Down-Home Comfort Recipes

Cook up comforting Southern classics like shrimp and grits, fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy from chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis.

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Photo By: Virginia Willis ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Right Reserved

Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy

Biscuits with sausage gravy are a rib-sticking way to start the day. They are a no-nonsense breakfast, the he-man of down-home comfort. This is not a fancy brunch dish; this is an old-fashioned Southern classic.

Get the Recipe: Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy

Skillet Fried Chicken with Black Pepper Gravy

Real fried chicken still is special and means down-home comfort for many folks like no other dish. It is the cast-iron Holy Grail of Southern comfort food. Chicken with rice and gravy is the comfort food holy trinity.

Get the Recipe: Skillet Fried Chicken with Black Pepper Gravy

Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey and Whole-Grain Buttermilk Cornbread

When smoked meat is combined with broth or water and simmered with greens, it creates a magical amalgamation, an umami-rich broth called potlikker. Potlikker is made for cornbread, especially cornbread made from stone-ground whole-grain corn and creamy, rich buttermilk. 

Get the Recipe: Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey and Whole Grain Buttermilk Cornbread

Slow-Cooker Brunswick Stew

When it's cold and wet outside, very few meals satisfy and satiate our souls and stomachs like a steaming bowl of hearty, thick goodness. Brunswick stew, a thick, substantial stew of meat and vegetables, fits the bill of down-home comfort.

Get the Recipe: Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew

Cheesy Sausage Breakfast Casserole

This cheesy casserole is a deconstructed version of the classic on-the-go breakfast sandwich, perfect for a leisurely Sunday breakfast or brunch with family and friends. Simply combine sausage, eggs and Cheddar with cubed white bread, chopped vegetables and comforting sage, then baked until puffed and golden brown. 

Get the Recipe: Cheesy Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Low Country Shrimp and Grits with Stewed Tomatoes

The now-lofty combination of shrimp and grits was once a lowly porridge eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner by coastal residents. Folks harvested shrimp from the tidal waters to augment their diet. Grits, or ground corn, is simple country food and a touchstone of Southern cooking. 

Get the Recipe: Low Country Shrimp and Grits with Stewed Tomatoes

Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese has long been regarded as a food group in the South. Once found only on white bread, stuffed in tomatoes or slathered on a celery stick, it now can be found as a burger topping, melted on french fries, spooned into grits, as a chili topping, and even breaded and deep-fried.

Get the Recipe: Pimento Cheese

Warm Crab Dip

Cream cheese is the utilitarian base of many a comforting dip, dish or delectable nibble. You can also use the lower-in-fat Neufchatel or even sub some of it out for a soft goat cheese. 

Get the Recipe: Warm Crab Dip

New South Chicken and Dumplings

Why is it that so many comfort food classics start with a chicken in a pot? Chicken and dumplings is quite possibly the best cold-weather comfort food combination — thick, hearty stew married with fluffy, tender dumplings.

Get the Recipe: New South Chicken and Dumplings

Chocolate Meringue Pie

Chocolate meringue pie is the king of pies: a base of buttery, flaky pastry filled with rich, creamy chocolate pudding and topped with a pompadour of white meringue. Some folks like sweets; some folks like chocolate. The chocolate meringue pie is the best of both worlds.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Meringue Pie

Country Ham with Stone-Ground Grits and Redeye Gravy

Country hams have long been a Southern staple, and one old-time recipe is country ham served on a bed of creamy grits topped with redeye gravy. Redeye gravy is not gravy, nor is it red. It is made from coffee — or Coca-Cola — that is simply poured into the skillet to loosen the salty brown bits on the bottom of the pan. 

Get the Recipe: Country Ham with Stone-Ground Grits and Redeye Gravy

Savannah-Style Irish Potato Soup

Baked or boiled, simmered or stewed, potatoes are the ultimate in down-home comfort. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that potatoes are often paired with creamy butter, gooey cheese or crispy bacon.) 

Get the Recipe: Savannah-Style Irish Potato Soup

Creole Crawfish Etouffee

Etoufee is a succulent, tangy tomato gravy usually made with crawfish or shrimp that traditionally starts with a dark-brown roux. Crawfish and shrimp etoufees are Cajun country specialties. The word comes from the French word etouffer, which means “to smother” or “to suffocate.” In Creole it may as well translate to “down-home comfort”! What’s more soulfully satisfying than a bowl of rice and gravy?

Get the Recipe: Creole Crawfish Etouffee

Classic Pound Cake

Pound cake needs no icing — it’s moist enough to be served unadorned. The beauty is in its simplicity, and it is perfect year-round. If you wish to liven things up, in spring it can be topped with strawberries, in summer with peaches or berries, and in the fall with sauteed apples or pears. Winter means it’s time to pull out the peaches you put up last summer or perhaps a dollop of homemade jam or jelly. Apart from that, a slice of pound cake toasted in a skillet with an additional dab of butter is pure glorious excess.

Get the Recipe: Classic Pound Cake

Country-Fried Steak with Gravy

Country-fried steak is called chicken-fried steak in Texas and pan-fried steak, cube steak or smothered steak in other regions; but frankly, once you taste this dish of down-home comfort, you’re not going to care what it’s called. This is pure meat and potatoes — simple country cooking that is as basic as basic can be.

Get the Recipe: Country Fried Steak with Gravy

Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding

Banana pudding lovers really love banana pudding. It’s creamy, layered, easy and delicious. Warm or cold, it’s pure down-home comfort. No fussing, no fretting. Eaten at a greasy spoon or a truck stop or your grandmother’s dining room table, it’s likely to produce the same result: an ear-to-ear smile of complete contentment.

Get the Recipe: Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding

Baked Corn Pudding

Sometimes called “spoonbread,” corn pudding is pretty much as simple as it sounds: bread that can be eaten with a spoon, or a savory pudding thickened with the natural starch of the corn. Regardless of what it’s called, it’s a down-home comfort dish that remains a favorite all these years later, especially at family gatherings, holiday meals, church socials and potluck dinners.

Get the Recipe: Baked Corn Pudding

Sweet Potato Casserole

In this recipe the potatoes are first roasted. You can use the microwave if you are pressed for time, but roasting brings out the complex flavors. This dish can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight without the topping. The next day, simply remove the casserole from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Then, sprinkle the pecan-sugar topping over it and bake. It’s a down-home comfort dish and absolutely perfect for the holidays.

Get the Recipe: Sweet Potato Casserole

Chicken Pot Pie

Who can resist this creamy, savory comfort food with moist, tender chicken and vegetables bathed in gravy and crowned with a buttery, crispy topping? There’s nothing heartier than a rich, flaky pot pie. Chicken pot pie is a comfort food known for its satisfying richness.

Get the Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie

Tailgate Chili

Chili is an all-American dish with a rich culinary tradition. The one thing that can be agreed upon is that anyone who loves making chili thinks that theirs is the greatest. Well, that and that their team is the best.

Get the Recipe: Tailgate Chili

Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy

Gravy is a down-home comfort food that soothes, satisfies and satiates like no other. And Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy is extra-special. This old-timey recipe is a mash-up of fried chicken and gravy, cooked together in a skillet: Where one ends, the other starts. In other words, pretty much the most nearly perfect comfort food. Ever.

Get the Recipe: Smothered and Covered Chicken and Gravy

Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice, a true Creole classic, means Louisiana country cooking. Like many of the best recipes from simple food, red beans and rice is made up of humble ingredients that, after a slow simmer, are transformed into a sustaining, nourishing bowl of down-home comfort.

Get the Recipe: Red Beans and Rice

Brown Sugar Apple Crisp

Crisps are flat-out easy, and everyone loves a piping-hot fruit dessert with a sweet, buttery topping. You can serve the crisp with ice cream, whipped cream or even creme fraiche for an ultra-indulgent dose of down-home comfort.

Get the Recipe: Brown Sugar Apple Crisp

Cheesy Broccoli, Chicken and Rice Casserole

Most often this indulgent casserole is made with frozen broccoli and a couple of familiar red-and-white cans of cream of mushroom soup. This version is made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. It takes just a smidgen more time, but the results are absolutely extraordinary.

Get the Recipe: Cheesy Broccoli, Chicken and Rice Casserole

Creamed Corn with Bacon

Your guests will be shocked when they hear that this three-ingredient creamed corn recipe doesn't actually contain any cream — just fresh sweet corn kernels, bacon and some salt and pepper. Together, the cooked bacon and the sweet corn juices create plenty of creaminess. 

Get the Recipe: Creamed Corn with Bacon

Steakhouse Rib Eyes with Creamed Spinach

There’s not much heartier and more satisfying in terms of comfort food than a meaty, perfectly charred steak topped with mushrooms and served with a baked potato and creamed spinach. Life occasionally calls for a thick, juicy steak. Those special times might be celebrating something such as a big promotion, a graduation or an anniversary. The celebrations often come with a big price tag, too. Down-home comfort steakhouse style is a real cause for celebration, because you can do it in the comfort of your own home. 

Get the Recipe: Steakhouse Rib Eyes with Creamed Spinach

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes. Potatoes au Gratin. Potato Cheese Casserole. Potato Cheese Bake. Many names describe this mouthwatering, golden-brown, bubbly dish of down-home comfort.

Get the Recipe: Scalloped Potatoes

Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy

What? Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy. That sounds like something a devious 6-year-old would make up, doesn’t it? Tender, buttery biscuits enrobed in dark, rich rivulets of creamy, chocolate gravy. Yes, it may sound very Willy Wonka-inspired, but Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy is actually a very old-school traditional breakfast of the Upland South.

Get the Recipe: Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy

Next Up

50 Stuffing Recipes

Everyone knows that stuffing is the best part of Thanksgiving. Choose the perfect one (or two) for your feast.

Creole Crawfish Etouffee — Down-Home Comfort

Etoufee is a succulent, tangy tomato gravy usually made with crawfish or shrimp that traditionally starts with a dark-brown roux. Crawfish and shrimp etoufees are Cajun country specialties.

Scalloped Potatoes — Down-Home Comfort

Scalloped Potatoes. Potatoes au Gratin. Potato Cheese Casserole. Potato Cheese Bake. Many names describe this mouthwatering, golden-brown, bubbly dish of down-home comfort.

Chocolate Meringue Pie — Down-Home Comfort

Some folks like sweets, some folks like chocolate. The chocolate meringue pie is the best of both worlds. Try this on your sweetie for some down-home comfort.