Unlike Wisconsin’s cheese, Alaska’s salmon, and Georgia’s peaches, there are no super recognizable Tennessee foods.
That said, any foodie worth their salt knows that Tennessee’s famous for the hot chicken sandwich.
While there may not be a signature dish, I think that’s because there are too many Tennesse foods to choose just one!
So, I chose 17 of Tennessee’s best meals, side dishes, and desserts, and I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do.
And yes, the Nashville hot chicken sandwich made the cut at number 6 if you want to jump right to it.
The idea of an onion casserole may seem ludicrous to some people. But try it once, and you’ll never look back.
This recipe features tender but crunchy Vidalia onions, garlic, and three different kinds of cheese.
It’s so wonderfully cheesy, and the sweet onions and garlic give it such an excellent flavor.
Whether you eat it as a side dish or use it as a burger topping, it’s sure to delight everyone who tries it.
Using this recipe, you can have a hearty, flavorful meatloaf on the table in less than an hour.
And because you’ll make it in the Instant Pot, it requires practically no effort.
It requires fewer than ten ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and has a truly addictive sauce. It’s one the whole family will love.
The author of this recipe calls Nashville hot chicken “Heaven and Hell in one transcendent bite.”
In case you’ve never tried it before, that’s a pretty accurate description.
The crust is crispy and perfectly seasoned, while the chicken inside is tender and juicy.
And most of all, it’s hot.
And I mean… hot.
Like, set your mouth on fire, bring-tears-to-your-eyes-hot.
But you won’t be able to help yourself. It tastes so good that you’ll keep coming back for more.
Of course, the great thing about making it from home is controlling the spiciness.
So, if you don’t like outrageously hot things, cut way back on the hot sauce and cayenne pepper.
Like any other city with a signature dish, Nashville knew what it had when it first came out with hot chicken. So it decided to capitalize on it.
This recipe takes hot chicken and turns it into sandwiches. (That’s the most common way of eating Nashville hot chicken, by the way.)
The two recipes are pretty similar. However, you’ll put this chicken on a brioche bun and add coleslaw and pickles to help cool down your mouth.
And again – hot chicken! Only this time, it’s the chicken tenders edition.
Same great flavor, same intense heat, just in a smaller, chicken tender package.
You can even enjoy Nashville hot chicken in your favorite Mexican dish, whether that’s quesadillas or tacos.
These quesadillas are hot, spicy, tangy, cheesy, and filling. You’ll also add dill pickles and blue cheese crumbles to give them a bit of Southern flair.
Nashville may be the king of hot chicken, but Memphis is where it’s at when it comes to barbecue.
With this recipe, you can whip up that smoky, tangy barbecue flavor in your own kitchen.
It takes no more than 15 minutes, and all you’ll need are nine everyday pantry staples.
The Memphis dry rub isn’t bad either. It takes five minutes to pull together and features a ton of great herbs and seasonings.
You’ll really be digging into your spice rack for this one.
It uses smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, celery seed, and mustard powder.
It’s smoky, earthy, and herby, and it tastes fantastic on a rack of ribs.
All you’ll need to make this recipe are ribs and your home-blended Memphis dry rub.
Use the recipe above for a smokier, more herby flavor, or look online for a premade blend.
Or, if you’re looking for something a little sweeter and spicier, use the ingredients for this recipe instead.
The two recipes are very similar. However, you’ll use sweet paprika instead of smoked paprika for this one.
You’ll also add two teaspoons each of cumin and cayenne.
Either recipe will turn out delicious, though, so don’t agonize over which one to pick. They’re both insanely good.
We’ve already had quite a few Nashville hot chicken recipes, but this one was too good to pass up. Plus, it’s the last one; I promise.
This creamy mac & cheese is so filling you can enjoy it as a complete meal rather than a side dish.
It combines tender chunks of cubed chicken and your favorite shredded cheese – cheddar or Colby Jack are great options.
It’s ooey-gooey mac & cheese with a crunchy breadcrumb topping and a bit of Nashville heat thrown in.
I know peaches are more of a Georgia thing, but Tennessee peach pudding is phenomenal.
The cake layer is soft and cloud-like, while the peaches are exceptionally juicy and sweetly tart.
Once you add the buttery, crunchy topping and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it’s game over.
There isn’t a person in the room who won’t be begging for seconds.
These five-ingredient chicken wings are crispy and saucy on the outside and tender and succulent inside.
They take a little less than an hour to make. Plus, they’re the perfect appetizer for the big game or a summer cookout.
Speaking of summer cookouts! Is there a better summer meal than smoky, saucy, sweet-n-savory pulled pork sandwiches?
The lean pork roast is so tender you can pull it apart with your fingers. And you’ll smother it in a sweet, hickory-style BBQ sauce with a dash of hot Tabasco.
It’s delicious just like that, but you won’t stop there!
Instead, you’ll make it even more scrumptious by topping it with cold, refreshing, homemade coleslaw.
It is a bit sweet but also features the tanginess of Dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar.
Load everything onto your favorite buns and serve them with a side of chips or roasted veggies. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that Moon Pies are one-of-a-kind.
They originated in Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a result, most Tennessee residents have at least one recipe for making them at home.
In my experience, this one comes the closest to getting them right.
They’re spongy and chocolatey with the creamy marshmallow center that we all know and (some of us) love.
And don’t let the 3+ hour cook time scare you away. A huge chunk of that allows the dough to rise enough to give them their fluffy, sponge-like texture and oversized shape.
15. Memphis Hot Dogs
Hot dogs are always a fun and easy summer meal.
They’re even better when you wrap them in salty bacon and top them with barbecue sauce, green onions, and cheese!
They may not be the most heart-healthy thing you could eat, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to come back for seconds.
They’re just that good.
Southern-style barbecued baked beans are some of the most flavorful and filling baked beans you’ll ever try.
Unfortunately, that also means they take some extra work.
You won’t need anything more than beans, oil, and onions for the beans themselves.
The homemade BBQ sauce requires all the extra ingredients, time, and effort.
Even so, it doesn’t take a lot of hard work – just a bit of time. And everyone who eats them will appreciate the effort you put into making them.
No one does country sausage gravy quite like people in the South.
This gravy is so yummy; it’s thick and creamy, with big chunks of succulent sausage.
It’s real stick-to-your-ribs food, as my dad would say. But it’s got a little spice to it, as well.
However, if you’re not a fan of spicy gravy, you can adjust that by cutting out the red pepper.
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