25 Classic Southern Dinner Recipes

25 Classic Southern Dinner Recipes

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There’s nothing quite like a classic Southern dinner – the rich, comforting flavors and generous portions always hit the spot. I was fortunate that my ex-girlfriend was an amazing Southern cook. She grew up learning from her grandmothers how to masterfully fry chicken, whip up fluffy biscuits, and let collard greens simmer for hours until silky and succulent. Every evening, I’d excitedly anticipate whatever delicious spread she was preparing.

From shrimp and grits to meatloaf smothered in gravy, her meals transported me to foodie heaven. Though our relationship didn’t last, I’m eternally grateful I paid close attention and quickly picked up on her time-honored techniques. Breaking up was hard, but at least I walked away with the secrets to soul-satisfying Southern cuisine ingrained in me forever. Her culinary legacy lives on through these cherished recipes.

1. Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits

Bold, savory shrimp simmered in a creamy, cheesy grits sauce with hints of smoky bacon.

Ingredients: Shrimp, grits, chicken broth, butter, onion, garlic, cream, cheddar cheese, bacon, Cajun seasoning

  • Cook grits according to package, substituting chicken broth for water
  • In a skillet, cook chopped bacon until crispy, remove and drain on paper towels
  • Sauté onion and garlic in bacon drippings until soft
  • Add shrimp and Cajun seasoning, cook until shrimp start to turn pink
  • Pour in broth and cream, simmer for 5 minutes
  • Stir in cooked grits, shredded cheese, and crumbled bacon
  • Cook for 2-3 more minutes until thickened

Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

2. Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings

Tender, shredded chicken swimming in a rich, peppery broth with pillowy soft dumplings.

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, butter, flour, salt, pepper, milk, baking powder, parsley

  • In a pot, boil chicken in broth until cooked through, remove chicken and shred
  • Make a roux by melting butter and whisking in flour, cook for 2 minutes
  • Whisk in broth and milk, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes
  • In a bowl, mix baking powder with flour, salt and milk to make dumpling dough
  • Gently drop spoonfuls of dough into the simmering broth
  • Add shredded chicken, cover and cook for 15 more minutes until dumplings are puffed

Cook Time: 1 hour

3. Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Crispy, golden brown fried chicken with an irresistibly crunchy, peppery coating and unbelievably juicy interior.

Ingredients: Chicken pieces, buttermilk, flour, paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper, vegetable oil

  • Soak chicken in buttermilk for 30 minutes to 1 hour in the fridge
  • In a shallow dish, combine flour, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper
  • Remove chicken from buttermilk, letting excess drip off
  • Dredge chicken thoroughly in the seasoned flour mixture
  • Fill a deep pot or skillet with 2-3 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 325°F
  • Fry chicken in batches for 15-18 minutes per side until deep golden brown
  • Drain fried chicken on a wire rack set over a baking sheet

Cook Time: 1 hour (including buttermilk soak)

4. Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy

Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy

Hearty, savory meatloaf dripping with a rich, tangy tomato gravy.

Ingredients: Ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, onion, garlic, ketchup, mustard, tomato paste, beef broth, flour, butter, salt, pepper

  • Mix beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasonings together and form into a loaf
  • Bake meatloaf at 350°F for 1 hour, basting occasionally with ketchup/mustard glaze
  • For gravy: make a roux with butter and flour, whisk in broth and tomato paste
  • Simmer gravy for 10 mins, adjusting seasoning, then pour over sliced meatloaf

5. Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken Fried Steak

Cubed steak, tenderized and fried until crispy, smothered in a rich, peppered cream gravy.

Ingredients: Cubed steak, buttermilk, flour, eggs, breadcrumbs, oil, milk, cream, chicken bouillon, black pepper

  • Soak steaks in buttermilk for 30 mins, then dredge in flour/egg/breadcrumb mixture
  • Fry steaks 3-4 mins per side in hot oil until golden and crispy
  • Make gravy: cook a roux with drippings and flour, whisk in milk, cream and bouillon
  • Add lots of cracked black pepper, simmer and adjust thickness as needed

6. Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

Rich, smoky red beans simmered with ham or sausage in a thick, creamy sauce over rice.

Ingredients: Red kidney beans, ham hock or andouille, onion, garlic, bell pepper, celery, chicken broth, rice

  • Soak beans overnight, then drain and cover with fresh water/broth
  • Add ham hock/sausage, onions, garlic, peppers and celery
  • Simmer for 1.5 – 2 hours until beans are very soft, smashing some against the pot
  • Remove ham hock, pick off meat and return meat to pot
  • Serve over hot cooked rice

7. Baked Mac and Cheese

Baked Mac and Cheese

Gooey, creamy, cheesy mac and cheese with a crispy breadcrumb topping.

Ingredients: Elbow macaroni, butter, flour, milk, shredded cheddar, eggs, breadcrumbs, paprika

  • Cook macaroni al dente, drain and set aside
  • Make cheese sauce by cooking a roux with butter/flour, slowly whisk in milk
  • Add shredded cheese, stirring until melted and smooth
  • Temper eggs by whisking in 1⁄4 cup hot sauce, then stir egg mixture into cheese sauce
  • Combine sauce with pasta, transfer to a baking dish, top with breadcrumbs/paprika
  • Bake at 375°F for 25-30 mins until golden brown on top

8. Jambalaya


A flavor-packed Creole rice dish with shrimp, andouille sausage, and chicken simmered in a richly spiced tomato broth.

Ingredients: Shrimp, andouille sausage, chicken, rice, onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic, tomatoes, chicken broth, Creole seasoning, parsley

  • In a large pot, cook andouille sausage until browned, remove and set aside
  • Cook chicken in sausage drippings until browned, remove and set aside
  • Sauté onions, peppers, and celery until softened, then add garlic
  • Stir in tomatoes, broth, rice, Creole seasoning, and meats
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 mins until rice is tender
  • Add shrimp during last 5 mins of cooking until bright pink
  • Remove from heat, let stand 5 mins then garnish with parsley

Cook Time: 1 hour

9. Collard Greens

Collard Greens

Hearty, bitter collard greens simmered for hours with smoky ham hocks or turkey wings, resulting in melt-in-your-mouth greens with crazy-good “pot likker” broth.

Ingredients: Collard greens, smoked ham hock or turkey wings, onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes

  • Thoroughly wash and chop collard greens into strips, removing thick stems
  • In a large pot, cook ham hock or turkey wings to render fat and flavor the broth
  • Add chopped onions and garlic, sauté for 2-3 minutes
  • Add collard greens in batches, stirring to wilt down as you go
  • Pour in enough broth/water to cover greens, add vinegar and red pepper
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours until very tender
  • Adjust seasoning, remove ham hock/turkey wings before serving

Cook Time: 2-3 hours

10. Country Fried Steak

Country Fried Steak

Crispy fried cube steak smothered in a creamy, peppery white gravy.

Ingredients: Cube steak, eggs, milk, flour, breadcrumbs, vegetable oil, butter, milk, chicken bouillon, black pepper

  • Pound steaks to tenderize, dip in egg/milk mixture and dredge in flour/breadcrumb coating
  • Fry steaks 2-3 mins per side in hot oil until crispy and golden brown
  • For gravy: make a roux with butter and flour, gradually whisk in milk and bouillon
  • Add lots of cracked black pepper, simmer for 5 mins until thickened
  • Pour gravy over fried steaks

Cook Time: 45 mins

11. Hoppin’ John

Hoppin' John

A smoky, savory mix of black-eyed peas, rice, and ham or smoked turkey.

Ingredients: Black-eyed peas, long grain rice, smoked ham hock or turkey wings, onion, garlic, chicken broth

  • Soak peas overnight, drain and cover with fresh broth
  • Add ham hock/turkey, onions, garlic and bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, until peas are very soft
  • Add rice and simmer for 20 mins until rice is tender
  • Remove ham hock/turkey, chop meat and stir back in

Cook Time: 2 hours

12. Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole

Succulent shrimp in a rich, spicy tomato sauce kicked up with Creole seasoning.

Ingredients: Shrimp, onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, tomatoes, chicken broth, Creole seasoning, hot sauce, rice

  • Sauté onions, peppers, celery until soft, then add garlic
  • Pour in tomatoes, broth, Creole seasoning and hot sauce
  • Simmer for 15 mins, smashing some tomatoes against the pan
  • Add shrimp and cook for 5 more mins until bright pink
  • Serve over hot cooked rice

Cook Time: 30 mins

13. Smothered Chicken

Smothered Chicken

Chicken thighs and drumsticks smothered in a rich brown gravy with onions.

Ingredients: Chicken pieces, flour, vegetable oil, onion, chicken broth, butter, salt, pepper

  • Season chicken with salt/pepper and dredge in flour
  • Brown chicken in hot oil on both sides until crispy
  • Remove chicken, sauté onions in drippings until soft
  • Make a roux, whisk in chicken broth to make gravy
  • Return chicken to pot, cover and simmer for 30 mins
  • Uncover and simmer 15 more mins to thicken gravy

Cook Time: 1 hour

14. Gumbo


A thick, hearty Creole stew jam-packed with shrimp, sausage, chicken and vegetables in a smoked roux-based broth.

Ingredients: Shrimp, andouille, chicken, okra, onions, peppers, celery, garlic, tomatoes, chicken stock, Creole seasoning, roux

  • Make a dark roux with oil and flour, cooking until chocolate brown
  • Add vegetables and sauté until softened, then add tomatoes
  • Pour in stock and seasonings, simmer for 30 mins
  • Add meats and okra, simmering for 1 more hour
  • Serve over steamed rice, garnish with green onions

Cook Time: 2 hours

15. Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Tangy, bright green tomatoes with a crispy cornmeal coating and creamy remoulade dipping sauce.

Ingredients: Green tomatoes, buttermilk, cornmeal, flour, breadcrumbs, vegetable oil, mayo, mustard, capers, lemon, dill

  • Slice green tomatoes 1/4″ thick and dip in buttermilk
  • In one bowl, mix cornmeal and flour, in another bowl place breadcrumbs
  • Dredge tomato slices in cornmeal mixture, then breadcrumbs
  • Fry in hot oil for 2-3 mins per side until golden brown
  • For remoulade: mix mayo, mustard, chopped capers, lemon juice

Cook Time: 30 mins

16. Chicken and Biscuits

Chicken and Biscuits

Tender chicken and dumplings cooked in a rich, creamy broth, topped with homemade buttermilk biscuits.

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, carrots, peas, flour, butter, milk, baking powder, salt, buttermilk

  • In a pot, cook chicken in broth until tender, shred chicken
  • Add veggies to broth and make a roux with butter and flour
  • Gradually whisk roux into broth to thicken, add shredded chicken
  • For biscuits: mix dry ingredients, cut in butter, stir in buttermilk
  • Drop biscuit dough in spoonfuls onto chicken mixture
  • Cover and simmer for 15 mins until biscuits are cooked through

Cook Time: 1 hour

17. Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

A classic Southern spread of shredded cheddar, mayo, pimentos and spices between soft white bread.

Ingredients: Shredded cheddar, mayo, pimento peppers, Worcestershire, garlic powder, paprika, bread

  • Mix together cheese, mayo, chopped pimentos, Worcestershire, garlic and paprika until combined
  • Spread pimento cheese generously on white bread slices
  • For tea sandwiches: remove crusts and cut into quarters

Cook Time: 10 mins

18. Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

A sweet, creamy, old-fashioned pudding layered with vanilla wafers and fresh banana slices.

Ingredients: Eggs, sugar, flour, milk, vanilla, bananas, vanilla wafers, meringue or whipped cream

  • Make a custard by whisking eggs, sugar, flour and gradually adding milk
  • Cook custard on stove, stirring constantly until thickened
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla
  • Layer pudding, bananas and vanilla wafers in a dish, topping with meringue or whipped cream

Cook Time: 1 hour

19. Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Baked sweet potatoes blended into a creamy, sugary whip, topped with a buttery, crunchy pecan streusel.

Ingredients: Sweet potatoes, butter, eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, pecans, flour, cinnamon

  • Bake sweet potatoes until very soft, peel and mash with butter, eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla
  • For topping: Mix pecans, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon with melted butter into crumbles
  • Spread potatoes in a baking dish and top with pecan crumble
  • Bake at 350°F for 20-25 mins until hot throughout

Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins

20. Pecan Pie

Pecan Pie

A rich, gooey pecan pie filling with a crisp, flaky butter crust.

Ingredients: Pie crust, pecans, corn syrup, eggs, butter, brown sugar, vanilla, salt

  • Par-bake pie crust until lightly golden
  • Make filling by whisking together syrup, eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt
  • Fold in pecans and pour into pie shell
  • Bake at 350°F for 50-60 mins until center is just set
  • Allow pie to cool completely before slicing

Cook Time: 1 hour 30 mins

21. Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy

Fluffy, buttery homemade biscuits smothered in a thick, creamy peppered sausage gravy.

Ingredients: Buttermilk biscuit dough, sausage, flour, milk, salt, pepper

  • Brown and crumble sausage in a skillet, reserve drippings
  • Make a roux with drippings and flour, whisk in milk
  • Simmer gravy for 10 mins, season generously with salt and lots of pepper
  • Meanwhile, bake or drop biscuits according to dough recipe
  • Split biscuits in half and top with sausage gravy

Cook Time: 30 mins

22. Cornbread


A slightly sweet, buttery cornbread with a crispy crust and moist, crumbly interior.

Ingredients: Cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, butter

  • Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a cast iron skillet or baking pan
  • Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt
  • In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, buttermilk and oil
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry and fold until just combined
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes
  • Brush top with melted butter when it comes out of the oven

Cook Time: 30 mins

23. Hush Puppies

Hush Puppies

Crispy fried cornmeal bites often served as a savory side with fried seafood.

Ingredients: Cornmeal, flour, baking powder, onion, eggs, milk or buttermilk, vegetable oil

  • In a bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt
  • Mix in chopped onion, eggs and enough milk to make a thick batter
  • Heat 2 inches of oil in a pot or dutch oven to 350°F
  • Scoop batter by spoonfuls and carefully drop into hot oil
  • Fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown, turning occasionally
  • Drain hush puppies on a paper towel-lined plate and serve warm

Cook Time: 30 mins

24. Fried Okra

Fried Okra

Crispy cornmeal-crusted fried okra with a tender inside.

Ingredients: Okra, buttermilk, cornmeal, flour, egg, seasonings like paprika, vegetable oil

  • Slice okra into 1/2 inch pieces and soak in buttermilk for 30 mins
  • In one bowl, mix cornmeal, flour and seasonings like paprika
  • In another bowl, lightly beat an egg with a splash of buttermilk
  • Dip okra pieces into egg mixture, then into cornmeal mixture to coat
  • Fry okra for 2-3 minutes until golden brown, flipping occasionally
  • Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and season with more salt

Cook Time: 45 mins

25. Succotash


A summer vegetable medley of lima beans, corn, diced tomatoes and onions.

Ingredients: Lima beans, corn, diced tomatoes, onion, butter, chicken broth, parsley

  • In a skillet, sauté onions in butter or olive oil until translucent
  • Add lima beans, corn, tomatoes and enough broth to create a saucy consistency
  • Simmer for 15-20 minutes until vegetables are tender
  • Season with salt, pepper and stir in fresh chopped parsley

Cook Time: 30 mins


Whether it’s crispy fried chicken, creamy shrimp and grits, or a wedge of sweet potato pie, Southern cuisine creates cherished memories. Preparing these soulful dishes fills my home with warmth and transports me back to those memorable meals with my ex-girlfriend. Though we broke up, I’m grateful I learned her time-honored cooking techniques and kept her culinary legacy alive through these recipes. A little taste of the South forever provides comfort and fond reminiscence of those flavors of love.

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