How To Do A Southern Feast For Thanksgiving

by Meghan Bassett

I wish I had been born and raised in the South, if only for the insane food that I can never seem to find anywhere but in the Deep South. From okra to fried pickles to pecan pie, every Southern dish makes me swoon. That’s why everyone needs these Southern Thanksgiving recipes on the menu this year.

It’s been a secret dream of mine to ditch all the Midwest and Northeastern family traditions and go completely Southern with Thanksgiving. I imagine piles of fried turkey with all the fixings, and an epic food hangover that I’ve only been able to dream of. Of course, my family might flip out at me scoffing tradition like this, but there’s nothing like a heaping pile of cornbread stuffing to shut the naysayers right up.

If you’re feeling the Southern pull this year, it’s time to go for it on Thanksgiving. Remember, if you’re going for it, you have to go all out, and get in touch with the truly Southern dishes. That’s why I’ve rounded up the must-have dishes and the best recipes out there for your Southern Thanksgiving feast. Start blasting that country music, break out the moonshine, and really get into it. It’s time to party like a Southerner!

1. Bacon Appetizer

Kicking off a Thanksgiving meal without a little bacon to wet your whistle would be a crime. Everything’s better when wrapped in bacon, so give one of these two recipes a try: bacon-wrapped potatoes bites with spicy sour cream dipping sauce from The Kitchn, or bacon-wrapped water chestnuts from Savory Sweet Life.

2. Okra

Okra is one of those characteristic Southern foods that I can’t get enough of. Any Southern Thanksgiving spread would be incomplete without it. You can fry it like The Kitchn does here, or you can roast it and serve it up with a lemon aioli like Food Fanatic does.

3. Pickled Shrimp

Rounding out the appetizers is a classic seafood option that’s light and acidic, a perfect opener to a heavy Thanksgiving meal. This pickled shrimp recipe from The Kitchn is the Southern app you’ve been dreaming of.

4. Deep-Fried Turkey

Get that turkey out of the oven and into the fryer with A Spicy Perspective’s recipe! If it isn’t fried, it definitely isn’t Southern.

5. Cornbread Stuffing

Break out the cast iron for this down-home recipe for cornbread stuffing from Adventures in Cooking. Like I said before, no one will be able to argue the genius of a Southern Thanksgiving after his or her first bite.

6. Sweet Potatoes

This bourbon sweet potato casserole from Half Baked Harvest is how I plan to eat sweet potatoes for the rest of my life, Thanksgiving Day or not. Not only are you getting the sweet potatoes in, you’re spiking it with bourbon. If that isn’t Southern, I don’t know what is.

7. Gravy

Southerners may have some crazy amazing foods, but I love that they can keep the classics downright simple. That’s why this turkey gravy is a great option from Crepes of Wrath. Turkey gravy is delicious for a reason folks, there’s no need to mess with it.

8. Mac and Cheese

Step aside mashed potatoes; I’ve got an even better Thanksgiving side lined up for this Southern feast. This four cheese macaroni and cheese from Baked By Rachel will not only blow minds; it’ll make for ridiculously good leftovers.

9. Green Bean Casserole

Yep, green bean casserole has to happen, and it better have those crunchy fried onions on top. Damn Delicious has an easy green bean casserole that’s so easy you can assign it to another family member without fear that they’ll mess it up.

10. Collard Greens

What would a Southern feast be without those collard greens? It would be a failure, that’s what. Go ultra Southern with these collard greens with ham and smoked hock from Steamy Kitchen.

11. Biscuits

Buttery, flaky, warm biscuits on the Thanksgiving table are a staple from most people nowadays, but y’all know the best biscuits come from the South. Joy the Baker nails these buttery, layered buttermilk biscuits for a true classic take on the humble biscuit.

12. Sweet Tea

Mix things up with the drinks at the table, and serve some sweet tea alongside the ample amounts of wine. This sweet tea recipe from Deliciously Yum is super easy and would be even better with a spike of bourbon or vodka (dealing with family is hard, OK?).

13. Corn Pudding

Corn can’t come in only one form at a true Southern Thanksgiving meal. It’s time to break out this sweet Kentucky bourbon corn pudding from Half Baked Harvest, because bourbon.

14. Red Velvet Cake

Ditch that gross pumpkin pie, and make dessert a Southern affair with Something Swanky’s red velvet cake. Such a gorgeous cake will definitely steal the show.

15. Pecan Pie

Saving the best for last here! A classic pecan pie like this one from Simply Delicious screams Southern Thanksgiving, and is the best way to round out that epic feast you just inhaled (it’s not like you took your time… let’s be real).

Are you ready to get down on some good ol’ fashioned Southern food? Get ready. Set. Stuff your face!

For more Thanksgiving ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.

Images: The Kitchn; Savory Sweet Life; The Kitchn; Food Fanatic; The Kitchn; A Spicy Perspective; Adventures in Cooking; Half Baked Harvest; Crepes of Wrath; Closet Cooking; Baked By Rachel; Damn Delicious; Steamy Kitchen; Joy the Baker; Deliciously Yum; Half Baked Harvest; Something Swanky; Simply Delicious