Best Southern Cookbooks

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Southern food is known for fried comfort foods, seasonal vegetables, and creamy sauces. If your tastebuds are perking up at the thought of pan-fried chicken with collard greens, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and an excellent sweet dessert, like peach pie, then southern cooking will hit the spot. We’ve compiled a list of the top cookbooks specializing in Southern cuisine, with all your favorite recipes and some new ones to pique your sense.

The Best Southern Cookbooks To Try

Southern cooking is rich in traditions, just like its flavor. The south’s regional cooking borrows from the indigenous people’s traditional foods, European colonial tastes, and the favorite ingredients of West African slave descendants. It creates a great melting pot of tastes focusing on rice, local greens and vegetables, with meat and seafood for flavor. 

The food across the south pulls from many different influences, such as Scottish in Appalachia, while Louisiana Creole cooking draws on French, Spanish, and West African cuisine. Whether you’re looking for a slow cooker recipe that will give you a hearty family meal filled with tasty chicken, rice, and greens, or you’re planning a BBQ with all the sides, you’ll find a Southern cooking recipe that hits the spot.

But Southern cooking isn’t limited to fried catfish, grits, cornbread, and coleslaw. Peaches and other fruits are the main ingredients in delicious pies and pastries, while cakes come in every size and sweetness – pound cakes, layer cakes, and sheet cakes are desserts galore in Southern tradition. We’ve put together our favorite Southern Cookbooks covering traditional Southern cooking, desserts, and vegetarian options.

Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking

  • Total Recipes: 750
  • Total Pages: 800
  • Recipes Preview: Peaches and Figs Wrapped in Country Ham; Beer Muffins; Chilled Melon Soup
  • The Best Recipe We Want To Try: Shrimp and Okra Beignets with Salsa and Cilantro-Lime Cream

The definitive book on Southern Cooking – if you’re going to buy only one Southern Cookbook, then this is it. Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking is well-known as the staple Southern cookbook for your kitchen, with over 600 recipes accompanied by photographs that walk you through each recipe.

Traditional Southern recipes are gathered together in this comprehensive introduction to the food of the south and given modern twists. Authors Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Stevens Graubart are experts in Southern cooking and walk you through how to grill, fry, saute, and bake just about any Southern dish that comes to mind.

Deep South Dish: Homestyle Southern Recipes

  • Total Recipes: 180
  • Total Pages: 224
  • Recipes Preview: Brown Sugar Candied Bacon; Gulf Coast Crab and Rice; Old-Fashioned Southern Bread Pudding
  • The Best Recipe We Want To Try: Oh My Goodness Chocolate Sin

A collection from the author of popular cooking website, Mary Forman, draws on a lifetime of home cooking learned from her mother and grandmother. Deep South Dish is the perfect cookbook if you’re looking for a book of old-fashion, home comfort recipes that are quick and easy and won’t cost a fortune.

With recipes that avoid difficult-to-find ingredients and keep from getting complicated, this is an excellent starter Southern Cookbook, packed with homestyle comfort recipes. Recipes cover everything from appetizers to main meals, sides, and desserts, and color photographs help you make these delicious meals.

The Taste of Country Cooking

  • Total Recipes: 30+ seasonal menus
  • Total Pages: 268
  • Recipes Preview: Rhubarb Pie; Brandied Peaches; Pan-Braised Spareribs
  • The Best Recipe We Want To Try: Sweet Potato Casserole and Hot Buttered Beets 

Edna Lewis is known as the ‘first lady of Southern Cooking.’ This cookbook is a classic collection of seasonal recipes that show the reader how Edna Lewis learned to prepare her family food. By using fresh, seasonal ingredients to capture the rich taste of that most American of cooking styles.

The menus are based around the changing seasons to ensure the use of the freshest seasonal ingredients, creating simple, flavorful dishes. The book is rich with detail from Edna Lewis’s life, and if you’re looking for traditional Southern recipes that provide insight into the history of the cuisine, this cookbook will prove its place on your kitchen shelf.

Fanni Flagg’s Original Whistle Stop Café Cookbook

  • Total Recipes: 150+
  • Total Pages: 224
  • Recipes Preview: Baked Ham and Pineapple Rings; Fried Catfish; Fried Green Tomatoes
  • The Best Recipe We Want To Try: Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie 

After the international success of the novel (and movie adaptation) Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistle Stop Café, author Fanni Flagg has written a cookbook collecting the hearty recipes from the Alabama Café that inspired the café in her novel.

Not just a recipe book of the author’s childhood favorite meals, it is a delightful commentary on Southern culture and cuisine, written with lighthearted wit. If you’re looking for color photos, this book has few and relies on a few historical photos for reference. Still, the listed foods are simple, delicious home-comforts, and the book has over 150 traditional Southern recipes.

The Southern Slow Cooker

  • Total Recipes: 60+
  • Total Pages: 136
  • Recipes Preview: Country-Style Pork Ribs, Molasses Gingerbread, Cabbage with Smoked Sausage, and Apples
  • The Best Recipe We Want To Try: Apple Butter

A slightly more limited Southern cookbook, this one focuses on recipes adapted for the slow cooker. If you’re a busy parent, Kendra Bailey Morris has written the ideal Southern cookbook focusing on food cooked long and slow and adapted for the home kitchen.

The recipes are packed full of flavor and designed to low on active cooking time – prep your meals and then leave them to cook in the slow cooker while you get on with your day. With a few extra cooking steps to ensure that the meals you make keep their rich flavor, this might not be the most uncomplicated slow cooker food. Still, the recipes themselves are simple and easy to follow, and if you want your food to taste authentic, the extra steps are worth the effort.

Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes, and Honest Fried Chicken

  • Total Recipes: 180+
  • Total Pages: 400
  • Recipes Preview: Real Cornbread; Salt Risen Bread; Clay Pot Chicken
  • The Best Recipe We Want To Try: Home Made Vanilla Ice Cream

A regional Southern cookbook that offers readers a different recipe collection from the usual – focusing on the food of the Mountain South. With over 180 recipes in the collection, home cooks can make simple, honest recipes packed with flavor and authenticity. The recipes call for traditional methods and utensils, so avoid this cookbook if you’re looking for quick-cook convenience. 

One of the best books on Southern cooking, Ronni Lundy, collects no-nonsense family recipes that are favorites that taste just like grandma used to make them. This recipe book doesn’t have photographs, but it will leave you with a sense of a time gone past, with its details about famous musicians of the South and cultural history interspersed between the home-cooking recipes.

Nathalie Dupree’s Shrimp and Grits

  • Total Recipes: 130+
  • Total Pages: 128
  • Recipes Preview: Bacon, Shrimp, and Grits Frittata; Okra, Shrimp, and Grits in a Tangy Garlic Butter Sauce; Hush Hubbies
  • The Best Recipe We Want To Try: Saffron Grits and Shrimp Mediterannean-Style

This classic Southern cookbook comes from the award-winning author of twelve cookbooks filled with Lowcountry food. An excellent addition to your kitchen library, Shrimp and Grits is filled with photographs of exquisite food and recipes from Southern chefs. As the book title suggests, the focus is on shrimp and grist, combining them in new and adventurous ways to update these classic dishes.

With delicious recipes for every occasion and to suit a wide range of tastes, the steps are clearly explained and easy to follow, making this an excellent cookbook for new home cooks and those who are more experienced. Beautifully designed, this also makes a wonderful gift for the chef in your life.

The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook

  • Total Recipes: 100
  • Total Pages: 272
  • Recipes Preview: Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Eggplant; Grilled Peach Ice Cream; Okra Fritters with Creole Mustard Sauce
  • The Best Recipe We Want To Try: Grilled Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

Southern cooking has a reputation for being heavy on the meat – mainly chicken and ham, and while this is true, there’s also a strong focus on using fresh seasonal vegetables like collard greens. Authors Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence have brought fresh garden produce to the fore and created a unique Southern cookbook that caters to vegetarians.

By creating modern vegetarian twists on classic Southern dishes, they’ve created a cookbook brimming with flavorful recipes that showcase the rich heritage of produce in the South. These are creative recipes packed with ingredients and flavor, and the results are a bit more upscale and fancy than the traditional meals you may expect from Southern cookbooks, but nothing in her is bland or boring.

Jubilee Recipes From Two Centuries of African American Cooking

  • Total Recipes: 100+
  • Total Pages: 224
  • Recipes Preview: Sweet Potato Biscuits; Buttermilk Fried Chicken; Pecan Pie with Bourbon
  • The Best Recipe We Want To Try: Baked Hame Glazed with Champagne

A stunning illustrated cookbook, Jubille Recipes celebrates the African American cuisine at the heart of Southern cooking. With collected recipes and stories, this award-winning cookbook by Toni Tipton combines delicious recipes with a sharp historical insight into the South and brings new techniques and flavors to classic dishes.

This is the soul food cookbook for every home chef, with easy-to-follow recipes highlighting the best African American cooking in the South and extensive notes highlighting the research that went into creating this wonderful cookbook. The recipes are delightful, and the ingredients are easy to come by.

Callies Biscuits and Southern Traditions by Carri Morey

  • Total Recipes: 100+
  • Total Pages: 272
  • Recipes Preview: Lemon Zest Cast-Iron Fried Shrimp; Roasted Pimento Cheese Chicken; Mama’s Sour Cream Banana Pudding
  • The Best Recipe We Want To Try: Macaroni Pie

Carri Morey, the creator of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, has launched a cookbook with a straightforward goal: to share classic Southen cooking with a modern twist. With over 100 recipes that range from heritage dishes to modern updates, Morey’s cookbook will teach you the foundational elements of Southern cooking.

One of the greatest things about this cook book for the busy home chef is that Morey also provides her hard-learned shortcuts to making the traditionally time-intensive Southern dishes faster and easier to prepare. Each home-cooked recipe comes with Morey’s childhood memories, the place the meal had in her life and is full of anecdotes and fascinating stories.

Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ

  • Total Recipes: 50+
  • Total Pages: 219
  • Recipes Preview: Pit-Smoked Turkey; Hush Puppies; Ella’s Banana Pudding
  • The Best Recipe We Want To Try: Angie Mo’s Cracklin’ Layer Cake

The BBQ is a great Southern cooking tradition, and this cookbook from the chef and owner of Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ gives you everything you need to know to make the best BBQs – from the pit itself to the best recipes and BBQ techniques. The first part of Rodney Scott’s book deals with his life and humble beginnings and serves as a memoir before going into the best way to build BBQs and only then delves into the recipes.

Whether you’re going to build your BBQ pit or are already a seasoned BBQer, World of BBQ has something for you. Packed with recipes, tips, and notes about Southern traditions, you’ll find something to chew on in this stunning cookbook. With gorgeous photographs, delicious recipes, and heartwarming anecdotes, it’s no surprise Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ is listed as one of the Best Cookbooks of the Year.

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