45 Classic Summer Recipes To Make All Season Long
In the South, summer is marked by more than a few traditions, like catching lightning bugs in the dark, spending long days at the lake, and sitting pretty (and sweaty) under a haint blue porch ceiling. Yet many of our most favorite summer traditions center around the classic dishes we make from May all the way to September. We’re filling every casserole dish, cast-iron skillet, and cake pan that we can get our hands on with a farmers’ market haul of tomatoes, peas, corn, squash, peaches, berries, and more. Think creamy casseroles, cold salads, icebox pie, and gooey cobbler. These summertime recipes have been around for generations, and they aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. With every passing hot summer’s day, you get a chance to make these beloved Southern classics that range from fried green tomatoes to berry sonker. Here are the vintage summer food ideas we’re making all summer long.
How To Make Mama's Fried Chicken
Recipe: Mama's Fried Chicken
Our most shared fried chicken recipe of all time, this Southern classic is perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. This recipe will take you back to the days when your mother used to fry her famous chicken. Soak your chicken in buttermilk at least two hours before frying. We promise – it'll be nothing short of finger-lickin'-good, sheer Southern comfort.
Enjoying a heaping helping of Mama’s Fried Chicken will be reminiscent of your childhood when Mama would tell you to play in the yard with your siblings after Sunday church while she prepared the meal. No doubt, it would be complete with mashed potatoes, collard greens, and mac & cheese. There isn’t any other dish as quintessentially Southern.
Are you curious about the secret to this decadent recipe? It’s the buttermilk. Soaking the chicken in buttermilk for at least two hour before frying will insure the dish is perfectly golden on the outside and tender on the inside. Of course, don’t forget to make chicken and waffles with the leftovers on Monday morning!
Fried Green Tomatoes
Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes
Ask anyone: These crispy 'maters are a treat come summertime when tomatoes are at their best.
Old-School Squash Casserole
Recipe: Old-School Squash Casserole
This casserole is go-back-for-seconds good, and it's practically a sin not to have squash casserole in the summer.
Summer Pasta Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
Nothing says summertime like a nectarine-speckled pasta salad. It's the perfect side for pulled pork or barbecue chicken.
Classic Banana Pudding
Recipe: Banana Pudding
We do love a warm, gooey cobbler even on the hottest day, but this layered pudding might be the ultimate summer treat.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Recipe: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
The upside-down cake is something delicious to behold, with its gooey, caramelized topping and all.
Tomato, Cheddar, and Bacon Pie
Recipe: Tomato, Cheddar, and Bacon Pie
Here's one genius way to use a pie crust this summer. A classic tomato pie is hard to beat.
Classic Deviled Eggs
Recipe: Basic Deviled Eggs
A platter of deviled eggs makes a worthy addition to every summer meal in our not-so-humble opinion.
West Indies Crab Salad
Recipe: West Indies Crab Salad
This classic Southern salad hails from Mobile, Alabama, and is made with fresh crabmeat and a citrusy vinaigrette.
Classic Fresh Field Peas
Recipe: Classic Fresh Field Peas
Southern field peas and smoky ham hocks go together like Johnny and June in the summertime.
Whipped-Cream Corn Salad
Recipe: Whipped-Cream Corn Salad
Imagine a cold salad version of creamed corn, but it's enveloped in a light and fluffy cloud of whipped cream. That's how this fresh corn salad rolls.
Peanut Butter-Banana Icebox Pie
Recipe: Peanut Butter-Banana Icebox Pie
This treat would leave Elvis singing some praises. The no-bake pie recipe gets some lovin' with peanut butter, bananas, and chocolate.
Recipe: Easy Peach Cobbler
For Southerners, making peach cobbler in the summer is just the right thing to do.
Egg Salad Sandwiches
Recipe: Egg Salad Sandwiches
This nostalgic spread is always there to feed a hungry group of Southerners.
Best-Ever Crab Cakes with Green Tomato Slaw
Summer calls us with the promise of fresh, crispy crab cakes. And these cakes really are the "best-ever."
Recipe: Best-Ever Succotash
What should you serve with your crispy crab cakes? The ultimate summer side: succotash.
Memphis Dry-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs
We make sure to get plenty of at-home barbecue action during the summer, and this dry-rubbed recipe will wow the crowd.
Recipe: Tomato Tea Sandwiches
On a hot summer's day, a simple tomato sandwich with an ice-cold glass of lemonade is all we need.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Recipe: Strawberry-Pretzel Salad
This vintage gelatin recipe will make more than one appearance at your Southern potlucks this summer, trust us on that.
Berry Sonker with Dip
Recipe: Berry Sonker with Dip
We came for the berry-filled cobbler-like dessert, and then we came back for seconds because of the creamy vanilla sauce (or "dip").
Classic Pimiento Cheese
Recipe: Basic Pimiento Cheese
This is the ultimate Southern spread, no matter the season.
Fried Pickle Chips
Recipe: Fried Pickle Chips
Pickle chips, battered and fried, make a snack fit for the beach, especially when dipped in buttermilk ranch.
Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad
Recipe: Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad
When in doubt, bring a bowl of potato salad—every summer occasion would do well with it.
Fried Delacata Catfish
Recipe: Fried Delacata Catfish
To us, crispy fried catfish on a lazy summer evening sounds just like heaven. Bonus points if you're fresh off the lake.
Field Pea, Corn and Bacon Salad
Recipe: Field Pea, Corn and Bacon Salad
Nothing displays your fresh summer produce like a simple salad—with bacon, of course.
Southern Buttermilk Pie
Recipe: Classic Southern Buttermilk Pie
This is what Mama makes when it's too hot to think. The ingredients are sitting right in the kitchen already.
Peach Fried Pies
Recipe: Peach Fried Pies
You can take these hand-held fried pies on the go, making them all the more appealing.
Muffin Pan Tomato Tarts
Recipe: Muffin Pan Tomato Tarts
And what a tasty little tart it is. These tomato bites can be made right in your muffin pan.
Crab Boil with Beer and Old Bay
Recipe: Crab Boil with Beer and Old Bay
Nothing screams summer on the Southern coast like a classic, family-style crab boil. Bring plenty of Old Bay.
Lady Pea-and-Corn Patties
Recipe: Lady Pea-and-Corn Patties
Here's another tasty way to make use of your summer veggies. These perfectly browned, crispy patties are a fun side dish to keep around.
Cheese Puffs with Ham Salad
Recipe: Ham Salad
This old-school spread is the perfect make-ahead dish for every summer trip.
Creamy Overnight Fruit Salad
Recipe: Creamy Overnight Fruit Salad
Sometimes we need to dress up a bowl full of fruit salad, and this recipe helps out any hostess in a pinch.
Cherry Flag Pie
Recipe: Cherry Flag Pie
It's the All-American dessert for the ages: Cherry pie.
Strawberry Lemonade Pie
Recipe: Strawberry Lemonade Pie
This fresh pie is like spring in a slice.
Classic Macaroni Salad with Ham
Recipe: Classic Macaroni Salad with Ham
This old-school cold salad pairs well with any backyard barbecue main or lake day sack lunch.
Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder
Recipe: Tangy Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder
This versatile BBQ dish has been feeding Southerners during the summer for decades.
Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
Recipe: Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
It's not summer without pasta salad, and this classic recipe is full of tasty ingredients.
Classic Baked Beans
Recipe: Baked Beans
We can't think of any summer occasion where this crowd-favorite side wouldn't get along. Any backyard barbecue, cookout, or picnic is fair game.
Recipe: Millionaire Pie
If you haven't heard of this slightly gelatinous Southern pie, it's time to get acquainted. It's cool and creamy for summer.
Key Lime Pound Cake
Recipe: Key Lime Pound Cake
This heavenly recipe gives you the best of both dessert worlds: pound cake and Key lime pie.
Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken
Recipe: Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken
Nothing says summer like barbecue chicken, and these sweet and sticky chicken drumsticks can be made in the oven.
Fresh Corn Spoonbread
Recipe: Fresh Corn Spoonbread
A spoonful of spoonbread is always a treat when made with fresh corn.
Recipe: Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus
In our mind, bacon-wrapped is the only way to eat asparagus during the summer.
Dainty Cucumber Sandwiches
Recipe: Dainty Cucumber Sandwiches
These cucumber sandwiches make the prettiest tea party snack.