“Weird” Dishes That Southerners Love To Eat During The Summer

Including a fruit-studded casserole, leftover cornbread creation, and controversial sandwich we'll never stop making.

old-fashioned tomato pie on a teal cloth
Photo: Iain Bagwell

There are the usual suspects that frequent Southern meals during summertime, such as fresh succotash, squash casserole, peach cobbler, and deviled eggs. However, there are also plenty of unexpected and lesser-known dishes that Southerners can't wait to eat all summer long. Not only is our favorite produce abundant at the farmers' market, but family cookouts and warm-weather gatherings with friends fill the calendar, giving the perfect opportunity to make certain beloved Southern recipes that feel fit for the season.

Whether we're talking about a fruit-studded casserole, leftover cornbread concoction, or controversial sandwich that many folks love to hate, the South has plenty of summer recipes with personality to spare. Here are 16 hilariously "weird" dishes that Southerners make during the summer.

01 of 16

Southern Tomato Sandwich

tomato sandwich halves stacked on top of one another
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Let's call out the elephant in the room. Tomato sandwiches get a lot of hate, but we won't accept any slander here. It's the most perfect use of those gorgeous summer tomatoes, and all you need is fluffy white bread and mayonnaise.

02 of 16

Pineapple Casserole

Pineapple Casserole in a square casserole pan
Photographer: Jen Causey, Prop Stylist: Josh Hoggle,Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn

Anyone who won't at least try this sweet-and-savory casserole is missing out. Everything from the pineapple filling to the buttery cracker topping is completely balanced, and it goes well with saltier main dishes such as glazed ham and barbecue picked up from your favorite local joint.

03 of 16

Pear Salad

Pear Salad
Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Perhaps it's the maraschino cherries paired with mayonnaise and shredded cheese, but this dish sure does rile folks up. You'll likely see this unique pear salad anywhere from a baby shower to a summer cookout.

04 of 16

Old-Fashioned Tomato Pie

old-fashioned tomato pie on a teal cloth
Iain Bagwell

Tomatoes are Southerners' most beloved summer produce, so it's no surprise that we've tried out all different variations of ways to use them, including tomato pie. With cheese and herbs, it's completely savory, so there's no need to be scared.

05 of 16

Classic Macaroni Salad with Ham

Classic Macaroni Salad with Ham
Jen Causey

It wouldn't be summer without a creamy mayonnaise-based pasta salad, and this retro recipe has never been retired. To us, mayonnaise is never a bad idea, and the cubed ham and chopped vegetables bulk up this dish perfectly for a family cookout.

06 of 16

Creamy Cucumber Salad

Creamy Cucumber Salad With Dill
Hannah Zimmerman/Southern Living

Another mayonnaise-championing recipe, this cucumber salad fits in at almost any summer meal. It's simple and surprisingly fresh.

07 of 16

Strawberry-Pretzel Jello Salad

Strawberry-Pretzel Jello Salad


It might seem odd to some to refer to this fruity gelatin-infused creation as a side dish, but that's how you'll see it served at many Southern reunions, potlucks, and holidays. During the summer, it's a welcome reprieve from the hot weather.

08 of 16

Heirloom Tomato-Cracker Salad

Heirloom Tomato-Cracker Salad
Antonis Achilleos; Food Styling: Ali Ramee; Prop Styling: Christine Keely

While it's logical to assume that crunchy crackers on top of moist tomatoes could be a recipe for a soggy outcome, this salad will surprise you. Southerners do love to dress up saltine crackers, after all.

09 of 16

Funeral Potatoes

hashbrown casserole

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Another name for hashbrown casserole, this creamy concoction is no stranger on a buffet table. And yes, it can often be seen on funeral spreads, but also at family holidays, cookouts, brunches, and showers.

10 of 16

Homemade Baked Beans

Southern Living Homemade Baked Beans in the dish ready to serve

Fred Hardy II; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

It eludes us why folks find it odd that we like so much sugar in our baked beans, but all we can say? It just works. You won't ever need another recipe after using this sweet, smoky, bacon-studded version.

11 of 16

Cornbread & Sweet Milk

Damaris Phillips Cornbread & Sweet Milk Recipe
Damaris Phillips

In the South, particularly the Appalachian Mountains, people have long enjoyed Cornbread and Milk, a creation made by crumbling leftover cornbread into a tall drinking glass and topping it with milk. It's usually buttermilk, although some people prefer "sweet milk", a term for regular fresh milk. 

12 of 16

Corn Pudding

Tee's Corn Pudding
Emily Laurae/Southern Living

The name might fool those who aren't from the South, but the natural sweetness of the fresh corn makes for a sweet, buttery, savory side dish that's even better in the summer when corn is in season.

13 of 16

Tennessee Onions

Southern Living Tennessee Onions after baking

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

This simple casserole is lesser-known and packed with one of our favorite summer stars: sweet vidalia onions. These Georgia-grown onions come into season in late spring through the end of summer, so summertime is perfect for trying out this cheesy, buttery side dish.

14 of 16

Fried Green Tomatoes

Southern Living Fried Green Tomatoes on a board ready to serve

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Stylist: Christina Dailey

Those not well-versed in the South or Southern cuisine might not even know the magic of a green tomato, especially when it's deep-fried and served with a tangy sauce.

15 of 16

Crab Pie

Crab Pie

 Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Those in Virginia and Maryland specifically can expect crab pie during the summer, but coast-residing Southerners also enjoy the unique dish. It's akin to a quiche and can be easily added to a brunch lineup.

16 of 16

Cucumber Sandwiches

Southern Living Cucumber Tea Sandwiches on serving platter

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Another frequent dish at Southern luncheons and showers, cucumber tea sandwiches are fresh, crisp, and accented with a healthy dollop of mayonnaise, of course.

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