Whether you’re looking for fried chicken or country-fried steak, we’ve got all the ideas for a menu that would make any Southern grandma proud. Fortunately, summer kicks off with June as National Soul Food Month, which means it’s the perfect time to indulge in some Southern dishes. Check out these classic recipes that you’re going to want to try at the next family dinner or potluck.Jump to Recipe
What Is Southern Food?
Southern food is often synonymous with “comfort food.” While there are nutritious alternatives to many favorite dishes, when you’re eating dishes that are battered and fried, smothered in butter and gravy, or covered in cheese, calorie counting isn’t your top priority! If you’re eating Southern comfort food, you’re often enjoying a decadent meal, often followed by an equally rich dessert. Think Cracker Barrel.
“Soul food” makes up a great portion of Southern food, but not all Southern recipes would be considered soul food. So what makes soul food special?
Soul food has strong Cajun and Native American influences, and much of it originated in West Africa, Western Europe, and the Americas. That gives you an idea of the flavors and spices these Southern dishes have. The term “soul food” became prominent in the 1960s and was associated with Black culture and history. While “soul” became a musical genre associated with gospel music, the word came to define various things related to the culture.
What Are Some good Southern Recipes for Sunday dinner?
Whether you’re indulging in potlikker soup or breaking out the Crock-Pot for some slow cooker pork, there are few foods as comforting as Southern-style! But the following are the best of the best when it comes to a big, hearty dinner that tastes like home:
- Fried Chicken– Cooking fried chicken at home may seem intimidating, but cooking this classic Southern dish isn’t as daunting as it may seem. Fried chicken was truly a celebratory meal, as it represented the abundance of chicken. Soak the chicken in buttermilk for two hours and coat it with flour and spices for delectable, crispy chicken. You can even consider baked chicken if you’re looking for a healthier option instead!
- Chicken-fried steak– This dish gets its name from the iconic cooking method! Chicken Fried Steak is made with cube steak that you find already tenderized at your grocery store. The crusty, breaded, and fried exterior really makes this dish the main character.
- Fried Catfish Po Boy with Pickle Remoulade– What makes a sandwich a “Po’Boy?” This sandwich from Louisiana almost always consists of meat, usually roast beef or fried seafood, served on New Orleans French bread, known for its crisp crust and fluffy center. Add a pickle remoulade for some extra kick, and you’ll have a new favorite go-to sandwich.
- Shrimp and Grits– Pair this creamy, versatile grain with fried shrimp and plenty of southern spices for a flavorful breakfast or lunch dish! You may even want to dress it up with bacon for some extra oomph.
Southern Dishes for Dessert
- Pecan Pie– One year, I asked for pecan pie on my birthday instead of a cake, and I have no regrets. I would do it again. This quintessential southern dessert has nuttiness, sweetness, and a caramelized filling that makes it oh-so-delectable.
- Peach Cobbler– My friend once said, “You know, cobbler just doesn’t get enough recognition.” That’s stuck with me ever since, and I would completely agree. When it comes hot out of the oven paired with cold vanilla ice cream, this versatile dessert really can’t be beaten.
- Banana Pudding–This layered pudding dessert is renowned for its simplicity and creamy texture mixed with crunchy vanilla wafer cookies. And who could resist all that whipped cream?
- Sweet Potato Pie– This is a staple in southern homes around the holidays (if not, then it’s sweet potato casserole). Brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and of course, sweet potato makes this a comfort food that you can’t resist. Sweet potatoes get ALL the love during the holiday season in the South, whether it’s pie, candied yams, or sweet potato casserole.
- Bourbon Bread Pudding– Use brioche or french bread to make this sweet, dense, moist, and yummy dessert that perfectly accompanies ice cream. The great debate: Raisins or no raisins? I say bring on the raisins!
- 1 3-4lb pork roast
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- Place roast in slow cooker.
- Combine remaining ingredients (except cornstarch) in a 2-cup measuring cup. Whisk together and pour over roast.
- Cook on low 10-12 hours for that fall-apart, insanely tender type of meat. (Or on high 6-8 hours.)
Pork Roast Gravy
- Prior to serving, ladle out about 1/4 cup of the juice in the crock pot and strain into a measuring cup.
- Whisk in 2 tsp cornstarch. Add in enough juice to make 1 cup.
- Microwave on high for 30 seconds and whisk again. Drizzle sauce over meat prior to serving.
Southern Dishes: Sides
Looking for the perfect sides to go with your Southern recipes for Sunday dinner? We’ve got you covered.
- Collard Greens: Do not be fooled by the word “greens.” When I was on one of my health kicks, I ordered collard greens to go with my barbecue…because…vegetables, right? What I actually received was velvety, salty, rich-tasting greens cooked in Pot Likker soup. However, collard greens did NOT disappoint.
- Mashed Potatoes: This is the side to top all other sides. And to make Southern mashed potatoes, it’s as simple as 5 ingredients: red potatoes, whole milk, chicken broth, butter, and salt and pepper.
- Fried Green Tomatoes: For this, take unripe tomatoes coated with cornmeal and fry until golden. Pair this unexpected delight with shrimp remoulade–just like how they serve it in New Orleans, Lousiana.
- Fried Okra: Again, another vegetable whose nutrition finds itself thrown at the mercy of Southern cooking, and I’m never mad. For this dish, dredge chopped okra in seasoned cornmeal, then fry until golden.
- Cornbread Dressing: In my house, there’s a great debate about the superior dressing: cornbread or regular? We usually give up and make both. Cornbread dressing is the perfect side, especially on holidays.
- Black-eyed Peas: Also known as Hoppin’ John, black-eyed peas are smokey and spicy with a deep bacon flavor. Southerners typically serve this tradition on New Year’s Day to bring good luck!
- Pimento Cheese– Made with extra sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic powder, onion powder, jalapeno, pimentos, and a dash of cayenne, you’ll have a spicy dip for vegetables and crackers. Share your secret to the perfect pimento cheese on FamilyApp! And speaking of cheese, what about mac-and-cheese? That’s another southern comfort food that’s very popular and for good reason! Check out our tips for stepping up your mac-and-cheese game.
Our Favorite Home-cooked Southern Dishes to Feed a Crowd
There are plenty of Southern dishes that are easy to make in your own home! If you’re planning a big meal, here are some classics that have been popular at picnics, church social halls, and potlucks everywhere!
- Gumbo: This Louisiana classic is one of the best Southern recipes with shrimp. The star of this stew is the protein. It can include anything including shrimp, andouille sausage, chicken, crawfish, crab, oysters, or any combination! Other ingredients include an oil or butter-based roux, chopped veggies (celery, onion, and bell pepper), chicken stock, fire-roasted tomatoes, and okra. Season it with classics like Creole seasoning, thyme, cayenne, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. There are plenty of ways to modify this recipe to your own taste or traditions. Share your version on a family app!
- Ham Biscuits: Nothing says “southern potluck” quite like a tray of ham biscuits. Our secret? Top your buttermilk biscuits with ham with some pimento cheese for some extra creamy goodness.
- Jambalaya: This Creole rice dish has West African, French, and Spanish influence. It consists mainly of meat and vegetables mixed with rice. Traditionally, the meat always includes some kind of sausage, along with pork or chicken and seafood, like shrimp or crawfish.
- Chicken and Dumplings: While fried chicken represented abundance, chicken and dumplings were a meal that made the most of scarcity when one chicken had to feed a crowd. Creamy, hearty, and irresistible, this southern dish will have everyone asking for the recipe.
You’ll Definitely be Joining the “Clean Plate Club” With Southern Dishes
Don’t forget to pair your meal with sweet tea and end it with a slice of red velvet cake because Southern recipes are all about comfort! What are your favorite Southern dishes? Maybe you love the classic fried chicken and cornbread. Maybe you have fond memories of something your grandma made. Ask your people on FamilyApp and share your favorite recipes!