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My heart is firmly planted in a field of Texas bluebonnets. I’ve now lived outside Texas longer than in, but my annual Summers there, and a year spent living in North Carolina cemented my identity as a Southern steel magnolia.
Southern food is comfort food, but it’s not all fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. There are many unique dishes people shy away from. Maybe it’s because “catfish” isn’t commonly used elsewhere. Maybe it’s because no one knows what a “hush puppy” actually is. Or, maybe, it’s because most Southern Recipes involve carbs, sugar, and a some good ‘ol deep frying.
Whatever your hesitation may be, it’s time to step outside the box. I’ve compiled a list of my seven favorite Southern Recipes.
They are all equally must-try, no matter how strange they may sound. I’ve scoured the internet for the best, most authentic recipes for this compilation. Therefore, you can rest assured you’ll be treating yourself to a true, southern classic. If you have any questions, I’d love to help you cook or bake these successfully! Request an Instagram Live demo here.
1. Fried Green Tomatoes
This is a simple dish, although many people try to jazz it up. While I’m normally a fan of adding fancy touches to a recipe, Fried Green Tomatoes are something that stand on their own two feet. This recipe from Country Recipe Book is as classic as they come. However, they do leave out a dipping sauce, which is of the utmost importance.
My favorite dipping sauce is very easy: 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 Cup mayonnaise, 1 TBS pickle juice, and a minced clove of garlic. Add some hot sauce if you’d like. Mix together until smooth, and serve immediately!
2. Shrimp & Grits
I generally don’t love shellfish, but I make an exception for shrimp & grits. In fact, I love grits so much, we served them at our wedding. Yes, honey. Yessss. I grew up on cheesy grits for breakfast, and nothing tastes more like home. Shrimp and cheesy grits are a match made in heaven. They’re surprisingly easy to make, and you’ll think you died and went to heaven. The Self Proclaimed Foodie has an excellent recipe for cheesy shrimp and grits here. Don’t skimp on that black pepper and paprika, those are the spicy secrets.
If you live in an area that doesn’t carry grits in the local store–Southern readers might choke on their sweet tea, but half the supermarkets here plain don’t have them–find them here or here. I’ll be honest, sometimes I’m not in the mood to cook, so I’ll use the 5-minute grits instead of the slow cook.
3. Hush Puppies
I honestly have no idea how these haven’t migrated to the north/west of the United States. They are so damn good. Every now and then I’ll come across them on a menu, but they aren’t the classic, sweet hush puppies I remember. Hush puppies are basically deep fried cornbread. Traditionally they’re sweet. They can be made cheesy, or spicy–both delicious–but I prefer a sweet hush puppy over any other variety. Whisk it Real Gud has a no-nonsense recipe that’s easy to follow, and will result in a classic, sweet hush puppy. Pair with baked tilapia and coleslaw to round out your meal.
4. Buttermilk Pie
This is a holiday staple in my family. Historically, buttermilk was inexpensive and widely available to Texan settlers. Being resourceful, they did what any good Southerner does and they came up with a way to make it into a pie. Like most Southern recipes, this is an inexpensive, and simple dish. A dessert based entirely on buttermilk may not sound appealing, but this pie is L U S C I O U S.
I stumbled across this perfect recipe from the Homesick Texan (can I get an Amen?). Her recipe comes directly from her great grandmother, and mirrors my family recipe. With the exception of buttermilk, you likely have all the ingredients for this pie already.
Gumbo comes with endless possibilities. It’s made differently throughout the south, but there are a few generally agreed upon components: there must be multiple meats, and the soup base is always made of tomato. New Orleans style gumbo is often made of only seafood–crab, shrimp, oysters, etc. But, my favorite variation includes spicy sausage and chicken. The Forked Spoon not only has a lovely recipe for Gumbo, she writes a fascinating synopsis of Louisiana’s food history. I didn’t realize Creole was separate from Cajun food, but, now I know!
6. Texas Sheet Cake
I was once asked to make dessert for a cousins backyard wedding. No big deal, right? Cake for 100+ people? I gotchu, fam. In keeping with budget and timeline, I decided to do Texas Sheet Cake. It feeds a football team–or a bridal party–and it’s pretty no-fuss. The texture is more dense and brownie-like than your average cake. Also, it’s not as “chocolatey” as most chocolate cakes are. Some people criticize, but I don’t think every chocolate cake needs to be over-the-top filled with cocoa.
This is the exact recipe I used several years ago, from blogger Nancy-C. I made a vanilla version, and a chocolate version. Both were a huge hit, and I guarantee it will be for you too. To make a vanilla version, just remove the cocoa, add 2 more tsp of vanilla extract, and 1/4 tsp salt.
7. Blackened Catfish
Catfish are disgusting. I am aware. They are the bugs of the river and look like they should be kept there, out of sight, indefinitely. But let me tell you what else they are: DELICIOUS. A fun (aka: redneck) way to catch Catfish is “noodling.” Check it out. Anyway, back to the eating part. Catfish is basically only served two ways: fried, or blackened. I prefer blackened myself.
“Blackened” doesn’t mean burnt, it means coated thickly in spices, which are cooked onto the outside of the fish. It’s commonly used on salmon and chicken outside the south. Of all the southern recipes I’ve posted here, this one is actually healthy, and keto friendly for those who prefer a carb-free lifestyle *signs a cross over my chest.* This recipe from Cajun Cooking Recipes includes a creamy sauce, which takes it down a healthy notch–unless you’re keto, but is definitely worth the calories. For a foolproof way to season, you can also grab this pre-made spice blend.
There y’all have it. My top seven FAVORITE Southern Recipes.
I would love to see what you come up with, please snap a pic and tag me on Instagram–if you’re not following, you should be. Or, email me if you have any questions I can help you with. My favorite thing about this blog is helping y’all make and enjoy great food.