15 Cookbooks Every Southerner Should Own

Charleston Receipts by the Junior League of Charleston
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

In the South, cookbooks are considered just as high an art form as our literature. So much more than recipes, cookbooks communicate our culture in tactile terms and humanize the stories passed down in them. They help us understand our sense of place and home. To name just 15 books that do all those things and more (like help us learn the alchemy behind pimiento cheese) is challenging, but if pressed to pick a few for Southerners beginning their cookbook collection or those wanting to complete it, these books would be worthy additions.

01 of 15

The Gift of Southern Cooking

The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock

by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock

While each of these author's contributions stand alone, it's in their friendship that they take on the natural Southern repose of dialogue. It's in their back and forth between their differences and similarities, Lewis' Virginia roots in a small farming community founded by freed slaves and Peacock's Alabama upbringing, that a more complete picture of Southern cooking comes into focus. Throughout the book are stories of people and traditions that have shaped traditional Southern recipes.

Price at time of publish: $30

02 of 15

The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge

Drawing upon the tradition of spiral bound community cookbooks from Junior Leagues and civic groups across the South, the Southern Foodways Alliance applied the concept to the greater South by employing their favorite chefs and writers to contribute recipes from cornbread to tomatoe pie and gumbo z'herbes. They illustrate the micro-regions of cooking traditions across the South and how they come together like patchwork quilt.

Price at time of publish: $19

03 of 15

Real Cajun

Real Cajun Cookbook

By Donald Link

While many came to understand Cajun cooking from prototypical celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme and his famous blackened redfish, in his first cookbook, Chef Donald Link (owner of seven New Orleans restaurants) gives readers a deeper sense of Cajun cooking traditions and ingredients from his both enigmatic and rustic homeland.

Price at time of publish: $25

04 of 15

Southern Cakes

Southern Cakes Cookbook

By Nancie McDermott

Nancie McDermott's approachable, joyful, and intensely thoughtful demeanor comes through in these 65 recipes that are equally sweet and educational. This is an essential for any Southern baker who wants to know more behind the true histories and techniques behind classics including Lane, Red Velvet, and Coconut cakes.

Price at time of publish: $11

05 of 15

Seasoned in the South

Seasoned in the South Cookbook

By Bill Smith

From the chef of one of the most important restaurants in the South, Bill Smith and Crook's Corner, an unassuming cafe in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, helped give Southern food status with national critics and rise to the shrimp and grits phenomenon. The book is complete with a variety of creative menus.

Price at time of publish: $15

06 of 15

The B.T.C Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook

The B.T.C Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook

By Alexe Van Beuren and Dixie Grimes

Although Alexe Van Beuren, Dixie Grimes, and Kagan Coughlin started the B.T.C. Grocery in 2010, the revived business feels like an intrinsic part of Water Valley, Mississippi. The gathering spot has become known for its Tex-Mex pimento cheese, take-home casseroles, and hand-pulled chicken salad and the pages of this book are filled with these down-home comfort recipes, plus modern takes on traditional Southern ingredients. 

Price at time of publish: $39

07 of 15

Root to Leaf

Root to Leaf Cookbook

By Steven Satterfield

Southerners know that the true beauty of our region's food lies not in the fryer but in the fields, gardens, and groves. James Beard Award-winning Chef Steven Satterfield of Miller Union in Atlanta gives readers a comprehensive guide to cooking with Southern produce through a seasonal lens. It's a cookbook that will truly make you rethink vegetables with new appreciation and knowledge for it.

Price at time of publish: $45

08 of 15

Pick a Pickle

Pick a Pickle Cookbook

By Hugh Acheson

This flash card-like, fold-out booklet of canning and pickling recipes is the kind of construction we wish we saw more of in publishing. With heavy-duty, near-waterproof pages, you won't be afraid to actually reference one of its recipes while you're boiling up a brine for bread and butter pickles. Hugh Acheson's duality of reverence and inventiveness for this ancient culinary art is apparent from his recipes for classic chow chow to carrot and cabbage kimchi.

Price at time of publish: $15

09 of 15

Charleston Receipts

Charleston Receipts by the Junior League of Charleston
Laurey W. Glenn

By the Junior League of Charleston

The oldest Junior League community cookbook still in print, Charleston Receipts is the foundation for all spiral bound collections.

Price at time of publish: from $25

10 of 15


Heritage by Sean Brock
Courtesy Artisan Books

By Sean Brock

More than recipes, Chef Sean Brock dives into the histories, legacies, stories, and anecdotes that have not only helped shape him into one of the most important voices in Southern culture but also how many voices have brought Southern cooking as a whole to the exciting place it is today. The stunning photography will make you see even the most humble of Southern ingredients in a new, captivating light.

Price at time of publish: $33

11 of 15

The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook

The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook

Southern Living

by Julie Fisher Gunter

While this might sound like we're tooting our own horn, the "Southern Living Ultimate Cookbook" is an amazing resource to have on hand. It is full of good, solid foundational recipes you can feel confident building upon and presents step-by-step instructions for more than twelve hundred recipes from soup and salads to sauces and beverages.

Price at time of publish: from $18

12 of 15

Deep Run Roots

Deep Run Roots Cookbook


by Vivian Howard

This is a cookbook about more than just recipes—it's a storybook that celebrates the nuance flavors and ingredients of North Carolina's coastal region. There's a recipe for every skill level—from weeknight dinners to more elaborate dishes you would find in any of Howard's restaurants.

Price at time of publish: $23

13 of 15

Joy of Cooking

Joy of Cooking


Originally by Irma S. Rombauer

This is the cookbook that is battered, torn, and passed down. It was first self-published with just 300 recipes by Irma S. Rombauer in 1931, and titled "The Joy of Cooking: A Compilation of Reliable Recipes with a Casual Culinary Chat". Today, it is often consider the most popular cookbook beyond just the South. Though there are nine editions and now about 4,600 recipes, the 1975 and 2006 editions are often the most favored.

Price at time of publish: $18

14 of 15

Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen

Edward Lee Cookbook


by Edward Lee

Lee’s first cookbook tells the story of how his Korean roots and Southern culture came together and influence the way he uses ingredients and tells a story though his recipes. From pickling and fermenting to drying and smoking—each dish is simultaneously quintessentially Southern and Korean.

Price at time of publish: $32

15 of 15

The New Southern Garden Cookbook

Sheri Castle Cookbook


by Sheri Castle

This cookbook is the ultimate guide to preparing meals based around what's growing in our gardens and in season.

Price at time of publish: $25

Updated by
Cameron Beall
Cameron Beall
Cameron Beall is a writer, marketer, photographer, and creative with over a year of experience with Southern Living in the realm of homes and home building. She was infatuated by home design from a young age, credit to her mother and grandmother. 
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