25 Cherished Southern Foods Others Think Are Bizarre

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Food has a unique ability to bring people together, but it can also be divisive based on personal preferences shaped by upbringing. The southern region of the United States is famous for its iconic, indulgent Southern comfort food, which includes deep-fried dishes and desserts filled with sugar. Although Southern cuisine may receive criticism, it remains beloved and popular for a reason. Southern hospitality and fried chicken attract people from all over, no matter their opinions on the food!

Funeral Potatoes

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Funeral Potatoes are a casserole with hash browns, cheese, and a crispy cornflake topping. In some places, it’s simply Hashbrown Casserole. It’s popular at post-funeral gatherings, embodying the Southern tradition of sharing comforting foods during times of mourning.

Chocolate Gravy

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Chocolate gravy is a unique delicacy that is popular in some areas of the South. It consists of warm chocolate gravy poured over soft, flaky biscuits, creating a delicious combination. This beloved Southern breakfast is all about enjoying simple pleasures.

Tomato Pie

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People either love it or hate this savory Southern pie. Ripe tomatoes, mayo, and cheddar cheese come together in a flaky crust, creating a slice of Southern heaven known as Tomato Pie.

Fried Chicken Gizzards

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Fried chicken gizzards are a tradition in the South, a crunchy and flavorful snack that represents resourcefulness and the ability to make the most out of every part of the bird.

Fried Green Tomatoes

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Fried green tomatoes are crispy on the outside and tangy on the inside. Unripe tomatoes are dredged in cornmeal and fried to a golden crisp, like a Southern summer on a plate.

Pickled Everything

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In the South, we’ll pickle anything and everything! Eggs, okra, bologna – you name it, we pickle it. Pickled foods are a Southern pantry staple.

Candied Yams

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This classic Southern casserole features sweet potatoes cooked to perfection and gooey marshmallows. It’s a popular side dish often served at gatherings, especially during Thanksgiving.

Fried Bologna

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Many Southerners would agree that nothing beats a fried bologna sandwich with Duke’s Mayo. Serve it with fresh sliced tomatoes from the garden, and you have a meal.

Buttermilk & Cornbread

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A big glass of tangy buttermilk, crumble in some cornbread, and there you have it. It may not be for everyone. I always think of my grandpa when it comes to this southern delicacy he enjoyed nightly with grandma’s leftover homemade cornbread.


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These deep-fried cornmeal fritters, often served with fried fish, showcase Southern ingenuity in transforming simple ingredients into a tasty side.

Fried Okra

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Crispy, tender, and quintessentially Southern, fried okra is a dish that transforms a humble vegetable into something extraordinary.

Boiled Peanuts

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Sold in convenience stores and roadside stands across the South, soft, salty, boiled peanuts turn raw peanuts into a unique and addictive snack.

Country Ham

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The art of Southern meat preservation and flavor creation is showcased in salt-cured, aged country ham. It’s delicious when served with homemade biscuits.

Macaroni Salad

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A classic Southern side, macaroni salad embodies the region’s love for simple, cool, and creamy dishes, perfect for summer gatherings.

Corn Pudding

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Corn pudding, or corn casserole, is a classic comforting side dish often made with Jiffy cornmeal mix. It’s usually served during the holidays.

Biscuits & Gravy

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While sausage gravy and biscuits are beloved by those who have grown up eating them, they can often seem strange or unappetizing to those who have never tried them.

Ambrosia Salad

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In the South, we sometimes refer to desserts as salads, ha! Ambrosia salad is a sweet and fruity dessert that showcases Southern creativity by combining marshmallows, coconut, and fruit.

Sweet Tea

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Sweet tea is the quintessential Southern beverage—iced tea with a generous amount of sugar. Many Southerners believe iced tea is meant to be sweet and don’t want it otherwise.

Coca-Cola Cake

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The origin of Coca-Cola cake is often attributed to community cookbooks and regional gatherings, where home cooks shared recipes featuring the iconic soda. It’s also a popular dessert on the menu at Cracker Barrel.

Pimento Cheese

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Pimento cheese is a staple in Southern cuisine. It can be purchased in grocery stores, but it’s best made at home with freshly shredded cheese. Although it may be available in some grocery stores outside the South, it’s often not as good as the homemade version.


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Grits are a versatile Southern staple that can be enjoyed sweet or savory. They can be sweetened with sugar for breakfast or used in savory dishes like shrimp and grits.

Cheese Straws

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Cheese straws, crispy and cheesy, are a staple of Southern hospitality and are often served at social gatherings as a delicious snack.

Coke and Peanuts

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Some people find the combination of coke and peanuts strange, even those who live in the South. This involves dropping peanuts into a Coca-Cola bottle, creating an unexpectedly sweet, salty-flavored snack. However, if you are from the south central Kentucky region, you know this combination should be made with Ski instead of Coca-Cola!

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

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The pretzel salad is a Southern delicacy that combines a pretzel crust, a cream cheese filling, and a fruity gelatin topping to create a delicious dessert.

Pinto Beans

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It is a humble food, often labeled as “poor people’s food,” but it’s a treasure enjoyed by all in the South. Simmered for hours to perfection with a ham hock, it’s a taste of Southern comfort when served with a side of cornbread. It’s perfection.

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Author: Natasha Newton (Natasha's Southern Flavor)
Natasha is the founder of Natasha’s Southern Flavor. She has a passion for sharing delicious family friendly low-carb recipes that are easy to make and use readily accessible ingredients. Natasha has published three bestselling cookbooks. Her books and recipes have been featured by CNET, Delish, Mindbodygreen, Parade and Women’s Health. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband, two adult children, and three furbabies.
Read more about Natasha here.

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