You’ll never get your Aunt Betty’s secret biscuit recipe, but you can find all the best Southern cookbooks right here.
Eat Y’all is honored to meet the South’s best chefs, farmers and food makers and we feel fortunate to discover some exceptional cooking tips and cookbooks through our experiences with these amazing people. This is your go-to guide for the best southern cooking inspiration-in-a-book out there.
Big Bad Breakfast: The Most Important Book of the Day by John Currence
John Currence is one of the most celebrated and well-loved chefs in the South. Among his string of highly successful restaurants in Oxford, Mississippi, Big Bad Breakfast holds a special place in diners’ hearts: It is a gathering place where people from all walks come together to share the most important meal of the day, breakfast. Southerners know how to do breakfast right, and Currence has elevated it to an artform: dishes like Banana-Pecan Coffee Cake, Spicy Boudin and Poached Eggs, and Oyster Pot Pie are comforting, soulful, and packed with real Southern flavor. Big Bad Breakfast is full of delicious recipes that will make the day ahead that much better–not to mention stories of the wonderful characters who fill the restaurant every morning, and a meditation on why the Southern breakfast is one of America’s most valuable culinary contributions.
The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson
In The Broad Fork, Hugh narrates the four seasons of produce, inspired by the most-asked question at the market: “What the hell do I do with kohlrabi?” And so here are 50 ingredients–from kohlrabi to carrots, beets to Brussels sprouts–demystified or reintroduced to us through 200 recipes: three quick hits to get us excited and one more elaborate dish. For apples in the fall there’s apple butter; snapper ceviche with apple and lime; and pork tenderloin and roasted apple. In the summer, Hugh explores uses for berries, offering recipes for blackberry vinegar, pickled blueberries, and raspberry cobbler with drop biscuits. Beautifully written, this book brings fresh produce to the center of your plate. It’s what both your doctor and your grocery bill have been telling you to do, and Hugh gives us the knowledge and the inspiration to wrap ourselves around produce in new ways.
Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard
Ten years ago, Vivian opened Chef and the Farmer and put the nearby town of Kinston on the culinary map. But in a town paralyzed by recession, she couldn’t hop on every new culinary trend. Instead, she focused on rural development: If you grew it, she’d buy it. Inundated by local sweet potatoes, blueberries, shrimp, pork, and beans, Vivian learned to cook the way generations of Southerners before her had, relying on resourcefulness, creativity, and the traditional ways of preserving food.
DEEP RUN ROOTS is the result of years of effort to discover the riches of Eastern North Carolina. Like The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, and The Taste of Country Cooking before it, this is landmark work of American food writing.
Delta Hot Tamales: History, Stories & Recipes by Anne Martin
Several theories surround the traditional Delta tamale. Some trace it back to Mexican and Italian immigrants, while others say the Delta version of the hand-held meal is a spin on the old African American food called “cush.” One thing not disputed is the popularity. From hot tamale legends Joe Pope, Shine Thornton and the Scott family to current chefs, the traditions and the secret recipes live on. Writer and historian Anne Martin showcases the stories behind the traditional Delta hot tamale, as well as the countless variations of the delicacy found within the region.
Frank Stitt’s Bottega Favorita by Frank Stitt
There are some places worth traveling to just for the food: Rome, Venice . . . and now, Birmingham, Italy.
In this companion to his first, best-selling cookbook, the beloved Southern chef Frank Stitt travels to Italy and brings the best of Mediterranean cuisine back home. To Stitt’s mind, the two regions—Italy and the American South—share commonalities. Both native cuisines have a tradition of turning humble ingredients—ground corn, bitter greens, cured pork, the daily catch—into poetry on the plate. And as the chef points out in his lively introduction to the book, this is elemental cooking based on the purity and simplicity of the freshest and finest ingredients.
Yet leave it to Stitt to make Italian cuisine his own. “There’s no Pompano in Venice, but ours, fresh from Apalachicola, fits into the cartoccio (Italian fish stew) perfectly; our Chilton County white peaches are squeezed by hand for a bellini; our wild Gulf shrimp, oysters, crab, and fish are easily a match for their Mediterranean equivalents,” Stitt writes. This appealing new cookbook includes the best of the Southern-influenced Italian recipes he has served at his Birmingham, Alabama, restaurant Bottega Restaurant and Café, for the last two decades—the Tomato Chutney and Roasted Sweet Pepper Pizza, Lamb Shanks with Sweet Peas and Mint, and fabulous desserts including Zabaglione Meringue Cake. Accompanied by sweet recollections of his journeys to Italy, this inspiring and accessible cookbook proves once again why the novelist Pat Conroy calls Stitt “the best chef in America.”
Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life by Lucy Buffett
Her new cookbook, GUMBO LOVE, is a labor of love and includes recipes from all over the Gulf Coast. The dishes incorporate Caribbean, Cajun, Cuban, Mexican, Old Florida, and Creole influences. Lucy proves through her collection of recipes that the Gulf Coast has its own distinct flavors and traditions that make it a coastal destination year after year. And with some of the best seafood and produce the country has to offer, the Gulf Coast-beyond just New Orleans-has a vibrant cuisine and culture, making it a treasured culinary destination in its own right.
Incorporating stories from Lucy’s childhood growing up in Mobile, Alabama, adventures traveling the seas as a cook, time spent working as a chef in New Orleans, and her philosophy of relaxation, gratitude, and seizing the day, this cookbook entertains and inspires as it serves up recipe after recipe, each tastier than the last.
Heritage by Sean Brock
My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen by Asha Gomez
Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner by Ashley Christensen
Poole’s is also the story of how Christensen opened a restaurant, and in the process energized Raleigh’s downtown. By fostering a network of farmers, cooks, and guests, and taking care of her people by feeding them well, she built a powerful community around the restaurant. The cookbook is infused with Christensen’s generous spirit and belief that great cooking is fundamental to good living.
With abundant, dramatically beautiful photography and a luxe presentation, Poole’s is a landmark addition to the cookbook canon, a collection from which readers will cook and find inspiration, and pass down for generations to come.
Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons by Steven Satterfield
Root to Leaf is not a vegetarian cookbook, it’s a cookbook that celebrates the world of fresh produce. Everyone, from the omnivore to the vegan, will find something here. Organized by seasons, and with a decidedly Southern flair, Satterfield’s collection mouthwatering recipes make the most of available produce from local markets, foraging, and the home garden. A must-have for the home cook, this beautifully designed cookbook, with its stunning color photographs, elevates the bounty of the fruit and vegetable kingdom as never before.
Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails by Sara Camp Milam and Jerry Slater
The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table by Justin Fox Burks
Grab a chair in Burks and Lawrence’s kitchen and discover modern recipes that evoke the flavors of traditional Southern cooking, with techniques and ingredients loved so dearly throughout the region. Whether you’re a devoted plant-eater or a steadfast omnivore, The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook will help you shift vegetables from the outskirts of your plate into main course position. Eating your vegetables has never been more delicious.
The Southern Vegetable Book: A Root-to-Stalk Guide to the South’s Favorite Produce by Rebecca Lang
Whether you’re a Southerner born and bred, hail from parts unknown, or just appreciate that the South has a way with vegetables, The Southern Vegetable Book will become your go-to guide to make vegetables the star of the show.
Victuals by Ronni Lundy
What Can I Bring?: Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up by Elizabeth Heiskell
But let’s not forget the most imortant question: What can I bring to my own table? Whether you’re looking for some new ideas for dinners to please a fractious family or want to make Sunday brunch a more special event, What Can I Bring? has you covered.