While every single region of the United States has its own distinctive cuisine, nothing compares to the foods of the American South. We’ll never run away from a comforting Midwestern casserole or a stunning seafood boil from New England, but the South really does have it all. Are you looking for a decadent breakfast? The South has plenty of dishes for you. Are you looking for 15 different foods to fry? Yep, the South has those recipes too. Want biscuits and cakes and soups and cookies and even specialty beverages? Look to the South.
And while Southern food is no secret, there are certain foods that are true signatures of the region. And these are those 25 Southern recipes that the rest of the world needs to try.
Sure, you can get biscuits basically anywhere, but until you’ve had a true Southern biscuit, you haven’t lived.
Everyone has had salted peanuts, and most folks have had honey-roasted peanuts. But a sure sign you’re from the South is that you’ve been munching on boiled peanuts since you were knee high to a grasshopper. Salty, spicy and always delicious, this bar snack has a texture like nothing else.
Now, you need to purchase a smoker to properly pull of this Texas-style brisket recipe, but we think it’s worth the investment. Few things are better than meat that has been cooked low and slow all day long. And Southerners who are passionate about barbecue know that well.
If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, you’d be doing a big disservice if you didn’t get a big ol’ bowl of gumbo for at least one meal. If you can’t make it to the Big Easy, this recipe straight from Emeril Lagasse’s Rolodex will more than suffice.
There’s no shortage of comfort food in a Southern chef’s cookbook, but chicken and dumplings just might take the cake. This recipe is made in the slow cooker, allowing you to take it easy all day long.
There are a lot of ways to make a cheap cut of steak tender and delicious, but Southerners know that no marinade holds a candle to a chicken-fried steak. Pound that round steak nice and thin and treat it like the best fried chicken recipe from there. Soon, you’ll know perfection.
You’ve heard of biscuits and sausage gravy, but have you heard of biscuits and chocolate gravy? It’s on many Southern breakfast tables, and kids and kids at heart alike sing its praises.
Want to know one thing every Southerner has on their Thanksgiving table? Cornbread dressing. No holiday would be complete without it, but it’s great for any time of year.
A classic Cajun recipe, crawfish étouffée uses this shellfish in all the best ways, allowing the shell to add flavor to the stock and the meat to become ridiculously tender. Savory, saucy and full of spice, you’ll be singing the praises of the bayou with this dish.
In most parts of the tomato-loving world, green tomatoes are just seen as underripe fruit. But in the South, they’re the perfect start to an irresistible appetizer.
All of the best vegetables are fried — Southerners know that. And no vegetable is more distinctively Southern than okra.
This Louisiana sandwich takes the deliciousness of a perfectly-seasoned fried oyster and adds even more flavor with a scrumptious mayonnaise-based sauce. Don’t have oysters? Shrimp, crab or other seafood will do just as well.
Wait… Frito pie? As in… those curly little corn chips? Oh heck yes. A staple of high school football games across the South, Fritos make a salty, crunchy base for a mixture of chili, cheese, onions and sour cream. For the most authentic experience, eat straight from the bag.
Sure, there’s classic Southern fried chicken, but Nashville-style hot chicken isn’t here to play. When we say hot, we mean this is mad spicy. Be sure you have plenty of sweet tea around to wash this dish down.
Sure, you can buy refried beans in a can from any halfway-decent grocery store. But once you make them from scratch, you’ll know why cooks in Texas go through the effort.
You will almost always find grits on a Southern breakfast table, yet they’re seldom seen outside of the region. The most classic way to prep this ingredient is with some perfectly cooked shrimp.
This three-ingredient appetizer is a true staple of Southern entertaining. If you grew up with this dish, it’s a favorite. If you haven’t, you may or may not be a convert. But you don’t know until you try!
How can something made simply from butter, milk, flour, salt and pepper be so dang delicious? Chalk it up to another great Southern food mystery. Pour this white gravy all over your fried chicken or biscuits.
Braised with jalapenos, bacon and vinegar, these braised collard greens are spicy, meaty, sour and oh-so-tender.
A classic dip at many Southern parties, pimento cheese is the perfect thing for crackers, carrots or even a sandwich. We won’t judge; it’s just that good!
Bourbon, pecans and plenty of sugar are all must-haves in Southern cooking. This quick and easy dessert has all of those scrumptious ingredients in one delicious package.
A pecan pie may be considered a signature of the South, but true Southern cooks know that butter pecan cookies are one of the best dishes to bring to a potluck.
Tea may be a healthy, hydrating choice in most parts of the world, but in the South, this drink is basically one part tea and one part sugar. And once you master these recipes, there are plenty more classic Southern recipes that non-Southerners need to try.
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