101 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.
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
Recipe: 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
Recipe: 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
Recipe: 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
Recipe: 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
Recipe: Chicken-Andouille Gumbo with Roasted Red 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
Recipe: 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
Recipe: 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.
Classic Strawberry Shortcake
Recipe: Classic Strawberry Shortcake
With juicy strawberries spooned over sweet and tender biscuits, these old-fashioned strawberry shortcakes are the perfect dessert for all lovers of classic Southern comfort dishes. Fresh strawberries, sugar, almond extract, and whipping cream tucked between two slices of homemade shortcake biscuits – these are the elements that compose this easy take on a deliciously sweet strawberry shortcake. this classic Southern dessert is both light on the palette and just sweet enough to satisfy the strongest sweet tooth. If the berries are very sweet, decrease the sugar to suit your taste. Drop the dough easily by using a lightly greased 1/3-cup dry measure.
Recipe: Old-fashioned Meatloaf
This classic comfort meatloaf recipe is as close as we could get to how your momma used to make. In fact, it might be your momma’s recipe. This Southern meatloaf recipe features Creole and Greek seasonings and a hint of garlic. A few tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce spice up the traditional ketchup topping. One reviewer raves, ”This meatloaf has an excellent flavor; best meatloaf I have ever had! I served carrots and broccoli as a side along with mashed potatoes. My daughter, very picky eater, loved it. I did add a little bit of brown sugar to the sauce on top to reduce the tartness of the tomato sauce.”
Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie
Recipe: Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie
Although there are plenty of pecan pie recipes out there, we can vouch for this one – and so can mom. Any way you serve it – warm, cold, with ice cream, or with a dollop of whipped cream – pecan pie is always a favorite, and this recipe proves it's best made in a cast iron skillet.
Recipe: Skillet Cornbread
The ultimate side dish for any hearty Southern meal, cornbread is great slathered in butter or used for sopping up stews. This classic yet easy comfort food recipe comes together with savory irresistible bacon drippings, creamy buttermilk, white cornmeal, and a dash of salt. Like all great Southern breads, it comes from the oven in a steaming cast-iron skillet. Adapted from Hoppin John’s Lowcountry Cooking by John Martin Taylor, our go-to comfort corn bread recipe is timeless and well loved by our readers for its moist texture and just-sweet-enough taste. For a flavorful variation, try one of our creative cornbread variations.
Pork Chops, Cabbage, and Apples
Recipe: Pork Chops, Cabbage, and Apples
Savory pork chops, crunchy cabbage, and sweet apples combine in a classic combination of Southern comfort. Pork and Apples are an age-old favorite combination, as are pork and apples. Put the three together, and you’ve got a delightfully Southern dish that’ll impress any crowd made of kids or adults alike. This dish gets plenty of flavors from paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, sage, onions, bacon, and even your favorite lager beer. Plus, it is ready in just less than one hour. Overflowing with cabbage, this tender pork dish will warm you heart and soothe your Southern soul in such a way that only pork can.
Mom's Signature Roast Beef
Recipe: Mom's Signature Roast Beef
You can almost hear the dinner bell calling for you in this comforting meat-and-potatoes meal. With chopped onions, plenty of garlic, tender carrots, hearty potatoes, and, of course, slow-roasted beef that falls apart when your fork hits it, this recipe for classic beef roast shows you just how mom used to make it so darn good. Marinate the beef in a bottled dark beer seasoned with savory spices for at least 8 hours before searing it in your large, heavy-duty roasting pan. You’ll need to slow cook it for at least four hours to get that tender, home cooked texture. You can also replace the beer with Cola for a classic Cola Pot Roast.
Recipe: Classic Lasagna
A classic, beefy lasagna recipe perfectly matches these traditional, zesty Italian ingredients and creamy homemade ricotta sauce. Tall layers of ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, ground beef, and pasta will seriously satisfy your casserole cravings. Seasoned with basil, garlic, oregano, Italian seasoning, and fresh parsley, this lasagna is anything but bland. Plus, any leftovers for lunch the following day are always welcome. Tip: Make this lasagna bake for a crowd by doubling the recipe and making ahead of time. Prep steps one through four, cover, and freeze. Thaw and bake (covered) at 350° for 55 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until bubbly.
Ultimate Carrot Cake
Recipe: Ultimate Carrot Cake
Now, there are two types of people in this world. People who like Carrot Cake, and people who don’t. And after trying this classic, rich, and moist Carrot Cake recipe, we think there will be only one type of person in this world. Truly our best-ever Carrot cake recipe, make this classic favorite for a crowd and you might not have any leftovers to bring home. Made with grated carrots, pieces of Granny Smith apple, and sweetened coconut, the resulting cake layers are moist, sweet, and soft. It's important to cool the cakes completely before frosting, otherwise the frosting will just melt right off. To expedite the cooling process, you can put the cakes on their wire racks in the freezer (don't worry, it's not cheating), checking until they're thoroughly cool.
Fried Pork Chops with Gravy
Recipe: Fried Pork Chops with Cream Gravy
Any dish with gravy is bound to be delicious and comforting, and these pork chops are certainly no exception. Crispy fried in a coating of flour, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, pepper, and buttermilk, these fried pork chops are ready in minutes for a quick, flavorful meal that even the pickiest of eaters will love. With a gravy that comes together from the flavor-packed pan drippings, this classic Southern dinner is well worth working into your weekly menu. To make this dish like a Southern grandmother, cook it in a cast iron skillet. For variation, feel free to substitute the pork chops for chicken breasts or cube steak. Serve with a light green vegetable, like crispy green beans.
Fried Lemon-Rosemary Catfish
Recipe: Fried Lemon-Rosemary Catfish
Fried catfish are a classic Southern comfort food found in nearly every fishin’ town South of Virginia. We’ve upgraded the classic dish with sophisticated flavors like lemon, rosemary, and fresh garlic to take this Southern comfort dinner from diner to company-worthy. Catfish is a great fish for frying up in a cast-iron pan, because it’s firm filets do not fall apart as do those of softer species of fish. Although you will want to let the fillets soak up the lemon marinate for at least an hour, this comfort food classic recipe does not require that much hands-on time. In under 10 minutes over the stove top, you will have enough crispy catfish fillets to feed a group of hungry fishermen.
Cheddar Cheese Grits Casserole
Recipe: Cheddar Cheese Grits Casserole
You simply cannot go wrong with this eggs, cheese, and grits combination. It’s unassuming but absolutely delicious, and a true Southern favorite. It comes together with ingredients that all Southerners have on hand – milk, butter, grits, eggs, and cheese. This creamy grits casserole can be served as is for a casual morning breakfast or as a main dish. Add a sprinkle of crumbled breakfast sausage or diced baked ham for added bulk. Don’t limit this crowd-pleaser to breakfast or brunch. Serve it on the side of a main meat, such as shrimp or brisket for a classic, rich, and comforting Southern supper.
Praline-Pecan French Toast
Recipe: Praline-Pecan French Toast
Dress up your ordinary French toast breakfast recipe with a sweet praline mixture and a hint of cinnamon and vanilla. Find freshly baked French bread at your local grocer, and you’ve got the basis for a decadent breakfast worthy of Saturday-morning company. The twist: A short-order breakfast special gets an easy hands-off finish in the oven. One online reviewer claims that this Praline-Pecan French Toast recipe is, "sinfully delicious." With brown sugar, melted butter, maple syrup, chopped pecans, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract, there’s not much this breakfast dish is missing – besides you, and a tall glass of ice-cold milk!
Red Wine Beef Stew
Recipe: Red Wine Beef Stew
This Red Wine Beef Stew recipe is pure Southern comfort but it takes a while to prepare, so make it on a day when you have some time to spare. Rich and hearty, this stew combines the savory flavors of chuck roast, paprika, pepper, red wine, beef broth, thyme, bay leaves, turnips, mushrooms and carrots for a stew that’s bursting with flavor and vegetables. For more substance, add potatoes. Red wine melds all the flavors together in a velvety smooth stew that’s perfect for a winters’ day. Serve it with crusty bread or over rice to capture every drop of the rich gravy.
Bayou Fried Shrimp
Recipe: Bayou Fried Shrimp
When you’re craving the crispy taste of Cajun-battered, home-fried shrimp, skip the pricey seafood joint and opt for our homemade version instead. These butterfly shrimp are an ultimate fried seafood staple that come together in under one hour. Battered in Zatarain’s Fish Fry mix, these bite-size fried shrimp are best when served with a spicy Remoulade Sauce. Make your own by mixing mayonnaise, green onions, fresh parsley, creole mustard, lemon zest, garlic, and red pepper. Serve along with a crispy salad of light lettuce. Leave the tails on for an appetizer platter, as pictured, so guests will have something by which they can pick the shrimp up.
Recipe: Banana-nut Bread
Made from whole-wheat flour, this sweet and moist banana bread has less oil than most traditional recipes, but you won't miss it. Extra bananas keep it moist, sweet, and flavorful. Eat it warm or cold, plain, or with a spoonful of cream cheese. Perfect for a sweet snack, as a tea cake, or eaten as a quick breakfast, this banana-nut bread is a classic rendition of a Southern comfort dish that’s about as old as the South itself. Make two batches, and deliver one to a neighbor for a Southern showing of comfort and hospitality that only a fresh-baked loaf of banana bread can bring.
Recipe: She-Crab Soup
A Charleston, South Carolina, favorite, this classic Southern She-Crab Soup is creamy, rich, and bursting with decadent flavors that crab-lovers crave. Richly made from whipping cream, fish bouillon cubes, a generous helping of butter, and thickened with white flour, this soup impresses company in flavor, texture, and presentation. For a restaurant-level finishing touch, serve this soup in individual bowls with a splash of sherry spooned into each individual serving vessel. It is important to use high-quality sherry, since it’s flavor will not be cooked out of this dish. Garnish with chopped parsley and offer plenty of buttery, flakey crackers for dipping.
Summer Squash Casserole
Classic Chess Pie
Recipe: Classic Chess Pie
You can’t get more basic than classic Southern chess pie. This old-fashioned pie typically has two distinctive ingredients, cornmeal and vinegar, plus other on-hand ingredients such as sugar, flour, eggs, milk and vanilla. This version is made easy with the use of refrigerated piecrusts. Ever wonder where the name “Chess Pie” came from? The topic is subject to much folklore. One theory is that the original Chess Pie contained cheese, but over the years, cheese disappeared from the recipe. The word “chess,” remained as the name. But our favorite explanation is straight from a storybook: a cook was asked what she was baking that smelled so great. “Jes’ pie” was her answer.
Watch: How To Make Classic Chess Pie
Green Bean Casserole From Scratch
Recipe: Green Bean Casserole From Scratch
This green bean casserole gets a twenty-first century makeover from fresh veggies and a lightened (but super-rich!) homemade sauce. Fresh and crispy green beans, reduced fat milk, nonfat buttermilk, and tangy ranch dressing seasoning mix give this Southern casserole a rich yet nonfattening flavor. Bulked up with flavors of thyme, salt, pepper, fried onions, panko, and plum tomatoes, this green bean casserole is perfect for a hearty and healthy comfort dish – and we admit, healthy and low-calorie dishes are hard to come by in Southern comfort food. The best part: it's under 200 calories per serving! Serve it alongside your favorite grilled meat, bring it to the family potluck, or eat is as your main dish. It’s versatile, crispy, and delicious.
All-Time Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe: All-Time Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
In our list of favorite Southern comfort foods, Chocolate Chip Cookies are always in our top ten classic dessert dishes. For lovers of tried-and-true classics, whip up a catch of these all-time favorite chocolate chip cookies. They’re the best of the best – our test kitchen has proven it. Although there are a lot of chocolate chip cookie recipes out there, this one stands above the rest in texture, flavor, and sweetness. Craving something a little more unique? Try one of our staff-favorite flavor creations, like Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies, Cranberry-White Chocolate Cookies, White Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Cookies, Almond-Toffee Cookies, Turtle Cookies, or Nutty Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Easy Chicken Gumbo
Recipe: Easy Chicken Gumbo
Cajun seasonings make the flavor of this gumbo complex, but the prep work is easy enough for a weeknight dinner. The gumbo and our fresh Okra Pilau (rice cooked in a season broth) can be ready in 48 minutes. With the classic Cajun trifecta – onions, green bell peppers, and celery – this gumbo gets a kick from spicy garlic, Cajun seasoning, and smoky Andouille sausage. This easy Cajun chicken gumbo calls for a flavorful roux made by cooking flour in hot oil. One reviewer raves, “I will surely make this recipe again. My husband loved it. It made quite a big amount, so we had leftovers several times and he did not complain a bit.”
Recipe: Waffles Benedict
Can’t decide between fluffy eggs benedict or hot, crispy waffles for breakfast? On the one hand, the cloud-like poached egg and creamy, hollandaise sauce pulls your heart (and stomach) towards eggs benedict. On the other, waffles. Right? This classic Southern comfort breakfast recipe offers the best of both benedict and batter worlds. Homemade waffles are mixed together using easy store bought baking mix, rich buttermilk, and a handful of yummy Parmesan cheese, and topped with the better half of eggs benedict. Use a hollandaise sauce mix for easy preparation, and top with thin, gourmet prosciutto slices. Picky? For a simple Southern substitute, use country ham instead of prosciutto.
Classic Fried Catfish
Recipe: Classic Fried Catfish
Fried fish are a Southern staple, and the same applies to fried catfish. Although you’ll catch a fisherman throwing back his fair share of caught catfish, if you have the time to scale a catfish into a flaky filet, this classic recipe is completely worth the effort. Spices like ground red pepper, garlic powder, and salt bring out the naturally salty flavors from the catfish in a deliciously spicy batter. A mixture of yellow cornmeal and flour provide the ultimate crispy crust on your fried catfish filets. This recipe is easy and delicious. What better way to celebrate a cooler full of fresh-caught catfish?
Roasted Tomato Soup with Cheddar Cheese
Recipe: Roasted Tomato Soup with Cheddar Cheese
Simple, Southern, and oh-so satisfying, hot tomato soup is the perfect diner time comfort food on a cold winters’ day (especially when paired with a crispy, gooey grilled cheese). This easy-to-fix tomato soup starts with plum tomatoes. The addition of savory chicken broth, onion, thyme, balsamic vinegar, and freshly ground black pepper brings the taste to life. You can upgrade with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of fresh parsley, crunchy seasoned croutons, or freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Pam-Cakes With Buttered Honey Syrup
Recipe: Pam-Cakes With Buttered Honey Syrup
Hot, fluffy pancakes are a must when it comes to Southern comfort food breakfasts. Good for special occasions, Saturdays, and any time in between, the fluffy, pan-fried cakes are a staple Southern morning meal. We named these fluffy buttermilk pancakes after their creator, Test Kitchen and Southern Living Star, Pam Lolley. She perfected the art of pancake-making right here on Southern Living’s property, and we finally convinced her to share her all-star recipe with the rest of us. According to one reviewer, these best ever pancakes (“Pam-Cakes”) are truly “monumental.” Topped with Buttered Honey Syrup for a breakfast worthy of royalty. And Pam.
Jambalaya – the dish of countless cookouts, tailgates, and supper clubs across the entire state of Louisiana. Often prepared by a mens’ club in a large iron pot, Jambalaya has many variations across its home state. From dry and spicy to creamy and stuffed with sausage, Jambalaya is only as versatile as it is beloved. In our classic version, we have loaded the Cajun dish with andouille sausage, chicken, and shrimp for big, bold flavor. A true Cajun chef will tell you that what makes a good Cajun dish is good meat, so don’t skimp when it comes to choosing your protein.
Million Dollar Pound Cake
Recipe: Million Dollar Pound Cake
We don’t use that term lightly – this “Million Dollar” pound cake is truly worthy of its lofty title. By far one of our most beloved Southern comfort cake recipes, this pound cake has withstood the many, many tests of time. Using only 7 ingredients – and all ingredients that are readily on hand in most Southern kitchens – this cake really delivers in a buttery, crumbly, just-sweet-enough dessert that’s perfect for any occasion, any time of year. For a billion-dollar version, dress up this classic Southern cake with even more sweet flavor with a drizzle of seasonal frosting, like Salted Caramel, Buttermilk, Browned Butter Cinnamon Cream Cheese, Blackberry Buttercream, or Blueberry Compote.
Recipe: Home-Style Butterbeans
A true Southerner can tell the difference between butterbeans and lima beans, although this recipe would technically work with both. Lima beans are small and green, and butter beans are large and yellow. Both absorb flavor in the most miraculous way, and work great as both side and main dishes. These Southern comfort style butterbeans are flavored with bacon, brown sugar, and onion, and come together in a flash thanks to frozen butterbeans. For being a Southern comfort recipe, the beans bring a few healthy benefits along with their ample amount of bacon. Cook up this classic Southern comfort dish for a healthy dose of fiber and Vitamin B.
Sausage-Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole
Recipe: Sausage-Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole
Combine crispy hash brown potatoes with savory sausage, fresh eggs, and creamy Cheddar cheese for a hearty, 5-star-rated breakfast or brunch casserole that can be prepped ahead and baked the next morning. Flavors of classic Southern comfort come together in a casserole that will please even the pickiest of eaters – who can turn down pork sausage stuffed into a cheesy, egg-filled dish? Sauté one large onion and one bell pepper in the pork drippings for extra flavor and color. Tip from the recipe developer: To make mini frittatas, cook in 6-inch cast-iron skillets for 30 minutes at 375. Top with sliced avocados, pico de gallo, and a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with green onions.
Creamy Slow-Cooker Chicken
Recipe: Creamy Slow-cooker Chicken
Armed with a slow cooker, a southern cook can do almost anything. This creamy slow-cooker chicken is proof of that Southern comfort doesn’t always require hours of cooking effort. This versatile creamy chicken can be used in a lot of innovative ways. Slow simmered in cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese, Italian seasoning, dry white wine, and fresh mushrooms, this chicken absorbs tons of savory flavor. Spoon this rich and creamy chicken mixture over pasta, rice or biscuits for a home-style dinner that's sure to satisfy your need for comfort food. a. Create a casserole, or jump-start a filling for easy enchiladas or a fast pot pie.
Fresh Corn Cakes
Recipe: Fresh Corn Cakes
The perfect way to use up some of those cobs of summer corn you bought at the farmers’ market, these fresh corn cakes are the perfect addition to any Southern vegetable tray. One reviewer raves, “If you love CORN you will love this recipe. It does make a lot but they are good nuked in the microwave the next day. LOVE IT!!!! Husband loved it, too.” Seasoned with a healthy helping of butter, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, fresh grated mozzarella cheese, and chives, these comforting corn cakes are a classic, crowd-pleasing Southern dish – who does not like fresh corn and stringy mozzarella?
Praline Pull-Apart Bread
Recipe: Praline Pull-Apart Bread
In the South and everywhere else, carbs are the ultimate comfort food. What better way to improve upon the deliciousness of pull-apart bread than coat the gooey, delicious carb cake with indulgent, sugary pecan praline sauce? This is one Southern comfort food you have to try for yourself – trust us, it tastes as good as it looks. Don't skip the quick step of whipping the cream before stirring in the brown sugar—that's the secret to the smooth texture of the caramel-flavored sauce. With sugar, cinnamon, frozen bread, butter, pecans, whipping cream, and brown sugar, this recipe tastes as decadent as the recipe list reads. One reviewer raves that this praline pull-apart bread (one of our best-ever dessert breads, for sure) is “like cinnamon rolls in a cake form.”
Watch: Our Best Praline Pull-Apart Bread
Quick Shrimp Chowder
Recipe: Quick Shrimp Chowder
We've streamlined a Southern comfort food favorite, creamy shrimp chowder, by using canned soup as the base. But don’t be fooled – this time-saving hack does not sacrifice flavor or decadence. With the addition of butter, onions, cream of potato soup, rich milk, this classic shrimp chowder is not short on indulgent, comforting flavor. Seasoned with red pepper and thickened with Monterey Jack cheese, this soup works best with fresh shrimp. However, when you are craving a creamy Southern shrimp chowder outside of shrimp season, the rich and spicy flavors of the chowder’s body will carry frozen shrimp just fine. Top with fresh parsley and oyster crackers for a quaint Southern presentation.
Watch: Quick Shrimp Chowder
King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Recipe: King Ranch Chicken Casserole
This classic, tried-and-true Southern Living original chicken casserole is everything that a comforting Southern classic should be. Spiked with tomatoes and green chiles, creamy layers of chopped cooked chicken and corn tortillas make this Texas casserole too tempting to resist. It’s super-easy to fix for a crowd, and always a hit. Many Southerners grew up eating this decadent casserole; in modern times, it’s the perfect Southern comfort dish when you’re craving something extra rich and cheesy. One reviewer raves, “Absolutely love it! Easy ingredients, easy to prepapre and delicious. This recipe needs to be in everyone's book at home. Great for dinner anytime of the week or to take to potluck. Enjoy!”
Step-by-Step Video: King Ranch Chicken Casserole
Fresh Peach Ice Cream
Recipe: Fresh Peach Ice Cream
What’s better than fresh Georgia or South Carolinian peaches in the summertime? How about taking those sweet, juicy peaches, combining them with a few classic and rich Southern ingredients, and whipping up an even sweeter peach ice cream? Take advantage of fresh peaches and make this five-star homemade peach ice-cream to cool off on a hot Southern summer day. With fresh peaches, sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, whole milk, and egg yolks, you won’t find a creamier dessert anywhere else. And don’t let the thought of homemade ice-cream intimidate you – all you need is a food processor and a large bowl, and you’ll make this easy and classic Southern comfort dish in merely hours.
Blueberry Muffins with Lemon-Cream Cheese Glaze
Recipe: Blueberry Muffins with Lemon-Cream Cheese Glaze
Although we love classic blueberry muffins, these are not your ordinary, store bought blueberry muffins. This is the most indulgent, impressive Southern blueberry muffin recipe we could muster up in our test kitchen. The tart-and-sugary glaze turns plain blueberry muffins extraordinary blueberry muffins. The cake-like muffin is incredibly moist, thanks to the perfect amount of milk, eggs, and butter. If you’re cooking up a batch in the summertime, use freshly picked blueberries. Otherwise, frozen berries work just fine. Topped with a tangy lemon-cream cheese glaze, these muffins are the perfect sweet gift to give a neighbor – just make an extra batch for yourself!
Green Peas with Crispy Bacon
Recipe: Green Peas with Crispy Bacon
Are we sensing a pattern here? We Southerners tend to dress up our vegetables by adding the vegetable’s antagonist – bacon. Honestly, we’re not sorry about it. These crunchy green peas tossed with crispy bacon are purely irresistible. When they’re in season, use fresh sweet green peas. Toss the peas in grated orange rind, fresh orange juice, and chopped mint for a light and summery dish. The bacon offsets the sweetness by bringing what bacon brings best – savory, smoky, melt-in-your mouth flavor. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and a curl of orange rind for a presentation that’s as impressive as the Southern comfort dish is flavorful.
Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Recipe: Slow Cooker Pot Roast
This hearty Southern comfort pot roast is perfect for a busy weeknight. A slow cooker makes preparing this tender dish easy – simply throw the ingredients into the slow cooker, and let the appliance do the work. Flavored with beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, and thyme, this roast is great alone or served on hot, crispy French bread. In fact, as far as leftovers go, we highly encourage slathering some mayo on to a slice of airy French bread and eating this classic Southern meat cold.
Hamburger Steak With Sweet Onion-Mushroom Gravy
Recipe: Hamburger Steak With Sweet Onion-Mushroom Gravy
This ground beef recipe helps you make the most of your busy weeknights. You can make the patties ahead, then simply thaw them in the fridge overnight before using. You’ll love how the gravy keeps these moist and tender, while the onion adds just the right hint of sweetness and the garlic adds that little bit of spice. Mushrooms make this burger even richer, and sop up that gravy to make your burger even better. We love ground round for this burger. So get your skillet ready to brown this burger and cover it in sweet onion-mushroom gravy. You’ll love how good this burger tastes.
Beef With Red Wine Sauce
Recipe: Beef With Red Wine Sauce
This simple one-dish dinner with beef is sure to wow your guests – they will never guess it only took you three steps to make this savory beef dinner. Cooked slow and long, this slow cooker supper is flavored with tender beef chuck roast, simmered onions, fresh mushrooms, a package of brown gravy mix, beef broth, tomato paste, and a bay leaf for a decadent comfort dish with tons of flavor. A healthy cup of red wine brings the complex taste to an even more sophisticated level. Served over spiral egg noodles or long white rice, and this filling slow cooker beef dish is one you’ll make over and over again.
Overnight Coffee Crumble Cake
Recipe: Overnight Coffee Crumble Cake
Coffee cake is one of the best sweet cakes you can whip up in your own home. The perfect mix between bread and cake, our crumbly coffee cake will give you a reason to wake up in the morning. We topped ours with crunchy and oh-so-sweet Cinnamon-Nut Crumble and an extr- decadent Sweet Bourbon Drizzle. Pep up your mornings or snack time with a warm slice of Overnight Coffee Crumble Cake. Baked with buttermilk and butter, this Southern coffee cake is both crumbly and moist. A splash of bourbon adds richness and oomph to the powdered sugar glaze that's drizzled over this homemade coffee cake.
Recipe: Chicken-and-Vegetable Stew
It is no secret that Southern soups and stews are innately comforting. Served in a steaming mug over a little rice, and a Southern soup can heal everything from a common cold to a bruised heart. This Southern chicken-and-vegetable stew is high in flavor. Without added fat, it’s also low in calories and good for you, too. Packed with vegetables like chopped onions, diced celery, white corn, lima beans, and crushed tomatoes, this stew will certainly fill you up. Extra-savory country ham is made even more so with a dash of ketchup, a smidge of sugar, a splash of red wine vinegar, a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, and some dried marjoram.
Fried Pecan Okra
Recipe: Fried Pecan Okra
Okra thrives in the scorching heat of humid summers, soaring skyward in its semitropical glory. Originally from Africa, it is as overtly Southern as sweet tea and kudzu. Luckily for us, we have the inside secret when it comes to figuring out what to do with the delectable pods of okra. No other people embrace okra as Southerners do. It’s the basis of plenty a Southern comfort food, from gumbo to salad. As Southerners do best, we fried it. This upgraded fried okra recipe comes together with crushed pecans and baking mix, which forms the crisp breading for this classic Southern-style vegetable side.
Basic Fried Okra Recipe & Tips