17 Alabama Foods the Yellowhammer State Is Known For

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fried green tomatoes
Photo by: Kim Cornelison.

In need of a little Southern comfort? From the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf Coast, Alabama's cuisine varies from region to region. No matter where you find yourself in the Yellowhammer State, though, you're likely a stone's throw from delicious local dishes that are as rich in flavor as they are in history. In this mouthwatering food tour, we'll explore 17 iconic Alabama foods — including fried green tomatoes, white barbecue sauce, and Lane cake — that the Southern state is known for (plus, we'll give you our best recipe inspiration along the way).

01 of 18

Fried Green Tomatoes

Mawmaw's Simple Fried Green Tomatoes
lutzflcat

Alabama-born writer Fannie Flagg cemented fried green tomatoes as a state staple in 1987 when she wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, a bestselling novel which was later adapted into a major motion picture.

It's easy enough to make the Southern dish at home. Just slice up an unripe tomato, coat it in cornmeal, and deep fry it to crispy perfection. This isn't the healthiest way to enjoy summer tomatoes, but it's absolutely delicious when served as an appetizer or side dish with a homemade remoulade.

Try these recipes:

02 of 18

White Barbecue Sauce

Easy White BBQ Sauce
Tammy Lynn

When you think of "barbecue sauce," you probably imagine a sweet liquid with a deep red hue. Alabamians, however, have a different idea of how to serve barbecued meat.

Food historians credit Robert Gibson of Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q with the invention of white barbecue sauce, a tangy mixture of mayonnaise, vinegar, horseradish, and black pepper.

The sauce has been synonymous with the famous restauranteur (and the entire North Alabama region) since the 1920s. These days, you can order a bottle of Big Bob Gibson's Original White Sauce online.

Try these recipes:

Learn more: What Is White Barbecue Sauce and How Do You Make It At Home?

03 of 18

Pecan Pie

Overhead view of pecan pie with spatula on marble
Allrecipes Magazine

Georgia has peaches, Idaho has potatoes, and Alabama has pecans. Alabama soil is perfect for growing pecan trees and the nut is extremely important to the state's agriculture. In fact, it was named the official state nut in the 1980s.

It stands to reason, then, that pecan pie is hugely popular in Alabama.

The dessert is traditionally made with pecans, sugar, butter, eggs, and corn syrup (any corn syrup will do, but locals often use Golden Eagle — it's an Alabama staple).

Try these recipes:

Plus, check out Our 15 Best Pecan Pie Recipes of All Time.

04 of 18

Pulled Pork

Southern Yank Pulled Pork BBQ on a wooden cutting board
Andreas Muller

Throw a rock in Alabama and you're likely to hit a barbecue joint that serves multiple kinds of pulled meat, from chicken and turkey to brisket.

Pulled pork, though, is likely the most popular of all. When prepared correctly, it has an irresistibly smoky flavor with a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Of course, true Alabamians serve it with white barbecue sauce.

Try these recipes:

05 of 18

Tomato and Mayo Sandwiches

Kansas Tomato Sandwich
Molly

There's nothing like a vine-ripe Alabama tomato in summertime. The state is famous for its tomatoes, particularly those grown in Slocomb. Some folks say that the Slocomb soil is especially acidic, which results in a superior tomato.

Alabamians know how to make the most of peak season tomatoes: Add some bread and mayo, and you have yourself a meal.

You can add bacon and lettuce if you're feeling fancy, but purists stick to the classic tomato, white bread, mayonnaise (Duke's, preferably), salt, and pepper combo.

Try these recipes: 12 Tomato Sandwiches for Peak Season

06 of 18

Moon Pies

Stack of homemade moon pies with one cut in half to reveal the layers of graham crackers and mallow
Meredith Food Studio

Though the moon pie was invented in Kentucky and is currently headquartered in Tennessee, the chocolate-covered graham cracker and marshmallow sandwich cookie has made quite a name for itself in Alabama.

It's become a tradition to throw moon pies during the annual Mardi Gras celebration in Mobile. Also, since 2008, the city has dropped a 600-pound lighted mechanical moon pie at the stroke of midnight every New Year.

Try this recipe: Copycat Moon Pie

07 of 18

Fried Catfish

Southern Fried Catfish
Soup Loving Nicole

Long before farmers in the state started raising catfish in the 1960s, the ray-finned fish was an easily accessible protein for many Alabamians.

Catfish is prepared in a number of ways (including baking and grilling) but, since it's relatively thick and sturdy, catfish especially lends itself it to frying.

For an authentic Alabama experience, make sure to serve it with one of Our Best Southern Sides.

Try these recipes:

08 of 18

Chicken Stew

Chicken Stew with Rice and Winter Squash
Buckwheat Queen

Chicken stew is a tradition that can be traced back to the pioneer days in the Tennessee Valley, a small pocket of rural communities on the Tennessee-Alabama border.

Stew sales — events where community members bring their own containers to fill — occur regularly in the region today.

Ingredients vary recipe-to-recipe, but all iterations include some combination of chicken, potatoes, onions, corn, and tomatoes. Flour and milk are absent from most recipes, as potatoes traditionally serve as the thickener.

Try these similar recipes: 10 Chicken Stews That Make Comforting Dinners

09 of 18

Fried Okra

Fried Okra
Wendy Hunter

Like many modern Southern staples, okra has African roots. The veggie — which was brought to the U.S. by enslaved African people in the 1700s — is commonly sauteed with tomatoes, roasted in the oven, or mixed into soups and stews.

But, if you haven't caught on yet, Alabamians really like their vegetables fried. Though many modern versions are air-fried to cut back on oil (check out our collection of Air Fryer Okra Recipes), traditional recipes are deep-fried.

Try these recipes:

10 of 18

Seafood Gumbo

Gumbo
Photo by Meredith.

Louisiana may be famous for its gumbo, but the stew has history throughout the Southeast.

The seafood gumbo found on Alabama's Gulf Coast is a beautiful blend of African, Native American, and European cuisines.

It traditionally features shrimp, crabmeat, oysters, okra, and tomatoes in a rich brown roux. Sausage and chicken are often incorporated, and the stew is served over white rice.

Try this recipe: Mobile Bay Seafood Gumbo

11 of 18

Banana Pudding

a glass trifle bowl showing layers of banana pudding and Nilla wafers
DHUNTER9

Mobile (Alabama's capital) joined the banana trade just as bananas were poised to become an American staple in the late 1800s, according to The Story of Alabama in Fourteen Foods author Emily Blejwas. The Central American fruit soon became one of the city's most important exports.

Home cooks throughout the South soon began using the new ingredient to make banana pudding with eggs, milk, and vanilla wafers. The decadent dessert remains popular today.

Try these recipes:

12 of 18

Sweet Tea

Alabama Sweet Tea
KGora

No one Southern state can lay claim to sweet tea. The refreshing, sugary drink is universally beloved below the Mason-Dixon.

However, Central Alabama is quite the sweet tea hub. Birmingham is home to Milo's and Red Diamond, two of the most popular sweet tea companies around.

Try these recipes:

13 of 18

Conecuh Sausage

Grilled sausages conecuh alabama
Photo by Robin McDonald.

Where do you go to find the "Sausage of the South?" Conecuh County, of course! Evergreen, a tiny town in the small Alabama county, is home to the famed Conecuh Sausage Company.

Known for its signature spicy smoked sausage, the company has been an Alabama institution since 1947.

Enjoy Conecuh sausage in its purest form by throwing it on the grill — serve it on a hot dog bun or dig into it with a fork and knife. It's also great in gumbo, jambalaya, pasta, and so much more.

Try these recipes:

14 of 18

Lane Cake

Lane Cake
Kim A. Labelle

The Lane cake, a fruity bourbon-spiked layer cake, was born when Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama won first prize with it at a county fair in Columbus, Georgia. She dubbed it the "Prize Cake" when she published a cookbook in 1898.

Fans of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird are likely familiar with the boozy cake, as it was mentioned multiple times in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

The Lane cake is infamous for being a labor of love, but modern equipment has simplified the process quite a bit: A nutty, fruity bourbon filling is sandwiched between layers of vanilla cake. It's finished with a super fluffy meringue topping.

Try this recipe: Lane Cake

15 of 18

Blackberry Desserts

blackberry compote on serving platter next to fresh blackberries
France C

Alabama doesn't account for a huge percentage of the nation's blackberry production, but the state legislature named the blackberry the official state fruit in 2004 at the request of Fairhope Elementary School faculty and students.

It actually makes a lot of sense: The vibrant berry is a perfect addition to the fruity Southern cobblers and pies you'll often find at potlucks, picnics, and summertime gatherings.

Try these recipes:

16 of 18

Boiled Peanuts

cajun boiled peanuts
Emily

Alabama native George Washington Carver was a ground-breaking agricultural scientist who developed hundreds of products using peanuts, contributing greatly to the rural Southern economy in the early 20th century.

The peanut is still an important crop in Alabama today. One of the most common uses? Boiled peanuts, which are commonly sold in gas stations across the state.

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17 of 18

Peach Ice Cream

Georgia Peach Ice Cream
Allrecipes Magazine

Though peach production is usually associated with Georgia, it's not the only Southern state with a claim to the juicy stone fruit.

Its gigantic, peach-shaped water tower is all the proof you need that Chilton County is proud of its title of "Alabama's peach capital."

The area is a popular roadside attraction for travelers, offering multiple peach-themed highway stops that are famous for their peach ice cream.

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18 of 18

More Alabama Recipes

Alabama Fire Crackers
lutzflcat

Hungry for more inspiration? Explore our entire collection of Alabama Recipes.

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