30 Underrated Southern Classics that Every Home Cook Should Master

Chicken-and-Biscuit Cobbler
Photo: Alison Miksch

Sure, you know the classics: Peach cobbler, buttermilk biscuits, barbecued pork, fried chicken. These are all signature Southern dishes, but they're certainly not the end-all, be-all of Southern cuisine. Southern food is complex, nuanced, and highly diverse, often varying greatly based on region and season. We're here to introduce you to some of our favorite Southern recipes that've managed to fly under the radar. Consider this your bucket list to gain a proper education in Southern cooking.

Without further ado, let us introduce you to the unsung heroes of Southern cooking. They're the dishes that may not be as flashy, but deliver complex flavor and nuanced spice that'll keep you coming back for more. They're the dinnertime staples of countless Southern homes—the casseroles and stews that we whip up every week—and the party favorites that our families have been making for generations. And they're the regional staples—like Smoky Mountain Brunswick Stew and Shrimp-and-Okra Gumbo—that make up the diverse patchwork of Southern culture. From hush puppies to chicken pot pie, these recipes are near and dear to our hearts, and it's time to give them the recognition that they deserve. Master these underrated Southern classics and you'll be well on your way to a true Southern culinary education.

01 of 30

Best Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Best Deviled Eggs

You'll see a plate of these bad boys on every Southern appetizer spread. Once you've mastered the basic recipe, get creative with flavors like Bacon Deviled Eggs or a Tex-Mex version.

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Pimiento Cheese

Basic Pimiento Cheese
Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Pimiento Cheese

When it comes to Pimiento Cheese, we've got opinions. First off: it's spelled pimiento, not pimento. Now that that's settled, try out our best-ever recipe.

03 of 30

Ham Biscuits

Ham-Stuffed Biscuits With Mustard Butter
Photo: Tina Cornett

Recipe: Ham Biscuits

Fluffy, flaky homemade biscuits meet thinly-sliced ham and spiced-up condiments in this traditional appetizer that comes together in a flash.

04 of 30

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Fried Green Tomatoes

You've seen these crispy, craggy glories on countless Southern restaurant menus, but it's time to master this classic for yourself. We promise it's simpler than it seems.

05 of 30

Hush Puppies

Alabama Hush Puppies
Southern Living

Recipe: Hush Puppies

These glorious, two-bite, golden-brown cornmeal nuggets may not typically be deemed star of the BBQ spread, but they're certainly a key component to any barbecue feast. We won't allow them to play second fiddle any longer.

06 of 30

Old-Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings

Old-Fashioned Chicken And Dumplings
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings

The South's best answer to chicken noodle soup? Comforting, stick-to-your-bones Chicken and Dumplings.

07 of 30

Smoky Mountain Brunswick Stew

Smoky Mountain Brunswick Stew
Southern Living

Recipe: Smoky Mountain Brunswick Stew

This hearty Southern stew comes with its fair share of debate—does it hail from Virginia or Georgia? Is it made with pork or chicken?—but one thing's for sure: It will be a new staple in your dinnertime repertoire.

08 of 30

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

King Ranch Chicken Casserole
William Dickey

Recipe: King Ranch Chicken Casserole

All hail King Ranch. This superhero of a chicken casserole is one of our go-to suppertime solutions.

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Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese

Roasted Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese

We'll take your standard mac and cheese and raise you hints of cayenne and nutmeg, a thick, creamy roux, and an obscenely cheesy melted topping. Once you try our Best-Ever Macaroni and Cheese, there's no turning back to the boxed stuff.

10 of 30

Southern Skillet Cornbread

Southern Skillet Cornbread
Southern Living

Recipe: Southern Skillet Cornbread

Do you like your cornbread sweet or savory? Smooth or studded with kernels? We may not be able to resolve these debates, but one thing's for sure: Cornbread just tastes better when it's made in a cast-iron skillet.

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Buttermilk Grits with Country Ham and Shrimp

Hatch Chile Grits Breakfast Bowl Recipe
Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Buttermilk Grits with Country Ham and Shrimp

Grits may be the South's favorite side dish, but we're here to show that you can make a whole meal out of them. Find more of our favorite grits recipes here.

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Old-Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

Old-Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

A golden, crimped crust and a thick, veggie-studded filling are trademarks of this dinnertime favorite.

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Tomato Aspic

Tomato Aspic
Southern Living

Recipe: Tomato Aspic

It's time for this vintage Southern recipe to have its revival. All your party guests will be absolutely charmed by this nostalgic, gelatinous dish.

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Turkey-Noodle-Poppyseed Casserole

Turkey-Noodle-Poppyseed Casserole Recipe
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Recipe: Turkey-Noodle-Poppyseed Casserole

All Southerners grew up with some variety of the poppyseed casserole, and this version will quickly become a new family favorite.

15 of 30

Old-School Squash Casserole

Old-School Squash Casserole
Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Old-School Squash Casserole

In the summertime, we're making this Old-School Squash Casserole over and over again.

16 of 30

Shrimp-and-Okra Gumbo

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo
Southern Living

Recipe: Shrimp-and-Okra Gumbo

This recipe is a tried-and-true reflection of the South's Cajun cooking community; if possible, use fresh Gulf shrimp, but frozen works in a punch.

17 of 30

Chicken-and-Biscuit Cobbler

Chicken-and-Biscuit Cobbler
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Chicken-and-Biscuit Cobbler

Bring new life to that rotisserie chicken with this creative spin on a Southern cobbler that'll feed the whole family.

18 of 30

Instant Pot Ribs

Instant Pot Ribs
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Audrey Davis; Food Stylist: Karen Schroeder-Rankin

Recipe: Instant Pot Ribs

We've taken a BBQ favorite and made it extra-easy to prepare (with the help of our favorite multi-cooker).

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Southern-Style Potato Salad

_Southern-Style Potato Salad
Southern Living

Recipe: Southern-Style Potato Salad

Our Editors call this "the quintessential Southern side dish," and we have to agree. It's known to make appearances at picnics, church potlucks, and neighborhood cook-outs.

20 of 30

Tee's Corn Pudding

50 Best Thanksgiving Tee's Corn Pudding
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Tee's Corn Pudding

Corn pudding may have already earned its spot on your holiday table, but we're serving this classic dish all year round. Meet your newest use for fresh summer corn, y'all.

21 of 30

Southern-Style Collard Greens

Southern-Style Collard Greens
Photo: Jim Franco

Recipe: Southern-Style Collard Greens

In our opinion, this hearty, nutrient-rich side doesn't get nearly enough credit. Especially when plenty of bacon is involved.

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Southern Living Bloody Mary

Southern Living Bloody Mary
Jennifer Causey

Recipe: Southern Living Bloody Mary

No Southern soiree is complete without a signature cocktail—make this spiced Bloody Mary, complete with an Old Bay-Bacon Salt rim, your daytime house drink.

23 of 30

Caramel Cake

Caramel Cake
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Caramel Cake

Southerners may be known for our fuss-free desserts (we're talking banana pudding and peach cobbler), but no true Southern celebration is complete without a stunning layer cake.

24 of 30

Cakey Strawberry Cobbler

Cakey Strawberry Cobbler
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Cakey Strawberry Cobbler

You've tried peach cobbler, but have you tried mixing it up with other fruits or berries? This Cakey Strawberry Cobbler combines the best components of a cobbler, a sheet cake, and a strawberry shortcake.

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The Ultimate Carrot Cake

Ultimate Carrot Cake
Alison Miksch

Recipe: The Ultimate Carrot Cake

This triple-layered, extra-moist Carrot Cake is what we dream all of our birthday cakes will look like.

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Creamy Peach Icebox Cake

Creamy Peach Icebox Cake
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling; Kathleen Varner; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Creamy Peach Icebox Cake

Southerners love our pies and our Bundt cakes, but in the sweltering summer heat, it becomes unthinkable to turn on the oven. That's where this simple icebox cake comes in.

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Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Ana Kelly Prop Stylist: Kay Clarke

Recipe: Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Keep a batch of this decadent cake on the counter at all times for spontaneous snacking.

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Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding
Southern Living

Recipe: Banana Pudding

Okay, we'll admit it, this recipe is not exactly underrated. But you can't call yourself a Southern cook until you've mastered this timeless dessert.

29 of 30

Easy Skillet Apple Pie

Easy Skillet Apple Pie
Luca Trovato

Recipe: Easy Skillet Apple Pie

This Easy Skillet Apple Pie is the perfect project for beginner bakers (and a brilliant way to use up all those fall apples).

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Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Cake
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Recipe: Hummingbird Cake

Last but certainly not least, one of the South's most storied cakes: The Hummingbird Cake, which was first featured in Southern Living in 1978.

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