15 Recipes That Taste Just Like the Ones Grandma Never Wrote Down

Egg Custard Pie
Photo: Antonis Achilleos

In hindsight, we probably should have followed Grandma around with a little notebook and pen, jotting down notes as she went about her business. How to politely to send your regrets, how to wrangle 20-plus people for Sunday night dinner without breaking a sweat, the stories (oh, the stories!), and then, in a league all their own, are the recipes. The pillowy-soft rolls that she pulled together by memory, the comforting classics that seemed right for just about every occasion, and the desserts. From pies to cakes and more, Grandma's treats aimed to please. Whether she had the South's greatest sweet tooth or just took such pleasure in indulging the ones of those around her, we'll never know.

What might have been most remarkable about all of Grandma's most famous recipes is that they didn't call for a bunch of ingredients or hard-to-find spices. They were simply stated and produced out-of-this-world results. Maybe there was a bit of magic in her fingertips or maybe she just knew the perfect ratio of seasonings, either way, we'll forever work to recreate these iconic recipes that regularly graced Grandma's table. While we might never find those grease-splattered recipes scribbled on yellow legal pad paper, these Southern classics come mighty close. You'll be serving up a big dish of nostalgia with every bite—just make sure you pass them on to younger generations. In fact, you have our full permission to go ahead and call them your very own family recipes.

01 of 15

Chocolate Delight

Ouida’s Chocolate Delight
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

Recipe: Chocolate Delight

This creamy, layered dessert knows many names, including Chocolate Delight, which is what Erin Napier calls her grandmother's version. With each chilly, indulgent bite you might just find yourself back at Grandma's dinner table.

02 of 15

Creamed Chip Beef and Toast

Creamed Chipped Beef & Toast
Southern Living

Recipe: Creamed Chip Beef and Toast

Whether she whipped up this classic in her own kitchen or you both split an order along with a chocolate shake at the neighborhood drug store, creamed chip beef and toast is a retro classic to be sure. You'll want to add this one to the repertoire immediately—the younger generations deserve to know.

03 of 15

Egg Custard Pie

Egg Custard Pie
Antonis Achilleos

Recipe: Egg Custard Pie

You don't need a bunch of ingredients to get this pie going. You'll find the same to be true with most of the recipes Grandma cooked up. She knew how to make a few choice groceries really sing and her (or is it ours?) Egg Custard Pie is the perfect example.

04 of 15

The Greenbrier's Famous Chicken Salad

Dorothy Draper Chicken Salad
The Greenbrier

Recipe: The Greenbrier's Famous Chicken Salad

If you've been searching for Grandma's famous chicken salad recipe to no avail, you might find that this is the one she was using all along. The base is amazingly simple (just chicken and celery) with a creamy sauce that's perfectly seasoned.

05 of 15

Orange Sherbet Punch

Orange Sherbet Punch
Photographer Victor Protasio, Food Stylist Ali Ramee, Prop Stylist Heather Chadduck

Recipe: Orange Sherbet Punch

The recipe that is a mainstay at just about every shower, bridal luncheon, and lady's gathering south of the Mason-Dixon Line. It was simple then and it's simple now, but that doesn't mean it's quite as foolproof as Grandma might have led you to believe. Our version calls for a duo of juices in addition to classic ginger ale to create a flavor that will draw wide, remembering smiles.

06 of 15

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits
Southern Living

Recipe: Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

Sunday breakfast isn't complete without a fresh batch of biscuits coming from the oven and the most savory white gravy ready to ladle atop. Whatever you do, just don't take a knife to those biscuits. We all know that no self-respecting Southerner would ever dare slice open a biscuit. Grandma raised us better than that.

07 of 15

Ham Salad

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

Recipe: Ham Salad

Whether it was to put the leftover Easter feast to good use or it stood in as a refrigerator mainstay, there's something so right about Grandma's ham salad. If the Southern favorite holds a place so dear in your heart that you would never dream of trying another's, you might just let down your guard for our take. It gives it a fresh spin of which we know Grandma would give her approval.

08 of 15

Fudge Pie

Fudge Pie
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Fudge Pie

Many have tried to recreate the magic that was Grandma's Fudge Pie; few have succeeded. This version calls for pecans, semi-sweet chocolate morsels, and a microwave. That's right. We updated the tried-and-true with a version that's just as good but way easier to pull off. Grandma always said, "If it's not broke, don't fix it," but we have a feeling she would allow this exception.

09 of 15

Best-Ever Lemon Meringue Pie

Best-Ever Lemon Meringue Pie
Southern Living

Recipe: Best-Ever Lemon Meringue Pie

Creamy and dreamy: two words to describe our Best-Ever Lemon Meringue Pie. While it bakes, the Mile-High Meringue will color to a beautiful golden brown. Allow it to chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

10 of 15

Buttermilk Spoon Bread

Buttermilk Spoon Bread
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Buttermilk Spoon Bread

Here's a classic that few who didn't grow up with even know exists—and, my, what they are missing. It's actually a pudding-like consistency (not at all bread-like) and can be served year-round, but especially during the holidays.

11 of 15

Classic Okra and Tomatoes

Classic Okra And Tomatoes
Southern Living

Recipe: Classic Okra and Tomatoes

There was nothing that could hold a candle to Grandma's okra and tomatoes. She just threw it together without a second thought, unfortunately for your recipe index. Our take calls for a pound of fresh okra, plenty of bacon drippings, onions, bell pepper, canned tomatoes, and more. The result is a late-summer spectacular that's every bit as authentic as the one you grew up with.

12 of 15

The Masters Egg Salad Sandwiches


Recipe: The Masters Egg Salad Sandwiches

Another recipe Grandma never wrote down? Her famous egg salad. Rest assured the ingredients were pantry staples, but getting the ratios right is the true test. Maybe she convinced the culinary team at Augusta National to spill their secrets, or maybe she was just that good in the kitchen by her own right. Either way, this reimagined take will do her proud.

13 of 15

Sausage Balls

Sausage Balls
Southern Living

Recipe: Sausage Balls

If you made it through the holidays without catching sight of a sausage ball, then surely you spent November through January somewhere outside the temperate locales of the Southern states. These pop-able treats are made with baking mix (like Bisquick), shredded Cheddar cheese, and hot pork sausage—that's it. Grandma always told you to stop overthinking.

14 of 15

Make-Ahead Yeast Rolls

Make-Ahead Yeast Rolls
Laurey W. Glenn

Recipe: Make-Ahead Yeast Rolls

This recipe was submitted by reader Carole Miller Radford for our November 1995 issue. It's both easy and otherworldly and hits just the right note of nostalgia. You'll find these rolls to be so perfect already, you don't even need to mess with buttering the tops.

15 of 15

Bread-and-Butter Pickles

Bread-and-Butter Pickles
Southern Living

Recipe: Bread-and-Butter Pickles

We venture to guess there was always a jar of homemade pickles in the fridge growing up, right? These sweet slices are perfect piled atop sandwiches or served alongside your Easter ham. Each batch makes 10 (1-pt.) jars. Grandma always did know how to stretch a dollar.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles