Hearty, creamy, carby, dreamy—there’s a reason we call it Southern comfort food. Whether you’re a fan of the region’s African and French-inspired fare or iconic bourbon and sweet tea, the South undoubtedly has some of the most exceptional (and mouthwatering) cuisine in our nation. That’s why we dedicated a whole list to enlightening the rest of America about grub usually found in the bottom states. (A brief cautionary disclosure: this report may maximize either wanderlust or hometown appreciation.) Check out our favorite iconic Southern foods, and pretty soon, you’ll want to see how to perfect your own deviled eggs and use pimento cheese in your everyday life.


King Cake

king cake

A Mardi Gras tradition, this doughy ring-shaped cake is topped with enough sugar and icing to make anyone develop a sweet tooth. If you’re the lucky taster who finds a plastic baby doll hiding in your slice, don’t fret—that just means you’ve been chosen to host next year’s Fat Tuesday bash (or just bring the cake). Talk about Southern hospitality!


Boiled Peanuts

boiled peanuts

If you’re the one who always grabs a bag of peanuts at baseball games, you may want to try the boiled version of this high protein snack. They’re most popular in Georgia, and the nuts are even sold by the highway for those that get especially hungry on the road.


Fried Green Tomatoes

fried green tomatoes

Fried tomatoes? Green tomatoes? These merged oddities are a popular favorite down south—much like most things battered and fried.

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.


Fried Okra

fried okra

I’ve only tried okra in my mother’s secret (and ultra spicy) red sauce, but fried okra is supposedly as mouthwatering as it sounds.


Pimento Cheese

pimento cheese

Pimentos are usually found cut up and mysteriously stuffed into green olives, but this slightly sweet pepper finds itself mixed with grated cheese, mayo, salt, and pepper to create this dixie classic dubbed the “caviar of the South.”


Cheese Straws

cheese straws

Before you get too excited, no you cannot sip a drink through this cheesy concoction. Cheese straws are kind of like breadsticks, as they make the perfect accompaniment to soups and salads down South. Plus, they’re baked with seasoned flour and, you guessed it, cheese.




Seasoned with a custom blend of spices, this recipe has been around for 90 years until Wickles (wicked pickles?) shared it with us in 1998. This jar is definitely making its way onto my personal list of must-try foods.




Or chitterlings. Or pig intestines that are cooked and then ladled onto a bowl of rice or pasta.




Unfortunately, this so-called wine does not contain any alcohol. It’s been around since 1917 (after it was made during a WWI sugar shortage), so this Salisbury-born soda must be a hit.


Hush Puppies

hush puppies

As the name suggests, this deep-fried finger food was originally made to bribe dogs into keeping quiet. These days, they keep fans’ mouths shut and full of the crunchy golden brown nuggets.


Hummingbird Cake

hummingbird cake

This pineapple-banana spiced dessert is topped with sweet cream cheese frosting. No wonder it’s a Southern celebration staple.


Mint Juleps

mint julep

Sure, you can ask your local bartender to stir up one of these as a nightcap, but the OG mint julep became a Southern staple mostly due to its popularity in the Kentucky Derby, which is why the bourbon, sugar, mint, and water mix became the horse race’s official drink.


Shrimp and Grits

shrimp grits

Southerners enjoy this creamy seafood dish nowadays for lunch, dinner, or even breakfast! Besides being an everyday staple, a warm bowl of creamy shrimp and grits is also quite festive, as it’s usually enjoyed on Christmas or New Year’s.


Chicken & Dumplings

chicken and dumplings

This hearty dish is as comforting as comfort food gets. Many people also add veggies like carrots, celery, or peas, but others call that blasphemy.


Charm Cakes

woman eating cupcake

Charm cakes, a significant part of Southern weddings, are pastries that have little charms attached to a ribbon hiding inside for each of the bridesmaids to pull out and discover their fate! The anchor charm signifies a stable life, while the ring symbolizes marriage, and the airplane suggests travel and adventure. Consider these the dixie version of a fortune cookie.


Moon Pie

moon pie

While you may find these at your local BJ’s or Costco, this s’more-like dessert originated in 1917 in Kentucky after a coal miner had a craving for a sweet treat “as big as the moon.”


Fried Catfish

fried catfish

Sweet and ideal for deep frying, this white-fleshed fish is dipped into seasoned cornmeal and buttermilk, and is a popular southern lunch. Pair catfish (one of the cheapest foods in America) with a bucket of hush puppies and abundant tartar sauce, and you’ve got yourself a belly-filling meal.


Pork Barbecue

pork bbq

Original Southern BBQ is truly incomplete without a good pulled pork sandwich or rack of ribs. In fact, southerners are so dedicated to their grill that they began a team called South Pork BBQ, which aims to have the “biggest party and the best BBQ at every event” and has been competing for over 18 years!


Roman Candy

roman candy taffy

This gourmet taffy is sold exclusively via a wagon (which was the original vehicle used since 1915!) roaming the streets of New Orleans. Think of it as an old-fashioned ice cream truck, but for taffy!

Discover 20 Flat-Belly Hacks for Southern Cooking.


Traditional Pecan Pie

pecan pie

Southerners don’t wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy this sweet and nutty pie. While pecan pie is a holiday favorite, we’re not surprised this ooey, gooey tradition started in the South—after all, San Saba, Texas, is “The Pecan Capital of The World.”

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Cutting an avocado may not exactly seem like a challenging task on the surface, but it’s not as easy as it might seem. Think about it: How many times have you placed a ripe avocado on your cutting board and had a hard time making a clean cut into it? Have you ever misgauged where the pit sits within the avocado, and, after diving into the fruit, the knife bumps into the pit, causing it to slightly slip? That’s one way you can accidentally make an incision into your precious finger! So, how do you properly cut an avocado?

Well, in an attempt to avoid any kitchen catastrophes from happening so you can enjoy this heart-healthy food, we spoke with an expert, Chef Vincent Olivieri from Fairway Market, to see just how he steers clear of an avocado casualty and—even more important—the messy accident that could follow a knife slip.

What’s the best way to cut an avocado?

“Avocados are usually the main cause of kitchen slip-ups due to the fact that they’re most often cut while in your hand,” says Olivieri. He says the safest way to cut an avocado is to slice it as if it were a bagel.

Here’s how can you can accomplish this in just five steps.

Step 1: Place the avocado on a cutting board.

Step 2: Start your cut lengthwise, hold your non-cutting hand over the knife so the dull side makes contact with your palm (more control), and cut through until you feel the pit.

Step 3: Raise the knife up, keep it stable, and carefully roll the avocado around the knife with your non-cutting hand. You should keep the knife in contact with the pit the whole time it’s rotating.

Step 4: Once cut all the way around, hold both sides of the avocado and twist. It should open, leaving the pit in one side of it.

Step 5: Place the avocado with the pit back on your cutting board, and use a fork to stab into the pit. Hold the avocado and twist the fork. That should remove it. Once opened, you can cut into quarters and remove the skin easily.

Remember: Cutting it like a bagel is key.

The key to getting those perfect, intricate slices of avocado to top your omelet or tacos with—and to not chop your finger off in the process—means you’ll have to remember to mimic the motions of how you would separate a bagel. If you keep that in mind as you start cutting, you’re already off to the right start! And another tip to remember: If you want slivers of avocado for your dish, be sure to keep the skin while you cut, because you’ll easily be able to remove it once it’s been cut. But hey, this is a skill that takes practice, and if you don’t end up with perfectly cut slices, you could always take your newly cut avocado and decide to make a fresh batch of guacamole.

RELATED: These are the easy, at-home recipes that help you lose weight.

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Funky versions of America’s simplest sandwich have been popping up at national restaurants and quick-service chains more and more in recent years. Problem is, when restaurants start to get creative, it usually spells trouble for your waistline. You don’t want to end up turning a light lunchtime bite into a sandwich that packs as much saturated fat as multiple scoops of ice cream, right? We’re all for innovating, but if you’re going to do it, make sure you do it right. That’s where our grilled cheese recipe with a twist comes in to play. The curious combination of sweet apples, crispy smoked bacon, and sharp cheddar cheese in this sandwich recipe isn’t just delicious. It also contains less than half the calories of most of the other grilled cheese sandwiches out there.

330 calories, 15 g fat (6 g saturated), 790 mg sodium

Serves 4

You’ll Need

1 Tbsp butter
8 slices whole-grain bread
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
6 oz shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
8 strips cooked bacon

How to Make It

  1. Heat the butter in a large skillet or nonstick sauté pan over low heat. Slather 4 slices of bread with the mustard, then divide the cheese, apples, and bacon among them.
  2. Top with the other bread slices and add to the hot pan.
  3. The key to a great grilled cheese (i.e., crispy crust, fully melted cheese) is patience, so cook these sandwiches slowly until each side is deep brown and crunchy, about 10 to 12 minutes total.

Eat This Tip

We love a classic grilled cheese made with Kraft Singles as much as the next person, but why limit yourself to that when so many other great combinations are out there waiting to be discovered? Here are a few worth trying.

  • Gruyère or other Swiss cheese and caramelized onions (think French onion soup on bread)
  • Blue cheese, arugula or frisée, and fresh figs or a nice fig jelly spread
  • Fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil or a bit of pesto sauce
  • Pepper jack cheese, avocado slices, and salsa
  • Brie, sliced ham or sliced turkey, and sliced pear
  • Cheddar and black olive spread or a sun-dried tomato spread

RELATED: The easy way to make healthier comfort foods.

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Ever noticed that biting into a grilled cheese sandwich or spooning into Greek yogurt unleashes a slew of uncomfortable gastrointestinal side effects? You may be victim to a food sensitivity or intolerance.

What is a Food Intolerance?

“A food intolerance is a digestive problem that results after eating a particular food or food group,” Jim White, RDN, ACSM EX-P, Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, tells us. A food intolerance is different than a food allergy in that it doesn’t produce an immune reaction to the specific food or food group. That means, your immune system isn’t triggered and therefore won’t produce a histamine response. “For example, if someone has a peanut allergy and ingests a peanut-containing product, they may experience anaphylaxis and require immediate medical attention, whereas someone with a lactose intolerance who consumes a lactose-containing product may have a stomach ache as a result. Though less severe in response, food intolerances are not to be taken lightly as they frequently lead to a decreased quality of life due to pain, discomfort, and the avoidance of certain foods.”

While bloating and gas are two of the most common side effects, a food intolerance can trigger some other bizarrely unconventional reactions. These are the 15 signs you may have a food intolerance, straight from experts.



Tired manShutterstock

“Fatigue results from an inflammation and immune response. Your body has to work harder since the food is not completely digested so the food and has a more taxing effect on your body rather than the energizing effect you hope for after eating. This may result in fatigue and inflammation. Fatigue can also result from a food allergy because your immune system is expending a good amount of energy trying to remove the food protein ‘invader.’”

Gina Hassick, MA, RD, LDN, CDE, NCC

2 & 3

Bloating & Cramping

Bloated woman putting on jeansShutterstock

“Enzymes are proteins that act on certain foods to help break them down. Some people lack the necessary enzymes to properly break down certain foods. This lack of food breakdown or digestion can lead to the feeling of bloating or stomach cramping. One of the most common intolerances that produce this symptom is a lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency in the enzyme lactase which breaks down the disaccharide or sugar in milk called lactose.”

—Jim White, RDN, ACSM EX-P Owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios



Woman with a headacheShutterstock

“Sulphites are preservatives that are commonly found in wine, dried fruit, some condiments, and other pre-packaged foods. An individual who has a sulfite intolerance may experience headaches, migraines, and even asthma-like symptoms after consuming these products. There is no true test to diagnose this intolerance, however, keeping a food log and removing these foods from the diet could reveal an intolerance if symptoms resolve.”




Woman stomach crampsShutterstock

“Gas and bloating are often caused by high FODMAP foods. People often don’t realize that avoiding FODMAPs long-term might control symptoms but it doesn’t address the reason they’re reacting poorly to highly fermentable foods. In my practice, I usually see this from bacterial overgrowth. The tolerance to high FODMAP foods improves when people treat the underlying cause.”

Miriam Jacobson, MS, RD, CNS


Joint Pain

Man sore holding wristShutterstock

“Joint pain is a result of inflammation which may be the result of a food allergy or intolerance. Any immune system reaction has the potential to trigger joint pain.”


RELATED: Your guide to the anti-inflammatory diet that heals your gut, slows the signs of aging, and helps you lose weight.



Woman checking skinShutterstock

“Food allergy symptoms often vary from food to food. Some foods such as nuts and fish are accompanied by anaphylactic reactions, which can be life-threatening if not treated with an EpiPen. Oftentimes an anaphylactic reaction will include symptoms such as an itchy throat, trouble breathing, and hives. However, many minor reactions are also accompanied by hives, normally in the facial region. This type of reaction normally indicates an intolerance to a food consumed in the past few minutes or within the hour. Hives on the tongue are normally indicative of a more severe reaction, but can also be triggered by a sensitivity to nightshade vegetables such as eggplant or red peppers.”

Leah Kaufman, MS, RD, CDE, CDN

8 & 9

Diarrhea & Constipation

Bathroom toilet paper and dogShutterstock

“The most severe form of a gluten intolerance is celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the villi of the small intestine in response to the presence of gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley). Essentially, gluten confuses the body to attack itself rather than the foreign substance. This disease presents widespread issues including but not limited to constipation, diarrhea, malabsorption of key nutrients like vitamin D, iron, and B12, skin rashes, headaches and migraines, steatorrhea (oily stool), chronic fatigue, and chronic weight loss.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is a less severe form of the gluten intolerance where the body doesn’t have an autoimmune response but still does not handle the ingestion of gluten well. Studies show that 50 percent of gluten sensitive individuals experience diarrhea and 25 percent may experience constipation. Every case of these issues does not point to a gluten intolerance. However, if persistent, these symptoms may be worth exploring.”




Woman with arthritisShutterstock

“Just as people who suffer from migraines usually have an immune component, an immune component can also trigger arthritis. Inflammation from gut hyper-permeability leads to higher levels of immune modulators that create inflammation.”


11 & 12

Heartburn & Acid Reflux


“Heartburn and acid reflux ensue when food is not fully digested or when acid comes up through the esophagus and burns tissue in the esophagus and throat. When your body is sensitive to a food, it takes more energy to digest and could cause a hold up in the digestive system—though at that moment we can’t see what’s happening internally, we often feel it as heartburn or acid reflux.”

—Erika Angle, PhD, CEO, and co-founder of Ixcela.


Runny Nose

Sick manShutterstock

“While it is less common with allergies or intolerances, a runny nose is often a sign that your body is trying to cleanse itself and when paired with other symptoms can sometimes signify you may have a food intolerance.”


14 & 15

Acne & Rosacea

Woman with acneShutterstock

Although a food allergy differs from a food intolerance, people who are intolerant to certain foods should avoid the triggers. “Skin issues like hives, rashes, itchiness, acne, eczema, rosacea, and puffiness can all be signs of a food allergy. A food allergy results when your body’s immune system overreacts to an allergen. When you consume a food that your body thinks is harmful (even though it is not), your immune system responds by creating disease-fighting antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Anytime that you eat a food containing that protein, your body is triggered to release IgE antibodies and other chemicals or ‘mediators,’ like histamine, in efforts of attacking and expelling the invading protein from your body. Histamine is a powerful chemical. The allergy symptom you experience depends on where in the body the histamine is released. If it is released in the skin, you are likely to experience one of the skin issues mentioned above.”


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