30 New Southern Classics To Make in 2021—Inspired By the South's Most Iconic Dishes
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.
Fried Deviled Eggs
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.
Buttermilk Drop Biscuits
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.
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?
Banana Pudding Cheesecake
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.
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.
Instant Pot Fried Chicken
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.
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
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.
Peach Custard Pie
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.
Pimento Cheese Sausage Balls
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.
Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs
Recipe: Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs
Ribs in the oven? Some may call it heresy, while we just call it weeknight smart.
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.
Jalapeño Cornbread Sticks
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.
Hummingbird Bundt Cake
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.
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.
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.
Air Fryer Okra
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.
Chili Cheese Enchiladas
Recipe: Chili Cheese Enchiladas
Tex-Mex just got even more seriously appealing thanks to this cross between Frito pie and enchilada casserole.
Purple Sweet Potato Pie
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.
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.
Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas
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.
Memphis-Style BBQ Nachos
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.
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.
Spiced Pecan Pie Bars
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.
Muffin Tin Meatloaf
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.
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.
Instant Pot Collard Greens
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.