Our 23 Best Southern and Soul Food Recipes That'll Remind You Of What Grandma Used To Make

It's not just fried chicken (although the South does that well too)

Anyone who grew up in the South can attest to the unmatched comfort of the region's traditional cooking. And while that down-home warmth is something shared across the Southern states, Southern cuisine is anything but monolithic. You've got your fried chicken—let's give that to Nashville or North Carolina—, your saucy Carolina 'cue, and who could forget about the Tex-Mex of the Lone Star State. From sweet potato casserole topped with toasted marshmallows to the absolute flakiest buttermilk biscuits, our best southern and soul food recipes will have you whipping up dishes in no time that remind you of your mama's home cooking.

Our Readers’ Favorite Fried Chicken Recipe
Fried Chicken
Simply seasoned and fried, with a thin, crisp coating and tender, juicy meat, the fried chicken at Martha Lou's Kitchen is some of the best we've ever tasted. Get the recipe for Our Readers' Favorite Fried Chicken Recipe »Kat Craddock
Super-Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits With Honey Butter
Biscuits
This honey butter-topped biscuit recipe, from Jean-Paul Bourgeois, executive chef at Blue Smoke in New York City, earned first prize in the 2017 Charleston Food & Wine Festival's Battle of the Biscuits. High-quality dairy—and high-fat dairy—are two of chef Bourgeois' tricks to making them extra-special. Look for either high-fat buttermilk or a higher fat, European-style butter, which make for a more delicate, flakier texture. Get the recipe for Super-Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits With Honey Butter »Matt Taylor-Gross
Garlicky Skillet Greens with Ham
Garlicky Skillet Greens with Ham
Garlic confit, a silky, spreadable condiment, relies on a French technique for gently poaching peeled whole cloves in oil or fat. The process caramelizes the cloves and draws out their sweetness, yielding a sumptuous spread. We love to use it in dishes like these skillet-cooked greens from Linton Hopkins, chef and owner of Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta, which feature garlic confit and a piquant sorghum gastrique. Get the recipe for Garlicky Skillet Greens with Ham »Romulo Yanes
Southern Tomato Pie
tomato pie
As soon as the first tomato blossom turns into a tiny green orb, people start calling Kinston restaurant Chef & the Farmer to find out if tomato pie is on the menu. If you have access to two different colors of tomatoes, combine them here—one for the roasted portion and another for the fresh. It's a nice visual touch. Get the recipe for Southern Tomato Pie »Tim Robison
Pecan Cream Cake
Pecan Cream Cake
Packed with coconut and pecans and covered in cream cheese frosting, this cake is a specialty of Georgia home cook Cile Ellis. It first appeared in our November 2013 issue with Wendell Brock's story Southern Belle. Get the recipe for Pecan Cream Cake »Landon Nordeman
Biscuits with Sawmill Gravy
Biscuits with Sawmill Gravy
One of the pillars of the Southern breakfast table, buttery biscuits smothered in a sausage-studded white gravy makes a hearty meal any time of day. A hint of cayenne brightens the gravy's richness, but it's even better with a dash or two of hot sauce. Get the recipe for Biscuits with Sawmill Gravy »Maxime Iattoni
Nashville Hot Chicken
Nashville Hot Chicken
The secret to Nashville's famous hot chicken is in the layering: The bird is marinated in a spicy buttermilk brine, then dredged with more flour and spice, double-fried, and finally slathered with a fiery butter paste to create a crunchy, peppery coating. One bite into its burnished orange crust reveals first a tangy crunch, and then a deeper, complex spice that leaves a lingering fire behind. Adjust the heat by adding as much—or as little—cayenne as you like. Get the recipe for Nashville Hot Chicken »Landon Nordeman
Hush Puppies
Hush Puppies
These crisp-fried cornmeal balls are traditionally served alongside fried fish and tartar sauce in the Deep South. Get the recipe for Hush Puppies »Landon Nordeman
Maison Premiere Gumbo
Maison Premiere Gumbo
This seafood gumbo from Brooklyn's Maison Premiere features smokey andouille sausage, seared shrimp, oysters, and crab. Maison Premiere Gumbo »Thomas Payne
Pimento Cheese Sandwich with Homemade Pickles
Pimento Cheese with Homemade Pickles
John Bates and Brandon Martinez of Noble Sandwich Co. in Austin, Texas, add sriracha to their chunky pimento cheese recipe in this sandwich, upping the spice factor and helping to offset the creaminess of the cheddar. The spread is so good, Bates recommends slathering it on everything from romaine spears to crackers. Get the recipe for Pimento Cheese Sandwich with Homemade Pickles »Joseph De Leo
Chocolate Chess Pie with Cornbread Crumble
Chocolate Chess Pie with Cornbread Crumble
Chef Scott Crawford of the forthcoming Nash Tavern in Raleigh updates the simple Southern custard pie by adding cacao nibs to the butter crust and sprinkling a nutty cornbread crumble on top. Get the recipe for Chocolate Chess Pie with Cornbread Crumble »Joseph De Leo
Blueberry Barbecue Chicken
Blueberry Barbecue Chicken
Similar to a shrub—a fruit syrup punctuated by vinegar—this blueberry sauce makes a bracing drink when mixed with club soda or booze. It's also the first step in a fruity vinaigrette and is a perfect glaze on oven-baked chicken. Keep in mind this is not a marinade. Brush it on toward the end of cooking and let the chicken soak up more of the sauce before serving. The final soak is key. Get the recipe for Blueberry Barbecue Chicken »Tim Robison
Alabama-Style Chicken Sandwiches with White Sauce
Alabama-Style Chicken Sandwiches with White Sauce
A recipe for hickory-smoked chicken sandwiches served with tangy, mayonnaise-based white sauce originated in 1925, when railway worker Big Bob Gibson dug a pit in his backyard in Decatur, Alabama, nailed a plank-oak serving table to a sycamore tree, and started smoking barbecue for friends, co-workers, and passersby. His popular recipe eventually spread to barbecue joints throughout the region. What distinguishes this dish is a creamy sauce that bastes and dresses the chicken. This recipe first appeared in our June/July 2011 BBQ issue along with our story Classic 'Cues. Get the recipe for Alabama-Style Chicken Sandwiches with White Sauce »Todd Coleman
Cajun Seafood Boil
Cajun Seafood Boil
This spicy boil is inspired by one served at Charlie's Seafood in Harahan, Louisiana. This recipe first appeared in our April 2013 special feature on New Orleans. Get the recipe for Cajun Seafood Boil »Todd Coleman
Country Ham With Red-Eye Gravy and Grits
Country Ham With Red-Eye Gravy and Grits
It takes longer to determine the origin of red-eye gravy's name than it does to make it. Some Southerners believe that the gravy takes its name from a man's red-rimmed eyes in the morning or from the reddish hue of certain country hams. Others swear that the name comes from the red-tinted layer of fat that forms on the surface of the gravy. Get the recipe for Country Ham With Red-Eye Gravy and Grits »Matt Taylor-Gross
Char-Smoked Baby Back Ribs
Grilling, Smoked Ribs
"Using a chargrill and smoke combo, you can create this really soulful, comforting flavor pretty easily," says chef Sean Brock of Husk and McCrady's in Charleston, South Carolina. After getting a nice crust on these ribs, Brock converts his grill into a smoker and finishes the meat low-and-slow in a cocoon of smoke, which gently breaks down the meat. Cooking note: Please allow time for overnight brining. Get the recipe for Char-Smoked Baby Back Ribs »Michael Turek
Hot Milk Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Hot Milk Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Scalded milk produces a moist texture in this simple dessert, an ivory-hued cake that's so straightforward it's often referred to, even in vintage cookbooks, as "old-fashioned." Made right, as it is at Dr. Ho's in North Garden, Virginia, with a fluffy white crumb and an uncomplicated buttercream frosting, it is tender and egg-rich—a mother's-hug Dixie treat. This recipe first appeared in our October 2014 issue with the story Best of the Blue Ridge. Get the recipe for Hot Milk Cake with Vanilla Buttercream »Andre Baranowski
Pork Rind Oysters
pork rind roosters
Roosters are an oyster bar standard made up of a single saltine topped with an oyster, horseradish, and several slices of jalapeño. The tradition: You shoot one back, grimace, chase it with a beer, and before you know it, you've eaten a dozen and got a T-shirt to prove it. This is not that. This tastes good. Instead of something you'd eat only after partying a bit, this version is an adept way to start a party. Get the recipe for Pork Rind Oysters »Tim Robison
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich with Jalapeño Slaw
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich with Jalapeño Slaw
The chicken in this sandwich, from Alison Barakat of Bakesale Betty in Oakland, gets dredged once in buttermilk and twice in flour, which ensures a crisp coating. Add the crunchy, spicy jalapeño slaw right before serving. Get the recipe for Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich with Jalapeño Slaw »Joseph De Leo
Dirty Rice
Dirty Rice
Pecans, chicken livers, and vegetables add layers of flavor to wild rice in this recipe from Food Editor Ben Mims. Get the recipe for Dirty Rice »Ingalls Photography
Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Salad
Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Salad
Chef Mason Hereford rarely leaves a country store without a haul of fried chicken. With the leftovers, he often makes this salad, a jumble of sweet potato, celery, and chopped pickles tossed in a lemon- and hot-sauce-spiked dressing anchored by plenty of Duke's brand mayonnaise. Get the recipe for Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Salad »William Hereford
Pecan Cheese Wafers
Pecan Cheese Wafers
Pecans lightly brushed with egg whites are baked into cheesy, buttery wafers with a touch of chile flakes. Get the recipe for Pecan Cheese Wafers »Ingalls Photography
Hummingbird Cake
Hummingbird Cake
This hummingbird cake honors the legacy of the Southern cook Edna Lewis. The luscious, fruit-and-nut-studded layer cake is served in Atlanta's Watershed restaurant; the recipe first appeared in Christiane Lauterbach's feature about the restaurant, which ran in our April 2009 issue. Get the recipe for Hummingbird Cake »Matt Taylor-Gross
Cornbread Coffee Cake with Fresh Figs and Walnut Streusel
cornbread coffee cake
Southern chef Vivian Howard developed this cake with breakfast in mind, maybe something to share with family over coffee. But when she first made it, her kids named it corn-candy cake and called for it after supper. She obliged and put some whipped cream on top. Whenever you choose to eat it, feel good about baking it a day ahead. It keeps beautifully and is as satisfying at room temperature as it is warm. Get the recipe for Cornbread Coffee Cake with Fresh Figs and Walnut Streusel »Tim Robison
Redfish on the Half Shell with Creamy Grits
Redfish on the Half Shell with Creamy Grits
Grilling fish skin-side-down with scales still attached protects the delicate meat and insulates it from the heat, resulting in perfectly tender flesh. Get the recipe for Redfish on the Half Shell with Creamy Grits »Christina Holmes
Peach Ice Cream
Peach Ice Cream
Sweet, pale orange ice cream flavored with ripe, juicy peaches simply screams summer. Get the recipe for Peach Ice Cream »SAVEUR
Pimento Cheese Hushpuppies
Pimento Cheese Hush Puppies
At Lillie's Q, hushpuppies—little cornbread fritters you could eat like popcorn—get a dose of zesty pimento cheese for extra richness. Pimento Cheese Hushpuppies »Matt Taylor-Gross
Green Chili Grits
Green Chili Cheese Grits
For soft, creamy, and flavorful grits, chef Harold Marmulstein of Austin's Salty Sow cooks his low and slow, then adds a rich, spicy, bright-green purée of chiles and cilantro. Get the recipe for Green Chili Grits »Matt Taylor-Gross
Spicy Pickled Okra
Spicy pickled okra
This lightly spicy recipe adapted from Jacob Clark of Brooklyn's Maison Premiere makes the perfect, puckery bar snack. The okra can also be a satisfying garnish for Bloody Marys. Get the recipe for Spicy Pickled Okra »Thomas Payne
Watermelon Rind Pickles
Watermelon Rind Pickles
Even when summer gets away from us at the restaurant and we're not able to pickle and preserve the heck out of everything in our path, we somehow find a way to make these pickles: It feels good to make something translucent and crispy out of stuff that's potentially trash. That's one reason we go to the trouble. The other is that they're a pork chop's soul mate. Use a vegetable peeler to peel a whole watermelon—it's easier than slicing it up first. Get the recipe for Watermelon Rind Pickles »Tim Robison
Turtleback Cookies
Turtleback Cookies
Traeger's Bakery in Demopolis, Alabama first popularized these soft spice cookies, which are named for their hard cinnamon glaze that glistens like a glossy turtle shell. Get the recipe for Turtleback Cookies »](/article/recipes/turtleback-spice-cookies)Farideh Sadeghin
Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and Dumplings
This dish from Andrea Reusing of the restaurant Lantern, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, highlights the flavor of heritage chicken. Get the recipe for Chicken and Dumplings »Laura Sant
Shrimp and Grits
cheese shrimp grits, shrimp and grits
Coarse stone-ground grits lend texture and robust flavor to a classic, cheesy dish with sweet shrimp and smoky bacon. Get the recipe for Shrimp and Grits »André Baranowski