Delving into these cherished Southern Side Dishes, we unearth the traditions and tastes that have defined the South for ages. Be it heirloom recipes that have been whispered from one generation to the next or innovative renditions that spark excitement, our collection of Southern side dishes promises a journey of flavors you’ll treasure.
Southern side dishes aren’t merely additions to a plate – they’re a reflection of the region’s vibrant history, diverse culture, and the heartfelt passion infused in every meal. Here in the South, every side dish tells a story, weaving tales of love, legacy, and the enduring spirit of its people.
Why You’ll Love Southern Side Dishes
- A sharing of stories and traditions.
- Every dish comes with a heap of love and delicious flavor.
- Easy to follow recipes!
- Perfect side dishes for all occasions.
- Yes! Desserts can be side dishes too.
Tips for Serving Southern Side Dishes
- Presentation Matters: Make sure your dishes look as delightful as they taste. A sprinkle of fresh herbs or a drizzle of gravy can make all the difference.
- Keep It Warm: Many of our beloved dishes, from collard greens to creamy grits, taste best when served piping hot. Consider using warming dishes or a slow cooker to keep everything at the right temperature.
- Pair Thoughtfully: Some dishes, like hushpuppies or fried green tomatoes, beg for a dipping sauce. Have some creamy remoulade or tangy buttermilk dressing on standby.
- Balance is Key: While we do love our rich and hearty sides, consider balancing them with something light. A crisp coleslaw or a tangy pickled veggie can provide a refreshing counterpoint.
- Leftovers are Gold: Some say Southern dishes taste even better the next day. So, don’t fret about making too much. Leftover biscuits? They make the base for a perfect breakfast sandwich.
- Don’t Forget the Sweet Tea: This iconic Southern beverage pairs well with just about any side dish. Serve it over ice with a slice of lemon.
- Family Style is Best: In the South, sharing is caring. Lay out your dishes in big bowls and platters in the middle of the table. Let folks serve themselves and pass dishes around – it encourages conversation and that warm, communal feeling.
Best Southern Side Dish Recipes
Enjoy this hand-picked extensive selection of ALL of my favorite Southern Side Dishes that will complement any main dish.
Grains & Breads Southern-Style
- Hot water cornbread: Cornmeal mixed with hot water, shaped into patties, and fried, resulting in crispy exteriors with soft middles.
- Southern cornbread: A dense, slightly sweet bread made from cornmeal, perfect with butter or honey.
- Sweet potato cornbread: Cornbread infused with the earthy sweetness of mashed sweet potatoes.
- Brown butter honey cornbread: A delightful fusion of brown butter and honey in traditional cornbread.
- Mexican cornbread: Cornbread jazzed up with bits of jalapeños, corn, and sometimes cheese.
- Jiffy cornbread: A convenient version using the beloved Jiffy mix, resulting in a slightly sweet and fluffy bread.
- Southern buttermilk biscuits: Flaky and soft biscuits made with tangy buttermilk.
- Accordion biscuits: Unique biscuits with multiple layers resembling an accordion.
- Angel biscuits: Soft biscuits with a touch of yeast, combining features of a roll and a biscuit.
- Drop Biscuits: Rustic, no-fuss biscuits dropped from a spoon, resulting in a rugged texture.
- Homemade Cheddar Bay Biscuits: Buttery and garlicky biscuits infused with cheddar cheese. Just like Red lobster!
- Sour Cream Biscuits: Tender biscuits made with sour cream for added richness.
- Butter Swim Biscuits: Biscuits baked in a pool of butter for ultimate indulgence.
- Honey Butter Biscuits: Biscuits sweetened with honey butter for a delightful taste.
- Big Mama’s Biscuits: A nostalgic take on classic Southern biscuits using a traditional family recipe.
- Sweet potato biscuits: Biscuits enriched with the natural sweetness and color of sweet potatoes.
- Bacon Cheddar Biscuits: Savory biscuits loaded with crispy bacon and sharp cheddar.
- Cheese Grits: Creamy grits seamlessly blended with the rich warmth of cheese, making for a comforting side.
- Cauliflower Grits: A delightful alternative to traditional grits, where cauliflower provides a light and fluffy texture while maintaining a familiar taste.
- Sweet potato grits: Classic grits get a sweet twist with the addition of sweet potatoes, offering a hint of earthy sweetness.
- Baked cheese grits :Taking cheese grits a step further by baking, this dish gives a slightly crispy top with a creamy inside.
- Jollof Rice: Originating from West Africa, this rice dish is steeped in vibrant flavors from tomatoes, onions, and a blend of spices.
- Mexican Rice: A beloved side, this rice is simmered with tomatoes, peppers, and a mix of spices to give it its signature color and taste.
- Dirty Rice: A flavorful mix of rice with ground meat, green bell peppers, celery, and onions; it’s a Cajun classic.
- Red Rice: A savory rice dish often cooked with tomatoes, bacon, and spices.
- Jamaican Rice and Peas: A Caribbean favorite, this rice is cooked with coconut milk, kidney beans (or “peas”), and seasonings.
- Hoecakes or Johnny Cakes: These are delightful little cornmeal flatbreads, fried until they’re golden.
- Corn Spoonbread: A soft and tender cornbread with a pudding-like texture, perfect for scooping.
- Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls: Soft, fluffy rolls with a hint of sweetness, often paired with savory dishes.
- Garlic cheese stuffed rolls: Soft rolls filled with gooey cheese and aromatic garlic, a treat for the senses.
- Potato Rolls: Soft and slightly moist rolls made with the addition of potatoes for an added layer of flavor.
- Cheddar and rosemary dinner rolls: The aromatic rosemary paired with sharp cheddar gives these rolls a delectable profile.
- Cinnamon honey butter dinner rolls: Soft rolls with a sweet cinnamon and honey butter swirl, perfect for a sweet touch to your meal.
- Hushpuppies: These are deep-fried balls of seasoned cornmeal dough. Crispy on the outside and soft inside, they often accompany fried fish.
Southern Vegetable sides
- Collard Greens: Slow-cooked greens seasoned with ham hocks or smoked turkey. They have a unique, savory flavor and are a staple in many Southern homes.
- Turnip greens – Unlike some turnip greens, which can be a bit bitter, this easy one-pot dish helps turn those turnip greens into flavorful and tender bites that you’ll love.
- Fried Green Tomatoes: Green tomatoes are breaded and fried until crispy. They have a tangy flavor and can be paired with a creamy remoulade or eaten as is.
- Air Fryer Fried green tomatoes: Tangy green tomatoes breaded and air-fried for a healthier take on the classic.
- Okra and Tomatoes: Whether fried, pickled, or used in this okra and tomato recipe, this green vegetable is a Southern classic.
- Fried Okra: Bites of okra breaded and fried until crispy.
- Braised cabbage: Cabbage slowly cooked until tender and infused with flavors of the seasoning.
- Creamed corn: Corn kernels stewed in a creamy base, a sweet and savory treat.
- Southern Fried Corn: Corn sautéed with bacon and sometimes onions, bringing out its natural sweetness.
- Yellow Squash: Often sautéed or stewed, this summer vegetable shines with its delicate flavor.
- Butter beans: Soft, creamy beans slowly simmered and often paired with ham or bacon for added depth.
- Fried pickles: Tangy pickle slices breaded and fried, resulting in a crunchy and savory snack.
- Balsamic glazed brussels sprouts: Brussels sprouts roasted to perfection and drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction.
- Southern green beans and potatoes: A hearty combination of green beans and potatoes, often slow-cooked with bacon or ham.
- Green bean casserole: A holiday favorite, green beans baked with creamy mushrooms and crispy onion toppings.
- Coleslaw: Shredded cabbage and sometimes carrots in a creamy or vinegar-based dressing. A classic side for barbecues and picnics.
- Pickled Vegetable: From pickled okra to cucumbers, pickling is a Southern tradition that adds tang and crunch to meals.
Southern-Style Beans & Legumes
- Red Beans and Rice: Creamy red beans cooked with spices, sausage, and sometimes ham, served over rice.
- Black-eyed Peas: Often cooked with bacon or ham, these peas are considered a good luck dish and are especially popular on New Year’s Day.
- Hoppin John Recipe: A traditional dish made with black-eyed peas, rice, and often served with greens.
- Southern Lima beans – Lima beans stewed with flavors of ham, turkey, or salt pork.
- Pinto beans: A staple in many Southern homes, often cooked with ham hocks for a smoky flavor.
Southern Potatoes & Starches
- Sweet Potato Casserole: Mashed sweet potatoes topped with a layer of marshmallows or a pecan streusel, baked until golden. It’s the perfect balance of savory and sweet.
- Sour cream mashed potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes enhanced with the tang of sour cream.
- Slow cooker mashed potatoes: Easy and fuss-free mashed potatoes made in the slow cooker.
- Mashed sweet potatoes: Naturally sweet and velvety when mashed, these are often spiced with nutmeg or cinnamon.
- Garlic mashed potatoes: Mashed potatoes elevated with the aromatic addition of garlic.
- Smashed potatoes: Potatoes boiled, smashed, and then roasted for a crispy edge.
- Baked potato salad: A cold salad made with baked potatoes, often mixed with mayo, mustard, and various veggies.
- Southern potato salad: A traditional version often featuring mayo, mustard, eggs, and pickles.
- Candied yams: Sweet yams baked with a caramelized syrup and spiced with cinnamon.
- Candied sweet potatoes: Similar to yams but made with sweet potatoes, a holiday favorite.
- Cheesy Scalloped potatoes: Thinly sliced potatoes baked in a creamy cheese sauce.
Southern Dairy & Cheese Side Dishes
- Lobster mac and cheese: Luxurious macaroni mixed with creamy cheese and succulent lobster bits.
- Cauliflower mac and cheese: A lighter take on the classic, using cauliflower for a health-conscious twist.
- White cheddar mac and cheese: Creamy macaroni enriched with the sharpness of white cheddar.
- Slow cooker mac and cheese: Easy and creamy mac and cheese, made fuss-free in a slow cooker.
- Southern baked mac and cheese: A classic version, often with multiple cheeses and baked to perfection.
- Pimento Cheese: A creamy spread made of cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, and sometimes a hint of spicy heat. It can be spread on crackers or used in sandwiches.
Southern Casseroles & Hot Dishes
- Broccoli cheese casserole: Tender broccoli baked in a rich cheese sauce, a comforting side.
- Jambalaya skillet: A spicy mix of rice, meats, and vegetables, all cooked together for a burst of flavors.
- Cajun Jambalaya: A slightly spicier take on jambalaya with a distinctive Cajun flair.
- Tomato tart: A flaky pastry topped with sliced tomatoes and often cheese or herbs.
- Shrimp and grits: Creamy grits served with sautéed shrimp, often in a spicy sauce.
- Shrimp scampi and grits: A delightful combination of garlicky shrimp scampi over soft grits.
Southern Sauces & Gravies
- Biscuits and Gravy: Flaky biscuits smothered in creamy sausage gravy. A rich and filling dish that’s perfect for breakfast or any time of day.
- Giblet gravy: A rich gravy made using the giblets of poultry.
- Turkey gravy: Silky and rich, often made with drippings from roasted turkey.
- Sawmill gravy: A creamy white gravy made with sausage drippings, perfect for drizzling over biscuits.
- Red-eye gravy: A Southern gravy made with ham drippings and brewed coffee.
- Onion gravy – Saute the onions until they are wonderfully sweet and caramelized, thicken with flour and then add a rich beef broth, before simmering gently on the stove to thicken.
- Peach Cobbler: While it’s technically a dessert, no list of Southern foods is complete without mentioning this sweet, juicy, and buttery dish. Fresh peaches covered in a biscuit or dough topping, baked until golden.
- Ambrosia Salad: A fruity dessert salad made with citrus fruits, marshmallows, and coconut.
- Fried Apples: Sliced apples fried with butter, cinnamon, and sugar until caramelized and tender.
- Bread Pudding: A dessert made from stale bread soaked in a sweet custard, often with raisins and spices.
- Banana fosters bread pudding: A decadent twist on bread pudding with caramelized bananas and rum.
- Peach cobbler bread pudding: Combines the juiciness of peach cobbler with the richness of bread pudding.
- Sticky toffee gingerbread bread pudding: A festive bread pudding with warm spices and a sticky toffee sauce.
- Banana pudding: Creamy pudding layered with banana slices and vanilla wafers, a Southern classic.
- Banana pudding pie: A delightful pie version of the classic banana pudding.
- Banana pudding cake: A cake that incorporates the creamy and fruity flavors of banana pudding.
- Banana pudding Tiramisu: An innovative fusion of banana pudding with the layered goodness of tiramisu.
- Banana pudding Ice cream: Creamy ice cream infused with the unmistakable flavors of banana pudding.
- Banana pudding cheesecake bars: Rich cheesecake bars that capture the essence of banana pudding.
How To Store Leftovers
- Cool foods to room temperature.
- Use airtight containers or sealable bags.
- Label and date for 3-4 days max storage.
- Portion into meal-sized amounts.
- Use freezer-safe bags/containers and remove air.
- Label with contents and freezing date.
- Choose the best method (oven, stovetop, or microwave).
- Stir halfway if using a microwave.
- Reheat only once for safety.
Frequently Asked Questions
Collard greens are often slow-cooked with ham hocks or smoked turkey for a savory flavor, seasoned with salt, pepper, and sometimes vinegar.
Using buttermilk or adding a bit of sour cream or creamed corn to the batter can help maintain moisture in the cornbread.
Hushpuppies are deep-fried balls made from a seasoned cornmeal-based batter, often containing onions or green peppers.
“Soul food” refers to a variety of dishes traditionally associated with African American cuisine in the southern United States. The term “soul” was used in the 1960s to describe African American culture and its creations.
While both grits and polenta are made from ground corn, they are different. Grits are typically made from white corn (or hominy) and are more common in the South, while polenta is an Italian dish made from yellow corn.
And there you have it – From the creamy, velvety texture of mac ‘n cheese to the crispy bite of hushpuppies and the rich, hearty feel of collard greens, every dish tells a story. These aren’t just recipes – they’re an invitation to a rich tapestry of traditions, memories, and shared moments around the dinner table.
When choosing your next Southern side dish, remember: whether shared with family or enjoyed alone, these dishes bring a touch of Southern warmth and nostalgia to every meal.