Skip to Content

13 Best Southern Cookbooks You Need (2024)

Sharing is caring!

America has fallen in love with the food of the South, and for good reason, it is so comforting and delicious. Many people want to know where the top recipes soul food recipes come from or how to make a certain dish. Today I am sharing with you the 13 Best Southern Cookbooks You Need. 

southern turnip greens with turnips and bacon
Southern Style Turnip Greens W/ Turnips

Magnolia Table Joanna Gaines

Coming in at number one is Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines. If you have not heard of Joanna and Chip Gaines, you must be living under a rock. They became popular because of Joanna’s eye for detail in designing which led to a super popular TV show called Fixer Upper. Now she is one of the more famous Southern Cooks.

Southern Cook book called Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines
Photo from Amazon

Joanna Gaines is deeply rooted in her faith and family which is why she loves to cook so much. According to her Bio, she believes in Home! This cookbook is filled with southern comfort dishes that are sure to delight your family and give you that truly home-cooked meal they desire. 

Favorite Recipes:

  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Fried Chicken

Southern Cast Iron Cookbook: Comforting Family Recipes to Enjoy and Share

There is nothing more that I cherish in my kitchen than my cast iron cookware. I just love it that much. If properly taken care of, it can last a lifetime or two. It can be handed down from generation to generation. 

Southern cookbook about cast iron cooking.

This is the reason I love this cookbook so much. Most southern cooks know about cast iron cooking or at least the benefits of using it. It is always nice to have fresh and new recipe ideas to make. Adding this book to your library of Southern cookbooks is a must! Grab this book and level up our Southern Cooking!

This book not only shares cast iron cooking recipes but also lots of useful information about cast iron ware and tips to season it as well. 

Favorite Recipes:

  • Fried Grits with Country Ham & Red Eye Gravy
  • Monkey Bread
  • Spicy Boiled Peanuts
  • Blueberry Mountain Pie

Pioneer Woman Cooks-Super Easy! 120 Shortcut Recipes for Dinners, Desserts, and More

I love watching the Pioneer Woman cook. Her spirit is so easy going and she seems to have so much joy. While her husband and kids work their ranch, Ree Drummond keeps them all fed with all of her delicious ranch-style southern recipes. 

Ree Drummond's Pioneer woman cooks-Super Easy 120 shortcut recipes for dinner, desserts, and more.
Photo from Amazon

If your life is anything like mine (and Ree Drummond as she explains in the book) life is hectic. Life is super busy and we are always on the go. This cookbook gives you super easy-to-fix (and quick too) recipes that will surely be a go-to fix for the family! Ree has many cookbooks out but this is my favorite of all the Pioneer Woman cookbooks.

Favorite Recipes:

  • Bread Omelet
  • Stepped-up Sausage Balls
  • White Chicken Chili
  • Cinnamon Apples

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

No cookbook library would be complete without one of the most important Southern cookbooks of all time. Learning how to can or preserve is especially important (and popular) in this day and time. People more than ever are going back to the basics and learning the skills that have skipped a generation or two in modern times.

ball complete book on home preserving
Photo from Amazon

If you enjoy planting a garden then buying this book to learn about preserving the extras that you grow will be a game changer. Once you get the basics, it becomes very simple and you will want to grow even more to put back to last you throughout the year. Especially with the rising cost of food!

Favorite Recipes:

  • Strawberry Jam
  • Roasted Tomato-Chipotle Salsa
  • Cranberry Ketchup

The COMPLETE America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

Ever since I came across this show I have loved it. I love how they not only show you how to make a dish but they go into the why. The why is always important to me. I hate when you ask someone a question about something so you can understand why and they answer “Because that is the way we have always done it” or “Because that’s how I was taught.” 

America's Test kitchen TV show cookbook
Photo from Amazon

If you are like me and you want to know the why then you need to start watching their show. This book will have many of the recipes that they share on the show. This cookbook is not necessarily Southern, but it is a great one that has many Southern Recipes in it. The book also has a lot of useful information geared toward cooking. 

Favorite Recipes:

  • Pressure-Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup
  • New England Clam Chowder
  • Spiral-sliced ham with Cider-Vinegar Carmel

Gullah Geechee Home Cooking: Recipes from the Matriarch of Edisto Island

If you did not know, I am from South Carolina. Many of the dishes that South Carolina’s Low Country is known for are or were created by the Geechee and Gullah communities.

The low country of South Carolina and all along the coastal plains of South Carolina and Georgia were inspired by this wonderful group of humans that were once part of a tragedy that was the slave trade.

The Birth of Soul Food Cooking

What was once a sad and devastating part of our culture, gave birth to Soul Food and Southern Food in general. Many of the dishes that are enjoyed around the United States were created by the hands of that generation.

The people that were brought to this part of the country from Africa against their will had extensive knowledge of rice cultivation and so that was the purpose for them being forced to come to this region, to raise rice.

The conditions for growing rice were perfect in this part of the country. Rice became a cash crop in coastal SC and GA and many of the dishes that the Gullah and Geechee community fed their families had rice in them. These same dishes are now part of what makes soul food and southern food what it is today.

Out of tragedy came many foods that we as Americans enjoy such as rice, yams, okra, black-eyed peas, peppers, and watermelon. From these plants that the Africans brought with them came the recipes that they made from them.  

Gullah Geechee cooking southern cookbook
Photo From Amazon

The author who was born and raised on Edisto Island, SC was from the lineage of the Gullah/Geechee community. Edisto is one of my favorite places to visit. Once there, you feel as though you have traveled back in time. This cookbook shares some of the Soul Food recipes that came from this region of the world. The recipes that she shares will take you back as well. This will soon become your favorite soul food cook books.

Favorite Recipes:

  • Crab Cakes
  • Pimento Cheese
  • Hoppin’ John

Check out this video of when I last visited:

Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ

Rodney Scott is another great South Carolina native who is making awesome food and making big moves. He followed in the family business of making great barbeque. Growing up in the family business, Rodney worked at Scott’s Barbeque in Hemingway, SC.

This is where he learned the ropes of the business which led him to open his very own BBQ restaurant in Charleston, SC with his namesake, Rodney Scott’s BBQ. 

Rodney Scott's world of BBQ
Photo from Amazon

Now some of you may not agree or believe this, but through some of the reading I have done, I learned that South Carolina is believed to be the first area where the technique of Barbequing pork was first used. Hence, South Carolina was the first to BBQ.

Now for my Northern Readers, in the South when we talk about BBQ, it is always Pork that is smoked. To us, barbeque is a dish that is cooked a certain way, not an act of cooking or a method. 

Rodney is an acclaimed self-taught chef and also a James Beard award winner along with many other local and regional awards. Cooking whole hog style, his book shares some of his favorite recipes that he serves in his restaurants as well as his favorite memories. Grab this cookbook for some awesome Southern food recipes.

Favorite Recipes:

  • Rodney’s White Barbecue Sauce
  • Potato Salad
  • Perloo (Chicken Bog)

Bread Baking for Beginners

Just as a Southern meal is not complete without bread, a cookbook library is not complete without a bread cookbook. This cookbook shares a lot of knowledge about bread and how to make it. From normal white bread to artisan bread, it is all here. 

cookbook about how to bake bread for beginners
Photo from Amazon

Favorite Recipes:

  • Pizza with Tomato and Mozzarella
  • Country Loaves
  • Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

Faith, Family & Feast: Recipes to Feed Your Crew from the Grill, Garden, and Iron Skillet

The first time I saw Cowboy Kent Rollins was on the Food Network. He was on Chopped: Grill Masters. I loved his humble spirit and the food he was cooking. Fast forward a few years and I saw him on YouTube, and he was killing it on there as well. 

Kent Rollins always is throwing down some awesome-looking southern food or cowboy cooking. He always has great recipes and does a great job of explaining them.

Cowboy Kent Rollins Southern Cookbook Fait, Fmaily & the feast
Photo from Amazon

Again, this is another cookbook author who is using one of the greatest cookware that was ever invented, the cast iron skillet. One thing you will see in Kent’s cookbook or on his videos is that he can cook on the stovetop, oven, or directly in the fire with the same cookware. Cast iron is so versatile and tough. You are going to love this book and Kent’s cooking style!

This book is filled with lots of Southern home cooked meals. I am sure it will be a favorite cookbook of yours as well.

Favorite Recipes:

  • Breakfast Burritos with Salsa Verde
  • Fiesta Ranch Pizza
  • Ham-and-Egg Cast Iron Quiche

I Heart Soul Food

Soul food and Southern food are intertwined. They cross over and are influenced by both. I Heart Soul Food is an awesome Southern cookbook that was written by YouTube and popular Blogger Rosie Mayes.

Here she shares some of her favorite recipes growing up as well as some of her popular ones on her Southern food blog and YouTube Channel. 

I heart Soul Food southern cookbook
Photo From Amazon

Here is a list of reasons to purchase this Soul Food Cookbook

  • Authenticity: If you’re looking for authentic soul food recipes, this book might offer a comprehensive collection of classic dishes, as well as modern interpretations, providing an authentic taste of soul food culture.
  • Variety: Soul food encompasses a wide range of dishes, from fried chicken and collard greens to peach cobbler and cornbread. A good soul food cookbook should offer a variety of recipes to suit different tastes and occasions.
  • Cultural Heritage: Soul food is deeply rooted in African American culture and history. Buying a cookbook like “I Heart Soul Food” can be a way to explore and celebrate this rich culinary heritage.
  • Home Cooking: Many people enjoy cooking at home, either for themselves, their families or to entertain guests. If you love to cook and are interested in trying out new recipes, a soul food cookbook could provide inspiration and guidance in the kitchen.
  • Health Considerations: While traditional soul food is often associated with rich, indulgent dishes, many modern cookbooks offer healthier versions of classic recipes, using lighter ingredients and cooking methods. If you’re conscious about health but still want to enjoy soul food flavors, this type of cookbook could be a good option.
  • Cultural Understanding: Food is a powerful way to understand and appreciate different cultures. By exploring soul food through a cookbook like “I Heart Soul Food,” you can gain insights into the traditions, ingredients, and cooking techniques that have shaped this cuisine.

Favorite Recipes:

  • Banana But Pancakes
  • Carmel Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
  • Shrimp, Andouille Sausage, and Grits

The Taste of Country Cooking 

Edna Lewis shares her life through her cookbook, The Taste of Country Cooking. Through each recipe, she weaves in stories of what it was like growing up in the rural Virginia countryside.

Along the way, her passion for cooking carried through as well as other chores she had to do. The recipes are older recipes that are more traditional Southern and are sure to get you stirred up with joy.

Her recipes are inspired by the seasons and what was ripe or what you were able to get at that time. 

the taste of country cooking by Edna lewis.
Photo from Amazon

This book is a great read not just for the historical factor but also to add to your cookbook collection. Learning what and how people ate back in the early turn of the 1900s is fascinating in and of itself. 

Favorite Recipes:

  • Virginia Ham
  • Yeast Rolls from Sponge Batter
  • Special Butter Cookies

Deep Run Roots

If you have not heard of this book, you need to get it. It is written by Vivian Howard who is a chef from North Carolina. I love her story and love watching her show called “A Chef’s Life” on PBS. Although the show is now off the air, you can still catch reruns of it. It is great.

She runs a restaurant where she serves farm-to-table types of dishes. On the show, each episode is like a day in their life and each episode focuses on one simple ingredient.

We get to tag along to see the decisions she has to make for running her restaurant as well as where she goes to get her ingredients from local farmers and such. It is a great look inside the life of a chef.


Deep run roots is a southern cookbook by Vivian Howard.
Photo from Amazon

Also while on the show, she wrote a Southern cookbook and shared some of that process and struggles along the way on the show. The book has many of the great recipes that she serves in the restaurant, The Chef and The Farmer

Each chapter of the book focuses on one key ingredient, much like each episode of A Chef’s Life did. This is a great book that is worth picking up and having in your cookbook library.

Favorite Recipes:

  • Blueberry-Rosemary Breakfast Pudding
  • Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns
  • Blueberry BBQ Chicken

Taste The State: South Carolina’s Signature Foods, Recipes, and Their Stories

I love how food can tell a story. Food is so connected to our memories, that is where the term comfort food comes from. Because we ate it as a kid, it transports us back to our childhoods which gives us comfort. That is my definition anyway. 

I do not personally know one of the authors David Shields, but I am friends with him on Facebook and I love to read the history he shares about the dishes from my native state of South Carolina. 

He has such an extensive knowledge base about food and culture and how they both are connected.

Photo from Amazon

If you are interested in learning about Southern Food, especially Southern Food from the state of South Carolina, this is a great book to pick up. It will have much older, often forgotten recipes in it. 

Favorite Recipes:

  • Chicken Bog (Chicken Perloo, Chicken Pilau, or Chicken Perlo)
  • Shrimp and Grits
  • Frogmore Stew (Lowcountry Boil)

I hope you enjoyed this comprehensive list of southern cookbooks. I think you will enjoy each and every one of these recommendations. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below. Maybe your recommendation will make the next list!



Does Paula Deen Have a recipe book?

Yes, she has many recipe books.

Can you list more authors that you would recommend books from?

Sure, here is a list of more authors: Brenda Gantt, Sean Brock, Steven Satterfield, Paula Deen, and Mississippi Kween.

Are there any associations or alliances that are good places to look for resources on Southern Cooking?

A good place to start is the Southern Foodways Alliance.

What is the best website for Southern Food Recipes?

In my opinion, Southern Food Junkie is the best for Southern Recipes.

While you are here, check out these other posts that I feel you will like as well:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Carolyn Quick Tillery

Sunday 14th of May 2023

Ronnie, Please consider the African American Heritage Cookbook: Traditional Recipes and Fond Remembrance’s From Alabama’s Renowned Tuskegee Institute. This go to favorite for those seeking old-time southern recipes also tells the story of historic Tuskegee Institute, founded Booker T. Washington. Kensington Publishing is releasing an updated edition, after more than 25 years in publication, on February 27, 2024.

Ronnie Williams

Monday 15th of May 2023

Hey Carolyn, Thanks so much for sharing this with me. I have added this book to my shopping cart in Amazon so I can purchase it for myself. When I get around to writing another similar post such as this one, I will include it in my list. I love finding cookbooks like this that is rich in history. Again Thanks for your comment, Ronnie

Janice Williams

Wednesday 25th of January 2023

Thank you so much! There’s at least 5 cookbooks that I will be buying! I’m hoping that I can get my groove back in the kitchen again & redevelop my love for cooking! I would love to can or preserve like my mom did as I was growing up & to teach my grands because we definitely are headed for economic recession with the shortage & prices! We have to learn to survive & we will! God is telling us what to do through you! So thank you for your service & how you do it through what you share with others!

Ronnie Williams

Monday 30th of January 2023

Hey Janice, Yes learning how to preserve and can is a very useful skill. I am thankful for my mom showing me, or rather watching her cook when I was growing up. We always were making something. Thanks so much for your comment! -Ronnie

Darren Jerome

Friday 5th of August 2022

Awesome list. Any of them have a good gumbo recipe?

Ronnie Williams

Monday 15th of August 2022

I Heart Soul Food does have a good Gumbo recipe!

Megan Fisher

Thursday 4th of August 2022

My Amazon cart will be begging for mercy after this…

Ronnie Williams

Thursday 4th of August 2022

Haha, You are awesome! Thanks for the comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word.