When it comes to making Southern foods at home, there are a few that are tried and true classics. This list of Southern comfort foods is a great place for you to start learning how to make traditional Southern food at home.

1. Fried Chicken – You can’t have a list of Southern food recipes without good old fried chicken! Although I rarely make this or anything fried, my family carries a nostalgic love for fried chicken because my sweet Granny made the best!

Southern Fried Chicken made the simple, old-fashioned way it used to be made. Just sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and fry! So easy!

2. Pimento Cheese – This classic Southern food staple has become trendy and shows up in restaurants everywhere, not just in the South. People put it on burgers, hotdogs, and just about everything else. Of course, the best way to eat pimento cheese in my opinion is in between two slices of soft, white bread.

3. Cheese Straws – Remember having cheese straws at every single gathering growing up? They were special because they weren’t around the house everyday, just out at showers or wedding receptions. Cheese straws are so easy to make and a delightful treat to enjoy with a glass of wine.

Cheese straws on a plate with a platter of more in the background.

4. Green Beans – When you’re looking for Southern soul food recipes, green beans always top the list! And there’s an art to making green beans the old-fashioned way—you cook them until they’re done and tender, not firm! Add a little bacon—or fatback if you want to be really old-fashioned—bring to a boil, then simmer until tender.

5. Pulled Pork – We can’t have too much barbecue around here—it probably is my family’s favorite Southern comfort food. If we’re going out for lunch or supper, a good BBQ place is always under consideration. But if you have a hankering to make some barbecue at home and you don’t have a smoker, this recipe is a pretty good substitute.

6. Macaroni and Cheese – Mac and Cheese may not be a traditional Southern food recipe, but it’s definitely a favorite in the South so it has to go on the list. We like it with a LOT of cheese and a cheese sauce, but no egg. I make a cheese sauce, then mix more grated cheese in with the sauce-coated noodles, then more grated cheese on top. Because it’s all about the cheese!

A dish of baked macaroni and cheese ready to serve is the ultimate Southern food to cook at home.

7. Salmon Patties – Another easy Southern food recipe you can make at home. Southern cooks out of necessity had to use canned food and figure out how to stretch meals. Salmon patties were a great way to serve fish to the family without spending exorbitant money, not to mention fresh fish was not easy to find.

8. Fried Green Tomatoes – Who ever came up with the idea to slice and batter a green tomato and fry it? I can’t imagine but I’m sure glad somebody did. Fried green tomatoes are a ubiquitous appetizer around the South, showing up in fancy restaurants as well as mom and pop diners. And it’s an easy dish to make at home too. Just eat them while they’re hot!

9. Cucumber and Onion Salad – As Southern food recipes go, this is not so much a recipe as just a way to use some of the massive amount of cucumbers that a garden may produce. This simple salad is beloved and keeps for days.

Cucumber salad in a serving bowl.

10. Butterbeans – You’ll find this classic Southern soul food recipe on the menu of pretty much every meat-and-three in the South. We like our butterbeans with just a hint of sugar and a good amount of bacon fat.

11. Sweet Tea – I used to keep a gallon of sweet tea in the refrigerator all the time, but since everybody is trying to watch their weight I usually only make it now when we’re having company. It’s not for every day, so if you’re going to make it, for Heaven’s sake, don’t skimp on the sugar!

Looking for more Southern foods to make at home? Here’s a ranking by Thrillist of All the Best Southern Comfort Foods.

And if you’re looking for a recipe for collard greens, another Southern soul food favorite, check out this one from Divas Can Cook for Soul Food Collard Greens.

If you’ve tried any of these recipes, please leave me a comment below!

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Update Notes: This post was originally published March 21, 2014, and on September 23, 2019, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.

Lucy standing behind a counter with a cheese board and glass of wine.

About the author

Hi, I’m Lucy! I’m a home cook, writer, food and wine fanatic, and recipe developer. I’ve created and tested hundreds of recipes so that I can bring you the best tried and true favorites.

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