45 Classic Summer Recipes To Make All Season Long

Old-School Squash Casserole
Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

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.

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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!

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Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes

Ask anyone: These crispy 'maters are a treat come summertime when tomatoes are at their best.

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Old-School Squash Casserole

Old-School Squash Casserole
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

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.

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Summer Pasta Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Summer Pasta Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
Alison Miksch

Recipe: 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.

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Classic Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding
Jennifer Davick

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.

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Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple-Upside Down Cake
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

The upside-down cake is something delicious to behold, with its gooey, caramelized topping and all.

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Tomato, Cheddar, and Bacon Pie

Tomato, Cheddar, and Bacon Pie
Hector Sanchez

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.

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Classic Deviled Eggs

Basic Deviled Eggs
Southern Living

Recipe: Basic Deviled Eggs

A platter of deviled eggs makes a worthy addition to every summer meal in our not-so-humble opinion.

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West Indies Crab Salad

West Indies Crab Salad
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: West Indies Crab Salad

This classic Southern salad hails from Mobile, Alabama, and is made with fresh crabmeat and a citrusy vinaigrette.

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Classic Fresh Field Peas

Classic Fresh Field Peas
Photo: Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Classic Fresh Field Peas

Southern field peas and smoky ham hocks go together like Johnny and June in the summertime.

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Whipped-Cream Corn Salad

Whipped-Cream Corn Salad
Southern Living

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.

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Peanut Butter-Banana Icebox Pie

Peanut Butter-Banana Icebox Pie
Photo: Jennifer Davick

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.

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Peach Cobbler

Easy Peach Cobbler
Iain Bagwell; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Easy Peach Cobbler

For Southerners, making peach cobbler in the summer is just the right thing to do.

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Egg Salad Sandwiches

Egg Salad Sandwiches
Jen Causey

Recipe: Egg Salad Sandwiches

This nostalgic spread is always there to feed a hungry group of Southerners.

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Best-Ever Crab Cakes with Green Tomato Slaw

Best-Ever Crab Cakes with Green Tomato Slaw
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: 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."

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Best-Ever Succotash

Best-Ever Succotash
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Tina Bell Stamos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

Recipe: Best-Ever Succotash

What should you serve with your crispy crab cakes? The ultimate summer side: succotash.

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Memphis Dry-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs

Memphis Dry-Rubbed Baby Back Ribs
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: MindI Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: 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.

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Tomato Sandwiches

Tomato Tea Sandwiches
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Cat Steele

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.

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Strawberry Pretzel Salad

How To Make Strawberry Pretzel Salad Still
Southern Living

Recipe: Strawberry-Pretzel Salad

This vintage gelatin recipe will make more than one appearance at your Southern potlucks this summer, trust us on that.

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Berry Sonker with Dip

Berry Sonker with Dip
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl Jones

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").

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Classic Pimiento Cheese

Basic Pimiento Cheese
Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Basic Pimiento Cheese​​​​​​​

This is the ultimate Southern spread, no matter the season.

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Fried Pickle Chips

Fried Pickle Chips
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Fried Pickle Chips

Pickle chips, battered and fried, make a snack fit for the beach, especially when dipped in buttermilk ranch.

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Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad

Candied Jalapeños
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad

When in doubt, bring a bowl of potato salad—every summer occasion would do well with it.

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Fried Delacata Catfish

Fried Delacata Catfish
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Katelyn Hardwick

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.

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Field Pea, Corn and Bacon Salad

Field Pea, Corn, and Bacon Salad
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Cat Steele

Recipe: Field Pea, Corn and Bacon Salad

Nothing displays your fresh summer produce like a simple salad—with bacon, of course.

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Southern Buttermilk Pie

Classic Buttermilk Pie
Iain Bagwell

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.

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Peach Fried Pies

Peach Fried Pies
Iain Bagwell; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Peach Fried Pies

You can take these hand-held fried pies on the go, making them all the more appealing.

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Muffin Pan Tomato Tarts

Muffin Pan Tomato Tarts
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Muffin Pan Tomato Tarts

And what a tasty little tart it is. These tomato bites can be made right in your muffin pan.

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Crab Boil with Beer and Old Bay

Crab Boil with Beer and Old Bay
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

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.

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Lady Pea-and-Corn Patties

Lady Pea and Corn Patties
Alison Miksch

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.

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Cheese Puffs with Ham Salad

Cheese Puffs with Ham Salad
Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Ham Salad

This old-school spread is the perfect make-ahead dish for every summer trip.

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Creamy Overnight Fruit Salad

Creamy Overnight Fruit Salad
Abigail Wilt

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.

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Cherry Flag Pie

Cherry Flag Pie
Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Cherry Flag Pie

It's the All-American dessert for the ages: Cherry pie.

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Strawberry Lemonade Pie

Strawberry Lemonade Pie
Micah A. Leal

Recipe: Strawberry Lemonade Pie

This fresh pie is like spring in a slice.

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Classic Macaroni Salad with Ham

Classic Macaroni Salad with Ham
Jen Causey

Recipe: Classic Macaroni Salad with Ham

This old-school cold salad pairs well with any backyard barbecue main or lake day sack lunch.

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Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder

Tangy Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Tangy Slow-Cooker Pork Shoulder

This versatile BBQ dish has been feeding Southerners during the summer for decades.

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Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Broccoli, Grape, and Pasta Salad

It's not summer without pasta salad, and this classic recipe is full of tasty ingredients.

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Classic Baked Beans

Baked Beans
Antonis Achilleos

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.

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Millionaire Pie

Millionaire Pie
Micah A. Leal

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.

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Key Lime Pound Cake

Key Lime Pound Cake
Jen Causey

Recipe: Key Lime Pound Cake

This heavenly recipe gives you the best of both dessert worlds: pound cake and Key lime pie.

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Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken

Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken
Antonis Achilleos

Recipe: Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken

Nothing says summer like barbecue chicken, and these sweet and sticky chicken drumsticks can be made in the oven.

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Fresh Corn Spoonbread

Cranberry-Pecan Pilau
Photo: Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Fresh Corn Spoonbread

A spoonful of spoonbread is always a treat when made with fresh corn.

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Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus
Jennifer Causey

Recipe: Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

In our mind, bacon-wrapped is the only way to eat asparagus during the summer.

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Dainty Cucumber Sandwiches

Dainty Cucumber Sandwich
Southern Living

Recipe: Dainty Cucumber Sandwiches

These cucumber sandwiches make the prettiest tea party snack.

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Crab Pie

Crab Pie
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Crab Pie

Instead of your usual Quiche Lorraine, try this coast-inspired crab version for summer.

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