Brunch in the South

A serving of caramelized bananas over bread.
Image Credit: Southern Food and Fun.

The Southern brunch is a time-honored tradition as much as tailgating. As a matter of fact, brunch may have originated because of tailgating – is there any better way to recover from a day of eating and drinking with friends than another day of eating and drinking with friends? I think not. 

Biscuits and gravy

A stack of freshly baked golden-brown biscuits on a cooling rack, placed on a wooden board next to a cloth with writing and a jar of jam.
Image Credit: Southern Food and Fun.

Homemade buttermilk biscuits are becoming a lost art, but there are many establishments around the South that offer delicious, delicate biscuits. There are a few requirements: White Lily flour is a must, as is butter–lots of butter! And buttermilk, of course.

Get the recipe: Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Gravy must-haves

A white plate with two biscuits covered in white sausage gravy, placed on a marble surface with side dishes in the background.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Sausage gravy is always on the table for a Southern brunch. Creamy and filled with bits of sausage, this gravy is a beloved classic. Some Southern kitchens even serve chocolate gravy for a sweet and savory twist. Red-eye gravy is another old classic, made with coffee and the pan drippings from country ham. It’s a salty, savory complement to a fluffy buttermilk biscuit. 

More menu choices

A stack of pancakes topped with butter and syrup on a white plate, accompanied by a glass of milk in the background.
Image Credit: Southern Food and Fun.

While biscuits and gravy hold a special place in Southern hearts, brunch offers plenty of other tempting dishes. Shrimp and grits, a Lowcountry staple, showcase the region’s coastal bounty. Buttermilk pancakes drizzled with maple syrup or cane syrup are always a favorite. Fried chicken and waffles combine crispy fried chicken with fluffy waffles, drizzled with maple syrup or hot sauce. 

Southern brunch sides

Oval dish of baked cheese grits
Image Credit: Southern Food and Fun.

No Southern brunch is complete without a few side dishes. Grits, a simple yet versatile staple, can be creamy and cheesy or savory and seasoned. Hash browns or home fries, often spiced with Cajun seasonings or topped with melted cheese, add a crispy counterpoint to the richer dishes. In addition to biscuits, we usually serve freshly baked breads like blueberry muffins or sour cream coffee cake.

Get the recipe: Cheese Grits Casserole

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere

A Bloody Mary cocktail garnished with a pickle, olive, cherry tomato, shrimp, bacon, celery, and greens in a spice-rimmed glass.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Brunch isn’t just about the food; it’s about the drinks, too. Sweet tea, the quintessential Southern beverage, flows freely at brunch tables, alongside mimosas and Bloody Marys for those seeking a little morning cheer. Locally roasted coffee, often with unique Southern flavor profiles, provides a caffeine boost, while regional specialties like Kentucky bourbon add a touch of Southern spirit.

Grab those monogrammed napkins

A dining table set with white plates, silver utensils in a green napkin, and a vase with pink and white roses.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

No Southern brunch would be complete without the decor, and for some occasions, we pull out all the stops—sterling silver, monogrammed linen napkins, and fine china. For a more casual atmosphere, the table is set up outside, but the decor is still important and should reflect the season. And inside or outside, always include fresh flowers in pretty containers. 

Enjoy the moments

Three women sitting at an outdoor table, smiling and holding cups of coffee.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

The most important aspect of Southern brunch is the experience itself. It’s a time to reconnect with family and friends, to share stories and laughter over a leisurely meal. Live music often fills the air, with bluegrass bands, jazz ensembles, or soft piano music setting the mood. The atmosphere is relaxed and inviting, reflecting the slower pace of life that defines the South. From iconic establishments like Brennan’s in New Orleans to charming local cafes tucked away in small towns, Southern brunch is an event that is meant to be enjoyed and savored.

Menu ideas

A stack of breakfast sliders with scrambled eggs and bacon, topped with poppy seeds on a wooden board, surrounded by grapes and a bowl of mixed berries.
Image Credit: Southern Food and Fun.

When you’re hosting brunch, you need lots of good options like biscuits, cheese grits casserole, hash brown casserole, fruit salad, easy quiche, and much more.

Get brunch recipes: Breakfast and Brunch Recipes

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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