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Chicken and waffles

Arnold Inuyaki via Wikimedia Commons

Chicken and waffles

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31 classic Southern foods everyone should make

Ask any Southerner alive who has a working mouth, and they'll tell you, "Yes, you can enjoy classic Southern food all month long." And since there's no better time to eat homestyle Southern food than the holidays, here are 31 delicious, quintessential meals traditionally associated with America's greatest region, to keep you well-fed all December long.


Snacks & Starters

Fried Green Tomatoes

This simple recipe comes from Anne Byrn and will get you 12 to 16 slices -- enough for a proper Southern dinner party.
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Deviled Eggs
This savory snack is just the right bite to settle anxious stomachs while waiting for a first course.
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Cheese Straws
How on earth could you go wrong with flour, butter, salt and a generous amount of sharp cheddar cheese shaped like crispy little sticks?
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Chicken Wings
We'll consider wings a snack just to keep up the appearance of good taste, but we all know that wings are good at any point of a meal or all by themselves. Especially these Coca-Cola wings!
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Pimento Cheese
You don't need an invitation to The Masters to master this staple of every cheese-lovin' Southerner's diet.
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Soups

Chicken & Dumplings

Your mama made them. Your grandmama made them. Now it's your turn to turn a C&D recipe into your own, with help from our collection.
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She Crab Soup
You may associate it with Baltimore (which, depending on the day and who you ask, might be the South anyway), but Charleston has made a strong case for stealing She Crab Soup for South Carolina, and you'll find it in restaurants and dinner tables across the region.
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Brisket Chili
Whether you're from Texas or just live like it, a nice meaty bowl of brisket chili always tastes like home.
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Oyster Stew
Everybody needs a sturdy kick of Cajun spice and a little mixed-in liquor (good-old brandy as well as the oyster kind) now and then. Today's your day.
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Seafood Gumbo
It's the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana. How could you be Southern and not have a good gumbo recipe handy?
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Salads

Potato Salad
OK, so maybe it's not really a "salad," per se. But it's delicious and it's been Southern longer than any of us. Bring it to a pot luck or house party and people will know you love them.
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Shrimp Salad
There are many ways to enjoy the South's favorite shellfish in salad format, with and without leafy greens. Here's a can't-fail pickled version.
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Tomato Salad
Fresh tomatoes make a fantastic platform for a refreshing salad, and you can add all sorts of extras, from cucumbers to onions, peas and more. Speaking of which...
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Chicken Salad
There is no South without the mighty chicken salad, regardless if you have it inside or outside a sandwich (yep, Southerners are so good at salads that we can even make sandwiches out of them). But today, we've got a chicken salad topped with another classic Southern (fruit) salad: the Tomato Aspic. Two for one!
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Coleslaw
Love it? Hate it? Doesn't matter. As long as you've had it, or at least tried to make it, you can officially call yourself Southern and have the right to have an opinion.
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Entrees

Fried chicken

It's either the first thing you thought of when you thought "classic Southern food," or it was high up there. Cook it the old-fashioned way: in a cast iron skillet.
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Shrimp & Grits
There are so many ways to cook this quintessential Southern dish that we'd dare not give you a recipe. So we're giving you several!
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Crawfish Etouffee
Prepared in Cajun and Creole styles, there are many ways to fix up a helping of this thickened, smothered seafood dish, but the result is somehow always deliciously familiar.
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Ribs
If you're somewhere in America and you can't find a rack of wonderfully saucy, sweet and smoky ribs somewhere in a 5-mile radius, you must not actually be in the South.
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Catfish
We like all types of seafood down here, but if you had to name the fins-down favorite, we think it would automatically be the funny-looking fish with the whiskers on its face, which happens to be unbeatably delicious when properly seasoned, battered and fried. Actually, some catfish sounds great — let's make some tonight!
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Sides

Macaroni & Cheese

Nothing says "down home" like a serving (or several) of mac 'n' cheese.
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Collard Greens
If you're like us, you put a little hot sauce in yours.
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Baked Beans
You like barbecue, right? Well, you can't legally eat barbecue without baked beans.
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Biscuits & Gravy
We knew there'd be some unhappy folks if we didn't include biscuits, and for good reason. Biscuits are love, as Virginia Willis would say. Shouldn't you be eating one right now?
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Red Beans & Rice
Going to a Cajun restaurant and not seeing this spicy starchy combo on the menu? Not likely.
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Cornbread
You'll be disowned by your family, friends, significant other and children if you can't make cornbread and you live in the South.
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Desserts

Pecan Pie

Southerners love pecans, and they love pie. Put them together and you've got a sweet treat upon which we can all agree is our birthrite.
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Banana Pudding
Sweet, creamy and delicious, just like Nana makes!
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Sweet Potato Pie
Earthy, rich and perfected with a bit of spice and vanilla, you know somebody in the South loves you whenever you get a slice of this pie.
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Peach Cobbler
You probably have this dessert at least 10 times a year if you live below the Mason-Dixon. And you love it every time.
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Pound Cake
There are so many wonderful cakes coming out of Southern kitchens, but the standard is the mighty Pound Cake. Before you can move on to Caramel, Chocolate, Apple Stack or Red Velvet, you've gotta master the original, which is universal around these parts and always welcome on any cake platter.
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Author image

Mike Jordan is Southern Kitchen's former associate editor. He was also the host of our podcast, Sunday Supper. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including The Huntsville Times, American Way, Upscale, Time Out, NewsOne, Fatherly and Thrillist, where he served as the founding Atlanta editor. He lives in East Point, Ga., with his amazing wife and daughter, and loves writing, playing alto saxophone, cooking, craft beer, and cocktails. He is admittedly much better at these things than basketball, so never choose him for your pickup team.

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