Southern Holiday Dishes Everyone Should Know How to Make

Cherry Chocolates Recipe
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

Being able to eat and cook Southern food is a blessing that Southerners should never take for granted. You don't need Mama to remind you—there really is nothing like classic Southern fare. There are some comforting dishes that every Southern cook should know how to make and others that only seasoned Southern cooks can master. The holiday season is a time when experienced and inexperienced Southern cooks come together to make culinary magic. There aren't many things that bring a family together quite like a roasted turkey, some classic cornbread dressing, or a green bean casserole. These Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes are the most classic of all time. From desserts like pecan pie and pound cake, to side dishes like collard greens and mashed potatoes, these recipes are timeless. We doubt we'll live to see the day that these classic Southern holiday recipes aren't making appearances on tables during the season. Gather around and take notes—these dishes will ensure your Southern holiday meal is done right.

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Beef Tenderloin

Perfect Beef Tenderloin
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Perfect Beef Tenderloin

Beef tenderloin is a holiday mainstay because there are endless marinating, rubbing, and dipping options.

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Roasted Turkey

Roasted Herb Turkey and Gravy
Greg DuPree

Recipe: Roasted Herb Turkey

Cooking a turkey for a holiday meal can be intimidating, but roasting with simple herbs will always be a go-to method.

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Brown Sugar-Bourbon Baked Ham
Becky Luigart-Stayner

Recipe: Glazed Spiral-Cut Ham

For some families, ham is reserved for Easter, but it's interchangeable with other proteins around the winter holidays, too.

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Southern Pumpkin Pie

Don't shy away from this tastey Southern Pumpkin Pie and serve it up for any special occasion this fall.

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Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits
Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Recipe: Shrimp and Grits

A dish that often ends up on Christmas Eve tables in the South is Shrimp and Grits. This recipe came from Bill Smith, executive chef at Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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Vanessa's Make-Ahead Beefy Lasagna
Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Recipe: Vanessa's Make-Ahead Beefy Lasagna

Lasagna is a Christmas Eve tradition for many families, and this make-ahead version can help you check it off your to-do list early.

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Green Bean Casserole

Old-School Green Bean Casserole
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Old-School Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole will always find its way on a Southern dinner table during the holiday season. Try our slow-cooker version of the classic for hands-off ease.

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Cornbread Dressing

Classic Cornbread Dressing
Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Classic Cornbread Dressing

Whether you call it dressing or stuffing, it's going to be present at holidays in the South.

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Ultimate Make Ahead Gravy
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Ultimate Make-Ahead Gravy

Whether you pour it specifically on your turkey and mashed potatoes or you prefer to mix it with everything, gravy is a staple at Southern holidays. Our Ultimate Make-Ahead gravy is the easiest way to get it there.

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Corn Pudding

50 Best Thanksgiving Tee's Corn Pudding
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Tee's Corn Pudding

This fluffy side dish has been gracing Southern holidays with its presence for longer than we've been around.

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Mac and Cheese

Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Recipe: Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Even the pickiest kids at the holiday table will eat a full helping of mac and cheese. If you want to switch things up this season, we've got plenty of mac and cheese recipes to choose from.

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Mashed Potatoes

Rustic Mashed Red Potatoes with Parmesan
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Classic Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

We can't imagine a Christmas or Thanksgiving table that doesn't have a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes on it.

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Sweet Potato Casserole

Classic Sweet Potato Casserole
Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Recipe: Classic Sweet Potato Casserole

Whether you top yours with marshmallows or brown sugar, the holidays wouldn't be complete without Sweet Potato Casserole in attendance.

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Squash Casserole

Old School Squash Casserole
Greg DuPree

Recipe: Old-School Squash Casserole

You won't find a Southern church potluck, new neighbor's house, or holiday gathering that doesn't have a squash casserole on the lineup.

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Collard Greens

Southern-Style Collard Greens
Jim Franco; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: Simon Andrews

Recipe: Southern-Style Collard Greens

Even if they don't serve collard greens at Thanksgiving or Christmas, it's a safe bet Southerners will serve them on New Year's Day for wealth in the next year. Add some black-eyed peas for good luck, and you're set.

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Cranberry Sauce

Grandma Erma's Spirited Cranberry Sauce
Jennifer R. Davick

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce

You know it's true: Homemade cranberry sauce is better than the canned stuff, hands down. Cranberry salad is a Southern go-to as well, and we think you'll like our updated version much better than the congealed recipes of the past.

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Dinner Rolls

Make-Ahead Yeast Rolls
Laurey W. Glenn

Recipe: Make-Ahead Yeast Rolls

We agree that frozen dinner rolls are so much easier on busy weeknights, but for holiday dinners, only homemade will do. Don't make the classic mistake of burning the dinner rolls, though!

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Skillet Cornbread
Jennifer Causey

Recipe: Skillet Cornbread

Although cornbread is a component of many other Southern dishes, it's just fine on it's own at our holiday tables.

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Pecan Pie

Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie

To Southerners, there's nothing quite like a rich pecan pie, and it's a constant at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

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Bread Pudding

Praline Bread Pudding
Photo: Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Praline Bread Pudding

This decadent winter dessert is topped with a rich praline sauce. Our Test Kitchen recommends using stale, day-old bread—better for soaking up the sweet custard.

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Caramel Cake

Caramel Cake
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Caramel Cake

This recipe might be old-fashioned, but it will never go out of style.

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Pumpkin Pie

Our Easiest Pumpkin Pie Ever
Photo: Greg Dupree

Recipe: Our Easiest Pumpkin Pie Ever

We have to admit, pumpkin pie just might beat pecan pie in the "holiday classics" category. If you're new to making it, start with this recipe.

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Chocolate Trifle Recipe
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Chocolate Trifle

Although they look elegant and intricate, trifles are great recipes for new cooks because they're easy and quick to make.

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Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Layer Cake
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Red Velvet Layer Cake

What's more festive than a cake the color of Santa's famous suit?

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Lemon Tiramisù
Jennifer Davick; Styling: Lydia Degaris Pursell

Recipe: Lemon Tiramisu

Southerners take a tip from Italy with this classic dessert that's a holiday hit.

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Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie
Jennifer R. Davick

Recipe: Sweet Potato Pie

Whether you make a creamy or sliced sweet potato pie, this recipe is Southern to its core.

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Bûche de Noël

Bûche de Noël
Southern Living

Recipe: Bûche de Noël

Bûche de Noël is a traditional French holiday dessert that's shaped like a log, but you've heard it called a Yule Log around here.

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Apple Pie

Easy Skillet Apple Pie
Luca Trovato

Recipe: Easy Skillet Apple Pie

At Thanksgiving dinners in the South, apple pie has a reserved place right next to the pecan and pumpkin pies.

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Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake
Jim Franco

Recipe: Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

Although cheesecakes are delicious all year long, they can be beautiful for the holidays, and every Southern cook should know how to make a classic cheesecake.

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Pound Cake

Eggnog Pound Cake
Jennifer R. Davick

Recipe: Million Dollar Poundcake

Pound cakes are a Southern dessert that you can make for any holiday, and this one is worth a million dollars.

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