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.

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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.

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Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard

As much a storybook as it is a cookbook, DEEP RUN ROOTS imparts the true tale of Southern food: rooted in family and tradition, yet calling out to the rest of the world.

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.

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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.

>> Click here to read our review

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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.”

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Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life by Lucy Buffett

Since she was a young girl, Lucy Buffett has believed in the power of gumbo-the stirring, the transformation of the roux, the simple ingredients cooking up into something much better than just the sum of its parts. It’s only fitting that she signs her name with “Gumbo Love” and that she makes a living feeding people the most delicious, soul-satisfying food.

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.

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Heritage by Sean Brock

Sean Brock is the chef behind the game-changing restaurants Husk and McCrady’s, and his first book offers all of his inspired recipes. With a drive to preserve the heritage foods of the South, Brock cooks dishes that are ingredient-driven and reinterpret the flavors of his youth in Appalachia and his adopted hometown of Charleston. The recipes include all the comfort food (think food to eat at home) and high-end restaurant food (fancier dishes when there’s more time to cook) for which he has become so well-known. Brock’s interpretation of Southern favorites like Pickled Shrimp, Hoppin’ John, and Chocolate Alabama Stack Cake sit alongside recipes for Crispy Pig Ear Lettuce Wraps, Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder with Tomato Gravy, and Baked Sea Island Red Peas. This is a very personal book, with headnotes that explain Brock’s background and give context to his food and essays in which he shares his admiration for the purveyors and ingredients he cherishes.

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My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen by Asha Gomez

My Two Souths takes you on a culinary journey with Chef Asha Gomez, from her small village in the Kerala region of southern India to her celebrated restaurants in Atlanta, and on into your kitchen. Her singular recipes are rooted in her love of Deep-South cooking, as well as the Southern Indian flavors of her childhood home. These “Two Souths” that are close to her heart are thousands of miles apart, yet share similarities in traditions, seasonings, and most importantly, an abiding appreciation of food as both celebration and comfort. Here she shares more than 125 recipes, including: Black Cardamom Smothered Pork Chop, Vivid Tomato and Cheese Pie, Kerala Fried Chicken and Waffles, Three Spice Carrot Cake.

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Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner by Ashley Christensen

Ashley Christensen is the new face of Southern cooking, and her debut cookbook, Poole’s, honors the traditions of this celebrated cuisine, while introducing a new vernacular—elevated simple side dishes spiked with complex vinaigrettes, meatless mains showcasing vibrant vegetables, and intensified flavors through a cadre of back-pocket recipes that will become indispensable in your kitchen.

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.

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Root to Leaf: A Southern Chef Cooks Through the Seasons by Steven Satterfield

James Beard Award-winning chef of celebrated Atlanta restaurant Miller Union, Steven Satterfield—dubbed the “Vegetable Shaman” by the New York Times’ Sam Sifton—has enchanted diners with his vegetable dishes, capturing the essence of fresh produce through a simple, elegant cooking style. Like his contemporaries April Bloomfield and Fergus Henderson, who use the whole animal from nose to tail in their dishes, Satterfield believes in making the most out of the edible parts of the plant, from root to leaf. Satterfield embodies an authentic approach to farmstead-inspired cooking, incorporating seasonal fresh produce into everyday cuisine. His trademark is simple food and in his creative hands he continually updates the region’s legendary dishes—easy yet sublime fare that can be made in the home kitchen.

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.

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Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South by Virginia Willis

In Secrets of the Southern Table, award-winning chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis takes you on a tour of today’s South—a region rich in history and cultural diversity. With her signature charm and wit, Virginia shares many well-known Southern recipes like Pimento Cheese Tomato Herb Pie and “Cathead” Biscuits, but also some surprising revelations drawn from the area’s many global influences, like Catfish Tacos with Avocado Crema, Mississippi-Style Char Siu Pork Tenderloin, and Greek Okra and Tomatoes. In addition to the recipes, Virginia profiles some of the diverse chefs, farmers, and other culinary influencers who are shaping contemporary Southern cuisine. Together, these stories and the delicious recipes that accompany them celebrate the rich and ever-evolving heritage of Southern cooking.

>> Click here to read our review

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Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails by Sara Camp Milam and Jerry Slater

The South’s relationship with drinking is complicated. Although religious and legal mandates discourage the sale and consumption of alcohol, the region has a robust drinking culture. As the home of NASCAR, a sport that arose from the high-speed antics of bootleggers, and Tennessee Williams, a man notorious for both his literary genius and his propensity to imbibe, the Bible Belt has a booze-soaked background. In the recipes and essays in The Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails, Jerry Slater and Sara Camp Milam and their cocktail cabinet of contributors bridge the gaps between the culture, history, and practice of drinking in the South.

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The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Table by Justin Fox Burks

Anyone not adequately acquainted with the South’s true culinary terrain might struggle with the idea of a Southern vegetarian. Because isn’t the South one big feast of meaty indulgence? Don’t vegetables play a supporting role to fried chicken and bacon on a Southern table? Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence turn that notion on its head by recasting garden bounty as the headlining act on a plate. In a region distinguished by ideal growing conditions and generations of skilled farmers, Southern-style vegetarian cooking is not only possible, it’s a pursuit brimming with vine-ripened possibility.

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.

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The Southern Vegetable Book: A Root-to-Stalk Guide to the South’s Favorite Produce by Rebecca Lang

Divided by season, The Southern Vegetable Book features 30 types of vegetables along with recipes as diverse as Balsamic Corn Salad, Salmon Tostadas with Zucchini-Radish Slaw, a BLT Benedict with Avocado-Tomato Relish, or a new take on Sweet Potato Pie. This book will guide you on how to select the freshest vegetables at the grocery store or the farmers’ market, tips on storage, special features, and tips and hints on extracting the best flavor from your produce.

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.

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Victuals by Ronni Lundy

Written by Ronni Lundy, regarded as the most engaging authority on the region, Victuals guides us through the surprisingly diverse history–and vibrant present–of food in the Mountain South.Victuals explores the diverse and complex food scene of the Mountain South through recipes, stories, traditions, and innovations. Each chapter explores a specific defining food or tradition of the region–such as salt, beans, corn (and corn liquor). The essays introduce readers to their rich histories and the farmers, curers, hunters, and chefs who define the region’s contemporary landscape. Sitting at a diverse intersection of cuisines, Appalachia offers a wide range of ingredients and products that can be transformed using traditional methods and contemporary applications. Through 80 recipes and stories gathered on her travels in the region, Lundy shares dishes that distill the story and flavors of the Mountain South.

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What Can I Bring?: Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up by Elizabeth Heiskell

It is usually the first question you ask after receiving an invitation to a gathering or event: “What can I bring?” Now you’ll have the answer! Based on the popular monthly feature “What Can I Bring?” in Southern Living magazine, no matter what the occasion, you’ll have the perfect dish. From housewarming party to garden party, a new baby, a wake, a wedding, christening or anything in between, Elizabeth delivers over 100 delicious recipes, including appetizers, mains, sandwiches, desserts and more, that are sure to please a crowd, no matter how big or small. Additionally, these are all dishes that can be prepared in advance and travel well.

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.

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