News outlets like to pick on Millennials for eating avocado toast and drinking Starbucks coffee. Meanwhile, wealthy foodies are going above and beyond to spend outrageous amounts of money on once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
We’re going to cover some of the most expensive foods in the world. Be sure to read until the end to see which food item costs one million dollars. Check out these46 luxury foods only millionaires can afford to eat. Maybe you have tried some, or you can one day.
46. $40/lb. Salt
Suppose you’re used to buying a large shaker of Morton salt for pennies a pound. With a 26 oz. container typically costing as little as 89 cents, $40/lb. for salt most likely seems outrageous. However, it’s a fairly reasonable price given the special nature of the Japanese seaweed salt called Amabito No Moshio. This salt has a long history in Japan. People have made it using the same traditional method for hundreds of years. It is laborious and expensive to produce. While the $40 price tag is high, you can find it in smaller quantities online. That way, it is reasonably accessible to try a fun addition to your favorite dishes.
You may know Amabito No Moshio as seaweed salt. It’s the earliest known sea salt produced and consumed by humans, with evidence of its origin being over 2,500 years ago. Historically, people have mined salt in most of the world, while evaporating sea salt is a (relatively) more recent endeavor. People make the salt in an incredibly labor-intensive process that involves spreading seaweed on the beach between storms and rinsing the sheets in saltwater pools. They boil the brine with the seaweed bits, making a unique dark green, flavorful seaweed and ash-infused salt.
Don’t panic; this isn’t the guinea pig of your childhood or that you see in the window at your local Petco. Cuy, the Spanish word for guinea pig meat, has been an Ecuadorian and Peruvian delicacy for hundreds of years. People make it from a wild guinea pig native to the area. It is much larger and more aggressive than the domesticated guinea pig we think of as children’s pets. They prize it as traditional meat that’s ecologically sustainable. Despite its seeming connection to the adorable pet, it is becoming increasingly available at South American restaurants throughout the United States.
One Houston, Texas, restaurant called Andes after the South American mountain chain is now offering a special two-person dinner of cuy for $60. Two people who can comfortably share the roasted cuy should hopefully banish any final thoughts of the pet guinea pig from your mind as these animals are far larger and far less timid and cute than their domesticated relatives. Cuy is a surprisingly healthy choice, boasting more protein and lower cholesterol than even white meat chicken. Traditionally, cuy is served fried whole with corn and potatoes. While some consider the meat a bit stringy, others praise the crispy fried meat as a delicacy.
In China, shark fin soup is eaten during special occasions like weddings. If you’re looking to try it in the United States, you’re going to have difficulty getting ahold of it. In New York City, you can try a bowl of shark fin soup, but it will set you back $65. While it may seem appealing and exciting to eat shark fin soup, you might want to avoid this one if you are pregnant, nursing, or immunocompromised. Sharks contain a dangerous amount of mercury, so it might make you sick since mercury accumulates in fatty body tissues.
If you’re willing to take on the mercury risk, you may also be facing legal challenges in the effort to find shark fin soup in the United States in the coming years. The soup is essential in Chinese culture as a symbol of prosperity and a source of various health benefits. However, animal rights proponents in the United States are working to ban shark fin soup throughout the country as the soup’s popularity drives the shark fin trade, which harms shark populations. In particular, New York is eyeing legislation to outlaw the soup in any of the state’s restaurants.
Spending $90 on a single cookie sounds outrageous, until you see the work of Antolpo. The owner creates one-of-a-kind works of art that just so happen to be edible. These cookies are highly beautiful. You might even feel guilty about eating them. It would not be the sort of cookie you casually buy with a cup of coffee. Each one of their handcrafted pieces is typically wrapped in plastic before going inside an elegant gift box. While $90 may seem like a lot at first, consider how much you would pay for an original painting or drawing for a similar size.
The baker lives in Japan, and there’s no physical bakery where people can buy these cookies. Every item is custom-ordered via email and the creator ships their cookie creations locally. So if you want to try it, you’re going to have to take a trip to Japan and maybe smuggle some back on the plane with you. The incredible works of art undoubtedly take upwards of a couple of hours each to prepare, so the more intricate designs are easily worth the high price tag for the cost of labor the artist puts into each edible work of art.
One of Canada’s signature dishes is poutine made out of french fries covered with cheese curds, meat, veggies, and a rich, savory gravy. The Buzzfeed Worth It crew showed up to try the $100 Poutine at Poutineville in Montreal, Quebec. The massive Canadian feast, called the Heart Attack, comes in at a whopping 15 pounds and will take an entire crowd of people to eat it in one sitting. Even though this poutine is expensive, it may be worth splitting among several friends who love poutine. It’s delicious and worth spending more than your average $5 to $10 poutine.
Unlike many of the expensive items on this list, this poutine isn’t costly because of its ingredients. People make it with the traditional, unassuming ingredients of any classic poutine. That includes French fries, fresh cheese curds, chicken, bacon, ground beef, onion, green peppers, ham, and homemade savory gravy. What sets this dish apart and makes it so expensive is the dish’s sheer size and weight. Clocking in at 15 pounds, the Heart Attack could honestly be a reasonably priced night out with friends. Why? This dish could easily feed enough people to make it a standard $15 to $20 dinner.
Another very unique item on the luxury food list is Bird’s Nest Soup. A delicacy throughout Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, the soup has historically been considered an aphrodisiac. Many unassuming western foodies may hear bird’s nest soup and think it’s a colorful euphemism for the “noodles” in the soup. However, the name is entirely literal. This soup centers around the nests of a type of swift that use their saliva to cement together twigs and other materials to build small bowl-shaped nests. Just one pound of the nests can sell for as much as $4,000 in the United States.
When cooked in the special broth that gives the soup its flavor, the nests turn into a texture similar to noodles, only reportedly a bit more gelatinous. The bird’s nests are surprisingly nutritious, being too high in protein while low in fat. The soup reportedly has undertones of a simple chicken noodle soup with a texture similar to the thickness of Chinese egg drop soup, a popular take-out item that many Western readers will be familiar with. Are you afraid of eating a bowl of bird spit that was also once a bird’s home? If not, bird’s nest soup is quite delicious.
Who doesn’t love a creamy milkshake? It just might help hit the spot with your sweet tooth, but some people are willing to spend $100 on dessert. The most expensive milkshake in the world is sold at Serendipity 3 in New York City. They make this milkshake with some of the finest ingredients worldwide: Jersey milk, Tahitian vanilla ice cream, Devonshire clotted cream, 23k gold foil, and more. All of this is in a glass covered with Swarovski crystals. As you might imagine, the only people who have paid that much for the milkshake are social media influencers and celebrities.
Fans of the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction may well remember Vincent Vega’s, played by John Travolta, outrage and shock at the $5 shake ordered by Mia Wallace, played by Uma Thurman, at the fictional Jackrabbit Slim’s retro restaurant. While he eventually conceded that he still wasn’t sure it was worth $5, it was pretty [bleeping] good. Imagine his surprise if he learned about the $100 shake, especially since it doesn’t have bourbon or anything in it as the incredulous gangster asked of the $5 shake. For context, a $5 shake in 1994, the year of the film’s release, would be about a $9 shake today, which, while expensive, doesn’t hold a candle to $100.
One of the most expensive cheeses in the world is also arguably the grossest depending on your tolerance for bugs. Casu Marzu is made only in Sardinia, Italy, where cheesemongers make large wheels of sheep’s milk cheese and then set them outside in the sun to give flies open access to them. The desired cheese flies lay eggs in the wheels of cheese, which hatch into maggots that burrow into and eat the cheese to sustain themselves before turning into adult cheese flies and repeating the whole process. Before you ask, yes, eating the maggots with the cheese is part of the experience.
Casu Marzu is a deeply divisive cheese, even among cheese lovers. The EU has banned its import and sale outside of Italy due to the idea that it is technically just spoiled, bug-infested food. However, some cheese fans argue that it is an extraordinary cheese and that it is incredibly delicious despite, or even perhaps because of, the maggots in the wheels. If bug-eating ever becomes wider spread and more acceptable, maybe Casu Marzu will see a renaissance and become an even more expensive specialty cheese. After all, most of us already eat at least some moldy cheese, why not bug-infested cheese?
Sometimes, a warm bowl of ramen hits the spot. It also just might bring back memories of your days being a broke college student. In Japan, ramen is taken far more seriously than what you can make from a 25-cent pack at home. In Japan, ramen is a heavy, full meal that often features fresh ingredients and rich flavors. The Fujimaki Gekijyo restaurant serves its Five-Taste Blend Imperial Noodles, which costs $110 per bowl. It’s also exclusively made for people who know the restaurant owner personally to ensure people want and appreciate the exclusive noodles.
The expensive, luxurious ramen dish comes flavored with a rich Chinese-style stock and a spicier stock flavored after Thailand’s famous tom yum soup. For the uninitiated, tom yum is a delicious hot and sour soup that features lemongrass, fish sauce, chili peppers, and kaffir lime leaves, resulting in a fragrant, floral, and spicy experience. The restaurant that serves the fancy ramen is an omakase, a menuless restaurant that requires experience with the owner’s less exclusive restaurants. While this may sound strange to Western readers, it is not uncommon to find this type of restaurant in Japan.
Whether you’re at a baseball game or wandering around a city, hot dog vendors are usually a cheap option to get something to eat for $1 to $5. The most expensive hot dog in the world is available at a food truck called Tokyo Dog in Seattle, Washington, and it costs a whopping $145. The “Juuni Ban” is made with smoked cheese bratwurst, Maitake mushrooms, butter Teriyaki grilled onions, foie gras, Wagyu beef, black truffles, caviar, and Japanese mayonnaise. Since both hot dogs and food trucks are often associated with processed low-class foods, it’s hard to imagine who’s lining up for a $145 hot dog.
While the hot dog has the unfortunate reputation of being one of the modern era’s most processed, disgusting foods that barely resemble real meat, its origins are far more interesting. It’s believed hot dogs originated from sausages sold by German immigrants in the 19th century United States. People say the bun started as a convenience for consumers without gloves to protect their hands from the hot sausages. Germany has long been famous for its sausages or bratwursts and is considered the modern sausage’s birthplace. Hot dogs have become synonymous with meat byproducts far more recently with cheap hot dogs.
Even if you’re a terrible cook, the chances are that you have made a $1 box of Kraft’s macaroni and cheese at some point in your life. While a proper homemade mac and cheese, especially made with love by mom, can be hearty and delicious, it’s not exactly a dish you would imagine ordering at an upscale restaurant. At Barton G. in Hollywood, however, you can get the most expensive macaroni and cheese dish you have ever tasted. The dish is a full lobster stuffed with macaroni and cheese, topped off with truffle shavings. It’s a whopping $195 and serves two to four people.
Buzzfeed Worth It featured this dish on their YouTube channel. It’s impressive and worth the money. Luckily for you, the recipe for the Barton G mac n’ cheese has been posted online if you’re willing to go through the trouble of making it. While the black truffle shavings would be especially hard to get and expensive, to find a regular lobster macaroni and cheese wouldn’t set you back that badly. That is especially true if you’re on the East Coast, where lobster is still relatively plentiful and less expensive than regions like the Midwest, where it’s still a more uncommon, luxurious food item.
Mushrooms are usually very cheap. You can get an entire carton for $1 to $2 at the grocery store. However, the Matsutake mushrooms are not your garden (or forest) variety of fungi. If you want to buy a small wooden basket, it will cost $200. The larger mushrooms can go for as high as $1,000 per pound. Matsutake mushrooms are scarce in Japan, and they have been disappearing from the country due to a bug infestation. So they have become more and more valuable as the years went on. Japan now imports most of its Matsutake from China and the US, where it grows in the Pacific Northwest.
Mushroom foraging is big business, and with it has come some big trouble and big turf wars. A travel blog called The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America follows several mushroom hunters on their daily business, which often involves carrying guns as they forage throughout the Pacific Northwest for mushrooms that can bring thousand dollars or more paydays. There are vast sums of money to be made for skilled foragers, and they fiercely guard the secrets of valuable mushroom hunting locations. There are even wild mushroom middlemen who clean specimens and sell them to restaurants at a considerable markup.
While most of us don’t often eat foods that can definitely kill us, some adventurous Japanese diners make a habit out of it with the deadly Fugu pufferfish. If Fugu isn’t prepared to exact specifications, the fish’s poison can contaminate the meat, killing the diner through respiratory paralysis. Each Fugu puffer contains enough of the toxic tetrodotoxin to kill 30people. As many as 60 people died per year throughout East Asia from improperly prepared Fugu puffer in past decades. However, modern licensing and training requirements have led to far safer Fugu preparations and drastically reduced deaths.
Fugu is best served raw in incredibly thin slices that melt in your mouth. It is reported to be a delicious fish. However, the presence of a toxin, tetrodotoxin, that is 1200 times deadlier than cyanide can turn the stomach off a bit. The toxin is present in the liver, ovaries, and intestines of the fish, which is why proper handling and preparation are so important. The same cost of training and licensing chefs who can legally prepare and serve Fugu is why the fish is such an expensive dish. Despite the cost, Fugu is incredibly popular in Japan, with as many as 10,000 tons of fish consumed each year.
When you were a poor college kid, you probably pre-gamed before going to the bar because $10 drinks were far too expensive. If you thought that was bad, imagine paying $208 for just one cocktail. It’s called the Highland Park 30 Penicillin, and it’s available at The £10 at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. The drink also comes with some free snacks like bacon and cheese that complement the taste of the expensive scotch that makes up the base of the luxurious cocktail. To see more about this cocktail, watch the review on Buzzfeed Worth It.
The cocktail features 30-year aged Highland Park single malt scotch whiskey, which sells for about $1,000 per bottle. It’s no surprise, then, that each cocktail is quite expensive. The drink also features honey and lemon syrup and grated fresh ginger. The cocktail is reminiscent of an Old Fashioned, which features citrus, bitters, and whiskey or bourbon. The cheese and bacon complimentary snacks served with the $200 drink no doubt are perfect pairs for the sweet and zingy cocktail. To try your version at home, simply replace the exorbitantly expensive 30-year Highland Park with a more reasonably priced single-malt whiskey.
Real Kobe beef is expensive and incredibly difficult to find in the United States. Due to a 2009 ban on imported Japanese beef over concerns about Mad Cow Disease, formally known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, when it infects humans, the meat can only be found at an extremely limited number of USDA-approved restaurants. However, many restaurants continue to market that they have Kobe beef for sale, charging unsuspecting diners large sums for substandard meat that is most certainly not real Kobe beef. You cannot buy Kobe beef at retail stores, so any meat market that claims to have Kobe beef is selling a lie.
True Kobe beef is still only available at eight restaurants in the entire United States. Why? Because of the scarcity of Wagyu cows in Japan and the ongoing USDA restrictions. Farmers cut authentic Kobe beef from a Wagyu cow, a rare heirloom breed only in Japan’s Hyogo prefecture. To be labeled Kobe and not just Wagyu, the meat must go through an extensive marbling process that makes it look like no other beef. You can cook Kobe beef to just-above body temperature to ensure tender meat that will quite literally melt as you’re eating it due to its extensive marbling.
According to Guinness World Records, the most expensive hamburger in the world is $295. It’s called Le Burger Extravagant. The burger is made with truffle butter-infused wagyu beef, cheddar cheese, and quail eggs. If you want to taste this luxurious burger, it’s sold at the Serendipity 3 Restaurant in New York City. This restaurant also has some of the most expensive ice creams in the world, a gold-infused vanilla and chocolate sundae, so you can make an entire $1,300 meal out of extravagance and even get your own Baccarat crystal goblet to remember the luxurious occasion by.
Quail eggs are featured in quite a few items on this list and are typically associated with luxury foods due to their tiny size and uniqueness. What people may not know, however, is that quails are widely available from chicken and duck hatcheries and can be raised as urban farms or backyard flocks. Quail are smaller than chickens and much quieter, making them an ideal backyard companion for urban residents. They can live in smaller coops and require far less feed, thanks to their small size. About five quail eggs equal one chicken egg, and they have a very similar flavor.
Of the many luxury Hokkaido fruits that are popular as gifts and status symbols in Japan, the square watermelon is easily the strangest. Despite its $300 price tag, making it one of the most expensive fruits on earth, it is inedible. The first square watermelon was presented in an art gallery in Ginza, Tokyo, in 1978. The idea became an instant hit, and the watermelons went into mass production on farms throughout the country. The watermelons are made square by growing them inside rigid plastic containers that force the fruit into a square shape. Now, new forms are even coming to market, including hearts.
The fruit can only grow as large as the container to maintain its perfect shape. Thus, the workers have to harvest the melons well before they are ripe. That renders them inedible and flavorless. The price is starting to come down as the decorate growing method is being introduced in other countries, including Germany. However, the introduction of new and more interesting shapes, the traditional square melon still fetches a high price in Japan a cute gift. Nevertheless, one does wonder what you would do with an inedible square melon that will inevitably rot. Maybe display it as an odd treasure?
Digestive tract items appear a few times on this list, but few are as directly and distinctly fecal as Caffe Raro. The coffee consists of the Indonesian delicacy Kupi Luwak, named after the Indonesian Civet Cat’s regional name. It bears the Civet Cat’s name because the Civet Cat has digested the coffee beans used in Kupi Luwak before roasting and grinding for coffee. Yes, they are technically poop beans. The Civet Cat reportedly only eats the finest and richest coffee beans, meaning that any that pass through is of the absolute finest quality.
The Indonesian Civet Cat can only partially digest coffee beans, so the Kupi Luwak that is collected can be roasted and ground like traditional coffee beans. However, workers typically mix them with a high quality whole roasted bean to stretch the rare and expensive partially-digested beans. You could only get the drink at high-end London cafes originally . However, you can buy Kupi Luwak directly on the internet. Are you the brave consumer who doesn’t care about the long, interesting course the coffee beans endured before ending up in the cup?
You read the title correctly. The sneeze-inducing dust of the fennel plant, typically used in seed form as a seasoning or root form as a vegetable side dish, is a costly spice that routinely sells for hundreds of dollars per pound. Although fennel grows very differently, the pollen is similarly challenging to collect. Thus, they produce it only in small amounts like the saffron crocus’ filaments. In turn, that leads to its equally high price. Much like saffron, thousands of fennel flowers are required to make a pound of pollen, but thankfully fennel is a less demanding plant that grows in far more climates and environments.
People often describe the taste of fennel pollen as a fennel seed but even sweeter and hundreds of times more potent. They say it is a robust flavor. One food author even said of it, “If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it.” The pollen is prevalent in Italy, where fennel is popular overall. The pollen even more so for adding sweetness to olive oil used in bread making and making a unique fennel pesto. Fennel pollen is widely available on the internet, and thankfully in smaller, more affordable qualities, so we can all afford a taste of what angel spice would taste like.
For those who don’t like vegetables, $500/lb for a vegetable seems like an insult to common sense. However, Europeans would disagree as there is a vast and competitive market for the elusive hop shoot. People prize the plant’s baby shoots as a spring vegetable in Belgium and the Netherlands. They come from the same plant that eventually grows up and flowers to produce hops for beer production. The shoots are a microgreen, looking similar to the sprouts of any other vegetable as they’re only a cotyledon, which is the first embryonic leaf set of a plant, on a thin, delicate stem.
The shoots are notoriously difficult to harvest as they are minuscule, the size of weedy mint sprouts. Workers have to harvest them by hand due to their small size and delicate nature. The machinery would crush them. They also, of course, kill the plant. So, people have to grow and harvest them separately from fields of hops that are intended to be used for flowering and beer production. It takes hundreds of the weedy microgreen stems to make a pound. A human has to hunch over and search for each one adding an exorbitant labor cost to the final product.
A restaurant called Jeepney in the East Village of New York City has a family-style pork roast meal that costs $715. It is served as a “kamayan,” which means “to eat with your hands.” Guests are encouraged to tear the pig apart without using utensils. Usually, this feast can feed 10 people. Considering that buying a whole pig to roast costs between $200 to $300, it’s understandable why it’s so expensive to prepare this feast for many people. It could potentially be an excellent experience for a group of friends who are willing to split the cost or a wealthy foodie who wants to treat their family to a special occasion.
Given the price of meat, it should come as no shock that purchasing an entire pig or a whole serving of any animal is incredibly expensive. Many people in rural areas, or those dedicated to quality meat, buy an entire pig and a quarter or half cow each year to fill their freezers. The low-end price for a half portion of a grass-fed cow is a staggering $1,250 and can be even higher if they’re organic, raised in a pristine setting, prepared by a renowned butcher, and many other factors. Pigs are cheaper, but a whole hog will still set you back around $600 with processing and butcher fees.
If you thought going to Starbucks was expensive, you’ll be floored by the fact that there is a $914 cup of coffee. That’s at least six months of Starbucks, right? The Munch is a coffee shop in Osaka, Japan, and they offer coffee that has been aged in a barrel for 22 years. Who knew you could age coffee like a fine wine? It has been described as tasting like chocolate wine. If a $914 cup of old coffee isn’t quite your thing, The Munch also offers a wide variety of other luxurious handmade coffee drinks in the $10 to $20 price range.
The restaurant owner discovered this by accident when he left cold brew coffee in his refrigerator for six months. It tasted great. So, he decided to put it in a barrel. Ten years later, it tasted sweet. So he decided to keep going. Since this coffee took many years to age, it costs a massive $914 per cup. Of course, you could always buy your barrel to make this at home if you had the patience to wait a couple of decades. We also don’t recommend leaving iced coffee in your fridge for six months, but hey, maybe you’ll invent a new coffee.
At The Westin in New York City, they sell a bagel that costs an outrageous $1,000. The bagel is topped with truffle cream cheese, edible gold, and a goji berry and wine jelly. The proceeds from the sale of these luxury bagels go to the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. So while the bagel may not indeed be worth $1,000, you can feel good knowing that the money goes towards a good cause. Of course, if you’re feeling incredibly generous, you could always skip the ludicrously expensive and luxurious bagel and donate the money directly to the soup kitchen.
While they’re not worth $1,000, a well-made bagel is a lot of work. Bagels are an underappreciated food given the process that goes into making their delicious rounds. Anyone who has had a deli-made bagel knows that grocery store bagels are a pale, weak imitation. True bagels start life without any egg in the dough and malt used in place of sugar. They’re also boiled after being shaped to create the unique texture of the dough. Sometimes, honey is included in the water to impart a gentle sweetness. Finally, they’re browned in an oven to give them their delicious crispy exterior.
The most expensive ice cream globally is the Golden Opulent Sundae, which is sold by Serendipity 3 in New York City. They created it with gold leaf, Tahitian vanilla ice cream from authentic Madagascar vanilla beans. The chef drizzles it with rare Amedei chocolate from Italy. They top the sundae off with an edible gold sugar flower, handcrafted by a sugar artist. It also has salt-free dessert caviar that has been infused with passionfruit on the side. There are extra toppings inside the sundae, like rare Parisian candied fruits and golden candied almonds. You can enjoy the treat in a Baccarat crystal goblet.
Real vanilla is a costly food item, being the contents of the pods produced by an orchid vine. The orchid vine, Vanilla planifolia, is the only orchid in the entire world that has edible fruit, though many species are prized and grown for their exotic blooms. The slow-growing plants need to be carefully tended and don’t produce many pods, making vanilla an extremely expensive seasoning by weight. Many of us think of vanilla flavor as synthetic vanilla, which is cheap and readily available. Real vanilla has a considerably different, almost floral, rich sweetness.
Puffin heart’s expense comes from the unique way one has to acquire it: travel to Iceland and hunt it yourself. It is not legal to sell puffin hearts, especially raw, in any markets or restaurants. Thus, if you want to try the Icelandic cultural delicacy, you will need to fly there, make a reservation for a puffin hunting tour, and catch one with your own hands. While Icelandair is pretty affordable, that puffin heart is still going to set you back many thousands of dollars. That is especially true after you add up the flights, lodging, travel, tour fees, meals, and gear.
Unsurprisingly, given the puffin’s endearing nature, hunting them for food is quite controversial outside Iceland, with many considering it unnecessary. Gordon Ramsey famously ate a raw puffin heart on television and earned the wrath of many animal rights activists. According to the Icelandic custom, you are supposed to eat the heart immediately after killing a puffin yourself, while the heart is still warm. If you’re not quite up to catching and eating a raw, warm puffin heart, take heart: the meat is also widely available in western Iceland in smoked form, at restaurants where you don’t have to worry about catching it yourself.
This next entry is not a complete food dish but rather a spice. Saffron is made from removing the red slender parts of a flower found in Spain, Iran, Greece, and India. The price starts at $1,500 per pound and can be more expensive for particular varieties. It is usually used to make risotto, bouillabaisse, and paella. Chefs only need to use a tiny pinch of saffron in their dishes, so at least a little goes a long way. While turmeric can mimic the rich, earthy yellow-orange color that saffron imparts on dishes, it sadly cannot mimic the unique, pungent flavor.
Saffron’s rarity is simply not something that can be avoided, unfortunately. The spice consists of the filaments of a type of crocus, Crocus sativus. Each perennial plant produces only a few flowers per year, and each flower contains only three filaments, meaning it takes massive fields of crocus flowers to make even a pound of the spice. It is estimated that it takes 50,000 to as many as 75,000 crocuses to create a single pound. There is simply no way to increase the yield due to the nature of the spice, including its preference for rich soil and high heat and its growth habit.
In Japan, bento boxes are traditionally taken as lunch boxes to school and work. Cheap bentos called “ekiben” can be purchased at a train station or convenience store for just a few dollars. Larger bento boxes are often taken to picnics for friends to share. The price of a normal bento box changes depending on the ingredients, but the most expensive in the world is $1,593. It comes in a gorgeous hand-carved wooden box that you can keep and reuse. The bento box features regional sushi, including trout, Beluga caviar, specially-dried mullet roe, and locally grown organic rice.
There is a long history of Japanese homemakers making elaborate Bento boxes for their spouses and children. These boxes are full of healthy, homemade foods and are often decorated to be as aesthetically pleasing as they are delicious. Common foods prepared in Bento boxes include sushi, rice, and noodle dishes featuring fish or meat and pickled or cooked vegetables. Children’s Bento boxes are often decorated with popular anime or manga characters, much like US children’s lunch boxes. While Bento Boxes are now mass-produced, many families still take the time to prepare their own for their spouses and children lovingly.
If you’re a massive fan of cheese, Pule Cheese is likely at the top of your list of decadent cheese to wish for. The Serbian cheese is worth more money per pound than actual gold. It is even more expensive than gold-flecked Stilton, Britain’s most expensive cheese, or the rare and unique maggot-riddled Casu Marzu, Italy’s most expensive cheese. The incredibly high price of Pule Cheese comes down to the ingredient: donkey, or jenny, milk. People do not have to complete any strange or patented processes. Also, you don’t need expensive ingredients other than the milk itself, making the unique cheese so special and expensive.
It takes about 25 liters, or almost 7 gallons, of jenny’s milk to make two pounds of the crumbly, savory white cheese. It takes about 2 gallons or less of cow’s milk to make an equivalent amount of a similar white cow’s milk cheese. To add to this, a jenny only produces about 7 ounces in an entire day. People rarely milk donkeys that companies did not manufacture milking machines to fit them. In turn, people must milk the jennies by hand, adding a considerable labor cost. Finally, producing 7 ounces a day requires three milkings a day, making the labor cost even higher.
Norma’s in New York City has a dish that has been nicknamed “The Zillion Dollar Frittata.” That is a 6-egg omelet made with lobster and topped off with a considerable helping of caviar. The “jumbo size” costs $2,000, while the smaller version is just $200 if you have less caviar on top. Either way, eating the Zillion Dollar Frittata is expensive, but some say it’s worth the experience. According to Business Insider, Norma’s sells 10 of the $2,000 versions and 40 of the $200 ones every year. The rich sweetness of lobster does sound like a perfect pairing for a buttery omelet, so it’s no wonder they sell high despite its ludicrous price tag.
It is quite ironic that lobster is featured on so many dishes throughout this list, given its sordid history in the United States. While it is now a food of the wealthy elite, lobster was once so familiar and cheap that it was fed to prisoners and even slaves. Lobsters were considered a vile, low-class food in the United States’ early years. That is because they were regarded as unclean bottom dwellers. They were also so common that they were believed worthless. The food was so ill thought of that servants reportedly wrote clauses in their contracts asking to be fed lobster no more than twice per week.
Industry Kitchen, located in the financial district of New York City, serves the 24K Pizza. It has black dough that has been dyed with squid ink. Then it is topped with foie gras, English cheese, French truffles, and 24-karat gold. After it’s baked, the pizza is topped with caviar from the Caspian sea. Andrew Ilnyckyj from Buzzfeed Worth It gave the following review for this pizza; “I’m fulfilling one of my greatest fantasies. Eating this pizza, I feel like a Bond villain. I want to eat this in my volcano lair.” While it hardly sounds like pizza anymore, it does sound fitting for a Bond villain.
Italy has its contender for absurdly expensive pizza, with chef Renato Viola of Salerno creating a genuinely luxurious feast for the coastal city’s elite residents. The $6,000 pizza starts with organic Arabian flour dusted with rare Murray River pink salt. The dough is allowed to rest for a whopping 72 hours, lending it a unique richness and texture. The toppings are as decadent as you’d expect, with three different types of caviar, including the finest Beluga and fresh lobster. The pizza is served with a fleet of fine drinks, including expensive vintage champagne and fine Louis XIII cognac.
Jamón ibérico, also known as “black pig ham,” is one of the world’s most expensive meats from Spain. This leg of ham was selling for £1,800 or $2,210 in the Selfridges department store in London. At the moment, that particular ham is out of stock, but the store still sells outrageously expensive ham that can be shipped all over the world. After the popularity of this dish, the budget grocery chain Lidl began offering the same ham for just £100, which is $128. Even though it’s a fraction of the price, few people would spend over $100 to make a ham sandwich.
While the Selfridge’s ham is gussied up with a custom box reportedly made by Spain’s finest tailors to help justify its outlandish price tag, Jamón ibérico is a traditionally expensive food due to its unique methods of preparation. True Jamón ibérico comes only from free-range black Iberian pigs, a breed unique to the area. They graze on a unique ecosystem known as the Dehesa, in which they eat rich grasses and the unique sweet acorn, called a bellota, of the Holm Oak or encina tree. It is the sweet acorns that reportedly give the fat of the Jamón ibérico its unique sweet richness.
An Indian restaurant called Bombay Brasserie in London sells curry for £2000, or $2,487. People nicknamed this dish ‘Samundari Khazana,’ which translates to “ocean’s treasure.” The restaurant is famous for being a go-to spot for sports celebrities and their socialite partners. You might know the abbreviation WAGs for wives and girlfriends when they visit London. They make the seafood curry with Scottish lobster, Abalone sea snails, white truffles, and Beluga caviar. Each one of these ingredients is costly on its own, but together, it makes the most expensive curry in the world and a dish truly befitting the name of the ocean’s treasure.
Among the rumored patrons of the ocean’s treasure’s lavish tastes are Woody Allen, Nicole Kidman, Kurt Russell, and the late Freddie Mercury. The cost of the edible gold in the curry alone is $1,000, making it a dish worthy of a celebrity Instagram post. The restaurant’s head chef, Prahlad Hegde, defends the dish’s ridiculous price, citing that it’s a traditional recipe passed down from his mother but simply infused with the finest quality ingredients that money can buy and $1,000 worth of edible rare earth metal. If regular seafood curry isn’t cutting it for you anymore, try the ocean’s treasure!
A restaurant in New York City called Petrossian sells a caviar soufflé that costs a shocking $2,500. The soufflé is made with quail eggs, and they use applewood smoked to enhance the flavor. It’s then topped with a 24-karat gold leaf and a 200-year old cognac that is used to flambé the dish. Last and certainly not least, it is topped with some of the most expensive caviar you can find. It holds the Guinness World Record for being the most costly soufflé in the world. That is a part of the “secret menu” at Petrossian, so you need to ask the chef to make it unique.
While many of the items on this list feature Baccarat crystal or golden vessels you can take home, the price of this souffle is truly in the quality and scarcity of the ingredients and in the difficulty of making a good souffle. Notorious for collapsing, souffles are a real act of culinary magic that requires perfectly beaten egg whites and cautious handling. Souffles are incredibly versatile. They are available in savory and sweet options and a popular luxury meal item worldwide. Thankfully for those of us who can’t try this one, souffles are typically quite reasonably priced and can even be made at home.
Any chocolate lover knows that truffles, not to be confused with the incredibly expensive fungus, often contain some of the finest cocoa products you can find. The famed Danish chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt decided to take this to the limit and invented the La Madeline au Truffle, a chocolate bonbon that weighs $250 for one truffle and rough $3,000/lb by weight. Just to make life a little more difficult for everyone, the chocolatier included the actual fungus French Perigord truffle in the chocolate truffle. Now it’s even harder to tell the two luxurious words apart, even in context!
The tiny truffles, chocolate this time, are expensive. How expensive? Someone delivered them to New York in an armored Rolls Royce complete with a bodyguard. They stored the treat in the NYY Steak vaults under lock and key. As part of a promotion, the NYY Steak restaurants associated with the New York Yankees baseball team gave the truffles away to a few lucky diners. Suppose you want to try some of Knipshildt’s sweet work. In that case, thankfully, you can find most of his company’s Chocopologie truffles at a far more reasonable price. You can enjoy a modest chocolate lover’s sweet tooth budget.
In the summertime, watermelon is one of the best fruits you can eat. Typically, watermelon is very affordable, but there are luxury versions of nearly every fruit in Hokkaido, Japan. The most expensive of all watermelons are the black watermelon, densuke. The shell is much darker than average, and the fruit flesh is far sweeter than a regular watermelon. Usually, people can buy a black water densuke for around $250, but some of the more expensive melons are between $4,500 to $6,000. Auctions have even seen a pair sell for almost $15,000, second only in price to Yubari cantaloupes.
The fruit has a beautiful dark-green rind that is so dark it’s almost black. The shiny, nearly perfectly round fruits can only be grown on the northern island of Hokkaido, adding to the fruit’s rarity and giving it its uniqueness. The fruit is a gorgeous coral color more similar to cantaloupe than watermelon. The fruit is denser, crunchier, and incredibly sweet – far more so than in an average watermelon. Interestingly to the American palate, the fruit contains far more seeds than a typical seedless watermelon, which would be a drawback to many would-be enthusiasts.
Japan has a thriving economy in luxury fruits, which people give as trendy gifts when visiting friends and relatives, especially after a vacation or windfall. There are several Japanese luxury fruits on this list. However, none are more expensive at auction than the Yubari melon. Fans of cantaloupe will likely weep to see just how unobtainable these rich, juicy melons are, routinely fetching a couple thousand and reaching record highs of $7,000 per fruit. You can only find the Yubari, or Yubari King, in greenhouses in the Yubari region of Hokkaido, Japan, making it scarce and difficult to acquire.
The Yubari King is a hybrid cultivar of two other cantaloupes: Burpee’s “Spicy” and Earl’s “Favourite.” The record-setting auction specimens have all been perfectly round with an incredibly smooth rind, with a small portion of the stem left attached as an aesthetic appeal. The flesh is dense and uniform and exceptionally sweet, with a hint of the spiciness that the Burpee cultivar’s name implies. People enjoy exchanging these popular gifts during Chūgen, the popular and famous ghost festival. People grow many other Japanese luxury fruits in Hokkaido, a small city outside Sapporo, giving the region a reputation as a grower of incredible fruit.
It is polite to bring gifts over someone’s house in Japan when you come to visit, especially if you have just gone on vacation and brought back souvenirs. It’s common for people to get baskets of fruit as a gift. Over time, luxury fruit became popular as a way for the wealthy to one-up their friends. Maybe you have seen the video from Buzzfeed where they tried grapes that cost nearly $2,000. Believe it or not, there are even more expensive grapes in Japan. A committee typically decides the price of these luxury grapes, but one bunch, in particular, went up for auction and reached the insane price of $10,900.
The rare grapes are a variety known as Ruby Roman, which is only grown in Japan’s Ishikawa prefecture. To be sold as real Ruby Romans, each grape must weigh at least 20 grams and have a sugar content of 18%. The sweet treats are typically the size of a ping pong ball, which genuinely puts grocery store grapes to shame. The record high price was fetched at auction at the beginning of the fruit’s season when demand is incredibly high. Fruit auctions can be quite the spectacle in Japan, where luxury fruit is a delicacy, with another auction selling a pair of melons for around $15,000.
Traditionally, meat or “minced pie” is eaten in England during Christmas time. In the United States, we sometimes call them pot pies. They are delicious but not known for being especially expensive. The Fence Gate Inn in the UK sells the most expensive meat pie globally, which costs $14,260. The meat pie is created with Japanese Wagyu beef, Matsutake mushrooms, and winter black truffles. The gravy is made with 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, which is typically over $1,000 per bottle. The peerless quality of the savory ingredients no doubt leads to a truly incredible dining experience.
If the sound of the English pie doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, the world’s second most expensive pie may be the ticket. Created by an Australian chef, the surf and turf pastry, he christened the Posh Pie to a whopping $9,484 US dollars. It also features beef, this time from famed butcher David Blackmore, and two fresh-caught Australian lobsters. For the fungi, it also includes black winter truffles as well as the finest dried Italian porcini mushrooms. They created the pie as part of a Groupon promotion so that some lucky winner could snag a slice for free.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’d like a dessert that comes with an 80-carat gemstone,” look no further than the Fortress Stilt Fisherman Indulgence at the Fortress Resort and Spa in Galle, Sri Lanka. The dish has a fascinating history behind its design, which is built to honor the stilt fisherman of Sri Lanka. The dessert features a tasty column attached to a chocolate stilt fisherman on a pole. An 80-carat aquamarine gemstone counterbalances it. Thankfully, you get to keep paying the $14,500 price tag of the ridiculously indulgent Sri Lankan dessert.
While the price technically varies based on the gemstone’s exact value that provides most of the dessert’s worth, it averages around $14,500. The restaurant requires 48 hours to procure and value the dessert’s infamous gemstone, a rich, clear sky blue. The dessert itself features an edible chocolate fisherman and a handmade pulled-sugar column that includes an Italian cassata flavored with mango and pomegranate. Various fruit compotes and a splash of Bailey’s Irish cream round out the flavors of the gorgeous, spectacularly prepared dessert, which, of course, includes some edible gold leaf.
A jeweler named Euphoria in New York City and a partnership with Serendipity 3. Together, they have the Frrrozen Haute Chocolate. It is considered to be the world’s most expensive dessert. They make it with a blend of 28 different chocolate cocoas worldwide, which gives a deep richness to its flavor. This ice cream sundae has edible 24-karat gold. The base of the ice cream goblet has an 18-karat gold bracelet with 1 carat of white diamonds. They serve the dish with a golden spoon, decorated with diamonds. If you want to eat this dessert, the total cost is $25,000, but you can take the jewelry, goblet, and spoon home with you.
Previously, the most expensive dessert in the world was the $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae at the New York restaurant Serendipity, which was the lavish dessert so desired by Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock in a St. Valentine’s day episode. The sundae features authentic Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream covered in edible 23k gold leaf. It also featured two kinds of rare chocolate, rare fruits, and even exceptional dessert caviar. Much like the Frrrozen, it also comes in a special Baccarat crystal goblet that the buyer gets to take home after enjoying the luxurious brandy-sweetened dessert spectacle.
In 2009, The West End in London had a theatrical production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. They served a breakfast for the opening performance, and it ended up earning the record for the most expensive breakfast ever served in the world. Unfortunately, the only thing that the guests got for $27,000 was a croissant, coffee, and a cocktail. The croissant was decorated with gold and diamonds, so at least it was fancy. Presumably, if you can spend $27,000 on breakfast, the actual nature of the meal wasn’t too terribly important. We hope they at least got to keep the diamonds, in any case.
Many of the ingredients and foods on this list could have been served at the luxurious theatre breakfast, leaving us wondering what would be on your dream $27,000 breakfast menu. A black truffle omelet with a Dom Pérignon mimosa? A slice of the $1,000,000 wedding cake with the diamonds from the headdress? Perhaps you have simple tastes and would settle for some portions of priceless black Japanese watermelon and rare grapes. It’s fun to imagine what would be possible with such a luxe breakfast tab, since certainly far more is possible than an uninspiring croissant, coffee, and cocktail.
Everyone knows that caviar is one of the most expensive foods in the world. Even on Amazon, tins of caviar sell in the ballpark of $100. The most expensive caviar in the world comes from the “Almas” eggs of the Iranian Beluga fish. These fish are between 60 to 100 years old. They live in the Caspian sea, where there is minimal pollution. Since their eggs are rare, this costs a whopping $34,500, and it has the Guinness World Record for being the most expensive caviar. The black, glossy eggs are indeed a stunning sight to behold.
To be real caviar, the eggs must be from sturgeon, of which Beluga is the most famous and celebrated variety. People eat the eggs of many other kinds of fish also but those are roe instead of caviar. If you’ve ever had crunchy little orange balls on top of a fresh roll of sushi, that was likely Tobiko, or flying fish roe, which is widely available and cheap enough to use as a garnish. When it comes to caviar, the eggs can be fresh and unpasteurized before processing in salt or pasteurized. They consider fresh eggs to be of higher culinary and economic value.
You might associate ambergris with the perfume industry. People still use it as a fixative base in the finest, most expensive perfumes. Fresh ambergris often has a fecal odor. However, aged ambergris takes on an unmistakable, chemical scent. People compare it to rubbing alcohol without the astringency. Due to its rarity and expense, synthetic fixatives have largely replaced ambergris, including one modeled on ambergris called ambroxan. Some still search for rare ambergris, often using trained dogs who are sensitive to its distinct scent. Fine, rare ambergris is incredibly expensive and fetches a nice car’s value per pound at auction.
The reason that ambergris appears on this food list instead of a perfumed article is that it was once a favored food of royalty. King Charles II of England was completely enamored with ambergris and wanted it in all of his food. Persians once ate it with lemon, and the French included it in chocolate mousses. It’s somewhat hard to picture now, knowing that it is the waxy, flammable excretions of a sperm whale’s digestive tract. However, they use it to protect it from irritants like stones and squid beaks. People have outlawed ambergris around the world due to the protected status of its producer.
The most expensive fungus in the world that you can buy is the black truffle. It has become a go-to topping on many sumptuous dishes. Depending on the type of truffle, prices will vary drastically. People can sell European white truffles for up to $3,600 per pound. There was one truffle in particular that weighed two pounds and sold for an incredible $300,000. Truffles are notoriously tricky to grow in controlled conditions, so the most delicate black truffles are still searched for by hand with the assistance of a truly unique companion animal: pigs! While dogs can be trained, pigs are the traditional truffle hunter.
You can find truffle flavoring in many everyday grocery store items. However, the trick is that the taste doesn’t come from truffles; it is a synthetic substitute. Anyone lucky enough to enjoy the real thing will tell you that, sadly, the artificial replacement is a cloying, acrid shadow of the subtlety of the truly rich, earthy flavor. You sadly won’t find black truffles anywhere in the US. However, there are native species in the Pacific Northwest that some mushroom enthusiasts claim have a comparable depth of flavor. A couple of US states are also attempting to farm truffles. Maybe one day they’ll be more accessible.
We all know that wine can be expensive, and it’s not all that unusual to see $100 bottles at a nice restaurant. You may have never expected that anyone would be willing to pay half a million dollars for just one bottle. The 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon holds the record for being the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold at the Napa Valley charity auction. WHy is it incredibly rare? They made that Screaming Eagle wine bottle with a very limited batch. The price may have been inflated because of the charity, but it is still the most expensive bottle ever.
There is a rumor that the CEO of Cisco Systems purchased the bottle. However, there is no public record of the sale. They likely inflated the Screaming Eagle’s price because it was a charity auction. The next most expensive was a $304,375 bottle of wine that someone purchased in 2016 at auction. That wine was an authentic vintage, a 1947 French Cheval-Blanc. The wine is one of only two merlots to ever receive class A ratings. They came from a truly legendary grape season in France. In turn, this wine was an incredibly unique and expensive vintage worthy of a Christie’s auction.
Last and certainly not least is the most expensive wedding cake in the world. Debbie Wingham is the cake designer behind the million-dollar treat. She created it for a wedding expo in Dubai. Keep in mind that Dubai is home to some of the most expensive weddings in the world, where couples have multi-million dollar budgets. So for Wingham, she needed to blow people away with her cakes at this expo completely. She certainly did so with the life-sized cake of a traditional Arab bride. It was perfect right down to the details of a flowing dress with handmade flowers and (edible) pearls.
Hopefully, her million-dollar dessert was worth the investment. The cake weighed 164 pounds, which was the right size to feed thousands of people attending the event. Creating the cake took hundreds of pounds of crispy treats for modeling the shape. It needed over forty pounds of Belgian chocolate to make modeling chocolate for the intricate shapes. Then, over one hundred pounds of fondant for the dress and train. The real million dollar price tag came from the five diamonds. The wedding cake baker attached them to the headdress. They are worth roughly $1 million. While the diamonds weren’t edible, the over 5,000 handcrafted flowers and pears were delicious.