11 Southern Dinner Ideas That Pair Perfectly With Cold Weather

Updated 11/19/18

The South is a dominating region. It is the largest unified area of the country, complete with distinct borders, culture, and cuisine. The latter is so popular that it has adopted its own endearing label as comfort food. Of course, other dishes can be comforting, but none quite achieve the same effect as fried or creamy or spicy goodness.

The South is a dominating region. It is the largest unified area of the country, complete with distinct borders, culture, and cuisine. The latter is so popular that it has adopted its own endearing label as comfort food. Of course, other dishes can be comforting, but none quite achieve the same effect as fried or creamy or spicy goodness.

Influences on Southern cuisine, like most of America’s foundation, came from many diverse places. Slavery had an undeniable effect on the region, and ingredients native to various parts of Africa, like okra and red beans, were fundamental in the development of Southern cuisine. French emigrants settled first in Quebec, then made their way down the Mississippi to Louisiana, which you will recall was once a French territory. They left their mark in the form of Cajun (or, less accurately, Creole) culture.

There are also influences that traveled north from Central America, the Caribbean islands, and Cuba that give some dishes a Latin flair. No matter what, you can always be sure to find starchy, creamy menu items like biscuits and gravy, or hushpuppies and butter.

If you are looking for some new dinner ideas, try this regional variety of meals. There should be a meter to determine how comforting a meal is, but the scale would be too subjective. Still, find your most belly-warming choice from our selections below and make it part of your go-to meals. You may even be able to keep the cook time short enough for your long nights.

Southern Dinner Ideas — Southern Style Bacon, Potato, and Green Bean Casserole
Courtesy of Chelsea's Messy Apron

Southern Style Bacon, Potato, and Green Bean Casserole

Fried onions are one of my favorite aspects of Southern cuisine, and this bacon, potato, and green bean casserole from Chelsea's Messy Apron is chock-full of other favorites. And as far as green bean casseroles go, this recipe is maybe the easiest out there, so it could even pair well with your Thanksgiving menu.

Southern Dinner Ideas — Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili Burgers
Courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili Burgers

Black bean patties are considered an alternative to meat-based burgers, but they are well-loved even when no one at the table is meat-conscious. Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest has even included how to fry up some onions to include on the side—a real Southern treat.

Southern Dinner Ideas — Cajun Instant Pot Chili
Courtesy of Food Faith Fitness

Cajun Instant Pot Chili

Chili is a no-brainer in a Southern household, and in many ways is the cousin of the New Orleans specialty, jambalaya. So this Cajun-style chili by Food Faith Fitness is a match made in comfort food heaven.

Southern Dinner Ideas — Sausage and Veggie Jambalaya
Courtesy of Chelsea's Messy Apron

Sausage and Veggie Jambalaya

Traditional Cajun jambalaya is a full-day affair. All the various vegetables need time to mingle with choice spices, but if you do not have hours at your disposal, Chelsea's Messy Apron came up with an easy (and mess-free) alternative: tin foil!

Southern Dinner Ideas — Bourbon Peach BBQ Baked Beans
Courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

Bourbon Peach BBQ Baked Beans

Bean preferences differ depending on where you are in the region; Mississippi and Alabama use a lot of black-eyed peas while Georgia and northern Florida will fill you up with pinto beans. Given the peaches (and bourbon!), this baked beans recipe from Half Baked Harvest seems to gravitate toward the East Coast, but everyone everywhere needs to try this winning combination of flavors.

Southern Dinner Ideas — One Pot Chicken Burrito Bowls
Courtesy of Chelsea's Messy Apron

One Pot Chicken Burrito Bowls

Corn, beans, and rice are staples across the South, having been borrowed in different contexts from Cuban, Cajun, and native cuisine. This one-pot recipe from Chelsea's Messy Apron will encourage second helpings and ease cleanup.

Southern Dinner Ideas — Sweet Corn Chimichurri Butter Shrimp with Polenta
Courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

Sweet Corn Chimichurri Butter Shrimp with Polenta

The origins of this sweet corn Chimichurri butter shrimp with polenta recipe from Half Baked Harvest come from many different directions but coalesce into a distinctly comforting meal. For example, polenta is considered Italian, but by definition is just boiled grains, of which the South has plenty.

Southern Dinner Ideas — Nashville Hot Chicken
Courtesy of Carlsbad Cravings

Nashville Hot Chicken

When things are described as “hot” in the South, they contain spices that may overwhelm your taste buds, depending on your typical palette. This take on a traditional Tennessee fried chicken recipe from Carlsbad Cravings will give you the crunch and flavor one expects from moist hot chicken.

Southern Dinner Ideas — Buttermilk Chicken Biscuit
Courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

Buttermilk Chicken Biscuit

While we cannot prove that it is a common occurrence, some Southernen children have been known to use buttermilk with their cereal. The rich cream also makes for a great biscuit, and inserting hot fried chicken in the middle like in this Half Baked Harvest recipe only seems logical.

Southern Dinner Ideas — Hashbrowns and Ham Quiche
Courtesy of Chelsea's Messy Apron

Hashbrowns and Ham Quiche

Southerners love their pork, so this ham quiche would find its way into many of their bellies. This recipe from Chelsea's Messy Apron also incorporates hashbrowns, which is another staple, especially on the breakfast table.

Southern Dinner Ideas — Cranberry Pomegranate Ambrosia Salad
Courtesy of Carlsbad Cravings

Cranberry Pomegranate Ambrosia Salad

Ambrosia salad is a holiday classic in the South. It may not make a full meal, but this recipe from Carlsbad Cravings will take most of the work out of whatever main dish you do choose for dinner since this will be ready ahead of time.

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