110 Best Comfort Food Classics
Southern food brings comfort like nothing else on earth. There’s no better way to welcome a new neighbor or support a new mom, no more reliable cure for whatever ails you than classic comfort food—whether you make it like Mama or use every shortcut in the book. Your go-to comfort food recipes likely say a little something about where you grew up. Shrimp and grits or she-crab soup? You’re probably from South Carolina. King Ranch Casserole or chicken-fried steak? Tell all the folks back in Texas we said hey. Gumbo and jambalaya? You bleed purple and gold. (Geaux Tigers!) Of course, some Southern food crosses all regional boundaries. In kitchens from Baltimore to El Paso, you’ll find worn copies of comfort food recipes for pot roast, fried chicken, pound cake, buttermilk biscuits, and macaroni and cheese. The good news? They’re all right here.
Here Are Our Best Comfort Food Recipes
Easy Chicken and Dumplings Recipe
Recipe: Easy Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken and dumplings is a quintessential Southern comfort food at which every Southern chef should try their hand. We’ve made it easy to start. With deli-roasted chicken, cream of chicken soup, and canned biscuits, this quick and tasty version of the classic recipe comes together with minimal effort, but maximum flavor and comfort. When it comes to chicken and dumplings recipes, its hard to pick a favorite. We adore the tried-and-true versions that our grandmothers spoon-fed us, and the more innovative versions with unexpected additions like gnocchi, sweet potato, and cornbread. Even with new and exciting twists on the classic, this savory, steaming, and traditional chicken and dumplings recipe is worth holding on to.
Step-by-Step Video: Our Easiest Chicken and Dumplings
Fried Green Tomatoes
Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes
It doesn’t get much more Southern than a plate of Fried Green Tomatoes. Great on sandwiches, on top of salads, or plain eaten off a plate and dipped in sauce, this is a recipe that every Southern could should master – and make weekly. Always pick firm green tomatoes that will hold their texture during the fry process. We dip our fried green tomatoes in a blend of self-rising cornmeal mix, salt, pepper, and all-purpose flower. Each fried green tomato is hand-dredged in buttermilk, tossed in the crispy coating, and then fried to golden perfection in popping vegetable oil. The crispy coating flakes off with each perfect bite.
Cooking Video: Fried Green Tomatoes
Recipe: Buttermilk Biscuits
In the South, Biscuits are to breakfast what tires are to a car: no Southern breakfast is complete without flaky, buttery biscuits. Actually, make that no Southern meal is complete without flaky, buttery biscuits. Don’t be afraid to make your own – homemade buttermilk biscuits are worth the labor. Once you try homemade buttermilk biscuits steaming from the oven, you’ll think twice before buying store-bought canned biscuits again. We’ve found the perfect biscuit recipe that makes the process easy. This versatile biscuit recipe only takes five ingredients to make, and you can amp it up with any of our four flavor variations, like cinnamon-raisin, black pepper bacon, feta oregano, or pimiento cheese.
Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole
Recipe: Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole
Our chicken and Rice Casserole is savory, creamy, filling, and everything that a classic Southern casserole should be. This staple casserole can be dressed up for special occasions, but its crowd-pleasing flavor is perfect for a weeknight or family dinner. Roasted sliced almonds, water chestnuts, and fresh breadcrumbs give it that irresistible crunch that will keeps you coming back for seconds. Using a long-grain and wild rice mix and toasted almonds in the classic chicken casserole makes it a little bit dressier, and fit for company during the holidays. You can also prepare this recipe in advance – it keeps in the freezer for up to one month.
Company Pot Roast with Creamy Mushroom Grits
A flavorful pot roast is, perhaps, the most underrated classic Southern comfort food. Not only is a well-cooked pot roast tender and savory, but it is also incredibly versatile. Eat it hot from the slow cooker, or cold, piled between two slices of French bread. Our test kitchen carefully developed this flavorful roast to be the only roast recipe you’ll ever need. Bacon, garlic, and red wine imbue humble chuck roast with robust flavors and character. Rich beef-bourguignon flavor grows as the meat transforms from simple to extraordinary in your slow cooker. Serve sliced or in chunks over Creamy Mushroom Grits.
King Ranch Chicken Mac and Cheese
Our favorite casserole? King Ranch, of course. Our favorite side dish? Dare we say mac and cheese? All of the flavors of one of our favorite casserole recipes come together in the filling comfort mac and cheese. Packed with cellentani pasta, buttery onions and peppers, diced tomatoes, and two blends of creamy cheese, this mac and cheese dish sets a high standard for all other sides and main dishes. Serve this five-star dinner dish to your family, and it will become a quick favorite. One reviewer raves, “This is the best casserole I have ever made and I have been cooking for over 30 years… My family loved it, and we did not have any leftovers! I make it weekly now.”
Mama's Fried Chicken
Recipe: Mama's Fried Chicken
Remember what it’s like to eat “real” fried chicken, like Mama used to make? Skip the bucket of fast-food fried chicken and return to the classic, skillet-fried crispy chicken. We promise, you’ll taste a difference. Seasoned with simple salt and pepper and dredged in buttermilk and flour, you can add your own spices to the breading to make your Southern fried chicken your own fried chicken. We’ve added paprika, cayenne pepper, and lemon pepper with delicious results. You can even add lard or butter to the oil, for super-special occasions. Serve with our Perfect Mashed Potatoes to complete this classic Southern meal.
Chicken-and-Brisket Brunswick Stew
Some recipes are quick. Brunswick stew is not one of these recipes. But trust us, the results are worth every minute. You’ll wind up with enough to feed a crowd, or enough to freeze for several great meals to come. Flavors of sautéed onions and garlic, beef soup based, fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, mustard, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce come together in a two-hour long simmering period that results in this craveable classic stew of tender chicken, filling vegetables, and intensely delicious barbecued beef brisket. Purchase your barbecued brisket from your favorite local shop, and stir in to make this comfort dish fit for your family.
Recipe: 30-Minute Chili
Do you want delicious chili but don't want to wait all day? Our 30-Minute Chili recipe will have you enjoying one of our quick-fix suppers in no time. This simple-to-make chili recipe only has six ingredients, but you'll marvel at its slow-cooked flavor. Simmering the ground beef is probably the hardest part; once you've finished that, you just pour everything else in, and stir. If you prefer an Italian-style take on 30-Minute Chili, spice this up and use 1 pound of ground sausage and 1 pound of ground beef. Whether you prefer a traditional chili or you would like to enjoy some Italian-infused flavors, this easy-to-make chili will always be ready when you are.
Cooking Video: Quick-Fix Chili
Southern-Style Collard Greens
Recipe: Southern-Style Collard Greens
A true Southern chef knows that part of what makes Southern-smoked meat taste good are the perfect side dishes. And a true Southern chef also knows that this perfect side is often collard greens. Packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron, collard greens are a type of cabbage that does not develop into a head of lettuce. This recipe fixes the greens up with some traditional Southern flavors. Crispy hickory-smoked bacon, bacon, sautéed sweet onion, smoked ham, apple cider vinegar, and garlic perfect these savory Southern-Style Collard Greens, making this side dish an essential part of your traditional Southern feast.
Peppered Beef Soup
Recipe: Peppered Beef Soup
A steaming hot bowl of hearty soup served out of a toasted bread bowl warms our hearts in such a distinct and fulfilling way. This comfort soup requires some prep work, but the soul warming worth every minute. Sirloin tip beef roast is coated in flour and seared for a crispy finish, and a healthy load of vegetables gives the soup simmering flavor. Make a huge pot, and freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to three months. Add a bit of canned broth when reheating to reach desired consistency. For a decadent finish, serve in Toasted Bread Bowls.
Recipe: Caramel Cake
This old-fashioned recipe has remained, over the years, as one of our best-ever homemade cakes. Our caramel cake has competed against plenty of fancier and more complicated cakes, but it still satisfies our sweet cravings in ways that other cakes never do. Rich and moist from a container of sour cream, dense from butter and eggs, and sweet from sugar, the cake is simple and satisfying. What makes this classic Southern cake stand out is the homemade caramel frosting spread between and on top of the cake’s layers. This traditional cake will seal your reputation as the family’s best baker.
King Ranch Chicken
Recipe: King Ranch Chicken
This slow-cooker version of the fan favorite King Ranch Chicken Casserole is sure to please your whole family. What's more comforting than chicken, cheese, and tortillas? Layers of tender shredded chicken, onions, bell peppers, creamy soup, diced tomatoes, green chiles, garlic, and chili are separated with flaky tortillas and sharp shredded Cheddar cheese. Put this recipe in your slow cooker in the mid afternoon, and it’ll be ready just in time for dinner. It is filling and oh-so-rich, so you will not need to spend time making a fancy Southern side dish. Try serving it with a simple garden green salad, or roasted broccoli, for an easy and delicious weeknight meal.
Two-Step Pound Cake
Recipe: Two-Step Pound Cake
Pound cakes are one of the easiest cakes to bake. This classic dessert is one of those sweet treats that you can whip together with minimal effort. This staple cake comes together with only 6 ingredients that everyone keeps on hand; you can jazz it up to suit any occasion. While you’re enjoying the buttery, crumbly cake, have you ever wondered where it gets its name? The original recipe dates back to the 1700s, and calls for a pound of flour, a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, and a pound of eggs. Now, that’s a lot of cake. A lot of soft, dense, sweet, and absolutely perfect cake. Test Kitchen Tip: Sift the flour prior to adding to the mixing bowl for a smooth cake that will best absorb icing.
Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Recipe: Perfect Mashed Potatoes
We have a feeling that you’ll be licking the bowl clean after you make these perfectly fluffy mashed potatoes. Yukon gold potatoes yield a texture that’s just right for holding a pool of flavorful turkey gravy or melted butter. These potatoes are perfect for all occasions, from weeknights to special occasions. No potluck, church supper, or pot roast is complete without a bowl of steaming mashed potatoes, served with a large wooden spoon. One reviewer raves, “These are the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever made! Super flavorful and super easy.” Learn how to whip up Perfect Mashed Potatoes with our 3-Step Guide.
Baked Smokin' Macaroni and Cheese
If you’re craving the ooey, gooey cheesy comfort of mac and cheese, but looking for a lighter option, this baked macaroni dish is perfect for you. The cheesy sauce comes together with Gouda, milk, flour, and oil and coats the cellentani pasta in flavor you’ll want to lick straight from the bowl. This delicious mac and cheese is light on butter and cheese, yet still melts in your mouth. We love this recipe so much that we asked for more like it! Try one of our four flavor variations for a perfect twist on the traditional flavor, like pepper jack, sweet pea and prosciutto, pimiento, or ham and broccoli.
Chicken-Andouille Gumbo with Roasted Potatoes
You can't go wrong with this classic Southern dish to fill you up on chilly nights. We made it even heartier by adding roasted potatoes to the traditional mix of Andouille sausage, Cajun seasonings, and veggies. The key to any great gumbo all starts is all in the roux. This recipe calls for a caramel-colored roux, but some Southern chefs prefer to add a subtle burnt flavor to their gumbo pots by slow simmering the flour and oil until its deep, dark, and smooth like chocolate. Make sure you monitor the roux at all times – if you burn your roux, the whole gumbo will taste wrong. If you’re in a rush, don’t turn the heat higher. Instead, use deli roasted chicken in place of skinned and boned chicken breasts.
Tee's Corn Pudding
Recipe: Tee's Corn Pudding
This classic Southern recipe has a rich, soufflé-like texture that tastes fancier than the recipe really is – but we won’t tell your guests that. With a scoop of sugar, a dash of flour, plenty of eggs and a heavy serving of cream and butter, this fresh corn casserole comes together with fresh corn kernels. It’s an fancier version of our favorite side dish: homemade, crispy, buttery cornbread. A perfectly Southern side for holiday potlucks and dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas, this southern corn pudding also works great at summertime barbecues and Easter brunches. The result is an impressive Southern side dish that the entire party will love. We like to add chopped fresh chives to the top.
Double-Crust Chicken Pot Pie
Recipe: Double-Crust Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Pot Pie is the comfort food sent down to the South straight from heaven. A creamy filling of vegetables and chicken covered by not one but two flaky crusts makes this double-crust chicken pot pie one of our best-ever chicken pot pies. One reviewer raves, “Best Chicken Pot Pie I've ever had! This meal is appropriate for any occasion! I've made this for friends and family and they we very impressed and pleased.” Serve the dish with a lightly dressed green salad and roasted asparagus for a complete, veggie-packed meal perfect for special occasions, but also easy enough for a weeknight family dinner.
Old-Fashioned Chicken And Dumplings
As the name suggests, this classic chicken and dumplings recipe is a comfort food sure to satisfy the whole family. A warm bowl of chicken and dumpling soup can turn around even the rainiest day. Handmade dumplings come together with just a few ingredients, and add rustic flavor to the deliciously creamy dish. Boiling and cooking the chicken at home saves cost and creates a rich broth that you can only get from scratch, but adds time. If you’re in a rush, pick up a deli-roasted chicken.
Recipe: Pecan Pie
Every Southerner knows that no Southern dessert table is complete without a syrupy sweet Pecan pie. Because pecan pie is such an integral part of a Southerner’s diet, it’s important that when you bake a homemade pecan pie with fresh Georgia Pecans, it comes out right. Our test kitchen tried over and over again to make the perfect Southern pecan pie, but attempt after attempt, there’s just no better pecan pie than our Pecan Pie recipe. This traditional pecan pie recipe is versatile and delicious. For a rich, holiday flavor, try using dark corn syrup. For a lighter and clearer pie, use light corn syrup. Both variations received high marks in our Test Kitchen.
Shrimp and Grits
Recipe: Shrimp and Grits
If we had to compile a list of the “top ten most Southern dishes ever,” Shrimp and Grits would certainly rank in the top three. This original Shrimp and Grits recipe is from Bill Smith, executive chef at Crook’s Corner, a landmark Southern restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Our favorite part about Shrimp and Grits that it is so quintessentially Southern that it works for any meal – breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or even as a midnight snack. Nobody ever turns down buttery, rich Shrimp and Grits. Packed with crispy bacon, buttery shrimp, fresh mushrooms, chopped green onions, garlic, lemon juice, and cheese, this dish is as impressive as it is delicious.
Recipe: Pecan-Peach Cobbler
This classic Southern dessert combines two of our favorite Southern-grown products: peaches and pecans. Great for summer, fall, and every season, this sweet cobbler suits any occasion. Covered in a golden-brown, latticed crust made easy from refrigerated piecrusts, the filling is where the real flavor lies. Gooey, sugar-covered peaches envelope crunchy local pecans. Test Kitchen Tip: Make sure that you take the extra 10-20 minutes to toast your pecans. Toasted pecans have a much more delicate flavor and crispy texture than their raw counterparts, which often taste waxy. Serve this classic Southern dessert with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream for a dessert that everyone will love.
Chunky Beef Chili
Recipe: Chunky Beef Chili
On a fall day, a hearty chili hits the spot. This Southern spin on a classic Tex-Mex dish is the perfect combination of spice and soul-warming comfort food. This hearty beef chili features boneless chuck roast and a medley of traditional chili seasonings, like cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic, and red pepper. A dash of oregano makes this Southern beef chili anything but ordinary. Topped with crushed tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream, and as much shredded cheese as your heard desires for a meal you’ll make again and again. Serve with Skillet Cornbread for a complete meal.
Easy Brunswick Stew
Recipe: Easy Brunswick Stew
Nothing is more comforting than a big bowl of hearty, flavorful Brunswick stew. This easy slow-cooker recipe comes together with minimal preparation. Overloaded with boneless pork shoulder, new potatoes, onions, lima beans, and corn, this stew will satisfy your entire family. Rich flavors of barbecue sauce and brown sugar simmer together in this easy-to-prepare slow cooker soup. And because of the flavorful pork and chicken broth, you won’t need to add much additional salt. For extremely tender meat that's easy to shred, try cooking on low heat for a long time. Although it produces a quicker meal, high heat yields a less tender product.
Recipe: Chicken-fried Steak
There’s a reason that chicken-fried steak has such an iconic reputation down South. This classic Southern comfort dish has that savory, melt-in-your-mouth taste that every Southern chef seeks. Make this iconic Southern chicken-fried steak recipe and savor every bite of this simple and delicious dish. It comes together with minimal ingredients, too – you’ll only need steak, salt, pepper, flour, eggs, chicken broth, milk, and cracker crumbs. Serve with green beans, mashed potatoes, and plenty of gravy. Now, next time you go to your favorite meat-and-three restaurant, you’re free to order something new – you can get your chicken-fried steak fix from your own kitchen.
Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
This holiday-worthy breakfast staple is as comforting as it is cinnamony. If you love store-bought cinnamon rolls made from a can, then you have got to make the homemade version – you will jump for joy after tasting how much better the homemade version is. Our homemade cinnamon rolls have all of our favorite Southern ingredients, like pecans, brown sugar, milk, and cinnamon. The homemade dough mixture rises to fluffy, golden-brown perfection; topped with cream cheese icing, these cinnamon rolls are literally heaven in a pastry. They’re so good, we bet you won’t mind putting in the effort on any average Saturday!
Classic Chicken Tetrazzini
Recipe: Classic Chicken Tetrazzini
Make a classic family comfort food with this creamy chicken casserole. This family-friendly casserole dish takes less than one hour to make, and provides a filling one-dish meal. With plenty of butter, a rich sauce thickened with flour, milk, white wine, and chicken bouillon, this classic Chicken Tetrazzini is pure comfort food. Folded in Parmesan cheese provides an even richer element of flavor. Older, drier Parmesan will add a richer, nuttier, more sophisticated flavor; lower-quality Parmesan provides the same cheesy texture without such a strong flavor. Test Kitchen Tip: This recipe freezes beautifully.
Baked Potato Soup
Recipe: Baked Potato Soup
A thick and creamy baked potato soup is perfectly ideal for cold winter days. Pile on your favorite baked potato toppings, like cheddar cheese, cooked and crumbled bacon, sliced green onions, and a dollop of sour cream. Rich mashed potatoes serve as the base for this creamy baked potato soup. Flavored with onion, butter, ground white pepper, and milk, this heart-warming comfort soup comes together in less than an hour. Make a big pot, and freeze the rest for an easy weeknight meal. To complete the meal, serve this baked potato soup with a roll for dipping, like our easy Yeast Roll.