50 Southern Recipes Every Northerner Needs to Try
50 Southern Recipes Every Northerner Needs to Try
Dishes you can only find in the Midwest and the food from New England are special and delicious in their own right, but nobody cooks quite like a Southerner. Southern cuisine is full of flavor, thanks to heavy-handedness when it comes to meat, cream, cheese and spice. When served with that signature Southern hospitality, you have a meal fit for champions.
The only thing is… trying to cook like a true Southerner is no easy task. Heck, even people who are born and bred in the region struggle to recreate dishes that are as good as their grandma’s. Luckily for Northerners and other clueless non-Southern chefs, we combed through our recipe archives to find 50 Southern recipes that are easy, delicious and characteristic of the region.
We found hearty breakfasts like steak and eggs, delightful appetizers such as boiled peanuts, classic mains including fried chicken, flavorful sides like pancetta-stewed green beans, sweet and sassy desserts like a bourbon peach cobbler and even a few New Orleans-inspired cocktails that every Northerner needs to try to cook up in their own home kitchens. Because even if you can’t live like a Southerner, you can cook like one with these 50 recipes.
Salty, sometimes spicy and always delicious, boiled peanuts are a great snack or appetizer. Any Southerner already knows this, and it’s time for the North to learn too.
Deviled eggs are a truly timeless appetizer. As with many foods, in the South these are made with a little touch of cayenne for that signature spice.
For the Deviled Eggs recipe, click here.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Green tomatoes are left on the vine to ripen in most places in America, but down South, cooks know the best thing to do with those bad boys is to deep-fry them and chow down. They’re a surprising and delightful appetizer option.
For the Fried Green Tomatoes recipe, click here.
No party down South is complete without this cheese spread. It has the perfect kick thanks to jalapeños and hot sauce, but don’t worry! Like any proper Southern dish, there’s plenty of mayonnaise and cream cheese to balance it all out.
For the Spicy Pimento Cheese recipe, click here.
This classic Southern appetizer is so quick and easy, you won’t even believe it’s real. All it takes is four common pantry ingredients and an oven.
For the Southern Sausage Balls recipe, click here.
Stuffed Tomatoes With Gruyere
Light, bright, seasonal and just a bit cheesy, this impressive appetizer is best when made with the freshest Southern tomatoes.
Biscuits and Gravy
This hearty breakfast dish is a true Southern icon and requires just a few ingredients. Paired with homemade biscuits, this spicy sausage gravy will start your day off right.
Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy
Biscuits and sausage gravy is one thing, but that’s not the only take on this decadent breakfast dish. Yes, biscuits and chocolate gravy exists, and it’s a super Southern way to start your day.
Chicken and Waffles
Every cook knows you need to know how to make perfect fried chicken, and once you have that recipe in your back pocket, you’ll want it for every meal, including breakfast. Luckily, a great fluffy waffle pairs perfectly with crisp chicken.
For the Chicken and Waffles recipe, click here.
Shrimp and Grits
Some things just go together: peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, and shrimp and grits. This iconic food duo is comfort food that can be served at any time of day.
Steak and Eggs
Another classic food combination also happens to come with a Southern breakfast menu: steak and eggs. It’s simple. Season your meat heavily, cook it to medium-rare and serve with eggs (however you like them). Don’t forget the hot sauce if you really want to feel Southern.
We’re not here to tell you what region of the South has the best barbecue. So choose your own sauce while following this method for the best fall-off-the-bone-tender pork you’ll ever have.
For the Best-Ever Barbecued Ribs recipe, click here.
Buttermilk Fried Frog Legs
Fried chicken is delicious, but if you want to go just a bit out of your comfort zone, consider frying up a batch of these frog legs. Their taste just may surprise you.
For the Buttermilk Fried Frog Legs recipe, click here.
With roots that trace back to western Africa, the flavors and techniques of this rich fish stew are uniquely Southern in style, if not in flavor profile.
Chicken and Andouille Gumbo
Chicken and andouille sausage is a match made in heaven… or in Louisiana. Not too brothy and not too thick, this rendition of classic Cajun cooking is suitable for newcomers to this style of cuisine.
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and dumplings is the king of comfort thanks to its hearty infusion of chicken, buttery dumplings and a few vegetables (for good measure).
For the Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings recipe, click here.
This classic Cajun dish is famously from New Orleans. But you don’t have to travel down to the bayou to get this rich, shellfish-packed meal in your bowl.
Fried Oyster Po'Boys
It takes a lot of ingredients and plenty of know-how to make a Southern-worthy po’boy, but once you nail it, you’ll never want another sandwich.
Nashville-Style Hot Chicken
If you think you’ve had spicy fried chicken, well you haven’t had Nashville-style hot chicken. With cayenne, chili powder, paprika and plenty of hot sauce, this dish is pure fire. Serve with pickles to revive your tastebuds.
Nothing goes with a hearty Southern meal like fried chicken, barbecue or catfish stew quite like a fresh, homemade biscuit.
Classic Cornbread Dressing
One thing that’s on every Southern holiday table? Cornbread dressing. The use of cornbread over traditional white bread makes for a moist and wildly flavorful side dish.
Collard greens, a cousin of cabbage and kale, is a staple green in the South. It’s braised and oftentimes stewed in bacon or pork fat and something spicy like jalapeños. It’s the perfect (meaty) way to get your veggies in.
For the Spicy Collard Greens recipe, click here.
Corn pudding, like many Southern takes on veggies, is extra cooked, extra buttery and oh-so-scrumptious. Fit for summertime dinners or the holiday table, try this new take on a tired vegetable any time of the year.
For the Corn Pudding recipe, click here.
Vegetables are never particularly fun to eat, unless you’re in the South. In that case, they’re fried and the highlight of any plate.
Heirloom Tomato Salad
A bright, summery tomato is as fresh and as colorful as you can get. Southerners know the delicious simplicity of this produce and use fresh tomatoes for this simple salad.
What goes better with fried fish and fried chicken than more fried food? In the South, the answer is nothing. That’s where hush puppies, deep-fried balls of cornmeal, come into play. This version uses beer in the batter to add a lighter texture.
If you haven’t gathered by now, cornmeal is an essential Southern ingredient. This spicy cornbread recipe uses plenty of it and plenty of peppers, resulting in the perfect barbecue side.
Slow 'n' Crispy Mac 'n' Cheese
Everyone swears their mama has the best mac ‘n’ cheese recipe, but they haven’t tried this dish yet. With tons of ooey, gooey cheese and a crunchy breadcrumb topping, this has all the texture and flavor you could ever want.
For the Slow 'n' Crispy Mac 'n' Cheese recipe, click here.
Southern-Style Green Beans
What makes green beans distinctively Southern? Pancetta, brown sugar and a dash of cayenne. You’ll never look at your vegetables the same way again.
Spicy Black-Eyed Peas
This spicy side is packed full of flavor but couldn’t be easier to pull together. Southern legend has it that if you eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, you’ll be prosperous in the coming months.
Corn and lima beans are kind of whatever on their own, but when combined with fresh herbs, peppers and zucchini, you have a light and summery side that you’ll want for any picnic.
The National Banana Pudding Festival is held in Centerville, Tennessee, every year, so you know the South knows this dish well. Layers of pudding, bread and fruit make this a creamy, dreamy dish.
What can we say? Southerners love their bananas. Cooked in a decadent sauce and served over ice cream, this slow-cooker bananas Foster recipe is so easy you’re going to want it every night.
Bourbon Bread Pudding
It doesn’t get much more Southern than a rich dessert made with bourbon. This hearty, Creole-style dessert is chock full of good stuff, like pecans, spices and plenty of scrumptious bourbon.
Bourbon Peach Cobbler
A peach cobbler with a beautiful crumble on top is a picturesque, perfectly Southern dessert. It only gets better with a splash of bourbon and tons of mascarpone topping.
For the Bourbon Peach Cobbler recipe, click here.
Coconut cake is a Southern twist on a classic yellow cake. As the name implies, the outside is covered in coconut flakes, leading to a rustic yet lovely presentation fit for any occasion.
For the Coconut Lavender Cream Cake recipe, click here.
If you ever wanted to know what a Southern bird eats, it’s a cake filled with pineapples, banana and pecans and topped with a tangy cream cheese frosting. It’s so good, it will give you wings.
For the Hummingbird Cake recipe, click here.
If you want to celebrate Mardi Gras like they do in New Orleans, you must make a king cake. Traditionally, this bright purple, yellow and green cake hides a tiny plastic figurine inside the cake. When the dessert is sliced, the person who receives the hidden treat is the king or queen of the day. That’s some good old-fashioned fun if you ask us!
For the King Cake recipe, click here.
OK, technically you can find pecan pie anywhere in the U.S., but you can’t find it like you will down South. In fact, Southerners love this dessert so much, it is the official state dessert of Texas!
For the Brown Butter Pecan Pie recipe, click here.
The simplest ingredients can make the best dishes, and a classic Southern pound cake proves just that. You can find everything you need for this delicious dessert in your pantry at all times.
Sweet Potato Pie
A pumpkin pie is for other parts of the U.S. In the South, it’s all about the sweet potato pie. This simple recipe is a great introduction to this holiday-time favorite.
As the name implies, this light cocktail has plenty of carbonation, with light flavors of lemon and sugar. It’s the perfect thing to get you through those long, hot days.
Honey Bourbon Hot Toddy
Really, any bourbon cocktail will do if you’re looking to drink like a Southerner. But we like this simple hot toddy recipe because it’s the kind of old-fashioned cocktail you can get nearly anywhere.
Rum, fruit juice and grenadine combine for a tropical drink that makes you feel like you’re right on a Southern beach. Created by bartenders at Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans, this is the epitome of summertime sipping.
This simple cocktail is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, but you’ll find refreshing (and boozy) mint juleps all across the South. It’s the perfect thing to drink on those long, hot summer days. And there are plenty of long, hot days.
For the Mint Julep recipe, click here.
According to legend, the Sazerac was invented in New Orleans by Antoine Amèdèe Peychaud in the 1880s. Today, this absinthe and whiskey cocktail is one of the many signature drinks of Louisiana.
For the Sazerac recipe, click here.
Walk into any home in the South, and you’re likely to be offered a nice, cold glass of sweet tea. Extra sweet, of course. And once you drink enough sweet tea, you may be ready to conquer more iconic Southern dishes.
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