Updated: Mar 30
There are many notorious food combinations that have been deemed the most perfect pairs. Things like peanut butter and jelly, burgers and fries, apple pie and ice cream, or spaghetti and meatballs: truly made to be together. Sometimes though, our curiosity can get the better of us, luring us to new flavors and peculiar tastes that we otherwise wouldn’t have thought to pair together. This curiosity is what makes up the world’s weirdest food combinations -- rebel duos that put society’s food norms to the test.
As a relatively picky eater myself, exploring dangerous territories of weird food combinations has always been too big a risk. What if I didn’t like it and the nasty taste haunted me for the rest of my life? What if it was so horrid that I threw up? But over these past few weeks, I started thinking; why not? Life’s too short to hold back on trying new things, no matter the consequences.
With that, I carefully curated an extensive list of all the weirdest food combinations I could find, ranging from pickles and peanut butter, to ice cream and tuna. I tried each of these unruly combinations with as much courage as I could muster and have left this experience with a new sense of self and a ranked list of 13 weird food combinations from best to worst:
To start off headstrong…
1) Ice cream and soy sauce!
I know what you’re thinking; I’m out of my right mind, and I get where you’re coming from. I was not excited about trying this combination at first either. Soy sauce is a condiment that goes with other savory, salty things. For example, sushi and soy sauce or soy sauce in ramen, stews, or soups -- these are things that soy sauce pairs well with together. Never in my life though, have I ever seen soy sauce paired with something sweet. Sure, there are sweet soy sauce desserts, like mitarashi Dango, a Japanese delicacy consisting of traditional Japanese rice dumplings skewered on a bamboo stick and coated with a sweet soy sauce glaze. I’ve had them before and they’re really good.
With this combination though, the sour-gross-soy sauce is not a glaze but is instead being put atop the sweet vanilla ice cream like some vulgar, vinegary intruder of the already amazing flavors. So in hesitancy, I took a spoonful of vanilla ice cream and dipped it into the cold soy sauce, thinking that this would be horrible. I was entirely wrong. The sweetness of the vanilla wasn’t in fact ruined by the soy sauce but emphasized with the salty-tangy taste. I found it to be similar in essence to how salt is often paired together with chocolate ice cream. One thing I really loved was that the two flavors didn’t overshadow one another (although this depends on how much soy sauce you add), but worked together to make something truly beautiful. Don’t knock it ‘till you try it!
2) Avocado and chocolate
This combination didn’t sound at all bad, especially because I love avocado used in savory dishes as much as I love them used in sweet dishes. Avocado is used in many desserts, one of which being the infamous sweet avocado pudding made by Kourtney Kardashian that went internet viral a few months back. Since trying it, it has become one of my favorite things for a healthy dessert. I knew how well avocado went with sweet flavors, so I knew that this one was going to be good. Just as I had suspected, the sweet chocolate complimented the avocado perfectly, especially it being dark chocolate which, in my opinion, goes way better when paired with anything as opposed to milk chocolate. I searched up how this combination is used in recipes and found that people actually make avocado ice cream with chocolate chunks -- this is definitely now on my bucket list of things I need to try in my lifetime.
3) Cheez-its and Nutella
I started out my weird food combination journey with this unruly pair, admittedly because it seemed like one of the least gross ones out of all that I had compiled. My friend had recommended this one and I knew that Cheez-its and Nutella as separate things were great, and together, didn’t sound like too bad of a combination. In trying it out for myself, I found my previous logic to be correct! The salty and sweet combo was good, and none of the flavors were too overbearing for one another to taste bad. Although, the aftertaste of the Cheez-its was a bit odd with the lingering chocolate from the Nutella, since the cheezy taste of Cheez-its usually comes at the end. Even then, I found myself surprisingly coming back for more and using it as a palate cleanser as I tried other combinations. Would I say that the two together are better than they are apart? No. But it’s definitely worth trying out of the many others listed here. Who knows, you might like it!
4) Pickles and honey
Bread and butter pickles, or sweet pickles, is an already existing delicacy that is loved by many people. Above that, honey is often used along with vinegar, salt, and more as one of the ingredients to pickle the cucumbers during the pickling process (usually as a replacement of sugar). These two are often side by side, and when I put them together, this proved true. The sour and salty pickle went well with the intense sweetness of the honey. It was almost like a Ratatouille moment of bursting colorful flavors, since both of the flavors are intense separately and even more so together. I recommend trying this and also possibly putting the two flavors together in a dish of sorts. For example, I often eat fried chicken with honey and pickles-- it’s way better than it sounds, trust me.
5) Pickles and peanut butter
Pickles and peanut butter definitely do not sound like a good combination-- the mixture of that nutty flavor with the sourness of the pickles? Yeah, no. This is exactly what I was thinking when I pictured the two together. This combination was made during the Great Depression when people were getting by with what they could, and not by choice. There was no way this was gonna work. So you can imagine my surprise when it did. I don’t have a solid explanation as to why I think these two go well together, because they really shouldn’t. I can’t think of any nutty-sour dishes that exist in this world, and if there is one, it’s not well known for a reason. Maybe it’s because, at this point in the experience, my taste buds had lost all hold on what was good and what wasn’t -- all I know is that I came back for a second bite and didn’t regret it. I suppose the peanut butter slightly mutes the intensity of the sour pickles, which ends off well together in the end, making it the reason as to why it works the way it does. Trust my judgment or don’t.
6) Cheese and peanut butter
I wasn’t sure whether or not peanut butter would complement cheese, especially using the one that I had on hand, which was Babybel, known to have a richer mozzarella taste. Since I had tried the pickles with peanut butter prior to this one, and knew that the nuttiness of the peanut butter surprisingly goes well with sour tastes, so I still had hope. Plus, cheese tends to go well with a lot of things. In trying it, peanut butter was no exception. They tasted really well together. I wanted to see if I could properly test my hypothesis with another cheese though, so I ended up finding some old slices of cheddar in the depths of my fridge and tested it too. The combination was still good. The tanginess of cheese matches well with the nuttiness of peanut butter. Now I know that the next time I make a charcuterie board, I’ll be sure to add some peanut butter right next to the jam.
7) Ice cream and Sriracha
About three or four years ago, I had the privilege of visiting the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale where they make sriracha. At the end of the tour, we were given Sriracha ice cream to try in both vanilla and chocolate flavors. This is why when trying this combination, I definitely did not expect it to be bad. The sriracha ice cream was really good, and I already knew that the spiciness goes well with the sweetness of the ice cream. As a condiment on top of the ice cream, however, it wasn’t as good. The sriracha definitely tastes better mixed into the ice cream as it was at the sriracha factory. Nevertheless, the two flavors still went well together. The chili of the sriracha blended well with the sweetness like it would in a sweet-chili dish, except more so on the desert side. The spiciness lingered with the vanilla flavor and added a kick.
8) Banana and mayo
I was definitely not looking forward to trying this combination, especially because both of these things I don’t like apart, which means that together, they were bound to taste even worse. Just texturally, they seem like two things that definitely should not go together-- mushy and creamy. For sure, the vinegary taste of the mayo was going to contrast with the banana in the most horrible way. I thought it was going to taste like vomit! When I tried it though, my surprise was evident. In fact, I had to try it four times to make up my mind about whether or not it was good, since I so expected it not to be. The flavors complimented each other in an odd way that was sort of pleasant. This could be due to the fact that my banana was slightly underripe, so the sweetness wasn’t as much a flavor, and the tartness instead mixed well with the similar tartness of the mayo. I was curious from where this odd pair originated and found out that this is actually a Southern delicacy which they often make into a sandwich. I got some white bread to try it out for myself and now understand where the southerners are coming from. So yes, this pair might sound disgusting on the surface, but trust me, I was pleasantly surprised! I think I’ll come back to this one every so often for a good banana and mayo sandwich for lunch (maybe not too often though…).
9) Hot Cheetos and yogurt
I thought that this combination was going to be really good. I often eat Hot Cheetos with sour cream or with cream cheese, both of which are savory and tart like greek yogurt, so I was expecting the yogurt to be the same way, but with a touch of sweetness. I found, however, that this was not the case. The sweet-spicy combination just didn’t work together. The yogurt made the Cheetos extra soggy as I ate it -- the Cheeto essentially disintegrated into this sweet-spicy mix of saliva and yogurt-- and the tartness of the greek yogurt didn’t reach the cheeto enough to blend the flavors in well. Maybe it’s just because sweet and spicy isn’t my thing; it reminds me of hot garbage or throw-up when those two flavors are put together.
10) Pineapple and mayo
Now we’re getting to the worst of the worst. I tried this combination after trying banana and mayo with high hopes. Another southern delicacy, many people say that the pineapple and mayo complement each other and often combine them in a sandwich, especially when the pineapple is grilled. I thought that together they would be good, maybe even more so because pineapple is often used in savory dishes - especially in Hawaiin culture - as opposed to bananas. In the end, I couldn’t have been more wrong. A whiff of the two in close vicinity already told me all I had to know before I even tried it. It wasn’t going to taste good together. Initially, I looked back at the bananas and mayo, thinking that the similar tart flavors of the pineapple and mayo might be good together. I quickly realized that the tartness of the two things are completely different types of tart; one is fruity and sour-tart while one is savory and sweet-tart. At first try, I thought it wasn’t bad; the mayo lasted five or so seconds with the strong flavor of the pineapple overshadowing it. I tried it two times, however, and on the second try, tasted the mayo with the sourness of the pineapple for what it really was together. It made me gag. Later on, the combination settled even worse in my stomach than with the lingering aftertaste. My stomach churned at the two juxtaposing flavors. So all I have to say? DON’T TRY THIS unless you’re really curious and partly psychopathic. Those southerners don’t have taste buds.
11) Ice cream and olive oil
I had low expectations for this one, and after trying it, they didn’t even live up to them. Honestly, I knew it wasn’t going to be bad or good. It’s really just oily ice cream. Olive oil itself doesn’t hold an insanely salty taste and made no difference whatsoever when I drizzled it atop the ice cream. It just made the ice cream oily and coated my mouth in an oiliness that ice cream doesn’t have and shouldn’t ever have. Before you say I should have added more oil to really taste it, I wasn’t just about to plunge my ice cream into oil just to come out with even oilier ice cream and a slightly salty flavor. If you want your ice cream to be a bit salty, just sprinkle on some salt instead! Olive oil is not the answer. Don’t try this one. It’s literally just oily ice cream.
12) Ice cream and tuna
No one should be surprised that this combination has made it to the second-worst on the list. Just think about ice cream and tuna together and tell me that it doesn’t seem disgusting. You can’t. The sheer thought of the two together made me sick prior to trying it, and smelling it when I actually had the two side by side made it even worse. I understand the need for a good salty-sweet combination, but fish and ice cream? This seems a little too far. I researched who in their right minds would like this combination and what sick and twisted brain came up with something like this; what I found was amusing. Tuna and ice cream have in fact made the headlines before for many ice cream brands, but only as of April fools jokes. Although, in 2005, a Taiwanese vendor named Liny Hsueh actually took it upon herself to make ice cream from various kinds of seafood. This caught on with an Italian ice cream maker who then added tuna ice cream to his menu. These people most definitely didn’t get the joke, and now I’m forced to try this out for myself to debunk the mystery: is it really good or not? I went for it by trying this myself, throwing all the tuna over the ice cream and hoping for the best when I reached for a spoonful, the results of which were expected to say the least. Don’t try this. It’s not good.
AND FINALLY, the worst of the worst is…
13) Oreos and salsa
This was the second thing I tried out of the list, also admittedly because it seemed like one of the lesser gross ones compared to everything else. Little did I know how wrong I was. Like most of the combinations, oreos and salsa as completely separate things are great, but together, did not seem like the most appetizing duo. I researched as to why people say they like this combination. For the most part, people argue that the sweet and salty combination goes well together. This was enough to put my mind at ease until I soon realized that I was doing it entirely wrong. For some reason, I understood salsa as hot sauce, therefore substituting this said ‘salsa’ with Sriracha instead. This all took a turn for the worse-- instead of a sweet-salty combination, it turned into a sweet-spicy combination, the sweetness is from the chocolate and the spiciness from the chili of the hot sauce. The two flavors were separate things as I first chewed, but after letting the flavors sink in together and settle on my taste buds, it tasted horrible. It was like throwing up and cat poop, but the cat had been eating Chili peppers and the throw up had chunks of sweet cream. I would try this again properly with salsa instead of hot sauce, but this experience has been enough to keep me far away from Oreos (and Sriracha) for the time being. This is all I have to say: DO NOT TRY THIS!
The BEST food combination on my list is ice cream and soy sauce while the WORST food combination is Oreos and salsa (or in this case, hot sauce).
I’ve learned a lot from this experience, although mainly that peanut butter pairs well with most foods and that I probably shouldn’t venture out of my comfort zone, no matter how short life is; it’s inevitably not worth the stomach pains and ensuing sickness shortly thereafter (the pineapple and mayo got me real good)... I guess I’m glad I now get to say I’ve tried ice cream and tuna before-- the bragging rights are unreal --but besides that, what did I have to gain from doing this to myself? Absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, thanks for reading this article until this point and for making this experience worth at least a little something at the end of the day. If you happen to try any of the food combinations I mentioned, make sure to leave a comment below with your own thoughts and opinions! Also, scroll down for a glance at some cursed pictures found in preparation for this article…
(all images found on Reddit)