15 Essential Southern Recipes That Taste Like Summer
The home sweet home of, well, sweet tea, the best peaches, and truly amazing barbecue, the South serves up a mouth-watering array of foods that are best enjoyed on a slow summer night with friends and family. But whether or not you have access to the shade of a Magnolia tree to dine under, we've gathered up some traditional (and inspired by traditional) southern recipes that’ll make it taste like you're right there. From saucy ribs, Low Country boil, and crispy fried chicken for some classic main dishes, to peach cobbler and Hummingbird cake for a sweet finish, you'll find the perfect recipes for your Southern summer spread.
Simple Country Ribs
Known for being sticky, messy, and loaded with flavor, you can’t have summer in the South without ribs. "These turned out perfect," says dihudson. "I made them for the 4th of July and they were so tender. Everyone loved them!"
Smooth Sweet Tea
Rumored to have first become a thing in South Carolina, sweet tea is called for on hot days anywhere in the south as a sweet way to cool off. "I love this recipe," says Heather. "My man is from Georgia and misses his sweet tea. This did the trick and thinks it is the BEST tea he’s had."
Fresh Southern Peach Cobbler
"I've been experimenting with cobbler for some time and this recipe is the final result," says recipe creator awposey. "Loved by all. Use fresh Georgia peaches, of course!"
Reviewer VANSANT says, "As a Southern girl, I've had many variations of peach cobbler. This one definitely tops them all."
Chef John's Nashville Hot Chicken
"If you've never had Nashville Hot Chicken, we're talking about an ultra-crispy fried chicken doused with a cayenne-infused glaze, and by 'glaze' I mean melted butter and lard, " says Chef John.
Reviewer Leslie Kelly comments, "I'm a fried chicken snob, and this recipe came very close to the fiery version I've eaten down South. To turn up the heat, I added a teeny bit of habanero chili powder and that did the trick."
Hummingbird Cake III
Originally created on the island of Jamaica in the late '60s, this recipe made many appearances at state fairs before it’s first printing in Southern Living's February 1978 issue. Cinnamon, pineapple, bananas, and pecans in the batter give it a taste of the tropics.
North Carolina Pulled Pork
"I got this from an North Carolina native and it is the best," says recipe submitter skibunny2k. "It is pretty much foolproof. This is made in the slow cooker." Many reviewers used apple cider vinegar instead of wine vinegar, and added a touch of liquid smoke. Serve on buns with plenty of coleslaw.
Mawmaw's Simple Fried Green Tomatoes
While fried green tomatoes can be found in northern Pennsylvania Dutch homes, it's the cornmeal that makes them southern. "My grandmother's fried green tomatoes were famous in our community," says recipe submitter, HeyGoodLookin."The recipe is so simple, but the results are delicious!"
Nana's Southern Coleslaw
The tell-tale sign of a Southern coleslaw recipe is the addition of buttermilk. And this one has more than a few raves. "This is the best coleslaw I have ever had," says Judy Schultz."Everyone loves it, even the people who 'hate' coleslaw."
Southern-Style Baked Banana Pudding
This southern classic is basically a banana cream pie without the hassle of a pie crust. Chef John actually says, "The vanilla wafer cookies pair even more perfectly with the fruit and custardy pudding." Serve warm or chilled!
"As a good Southern gardener, I find myself bringing in okra by the armload nearly every other day," says recipe submitter, Ncope. "Roasting it is so simple and easy, and chopped tomato makes a great addition when we have some handy."
Pig Picking Cake II
This dessert is named for a traditional southern party at which it’s typically served, where a whole hog is barbecued. "I love this cake!" says reviewer Amanda Moyle Reynolds. "I am a Southern export and people always ask me to make this recipe. To answer the question about the frosting running make sure the cake is completely cooled and keep the frosting in the fridge until ready to use."
Georgia Peach Homemade Ice Cream
Extra points for any southern dessert that include peaches, and is also a tasty way to cool off. "I took this ice cream to a picnic, and everyone loved it and even came back for seconds," says Linda.
Fresh Sweet Corn Fritters
Originating in the South, corn fritters are great with ribs and can even be eaten for breakfast! "The batter makes a crispy—almost tempura-type crunch—around the sweet corn mix," says SHONI. "What a great way to use up corn on the cob."
Dave's Low Country Boil
"Famous in the Low Country of Georgia and South Carolina," says recipe creator Lisa. "This boil is done best on an outdoor cooker. It has sausage, shrimp, crab, potatoes and corn for an all-in-one pot all-you-can-eat buffet!"