Feeling hungry? You may decide it's better to skip a meal when you see what we have on the menu for you: the most expensive foods (and drinks!) in the world.
Some are raw ingredients, some are specially prepared dishes on offer at the world's swankiest restaurants. Some sound tasty, others just seem faintly grotesque. But all will put a healthy dent in your wallet.
Whatever your tastes, we hope you enjoy the 40 most expensive foods in the world. Eat up!
40. Civet coffee
Price: $100-$500 per pound
Would you be willing to pay $50 to $100 for a cup of coffee that has passed through the digestive system of a small mammal? That's what civet coffee is, despite its celebrated aroma and flavor.
Civets eat coffee beans but don't digest the cherries. These are then collected from their dung in Southeast Asia and used to make java for fancy folks in London and New York.
Delicious? Maybe, but certainly pricy, and certainly not cruelty-free; many civets are kept in cages all their lives in order to feed the demand for their feces.
39. Edible gold
Price: $15,000 per pound
It may surprise you if you've never eaten any precious metals (peasant!) but gold is definitely edible. It's biologically inert, so your body just passes it.
[Something, something, joke about crapping gold.]
It's becoming increasingly common for upscale restaurants to decorate deserts with a touch of gold. This may sound prohibitively expensive -- and it is very costly in large quantities -- but you can actually buy small shakers of wafer-thin gold leaf for $30-$50 at specialty food stores.
38. White (Alba) truffles
Price: varies; $6,000-$10,000 per pound not unusual
Truffles, as you probably know, are underground fungi that grow around the roots of trees. They have been prized since antiquity, when the ancient Greeks found then to be an aphrodisiac. Their price is further driven up by the fact that they're notoriously difficult to cultivate and generally have to be gathered in situ by experts (with an assist from doggos).
White truffles are the rarest of all. They are found primarily in and around the towns of Alba and Asti in northern Italy.
37. Basic caviar
Price: $1,500+ per pound
Compared to some other foods on this list, caviar prices look downright reasonable. But caviar is synonymous with decadence, a perennial favorite at fancy dress parties and black-tie gala affairs.
Basic caviar is the salted, unfertilized eggs of the sturgeon fish, mainly harvested from the Caspian Sea. Most caviar therefore comes from Russia or Central Asia.
However, we say 'basic' because there are even fancier forms of caviar. More on those later!
36. To'ak Guayasamín chocolate
Price: 50 grams will set you back $700
For reference, a Mars bar weighs 51 grams, so imagine being rich enough to shell out $700 for a mid-afternoon guilty pleasure.
But rest assured: with To'ak, an exclusive Ecuadorian chocolatier, you will get your money's worth in quality. Their limited-edition Guayasamín chocolate is aged for three years in alder wood barrels before making its way into the mouths of the super-rich.
35. Foie gras
Price: $150 for a serving would not be unexpected
Foie gras is perhaps the most famous French delicacy, and the French are most famous for their delicacies. It is made from the liver of specially fattened ducks who are force-fed corn.
It would be unwise to make a habit of eating foie gras, however, and not just because of the expense. What fattens the ducks will fatten you as well, and foie gras also contains boatloads of cholesterol. It is best reserved for special occasions.
Price: varies with availability; $600+ a pound
Yes, vanilla, the flavor of ice cream only boring people eat and the style of lovemaking they presumably enjoy afterward.
Vanilla may be seen by some as the most basic of tastes, but it is actually incredibly expensive. In fact, in 2018, it was worth more pound-for-pound than silver!
True vanilla comes from the vanilla orchid, a precious and vulnerable flower that blooms only briefly. 80% of the world's supply comes from Madagascar, where bad weather and general instability make crops tenuous. Hence the hefty price, which has skyrocketed in recent years.
Price: $5,000 a pound
Step aside, vanilla. The most expensive spice in the world by a long shot is saffron, a major ingredient in Indian, Persian, and Arab cuisines. It endows any dish with a hay-like sweetness as well as a distinctive red-orange tinge.
The high price tag is due to the back-breaking labor required to harvest it. You would need to pick 170,000 saffron flowers just to get one pound of the finished product!
The majority of the world's supply comes from Iran, though it is cultivated elsewhere.
32. Cured Iberian ham
Price: $178+ per pound
Made from the black Iberian pig native to Spain and Portugal, this hammiest of hams may make you feel like a bit of a pig yourself when you get the bill.
The high price is due to the diligently maintained diet of the pigs (mostly acorns), and the fact that the end product must be dried and cured over the course of three years.
31. Wagyu steak
Price: $450+ per pound
This special Japanese steak is expensive (and delicious) for good reason -- meaning both sensible and moral. The cows are treated incredibly gently all their lives, raised on only the highest-grade feed, given sake, and treated to constant massages.
Of course they are ultimately eaten, so the benefit redounds to the hungry women and men who are willing to pay for the steak. But the care the cows receive is far more humane than most bovines could ever hope for.
30. The Quintessential Grilled Cheese
Price: $214 per serving
We know what you're thinking. 'The world's fanciest grilled cheese' sounds a bit like 'the world's fastest sloth' or 'the world's soberest pilot': it's impressive, but only in a sad, ironic sort of way.
What if we told you the bread is dipped in Dom Perignon, covered in gold, then stuffed with one of the world's rarest cheeses? It's so fancy, in fact, that you have to order it two days in advance.
That's how they grill their cheese at the iconic Serendipity 3 in New York City. They also make two other 'most expensive' foods in the world...
29. Le Burger Extravagant
If you feel too fancy for grilled cheese but not quite fancy enough for a steak, you can always try Serendipity 3's Le Burger Extravagant, the one of the most expensive patties in the known world.
It's made with Wagyu beef (see #31), white truffle butter (#38), shaved black truffles, and topped with a quail egg. Oh, and it's all pinioned down with a golden toothpick.
28. The Golden Opulence Sundae
Also courtesy of NYC's Serendipity 3 and also requiring 48 hours notice if you want to try it, the Opulence Sundae is officially recognized as the most expensive such dessert on Earth.
It is made with vanilla (fancy!) from Tahiti as well as Madagascar, the most expensive chocolate in the world, exotic candied fruits from Paris, all covered in edible gold. It is served with a side of special desert caviar and comes in a $350 goblet. Yes, a goblet, which you get to keep as a memento.
27. Billion Dollar Popcorn
Price: $500 for two gallons
For that price, you would expect it to be covered in gold -- and it is! It's also served with Vermont butter, bourbon vanilla, and salt from the Danish island of Læsø, a notorious party hangout of the gods in Norse mythology.
Pretty small price to pay for Thor's favorite snack, if you ask us.
26. Moose cheese
Price: $1,000 per kilo
If you ever decide to become a moose milker, you'll be in good company. That is, you'll be alone, because there are less than a handful of people in the world who have dedicated themselves to this obscure and potentially dangerous cottage (cheese) industry.
In Russia, moose milk is even used for its purported medicinal qualities, to treat lesions and burns.
The cheese it yields has been compared to feta, but creamier and a bit nippier.
Despite the fact that moose can kill humans with comical ease, one producer of moose dairy actually told an interviewer that the creatures enjoy being milked. We hope so, for his sake.
25. Matsutake mushrooms
Price: $1,000 per kilo, depending on availability
These endangered mushrooms grow mostly in Japan, although they have become badly endangered in recent decades due to parasites killing the trees that shelter them, and the very specific conditions they require in order to grow.
Matsutakes are popular (when available) in Japan, but also in Korea, where they are grilled and served as Songi gui. That said, we can't endorse eating endangered species.
24. Zillion dollar frittata
Price: $200 for the small, $2,000 for the whole enchilada
Served up at Norma's, one of New York's premier breakfast joints, the zillion dollar frittata almost lives up to its name. The small comes with one ounce of Sevruga caviar, while the large comes with ten times as much -- and ten times the bill.
Sevruga is the third most expensive type of caviar in the word, and it comes from a seriously endangered species of sturgeon fish. So no offence, Norma, but we think we'll just get the pancakes.
23. Bird's nest soup
Price: $1,000+ per bowl
A Chinese delicacy, the name 'bird's nest soup' is actually a bit misleading. 'Bird's spit soup' would be more accurate.
The soup is made from stolen nests of swiftlet birds, who construct their homes using nothing but their own saliva. Collecting the nests is perilous work, since swiftlets roost only on high precipices, cliffs, or in the tops of the tallest trees.
The resulting soup is gelatinous, sweet, and way out of our price range.
22. The Golden Phoenix Cupcake
Only in Dubai. The Golden Phoenix is on offer at Bloomsbury's, a boutique cafe in Dubai, where rich tourists and oil sheikhs come to play. And pay. It is made from Ugandan vanilla, some of the most expensive chocolate in the world, and covered in sheets of 24-carat gold.
I prefer my Easy Bake Oven.
21. The Westin Hotel Bagel
What's better than starting your day $1,000 in the hole? At New York City's Westin Hotel you can do just that with the most 1% bagel ever invented. It's topped with white truffle cream, goji-berry Riesling marmalade, and (what else?) pieces of edible gold.
And yet, after all that, it remains just a bagel.
20. 24K Pizza
Price: $2,000 per pie and up
Although it's not even close to being the most expensive pizza in the world, Industry Kitchen's 24K pie is definitely extra. It's layered with truffles, top-of-the-line caviar, Stilton, foie gras, and more gold than most people will ever wear, let alone eat. The crust is black with squid ink, just so you can feel extra fancy.
19. The ultra premier hot dog
On the one hand, it's just a hot dog; on the other hand, the folks at Tokyo Dog did everything in their power to garnish it with all the most expensive ingredients they could possibly find. Wagyu beef, bavarian sausage, black truffles, foie gras, caviar... It's like a summary of this list so far.
Best of all, the proceeds from this fanciest of lunches went to support the Red Cross.
18. Samundari Khazana
This curry dish at the Bombay Brasserie restaurant in London, is not your average helping of rice served with a tottering tower of naan. It contains all the riches of the seven seas: crab, caviar, gold-covered lobster. Oh, also white truffles and four whole quail eggs.
We can only imagine the preparation that goes into such an elaborate dish. This definitely isn't curry in a hurry.
17. Beluga caviar
Price: $4,500+ per pound
Expensive and controversial. The beluga sturgeon whose eggs supply the caviar is critically endangered, and importing those eggs into the U.S. has been illegal since 2005. The only country that manages its beluga populations sustainably is Iran, but trade with them is discouraged (or illegal) for... well, other reasons.
Even more expensive is caviar from albino beluga sturgeons (known as "almas"), which is even rarer. That stuff can go for as much as $35,000 per kilo.
16. Fleur Burger 5000
Here's where the most expensive foods in the world start getting truly crazy. A $5,000 burger? Yes, it's for real.
It's on offer in Las Vegas -- as if you hadn't lost enough money already -- at the Fleur restauranti n the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino. Devised by master chef Hubert Keller, it's made of Wagyu beef (naturally), foie gras (sure), and white truffles (but of course!).
It also comes with a complimentary bottle of Château Pétrus 1995, because this burger is far too fancy to pair with a Diet Coke.
15. Louis XIII Pizza
A kingly sum for a kingly pizza -- though it's hard to picture an old school French monarch sharing a casual slice with friends.
This beauty is made by Renato Viola, one of the most famous pizza chefs in the world. The dough must be stretched and left to breathe for 72 hours in advance of cooking. The toppings? Three kinds of caviar, prawn, lobster. Oh, and it's prepared with Louis XIII cognac and Champagne Krug Clos du Mesnil.
If you order this pizza (only in Italy), Viola will come prepare it for you in your villa, accompanied by a sommelier and an assistant chef.
14. Fence Gate Inn Meat Pie
Price: $14,260 for the whole thing; $1,781 per slice
If you think that's pretty steep for a dish most of us typically cook in a microwave, wait 'til you hear what's in it!
The most famous item on the menu at the Fence Gate Inn in Lancashire, UK, this meat pie pulls out all stops. It includes: Wagyu beef, two kinds of exotic truffles, two kinds of exotic mushrooms, and gravy made from two bottles of wine that cost more than $1,700 apiece.
Apparently, it has only been ordered once. Guess there aren't too many meat pie aficionados who ball out of control.
13. Stilt Fisherman's Indugence
I'd like to meet the humble fisherman who could afford it.
This dessert is on the menu at the Fortress Resort & Spa in Sri Lanka.
Basically, it's fruity Irish cream surrounded by a green sugary barricade and connected to a chocolate statuette of a man (the titular fisherman, presumably) on stilts. Oh, and it comes with a complimentary aquamarine gemstone. You probably shouldn't eat that bit.
12. Yubari King melons
Price: $29,000 for two
In Japan, rare and pleasing fruits are something of an obsession. Nothing will solidify a new friendship like a gift of some well-sourced fruit.
In 2018, though, the CEO of a food and beverage company took it to a whole new level when he paid $29,000 for two Yubari King melons. Granted they are rare, grown only in Yubari, Japan. But they're basically cantaloupes, man. I mean... come on.
11. Grand Velas Los Cabos Caviar Taco
I don't know about you, but at my house taco night is a welcome break from cooking anything more complicated. Tacos are famous as delicious, filling, affordable fare. But not this puppy.
The Caviar Taco at the Grand Velas Los Cabos Resort in Mexico is the most expensive in the world, requiring a $12,500 deposit before they'll fire up the grill. Inside a gold-flecked hard shell, you'll find Kobe beef, langoustine lobster, black truffle brie cheese, and Almas caviar (#17 on our list).
The Grand Velas recommends you pair your taco with a $150,000 bottle of tequila. Why not? If you're eating here, you can probably afford it.
10. Mirabile's cannoli
Dark chocolate, whipped ricotta cheese, candied lemon, and (unsurprisingly) an outer wrapping of gold leaf. This is the most expensive cannoli in the world, as prepared by master chef Jasper Mirabile Jr, based on his grandmother's recipe. Oh nana, if only you could see him now! (And collect a percentage...)
9. Da Hong Pao tea
Price: $27,000 for 20 grams of tea leaves
Way back in 2002, the record was set for the most expensive pot of tea ever when a wealthy buyer spent $27,000 for some of China's legendary Da Hong Pao tea.
These days, mercifully, Da Hong Pao tea is more affordable due to new restrictions imposed by the Chinese government.
8. Guibert's chocolate pudding
You would think that price might get you a lifetime supply of chocolate pudding. But no. It's one dish, which one very lonely person could easily devour in a few minutes.
Devised by head chef Marc Guibert, it's on the menu at the Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel in the UK. The pudding is made with four different kinds of Belgian chocolate, champagne jelly, and a two-carat diamond, encased in an edible model of a Fabergé egg.
Don't worry: it also comes with a dessert wine, so you're saving money on the drinks if nothing else.
7. Yartsa gunbu
Price: $50,000 per pound
This is a rather creepy little spore, otherwise known as caterpillar fungus. It invades caterpillars, infects them, and ultimately kills them from the inside out.
So why are people in Nepal paying $50,000 a pound for this fungus? From as far back as the 15th century, it has been rumored to have medicinal qualities. Specifically... aphrodisiac qualities. Whether this is true or not remains disputed, but it has made this little parasite the most expensive fungus in the world.
6. Acqua di Cristallo Tributo a Modigliani
Price: $60,000 a bottle
What could possibly cost so much for one bottle? With that fancy name, it must be something really exotic. A wine made from fermented liger urine?
Nope. It's bottled water. Yes. There are people... who pay more than most of us make in a year... for something you can get from the tap.
Granted, the water is a blend taken from France, Iceland, and Fiji, and it comes in a 24-karat gold bottle, but... No, there's just no way of defending this or even explaining it. Especially when you consider all the millions of desperate people out there who don't have access to clean drinking water.
5. Screaming Eagle Wine
Price: As much as $500,000 per bottle
The Screaming Eagle Winery in California is so fancy that you have to be on an approved list of buyers just to be able to acquire some for yourself. Some people wait years for the privilege of forking over tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for a bottle. Your money is not green unless they say so.
One bottle apparently sold to a tech executive for half a million dollars at an auction. I honestly hope it tasted terrible.
4. Macallan 92-year-old scotch
Price: $1.6 million
We now enter the truly obscene '$1 million and up' section of our list of most expensive foods (and drinks) in the world.
In 2018, a 92-year-old bottle of Macallan scotch whiskey sold for an unreal $1.6 million at auction. It's hard to imagine how good (or bad) a day you would have to have to even contemplate sampling such an expensive beverage.
3. Jeong Hong-Yong's Christmas cake
Price: $1.72 million
Japanese pastry chef Jeong Hong-Yong made this cake, which is covered in marzipan and 223 diamonds. No one has yet purchased it, and it remains on display and under guard in a Tokyo department store.
The best part? Underneath all those diamonds... it's a fruitcake! Which means no one will ever buy it, much less eat it.
2. Bluefin tuna
Price: $3.1 million
Just this year, a Japanese sushi restauranteur paid more than $3 million for a 600 pound blue fin tuna. The blue fin is increasingly rare due to overfishing, but has retained its place as a popular mainstay in the Japanese fish markets. New records are set fairly routinely as restauranteurs out-bid each other for the chance to sell their customers this endangered species.
In short, this may be the biggest sin on this whole list. Well, except for...
1. The world's most expensive cake
Price: $75 million
That's not a typo. Some idiot paid $75 million for a cake. Not even a wedding cake; an engagement cake.
It was commissioned by an anonymous doting father for his daughter, and designed by the British designer Debbie Wingham. The cake, which is six feet long and weighs nearly a ton, is topped with figurines re-enacting a fashion show, and laden with 4,000 diamonds. Seventeen of those stones are worth $45 million all on their own.
We're guessing you were feeling pretty hungry at some point in this list; if you now feel like throwing up, we can definitely relate.