30 New Southern Classics To Make in 2021—Inspired By the South's Most Iconic Dishes

Jalapeño Cornbread Sticks
Photo: Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Cindy Barr; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Whether you grew up eating casseroles straight from your grandmother's recipe box or discovered the buttery, cheesy, and sometimes deep-fried delicacies later in life—hey, it's never too late to pledge allegiance to tomato pie or red beans and rice!—there's a magic to classic Southern dishes that can't be replicated. While many say that there's no reason to change a good thing, we're also not afraid to embrace fresh and modern takes on these iconic Southern recipes that make dinner even easier to throw together on any night, as well as offer a slightly healthier spin on your favorite indulgent food. (Looking at you, smothered pork chops.) We've rounded up new versions of everyone's most beloved Southern recipes that make them feel totally refreshed for any occasion, including classic desserts in unexpected forms like our Banana Pudding Cheesecake and quick-and-easy hacks like our buttermilk drop biscuits that will take you only a fraction of the time required to bake our traditional buttermilk biscuits—but are just as delicious.

Tick your way through all 30 of these new Southern classics every month of 2021 to get a taste of both old-fashioned and brand-new.

01 of 30

Fried Deviled Eggs

Fried Deviled Eggs
Micah A. Leal

Recipe: Fried Deviled Eggs

This bite-sized Southern delicacy gets a funky deep-fried makeover that we never knew we needed. The added crunch is everything.

02 of 30

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Buttery Chive-and-Mustard Drop Biscuits
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Cindy Barr; Food Styling: Tina Bell Stamos

Recipe: Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

While flaky buttermilk biscuits are the ultimate Southern classic, these drop biscuits are much easier and faster to accomplish in less than an hour from start to finish. Plus, whole-grain mustard gives a delicious kick.

03 of 30

Oven-Fried Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans

Oven-Fried Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Tina Bell Stamos

Recipe: Oven-Fried Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans

Bet you didn't think that this deep-fried favorite could be made way healthier (but just as delicious) by baking in the oven with a crunchy panko crust?

04 of 30

Banana Pudding Cheesecake

CLOSEUP Banana Pudding Cheesecake
Jennifer Davick; Styling: Lydia Degaris Pursell

Recipe: Banana Pudding Cheesecake

Let's face it: You'll never top your grandmother's banana pudding. However, we do venture to say that this cheesecake take on the Southern dessert never disappoints.

05 of 30

Sheet Pan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Sheet Pan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Sheet Pan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

If you never thought about making macaroni and cheese on a sheet pan, consider yourself unlucky. This recipe not only turns out melty pasta with a perfectly crispy top, but it also adds butternut squash into the mix for a healthy touch of sweetness.

06 of 30

Instant Pot Fried Chicken

Instant Pot Fried Chicken
Photography: Caitlin Bensel, Prop Styling: Audrey Davis, Food Styling: Rishon Hanners

Recipe: Instant Pot Fried Chicken

There's the old-school way of making fried chicken, and then there's this way that takes way less time and makes a fraction of the greasy mess.

07 of 30

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Photography: Alison Miksch, Prop Styling: Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland, Food Styling: Melissa Gray

Recipe: Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

This Sunday night staple gets a healthy lift that makes the dish creamier than ever before. Riced cauliflower in addition to potatoes creates a fluffy, velvety side.

08 of 30

Peach Custard Pie

Peach Custard Pie
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Peach Custard Pie

This might be one of our most standout reader-loved desserts of the past year—and for good reason. It combines two Southern icons, peach cobbler and custard pie.

09 of 30

Pimento Cheese Sausage Balls

Pimento Cheese Sausage Balls
Southern Living

Recipe: Pimento Cheese Sausage Balls

Old-fashioned sausage balls meet the ultimate Southern spread, pimiento cheese. The result? A cheesy bite-sized nibble with just enough kick.

10 of 30

Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs

Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs
Photographer: Greg DuPree Prop Stylist: Mary Clayton Carl Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey

Recipe: Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs

Ribs in the oven? Some may call it heresy, while we just call it weeknight smart.

11 of 30

Sausage Gravy Casserole with Cheddar-Cornmeal Biscuits

Sausage Gravy Casserole with Cheddar-Cornmeal Biscuits
Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Sausage Gravy Casserole with Cheddar-Cornmeal Biscuits

This country breakfast icon doesn't need much tweaking, but we'll always accept a crowd-pleasing casserole makeover that lets us dish out helpings of warm, creamy, sausage-studded, biscuit-topped deliciousness.

12 of 30

Jalapeño Cornbread Sticks

Jalapeño Cornbread Sticks
Greg Dupree; Prop Styling: Cindy Barr; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Recipe: Jalapeño Cornbread Sticks

After you dunk one of these spicy cornbread sticks into a big bowl of chili, you'll never go back. Trust us.

13 of 30

Hummingbird Bundt Cake

Hummingbird Bundt Cake
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Hummingbird Bundt Cake

No fussing over icing three layers? We'll always take that deal. This reader-loved Bundt turns to a gratuitous drizzle cream cheese glaze instead.

14 of 30

Fried Green Tomato Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Fried Green Tomato Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Anna Hampton; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch

Recipe: Fried Green Tomato Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Who knew that fried green tomatoes could be in the same sentence as salad? This recipe makes any green veggie bowl feel way more special.

15 of 30

Sloppy Joe Casserole with Dinner Rolls

Sloppy Joe Casserole with Dinner Rolls
Photographer Victor Protasio, Food Stylist Rishon Hanners, Prop Stylist Heather Chadduck

Recipe: Sloppy Joe Casserole with Dinner Rolls

These aren't your cafeteria's sloppy Joes. It's cheesy, savory, a little sweet, topped with toasty Hawaiian rolls, and ready in just 30 minutes.

16 of 30

Air Fryer Okra

Air Fryer Okra
Caitlin Bensel

Recipe: Air Fryer Okra

Less oil, less time, less stress—just as much crunch and flavor. Air-fried okra is about to be your new favorite side dish.

17 of 30

Chili Cheese Enchiladas

Chili Cheese Enchiladas
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Chili Cheese Enchiladas

Tex-Mex just got even more seriously appealing thanks to this cross between Frito pie and enchilada casserole.

18 of 30

Purple Sweet Potato Pie

Purple Sweet Potato Pie
Greg Dupree; Food Stylist: Emily Neighbors Hall; Prop Stylist: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Purple Sweet Potato Pie

You've never before seen sweet potato pie quite like this one, but you'll be so glad you're now in the know. The filling is made with purple sweet potatoes (we prefer North Carolina-grown Stokes Purple) and coconut milk for a super creamy, just-sweet-enough treat. No food coloring required.

19 of 30

Creamy Collard Green Soup with Bacony Croutons

Creamy Collard Green Soup with Bacony Croutons
Greg Dupree; Food Styling: Torie Cox; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch

Recipe: Creamy Collard Green Soup with Bacony Croutons

Collards and pork are a tale as old as time, but not always in this unique form. This creamy soup is warm and cozy for any night—just make sure to add plenty of the bacon-flavored croutons.

20 of 30

Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas

Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas
Photographer: Will Dickey Prop Stylist: Missie Crawford Food Stylist: Erin Merhar

Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas

Enchiladas are the ultimate Tex-Mex crowd-pleaser, and this recipe turns it on its head by using tangy buffalo chicken, blue cheese dressing, Monterey Jack cheese, and celery.

21 of 30

Memphis-Style BBQ Nachos

Memphis Style BBQ Nachos
Greg DuPree

Recipe: Memphis-Style BBQ Nachos

Turns out, that characteristic melt-in-your-mouth Memphis barbecue doesn't only belong on a sandwich bun. Make your own nacho plate instead.

22 of 30

Fried Chicken Sliders with Pimiento Cheese

Fried Chicken Sliders with Pimiento Cheese
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Fried Chicken Sliders with Pimiento Cheese

Combining two Southern delicacies, this recipe is a juicy bite of crunchy chicken and creamy pimiento cheese. In other words, totally tasty.

23 of 30

Spiced Pecan Pie Bars

Spiced Pecan Pie Bars
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer

Recipe: Spiced Pecan Pie Bars

Turn this festive pie into a grabbable snack complete with a flavorful twist courtesy ground cinnamon and ginger. Serve with ice cream and caramel sauce.

24 of 30

Muffin Tin Meatloaf

Muffin Tin Meatloaf
Photographer Victor Protasio, Food Stylist Margaret Dickey, Prop Stylist Prissy Lee

Recipe: Muffin Tin Meatloaf

Meatloaf just got even more weeknight-friendly by making miniature "loaves" right in your muffin tin. These caramelized bites are best served on their own with mashed potatoes and vegetables or on bread the next day like a meatball sub.

25 of 30

Lighter Pan-Fried Chicken with Green Beans and Tomatoes

Lighter Pan-Fried Chicken with Green Beans and Tomatoes
Photo: Stephen DeVries, Prop Styling: Missie Neville Crawford; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Lighter Pan-Fried Chicken with Green Beans and Tomatoes

Quickly pan-frying for a crisp, crunchy exterior is the key to this lightened-up fried chicken that's finished in the oven for a super juicy interior.

26 of 30

Instant Pot Collard Greens

Instant Pot Collard Greens
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos, Prop Stylist: Kay E. Clarke Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Instant Pot Collard Greens

Collard greens usually need plenty of time and loving to make dinner-ready, but this modern take lets you whip up a mouthwatering batch in just 40 minutes.

27 of 30

Pineapple-Ginger Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple-Ginger Upside-Down Cake
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Pineapple-Ginger Upside-Down Cake

The trick to this pretty upside-down dessert? Using real pineapple—as opposed to canned—and fresh ginger to add a welcome zingy kick to the old-fashioned dish.

28 of 30

Deviled Grits

Deviled Grits
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck; Food Styling: Erin Merhar

Recipe: Deviled Grits

This unique recipe will surprise you, so don't knock it until you try it. It combines grits, eggs, brown sugar bacon, and orange juice—yep, you read that correctly—for a perfectly balanced brunch dish.

29 of 30

Tabitha Brown's Vegan Mac and Cheese

Tabitha Brown's Vegan Mac and Cheese
Greg DuPree, Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Tabitha Brown's Vegan Mac and Cheese

Bet you didn't see that one coming. You won't be missing any of the lactose after tasting this renowned vegan recipe for macaroni and cheese.

30 of 30

Key Lime Slab Pie with Strawberry Whipped Cream

Key Lime Slab Pie with Strawberry Whipped Cream
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen

Recipe: Key Lime Slab Pie with Strawberry Whipped Cream

Right when you thought that a slice of traditional Key lime pie couldn't be topped, this big-batch slab pie with cheery strawberry whipped cream just slides right into those taste buds.

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