The food from the South is unlike the cuisine anywhere else in the United States. Seriously, these dishes are either incredible, or they’re way too much for anyone’s taste buds to handle—unless, of course, they were born and raised in the South! What’s so special about Southern cooking? Well, it’s all about not holding back–if someone wants to cover everything with butter and gravy and cheese, or get three helpings of their favorite dish followed by pie topped with ice cream for dessert, well, they can go right ahead! When it comes to true Southern barbecue and comfort food, there is no holding back. Just eat whatever one's heart desires—and don’t feel guilty!
Southern cuisine ranges from baked Mac n’ Cheese to savory pulled pork to biscuits smothered in gravy—mmm, eat up! But there are also some classic Southern dishes that just don’t really sound appetizing. Sure, people may love them because they remind them of the culture of the South, but in reality, they would probably not end up on our plates! Here are 10 Southern foods we’d actually eat—and 10 that are a bit too weird!
20 We’d Actually Eat: Chicken And Waffles
On one hand, this sounds like a pretty strange combo—fried chicken isn’t exactly something you would find at a breakfast buffet, right? But according to Food Network, chicken and waffles is a classic Southern dish, and it’s not just for breakfast! And the combo is shockingly delicious! Yes, you can totally pour syrup all over it—you would be amazed at how good the fried chicken tastes with that sugary sweetness of the maple syrup bringing out the flavors. Clearly, if you chow down on this for breakfast, you probably will not be hungry again until dinnertime rolls around!
19 A Little Too Weird: Kool-Aid Pickles
Is this even real? Yup, soaking dill pickles in Kool-Aid down in the South and then eating them as a snack is totally a thing! According to Taste of Home, it is super easy to make them at home—but we wouldn’t recommend it unless you really and truly want to find out what those flavors taste like combined! We have to admit, we’re not really on board with this crazy idea. They are more popular down South than you would expect, and you can even find them in stores. Sorry to say, we just don’t get the appeal!
18 We’d Actually Eat: Biscuits And Gravy
Mmmm, we wish we could get our hands on some authentic Southern biscuits and gravy right now! According to Self Proclaimed Foodie, this is a favorite not just in the South, but all around the USA—but it did start out in the South, so we have to give the Southern states a ton of credit for coming up with this delicious combo. It’s so good that we can’t even begin to care about the calories. Hey, what could be better than starting the day with a tasty duo of carbs and fat? Not super healthy—but too good to pass up!
17 A Little Too Weird: Pimento Cheese
Now, you might be thinking—who would say no to cheese? Well, pimento cheese is not just any cheese—it might not taste like the comfort food we all know and love. According to Add a Pinch, pimento cheese is not just cheese. This is a cheesy sauce that also includes a ton of mayo and, well, pimentos—you know, those little things in the center of olives? They are actually small, mild peppers. It doesn’t sound terrible, but unless you’re the type of person who already likes a lot of mayo, it might not taste so great to you.
16 We’d Actually Eat: Shrimp And Grits
Shrimp are already delicious—but why would you add grits to them? Well, grits are a Southern thing, and they’re actually made from corn meal. They add a sweet touch to any recipe, and according to Bon Appetit, there is nothing tastier than seasoned, marinated shrimp on top of a bed of grits! At first, this combo sounded a little strange—but on second thought, it actually seems like it would be tasty. A little bit of seafood prepared Southern style? Mmmm, just imagine those spices combined with the sweet grits—you really can’t go wrong with a dish like this.
15 A Little Too Weird: Red-Eye Gravy
So we all know that Southern gravy is delicious—it’s basically world famous. So, why would we be opposed to the thought of trying red-eye gravy? What makes this one different? Well, according to Epicurious, red-eye gravy is not your average gravy—this gravy is made with a base of black coffee! Sorry, but we think we’ll just drink our coffee instead of pouring it on our dinner. Plus, it seems like you wouldn’t want to eat this at dinner anyway because of the high caffeine content. Well, we are going to have to pass on this one!
14 We’d Actually Eat: Fried Green Tomatoes
Tomatoes are already pretty good, especially this time of year when you get them in-season, fresh off the vine. How tasty! But if you want to make them even better, take a cue from the South and get yourself some fried green tomatoes. According to Southern Living, the best way to cook them is by using just the right amount of bacon grease. We have to admit that if you’re trying to eat healthy, fresh tomatoes are clearly your best bet—but if you want to have a little fun with your veggies, definitely try some fried green tomatoes!
13 A Little Too Weird: Alligator Tail
Look, we have no idea if alligator tail actually tastes good or not—but come on, isn’t the idea of eating alligator just a little bit weird? According to Genius Kitchen, eating fried alligator tail is actually quite common in the South—in fact, apparently it looks and tastes a little bit like chicken. Well, that’s what people say, anyway! Honestly, maybe alligator wouldn’t taste that bad—after all, it’s just another kind of meat—but there really is just something about eating it like chicken nuggets that seems way too “out there.” This one is for adventurous diners only!
12 We’d Actually Eat: Chicken Fried Steak
Steak…chicken…fried…all of these elements just scream “Southern comfort food.” So what happens when you combine them? Well, you get chicken fried steak! According to Loaves and Dishes, there isn’t really any chicken involved in this dish, but you do get a hint of that fried chicken flavor. Crispy breading, rivers of gravy, that perfect, crunchy fried texture for your steak…yup, we’re getting hungry just thinking about it. And you know what sounds eating better? Eating that alongside a mountain of mashed potatoes with a nice helping of butter, salt, and pepper. Honestly, what could be better?
11 A Little Too Weird: Corn Pudding
So, yes, pudding is delicious—who could argue with that? But corn pudding? Seriously? Nah, that doesn’t really sound like our thing. Corn pudding is the sort of thing that you could only find in the South. According to Cupcakes and Kale Chips, this is the kind of thing that you find at barbecues in the South as a side dish, and it’s a staple of Southern comfort food. But honestly, we think that we’ll just be sticking with regular dessert pudding for now! Vanilla pudding? Chocolate pudding? Oh, totally, sign us up? But corn pudding? Hmmm, not so much.
10 We’d Actually Eat: Pralines
Pralines truly sound like the tastiest dessert. According to River Street Sweets, these handmade Southern candies are simply divine: they are made of sugar, corn syrup, milk, butter, pecans, and chocolate. They’re not super fancy—but they sure do sound delicious! Although we have to admit, they also sound like the kind of thing that you could just not stop eating. You know, like potato chips. We can’t imagine reaching for just one of these and then not wanting another! But as we said before, Southern food is all about eating to your heart’s content—and maybe a little beyond that.
9 A Little Too Weird: Ambrosia “Salad”
On paper, ambrosia “salad” doesn’t sound too bad—but it’s not really a salad, either! According to My Baking Addiction, ambrosia is basically a sweet variation on fruit salad. So there are different fruits, as well as marshmallows, coconut, and a ridiculous amount of whipped cream. Sure, this might be a tasty dessert, but it actually sounds a little TOO sweet. All of that whipped cream sounds like it could give you a quick sugar rush and then leave you totally crashing! Sorry, but we’ll stick with real fruit salad for now, and have some of those pralines for dessert instead!
8 We’d Actually Eat: Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet potatoes are like the hearty, healthy version of regular potatoes—and we love them! They really do have a touch of natural sweetness, and that is what makes them the perfect ingredient for pie. You may have seen sweet potato pie on the table at Thanksgiving, but this dish was originally from the South. According to Food Network, adding a little honey, cinnamon, and brown sugar is what really takes these potatoes up a notch and makes the perfect sweet potato pie. Feel free to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top—now that’s a real dessert!
7 A Little Too Weird: Pork Rinds
Now, we know a lot of people in the South like to snack on pork rinds, but we’ve got to admit that even just the name itself sounds a little too weird for us to try it. According to Paleo Leap, you can make pork rinds for yourself at home, but even if you’re not in the South, you can also find them in grocery stores. They are everywhere these days, so they must be fairly popular for a reason—but honestly, we are just not that into the idea. We will probably just stick to bacon instead for now!
6 We’d Actually Eat: Hushpuppies
Hushpuppies have nothing to do with real puppies—it’s just a funny name for a delicious snack! According to Taste of Home, hushpuppies are literally just fried balls of cornmeal and butter, rolled in spices and served as a side. Not exactly a health food, but honestly, sign us up! These are basically the French fries of Southern comfort food. They are so tasty and savory, but it is super easy to overeat them! But honestly, when you’re dining on Southern barbecue and just want to enjoy yourself, the last thing you’ll be thinking about is counting calories all night!
5 A Little Too Weird: “Slawdogs"
Okay, sure, having a hot dog is nice when you’re at a baseball game or a backyard barbecue. And for some reason, coleslaw still seems to come as a side with, well, every meal you could order at a restaurant. But combining hot dogs with cole slaw? Yup, you’ll see it in the South! According to Serious Eats, they’re especially tasty with mustard…but honestly, we’re not really feeling this combo. A hot dog is best when you keep it simple—just ketchup, mustard, and maybe a little relish if you’re feeling it. Oh, and a side of fries, please!
4 We’d Actually Eat: Mississippi Mud Brownies
Do we even need to explain why we would love to get our hands on some Mississippi Mud Brownies? According to Tastes Better From Scratch, these tasty brownies are just overflowing with delicious ingredients. You know, like marshmallows, chocolate frosting, a touch of vanilla extract, lots of powdered sugar to top it all off…mmmm, we’re getting hungry just thinking about it! Seriously, these sound like the perfect desserts. If you could combine the delicious flavors of s’mores and regular brownies, you would end up with Mississippi Mud Brownies. And thankfully, they are super easy to make in your own kitchen.
3 A Little Too Weird: Peanuts And Coke
So, there’s nothing wrong with snacking on peanuts while drinking a can of Coke. But in the South, they have been known to take things one step further. According to Serious Eats, some people will actually mix the peanuts and the Coke in a glass, and then snack on the peanuts! Um, what? That sounds crazy! We had never heard of something like this before, but apparently, it’s just a fun snack in the South. No one really knows exactly who started it, but one thing is for sure—it does not sound like something we’ll be trying anytime soon.
2 We’d Actually Eat: Fried Okra
Okra is a fairly popular food in Southern cuisine. However, it is not super common to find this leafy green on menus outside of the Southern states. It has a pretty strong flavor, so it might not be super tasty for some on its own—but hey, in the South, they can fry anything! According to Spicy Southern Kitchen, fried okra is a classic Southern treat, and yes, since everything tastes better when it’s fried, okra is no exception! We might not want to chow down on raw okra, but fried okra? We would definitely be willing to try it.
1 A Little Too Weird: Tomato Aspic
Okay, are you ready for a dish that we’re pretty sure no one actually finds appetizing? It’s tomato aspic, and we’re going to guess you probably don’t want it on your plate! According to Southern Living, tomato aspic is basically tomato, spices, and a whole lot of…gelatin. Yup, you read that right, gelatin. You know, the stuff that gives gummy bears their texture? This is one Southern dish that we will definitely have to pass on! Freshly sliced tomatoes are great, fried green tomatoes sound pretty good, too, but tomato aspic? Sorry, but that does not sound appetizing at all.
References: foodnetwork.com, tasteofhome.com, selfproclaimedfoodie.com, addapinch.com, bonappetit.com, epicurious.com, southernliving.com, geniuskitchen.com, loavesanddishes.com, cupcakesandkalechips.com, riverstreetsweets.com, mybakingaddiction.com, paleoleap.com, seriouseats.com, tastesbetterfromscratch.com, spicysouthernkitchen.com