Over the past year, our editors have canvassed the South, from Atlanta to Austin, sipping and sampling hundreds of artisan-made products; we've finally narrowed it down to one delicious list. Here are our favorites.
Best Spreads, Dips, and Condiments
pNew, improved, surprising spins on Southern pantry staples/p
| Credit: Robbie Caponetto

Robbie Caponetto

New, improved, surprising spins on Southern pantry staples

  • Sweet Dixie Bar-B-Que Sauce
  • Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
  • Nashville, TN
  • $6.95 for 14 oz.; martinsbbqjoint.com
  • Not too thick, not too thin, and just the right balance of tart vinegar to sweet brown sugar.
  • Orange Chile de Arbol Marmalade
  • Confituras
  • Austin, TX
  • $10 for 6 oz.; confituras.net
  • Texas oranges and dried chiles add sweet heat to biscuits. Try stirring it into a cocktail or vinaigrette.
  • Original Hot Sauce
  • Southern Art
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • $6.99 for 8.5 fl. oz.; southernartco.com
  • Korean Southerner Kelly Woo bottled up the best of both cultures in this slow-burning sauce.
  • Korean Gochujang Original Sesame
  • Born with Seoul
  • Kansas City, MO
  • $8 for 9.5 oz.; bornwithseoul.com
  • Use this Korean pepper sauce for a hot-salty sweet combo in marinades.
  • Louisiana Molasses Mustard
  • Jay D's
  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • $9 for 12.7 oz.; jayducote.com
  • Tailgating king Jay Ducote's mustard swaps honey for tangy molasses and cayenne.
  • Original Lil' Moo
  • Sweet Grass Dairy
  • Thomasville, GA
  • $8.50 for 8 oz.; sweetgrassdairy.com
  • Smooth, grass-fed milk cream cheese that spreads better than butter on a bagel.
  • Cocktail Sauce
  • Valine's Famous
  • Mount Pleasant, SC
  • $15.90 for 9.6 oz.; valinesfamous.com
  • Pleasantly zippy, this seafood dipping sauce has a crisp balance of horseradish, lime juice, and tomato.
  • Red Pepper Jam
  • Jammy Yummy
  • Miami, FL
  • $8 for 8 oz.; jammyyummy.com
  • We've traded our typical pepper jelly for this, made with fresh red bell peppers.
  • Vanilla Peanut Sorghum Butter
  • Big Spoon Roasters
  • Durham, NC
  • $13.95 for 10 oz.; bigspoonroasters.com
  • Coarsely ground with rum-like sorghum syrup, this is grown-up peanut butter.
  • Shrimp Dip
  • Big T Coastal Provisions
  • Mount Pleasant, SC
  • $8 for 8 oz.; bigtcoastalprovisions.com
  • Rich, creamy, and loaded with chunks of fresh South Carolina shrimp.
Best Summer Beer
pSome of the South's hottest breweries have given us 10 refreshing ways to beat the heat/p
| Credit: Robbie Caponetto

Robbie Caponetto

Some of the South's hottest breweries have given us 10 refreshing ways to beat the heat

  • Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Tropicália
  • Athens, GA
  • creaturecomfortsbeer.com
  • Style: IPA
  • Like pineapples, mangos, peaches, and oranges squeezed into a can. This IPA is juicy, not bitter.
  • Prairie Artisan Ales Americana
  • Krebs, OK
  • prairieales.com
  • Style: Saison
  • The latest from this beloved Oklahoma brewery: a fruity, funky farmhouse ale with melon, apricot, and grapefruit notes.
  • Good People Brewing Company Bearded Lady
  • Birmingham, AL
  • goodpeoplebrewing.com
  • Style: Wheat
  • A soft wheat beer with a sunny disposition that comes from its mellow Meyer lemon-like tartness. Pair it with a tomato salad.

Fullsteam Summer Basil
Durham, NC
Style: Herbal Saison
Locally harvested basil lends a refreshing peppery flourish.

  • Blackberry Farm Classic Saison
  • Walland, TN
  • blackberryfarm.com/brewery
  • Style: Saison
  • Crisp and complex, this versatile saison can dress up for a multi-course dinner party or down for a backyard cookout.
  • Bayou Teche Brewing Ragin' Cajuns Ale
  • Arnaudville, LA
  • bayoutechebrewing.com
  • Style: Kölsch
  • Brewed with Louisiana-grown rice that keeps it snappy and slightly sweet, it's a must-serve at your next crawfish boil.
  • Wiseacre Brewing Co. Tiny Bomb
  • Memphis, TN
  • wiseacrebrew.com
  • Style: Pilsner
  • Champagne-style frothiness with a touch of Tennessee wildflower honey.
  • Cigar City Brewing Tampa-Style Lager
  • Tampa, FL
  • cigarcitybrewing.com
  • Style: Lager
  • A dry, citrus blossom-scented lager brewed for Florida humidity.
  • Big Bend Brewing Hefeweizen
  • Alpine, TX
  • bigbendbrewing.com
  • Style: Hefeweizen
  • An easy drinker from remote West Texas that's light yet deep with spices, such as cloves.
  • Westbrook Brewing Co. Gose
  • Mount Pleasant, SC
  • westbrookbrewing.com
  • Style: Gose
  • Limeade-like sourness meets sea breeze saltiness in this margarita-like brew.
Best Spirits and Mixers
pMake room next to the bourbon for these blue ribbon bottles/p
| Credit: Robbie Caponetto

Robbie Caponetto

Make room next to the bourbon for these blue ribbon bottles

  • Rumble
  • Balcones Distilling
  • Waco, TX
  • balconesdistilling.com
  • Not a rum, nor a brandy, this uncategorized spirit will deliver deep honey and fig-fueled sweetness to sangria.
  • Rose Cordial
  • El Guapo Bitters
  • New Orleans, LA
  • $15 for 8.5 oz.; elguapobitters.com
  • This Greek-style, naturally pink syrup tastes like a breezy walk through a rose garden. Mix it with gin and lemon juice.
  • 100 First Taste
  • Chattanooga Whiskey Co.
  • Chattanooga, TN
  • chattanoogawhiskey.com
  • While most unaged whiskeys are harsh, this one has malted grains for a mild and slightly sweet finish.
  • Banyan Reserve Vodka
  • St. Petersburg Distillery
  • St. Petersburg, FL
  • stpetersburgdistillery.com
  • Sophisticated not saccharine, sip it straight or choose it when making your next Moscow Mule or dirty martini.
  • New World Gin
  • St. Augustine Distillery
  • St. Augustine, FL
  • staugustinedistillery.com
  • Herbs and lemon peel, ground with a vintage burr hand grinder, give this gin megawatt brightness that elevates the classic gin and tonic or Tom Collins.
  • Alabama Single Malt Whiskey
  • John Emerald Distilling
  • Company
  • Opelika, AL
  • johnemeralddistilling.com
  • The taste of smoked peach and pecan woods takes you back to a nostalgic place, like an old family summer cabin.
  • Lindsay Bitters
  • Crude Bitters and Sodas
  • Raleigh, NC
  • $12 for 2 oz.; crudebitters.com
  • These dynamic drops with toasty pecan, floral magnolia, and hot habanero will add easy complexity to any cocktail.
  • Sweet Tea Syrup
  • Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.
  • Charleston, SC
  • $16 for 17 oz.; jackrudycocktailco.com
  • Brooks Reitz has succeeded in capturing sweet tea's true taste. Try a splash of this instead of sugar in an old fashioned.
Best Ice Cream
Credit: Robbie Caponetto

Unique flavors, local ingredients, and small-batch scoops that you can get by the pint

  • Fresh Mint Chip
  • High Road Craft Creamery
  • Atlanta, GA
  • $8 for 1 pint; highroadcraft.com
  • A fresh minty base speckled with chunks of dark chocolate.
  • Roasted Banana with Salted Peanuts
  • Southern Craft Creamery
  • Marianna, FL
  • $8 for 1 pint; southerncraftcreamery.com
  • Think of this as a pint of bananas foster peppered with salty peanuts.
  • Watermelon Sorbet
  • Honeysuckle Gelato
  • Atlanta, GA
  • $7 for 1 pint; honeysucklegelato.com
  • As close as you'll get to sinking your teeth into a juicy slice—this refreshing sorbet captures watermelon's real taste.
  • Delta Gravel Road
  • Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co.
  • Clarksdale, MS
  • $8 for 1 pint; sweetmagnoliagelato.com
  • Meet Mississippi's Rocky Road: smooth, thick, and studded with Delta pecans.
Best Coffee
Credit: Robbie Caponetto

The Southern-roasted bean scene is on the rise and tastier than ever

  • Sugar Skull Blend
  • Onyx Coffee Lab
  • Fayetteville, AR
  • $14.50 for 12 oz.; onyxcoffeelab.com
  • Chocolate, candied walnuts, and orange zest create a blend inspired by Mexican candy.
  • Single Origin Beans
  • Velo Coffee Roasters
  • Chattanooga, TN
  • $14 for 12 oz.; velocoffee.com
  • Velo rotates a carefully curated selection of fresh, in-season flavors.
  • White Lightning Espresso
  • Octane Coffee, Atlanta, GA
  • $13 for 12 oz.; octanecoffee.com
  • This espresso blend takes well to cold brewing for hot summer mornings.
  • Petunias Blend
  • Revelator Coffee Company
  • Birmingham, AL
  • $16 for 12 oz.; revelatorcoffee.com
  • From the South's newest coffee shop chain, sip this sumptuous blend of red cherry, toasted nuts, and cocoa at home.
  • Strawberry Fields
  • King Bean Coffee Roasters
  • Charleston, SC
  • $17.99 for 12 oz.; kingbean.com
  • King Bean's lightly roasted, velvety blend made with sundried beans is coffee's version of strawberry milk.
Even More Winners
Credit: Robbie Caponetto

From pimiento to pickles, a few flavorful twists on Southern classics that won us over

  • Best Cane Syrup: Poirier's Pure Cane Syrup
  • Poirier's Cane Syrup
  • Youngsville, LA
  • $10 for 8 oz.; realcanesyrup.com
  • Straight from bayou country, drizzle Charles Poirier's small batch, liquid bronze syrup on cornbread.
  • Best Honey: Gold Reserve Sourwood Honey
  • Savannah Bee Company
  • Savannah, GA
  • $112 for 20 oz.; savannahbee.com
  • With hints of maple, think of this pristine, Appalachian-harvested honey like a rare, decades-aged bourbon.
  • Best Oil: Pecan Oil
  • Pecan Ridge Plantation
  • Bainbridge, GA
  • $15 for 8.5 oz.; pecanridgeplantation.com
  • Brothers Rob and Eric Cohen's pecan oil has an almost browned butter flavor, making everything from vinaigrettes to pesto taste richer.
  • Best Tea: Green Yaupon Tea
  • Cat Spring Tea, Cat Spring, TX
  • $9.95 for 1 oz. loose leaf; catspringtea.com
  • Texan sisters Abianne Falla and JennaDee Detro harvest leaves from the native yaupon holly trees growing on their family's farm to produce this earthy, tart green tea. Enjoy it iced or hot.
  • Best Cookie: Nashville Original Cookies
  • Christie Cookie Co., Nashville, TN
  • $26.99 for tin of 12; christiecookies.com
  • These softies in assorted flavors—chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, white chocolate macadamia nut—stacked in a tall tin are worth the splurge.
  • Best Pimiento Cheese: Spicy White Cheddar Pimento Cheese
  • MyThreeSons Gourmet, Greensboro, NC
  • $6 for 10 oz.; mtsgourmet.com
  • Thick with a kick: extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese paired with generous chunks of jalapeños and pimientos.
  • Best Tomato Sauce: Piedmont Pomodoro Sauce
  • Nello's Sauce, Raleigh, NC
  • $29.99 for 3 (14-oz.) jars; nellositaly.com
  • An herb-infused tomato sauce that's just as delicious served over pasta as broiled fish.
  • Best Product: Bread & Butter Deluxe
  • Austin, TX
  • $10 for 6 oz.; poguemahonepickles.com
  • We're picky about pickles, but Pogue Mahone's sweet and sour bread-and-butter-style slices satisfied our sensibilities.
  • Best Rice: Long Grain White Rice
  • Delta Blues Rice
  • Ruleville, MS
  • $4.50 for 1 lb.; deltabluesrice.com
  • Fourth-generation farmer David Arant, Jr.'s nutty, Mississippi white rice has become a staple side dish for our weeknight meals.
  • Best Confection: Smoked Nib Brittle
  • Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co.
  • Nashville, TN
  • $14.99 for 6 oz.; oliveandsinclair.com
  • Cocoa nibs—bathed in the haze of country ham legend Allan Benton's smokehouse—add an extra layer of depth to this buttery, sweet brittle.
  • Best Charcuterie: Tartufo Salami
  • Olli Salumeria, Mechanicsville, VA
  • $44.49 for 15 oz.; olli.com
  • Your meat-and-cheese board just got an impressive upgrade: This salami is made with meat from pasture-raised pigs plus intense black truffles.
  • Best Grits: Stoned Happy Grits!
  • Barkley's Mill, Weaverville, NC
  • $21 for 2-lb. bag; barkleysmill.com
  • Made from Appalachian-grown Hickory King Dent white corn, these grits soak up sauces like a sponge.
  • Best Caramel: True Ewe Caramel Spread
  • Dayspring Dairy, Gallant, AL
  • $14 for 10 oz.; dayspringdairy.com
  • Drizzle this decadent caramel spread over vanilla ice cream with a sprinkle of sea salt, or on fried tortillas with cinnamon.
  • Best Seasoning: Red Mash Sea Salt
  • Bulls Bay Saltworks
  • McClellanville, SC
  • $10 for 2.5-oz. grinder; bullsbaysaltworks.com
  • Bulls Bay Lowcountry sea salt mashes up with Red Clay Hot Sauce's leftover Fresno peppers for the ultimate seasoning soulmate to sweet corn.
  • Best Snack: Texas Kick Beef Jerky
  • 44 Farms, Cameron, TX
  • $29.95 for 4 (2-oz.) boxes; 44steaks.com
  • Made from sustainably raised Texas cattle, this small-batch jerky is thick, chewy, and lightly smoked—and it ends with a fiery finish.
  • Best Soda: Grapefruit Elderflower Soda
  • Cannonborough Beverage Company, North Charleston, SC
  • $10 for 750 ml.; cannonbevco.com
  • Fresh-pressed ruby red grapefruit juice with berry-like elderflower makes for an elegant take on a citrus soda, minus the sugar high.