet pudding dish made from rice and typically colored yellow with saffron. A popular cultural and traditional dish, zerde is often served at weddings, birthday celebrations, and other festive events.
Zigzag fruit is an eastern Australian vine fruit. Bright orange in color, the zig-zag fruit is best known for its vibrant orange-sherbet flavor and is commonly used to add some zip to a variety of sauces.
Zimtsterne are traditional and popular German Christmas star cookies. Zimtsterne are known for their strong but not overpowering cinnamon taste that is paired with almonds, sugar, and lemon zest. These cookies are easily found at German holiday fairs and cafes.
Zopf is a beautifully shaped bread from Switzerland, Austria, and Bavaria. It is traditionally enjoyed on Sunday at breakfast. The dough is generally made from flour, milk, sour cream, eggs, butter, salt, and yeast, then split into 3 rolls and braided. It is glazed with egg yolk to develop a crisp, golden crust.
Zuccotto is yet another Italian dessert originating in Florence. At its base form, it is a pumpkin–shaped semi-frozen, chilled dish made with cake and ice cream. There are several variants based on region and family recipe, some including brandy.
Zoni is a traditional Japanese soup with mochi rice cakes. It is typically served and eaten over the Japanese New Year holiday period. To accompany the mochi cakes, the soup typically includes kelp, bonito flakes, and naruto.
I’m sure you’ve heard of it before, Ziti is a type of pasta from Italy. Ziti is medium sized, tube-shaped, and used in a variety of dishes. The most popular ziti dish is baked ziti, which is known and eaten around the world.
Also known as “gypsy salad,” Zigeunersalat is popular in Germany and Switzerland. Zigeunersalat is a mix of potatoes, peas, salami, Swiss cheese, and pickles tossed in French dressing. Depending on the region, this lettuce-less salad is then topped with anchovies, tomatoes, and egg.
Zhajiangmian is a signature Chinese dish with special zhajiang sauce served over thick noodles and topped with various vegetables. The sauce is so important that the dish translates as “fried sauce.” Zhajiang sauce is salty and flavorful, made by simmering stir-fried ground pork or beef in a fermented soybean paste.
Zinfandel is a variety of black-skinned wine grape. Typically only used in wine, Zinfandel grapes can also be eaten fresh and their sweet flavor compliments many cheeses. They also go well on salads.
Zours are a specific flavor of Mike and Ike candy. They are similar in shape and taste to the standard Mike and Ikes, but with the added punch of more acidic fruity flavors for that tart pop.
Zrazy is a very popular dish in Eastern Europe, originating from Poland. The dish consists of rolled meat filled with mushrooms, eggs potatoes. After stuffing, the meat is fried in oil and served on a plate or stick.
The flowers are another edible part of the zucchini plant. There are a variety of ways to prepare zucchini flowers, including raw and cooked options. There are fried zucchini blossoms as well as stuffed blossoms.
Zebra cakes are a type of dessert snack made by Little Debbie. They are a yellow cake with a creamy filling, topped with white and chocolate icing in a way that makes them resemble the stripes of a zebra.
Zhangcha Duck, also known as tea-smoked duck, is one of the quintessential dishes of Sichuan cuisine. A major part of cultural cuisine, this dish is typically eaten at during special occasions. Hot smoked over tea and camphor leaves, this marinated duck has a unique flavor that is both smokey and oddly tea-like.
Zereshk Polo is a classic Persian dish made with Zereshk (barberries), chicken, and Polo, Persian steamed rice. This festive dish consists of steamed rice layered with a mix of zereshk berries and fried onion, topped with chicken, and garnished with almonds and/or pistachios.
Also spelled sapote, zapote is a type of Central and South American fruit characterized by a strong malty and sweet flavor. Zapote comes in a range of color and is eaten raw or juiced for beverages.
ZERO Candy Bar
Another candidate that is likely well-known, the ZERO candy bar is a white chocolate delight. With a crisp, milky outer layer and a combination of caramel, peanut, and almond nougat on the inside, this is a perfect gas station treat for any long car ride.
Biltong is a form of dried, cured meat originating from Southern Africa. It is like beef jerky in terms of it being spiced and dried. Zebra biltong is simply biltong made with zebra meat.
Zebra gum, as it is popularly called, is also known by the brand name Fruit Stripe. It is a naturally flavored fruit chewing gum that starts off very strong in flavor and comes in zebra-striped wrapping.
Zwetschge, also known in some areas as sugar plum, is a German variation of the plum, popular primarily in central Europe. It is used as a table decoration, in jams, in desserts, and in chocolate.
Žinčica is a traditional Slovak drink that originated in the mountainous regions. Made from sheep milk whey that is typically a byproduct of making bryndza cheese, it is both sweet and sour in taste.
Zarzuela de Mariscos
Zarzuela de Mariscos is a shellfish stew originating from the Catalan coastal region of Spain. The stew uses shellfish, cured por, ground almond, and an array of spices. The choice in shellfish, spice, and cured pork are at the discretion of the chef, and there are a wide variety of popular variations.
Zhe fruit is a Chinese fruit that is like a mulberry, but not in the same classification. While small, this red fruit is extremely juicy and flavorful. It is popular in several countries and has a number of names.
Zogola is a type of heirloom tomato originating from Poland. They are very meaty and juicy with a well-balanced, complex sweet but earthy flavor. They are excellent for slicing and go well with and in many dishes.
Zotz are a type of fizzy candy inspired by candy from Italy. Originating from the phrase “Don’t give me the Zotz,” the candies come in a variety of flavors, such as cherry, blue raspberry, grape, apple, watermelon, orange, and strawberry.
Another Italian dessert on this list, Zuppa Inglese is made by layering custard and sponge cake, typically pink or with strawberries in it. There are tons of variations in terms of flavoring and toppings. The dish is somewhere between a tiramisu and a trifle.
Zuppa di Ceci e Castagne
Zuppa di Ceci e Castagne is a creamy, vegan, and gluten-free soup, traditional in regions of Central Italy. It is a chickpea chestnut soup made with rosemary and sage as flavor enhancers. This soup is great for any cool evening.
Zupa Szczawiowa, also known as Sorrel Soup, is a type of soup made from water or broth, sorrel leaves, and salt. Simplistic and delicious, there are a lot of variations available that include spinach, orache, chard, nettle, dandelion, and more.
Also known simply as zong or rice dumplings, zongzi is a traditional Chinese rice dish. It is made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves. The dish is similar in shape and idea with the more well-known Japanese onigiri.
Also known as sour bread soup or cereal soup, zurek is a West Slavic dish. The soup uses fermented cereals, most commonly rye, wheat, or oatmeal alongside meat, typically pork.
Zheng Jiao are a type of Chinese steamed dumpling. They are delicate in design, with translucent wrappings covering minced meat, usually pork or shrimp, and vegetables. Zeng Jiao are typically and traditionally steamed in a bamboo round.
Zacuscă is a vegetable spread popular in Romania and Moldova. It is made primarily from roasted eggplant and red peppers. Zacuscă is typically spread on bread or as a relish for meats.
Zarangollo is a common, flavorful egg dish from Spain, specifically the Murcian countryside. The dish consists of scrambled eggs, zucchini, onion, and sometimes potatoes. Ingredients are sliced finely, fried in olive oil, and then mixed with the eggs to cook.
Also known as Polish pizza, zapiekanka is a common street food. The toasted open-face sandwich uses sliced baguette or long roll bread as a base and is typically topped with sauteed white mushrooms, cheese, and sometimes meats, such as ham or sausage. Zapiekanka is served hot with ketchup.
Zakuski are traditional Russian hors d’oeuvres and a major part of Russian food culture. Served at gatherings large and small, zakuski consist of smoked fish, caviar, cured meats, salads, and cheeses, to name a handful.
Perhaps another obvious contender on the list, zest is a great way to achieve a well-rounded tart flavor. Typically made from the rinds of lemon or limes, zest is used in a number of dessert dishes to create a light, airy flavor.
Zagorski Štrukli is a popular traditional Croatian dish, especially around the northern regions. It can be either boiled or baked and is a dough stuffed with various fillings, a common choice being cottage cheese.
Zhi Hun Gen
Zhi Hun Gen is a tapioca noodle cuisine. The recipe typically includes ingredients like garlic, chives, bean sprouts, dried shrimp, minced pork, sesame oil, pork lard, and of course, tapioca noodles. The noodles are caramelized during cooking to give them a nice, sweet flavor.
Zaalouk is a Moroccan salad of cooked eggplant and tomatoes. The eggplant is grilled first, then combined with the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and spices of choice. It is a common side dish for many meals and usually served with bread for dipping.
Zaotang, or “candy for the Kitchen God,” is a maltose candy from China used as a sacrifice to the kitchen god shortly before Chinese New Year. The candy is basically made from a sugar paste of millet, rice, corn, or barley.
Now that we are at the end, I hope you have found something new to try next time at dinner or out at the restaurant. Perhaps it was zarangollo that stood out to you, or maybe zuppa inglese. Whatever it was, happy eating!