Which Country's Cuisine is the Most Popular?

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Header graphic that says "Ambassador Cruise Line discovers which country's cuisine is the most popular?'

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” - James Beard

There are so many aspects that make up a culture, however, you could argue that there is nothing more significant in each place’s culture than its cuisine. Sharing a lifestyle with the world (fast paced or slow and steady), the natural landscape (from seafood at coastal destinations to preserved ingredients in colder climes), the history of a place (the impact of cultural migrations, for example) and much, much more. Each area’s cuisine is as unique as each human’s fingerprint, and it doesn’t just change between countries but regions, cities and towns too.

Thanks to modern travel, however, cuisine has gone global. No longer do we only have the local offerings available, but we can experience dishes native to other parts of the world in our own homes. Plus, as we adventure far and wide, we fall in love with new tastes, flavours and cooking techniques and bring them back with us.

But which cuisine is the most popular around the world? What dishes transcend borders and oceans and are the most talked about, the most searched for, and the most loved?

To find out, we analysed the online world to uncover which of the world’s cuisines is the most popular, find out more about how we came to a conclusion further down the article.

Here’s what we found…

  • Chinese is the world’s most popular cuisine, dominating half of the categories
  • Italian, Indian, Japanese and Mexican came second through to fifth
  • Korean cuisine is the most popular cuisine shared on TikTok
  • Emirati cuisine is currently the most undiscovered option

Ambassador Cruise Line reveals which country's cruise line is the most popular

Chinese is the world’s most popular cuisine

Coming out on top as the world’s most popular cuisine is Chinese. Dominating across the board, Chinese food is the most Googled and the most hashtagged on Instagram. Following that, it was the second-most popular according to YouGov survey data and the second-most viewed on TikTok.

The foundation of Chinese culture is food and a common greeting in China is ‘have you eaten yet?’. However, it’s hard to boil Chinese food down to one thing, as there are so many regional dishes across this vast country that they almost feel worlds apart.

What dishes do experts recommend?

Chinese cuisine might be the most popular globally, but what dishes should people be trying to get a taste of authentic flavours? With so many regional variations to try, we wanted to speak to an expert who is passionate about food from China to get their recommendations.

To do this, we reached out to JB. JB is a writer at Will Fly For Food which has taken him all over the world in pursuit of the most delicious and unusual dishes and the most exciting foodie experiences. Despite this, JB has a love of Chinese cuisine and told us:

“Chinese food is one of the most popular and influential cuisines in the world so it's no surprise that it holds the top spot on this list of the world's favourite cuisines. It's rare to visit any city and NOT find a Chinese restaurant!

“Like China itself, Chinese cuisine is vast and diverse so picking a favourite dish is no small feat. It really depends on which city and region you visit. In Beijing, Peking duck is a must. If you visit Shanghai in late September or early October, then you absolutely need to try steamed hairy crab. It's a rare delicacy from Yangcheng Lake that's prized for its crab roe.”

The food on offer at Points East in Borough Market aboard the Ambassador Cruise Line cruise ships

Sample Asian-inspired dishes at Points East

If you are travelling with Ambassador Cruise Line and want to enjoy some Chinese cuisine, at Borough Market, make sure to stop off at Points East for a wealth of Asian-inspired dishes. Not only can you enjoy some Chinese favourites, but also Japanese dishes, the world’s fourth favourite cuisine, Thai, the world’s sixth favourite, and Korean, the world’s seventh favourite. With influence from countries making up nearly half of the top ten, you’re sure to want to come back for seconds!

The other most popular global cuisines

Italian is the world’s second favourite cuisine

Coming in an admirable second place is Italian cuisine. Including fan favourites like pizza and pasta, it’s no wonder that Italian food is so well-liked across the globe. The most popular according to YouGov data, Italian also fared well in all other categories with over 20 million Instagram hashtags and millions of Google searches.

Italian food is designed to let fresh ingredients shine, and you’ll often find that, although Italian dishes are simple in nature, they make the most of the flavours they use. Italian food culture is also something that exists outside of Italy, for many people it’s the ultimate comfort food, and from grabbing a pizza to enjoy with friends to tucking into a warming bowl of pasta on a cold night, it’s something we all come back to time and time again.

Although you can eat Italian food globally, there is something special about sampling it on its own shores. For those who want to experience one of the ultimate foodie destinations, our Mediterranean cruises often visit some of the best locations on the boot including Rome, Naples, Florence and Sicily. As well as that, you can enjoy a range of other Mediterranean cuisines including 9th placed Greek and 10th placed Turkish.

What dishes do experts recommend?

Not everyone can travel to Italy to try some of the indulgent and decadent dishes on offer, but we can provide you with some dishes that we think you should be trying at home or the next time you visit a traditional Italian restaurant. We asked experts and Italian food-lovers for their top dish recommendations for those who want to tuck into a bit of pasta, pizza or cheese.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch, food bloggers and lovers of Italian cuisine at the blog 2 Food Trippers told us why they think Italian cuisine is one of the most popular in the world:

“Italian cuisine is one of the world’s most accessible cuisines. It was born of creative necessity, made popular through worldwide expansion and became great thanks to a unique melding of tradition and never-ending refinement. Regardless of the continent, it’s practically impossible to find somebody who doesn’t like eating a cheesy slice of pizza or a creamy bowl of Pasta Carbonara.”

Daryl and Mindi had a whole plethora of dishes to suggest, but some of their favourites include tortellini and capon broth:

“We won’t recommend pizza since it’s already popular around the world. Instead, we recommend trying Emilia-Romagna’s soul-satisfying Tortellini in Brodo. Although at first glance, it looks like a simple bowl of soup, this dish made with tortellini and capon broth warms a body up from the inside out. The tiny tortellini is actually stuffed with a complex melange of local meats and cheeses. Adding a sprinkle or two of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese makes it even better.”

The food on offer at Marinara in Borough Market aboard the Ambassador Cruise Line cruise ships

Visit Marinara in Borough Market whilst onboard

We know that indulging in a cheesy slice of pizza is a holiday essential for many people, and so, when on board, you can visit Marinara in Borough Market for all of your Italian needs. Not only can you grab a slice of pizza, but there are also some great pasta dishes available that you can fill your plate with.

Indian is the world’s third most popular cuisine

Finishing off the top three is Indian cuisine. Surprisingly, Indian cuisine came down in ninth position in the YouGov Survey results, but its position was secured by a wealth of online searches, Instagram hashtags and TikTok views.

Like Chinese, Indian food has a wealth of nuance depending on the region that it’s from, and many of the Indian dishes we know and love in the UK were actually invented here, not overseas. Another interesting fact about India is that it’s the country with the highest number of vegetarians in the world, and many dishes from here let vegetables and pulses shine rather than meat.

What dishes do experts recommend?

Intrigued to know what dishes Indian food lovers would recommend? You’re in luck, we have spoken to a lover of Indian cuisine who let us know which dishes they would recommend so you can get the authentic Indian experience at home or in India itself.

Archana is a food writer and photographer at the Ministry of Curry. As you can probably tell by the name, the site is a dedication to Indian cuisine and celebrates Archana’s family recipes and stories from the small town near Mumbai she was born in. We asked Archana about why Indian cuisine is one to be excited about, and for her recommendations:

“Indian food is flavourful and offers many health benefits with the variety of spices and fresh ingredients used in cooking. There are many vegetarian dishes that can easily be made vegan, and many dishes are naturally gluten-free making it a good choice for many!

“I love South Indian food and would highly recommend Dosa - thin crispy crepes made with rice and lentils.”

READ MORE: A guide to cruising for vegetarians and vegans

The food on offer at Saffron Restauratn aboard the Ambassador Cruise Line cruise ships

Dine at Saffron whilst onboard Ambience and Ambition

Lovers of Indian cuisine can indulge when on our cruise ships, as Saffron, one of our speciality restaurants, is dedicated to celebrating Indian dishes. The four-course menu will let you sample a range of Indian dishes and enjoy a decadent and well-crafted treat. Start your journey with kebabs, then move on to a main, the second act and end on delicious and traditional Gulab, chocolate kulfi and a warming chai.


To uncover the most popular cuisine around the world, we looked at the impact that cuisines from 35 locations have had online. To do this, we analysed the following:

  • Google Searches – Whether you’re looking for a recipe or just want to learn more, most people’s first thought is to head to Google. We compared search data across a range of terms for each cuisine to determine which people were most likely to be looking for online.
  • Instagram Hashtags – Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love sharing a snap of their favourite meals? For our second data point, we explored which cuisines were most likely to be hashtagged on Instagram.
  • YouGov Survey Data – In 2018, YouGov looked to answer this question by surveying more than 25,000 people across 24 countries. We’ve taken the average popularity score of each cuisine and added that into our comparison. (Source)
  • TikTok Views – The new kid on the social media block, TikTok has been unavoidable in recent years. With users all over the world sharing an insight into their cuisine, we found out which countries’ cuisines were the most viewed within the app.


The Ambassador Experience

At Ambassador, we are welcoming a new era of cruising. By combining beloved cruising traditions with modern-day innovation, our mission is to create an effortless holiday that can be the highlight of your year. As well as being committed to reforming the landscape of cruise, we are also committed to improving the natural world and preserving our oceans through a range of sustainable efforts.

READ MORE: Discover the Ambassador Difference

Want to experience Britain’s newest cruise line and find out for yourself what sets us apart from the rest? Book onto one of our 2024 cruises, or browse the range of cruise destinations we visit and get ready for the trip of a lifetime and of course, some delicious local cuisine.

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