Soul food is a big part of African American culture; no Thanksgiving would be complete without it! If you’re looking for some soul food menu ideas that will have your guests raving, you don’t want to forget these dishes.
We will discuss some popular soul food dishes to please your taste buds. We’ll also provide a link to a few Thanksgiving recipes so you can start planning your Thanksgiving spread.
So sit back, relax, and let us help you plan the perfect soul food Thanksgiving spread that your friends and family will love.
When did “soul food culture” become popular?
Soul food is a dish that continues to live through many generations, with its roots in the rural South. The expression “soul” was first used to describe African American culture and cuisine around 1962 when it became popularized by poet Amiri Baraka. Baraka published his essay about how there isn’t one standard diet across race lines but different styles based on region or social class.
That same year Sylvia Woods opened up her restaurant called ‘Sylvia’s’ which would later become known as “the queen of Soul Food.” I had the privilege of tasting some of the foods reflecting the soul food recipes I grew up eating that my mother, aunties, and grandmother prepared, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
More delicious recipes for Fall
Typical southern thanksgiving dinner items to consider making
Southern candied yams
Why you gotta have it: Turkey day is incomplete without the compliments of some of the most popular thanksgiving side dishes. In black households around the world, this dish is a staple.
With main ingredients like sweet potatoes, it’s served as an accompaniment to the main dish, but many enjoy eating it as a standalone sweet treat with something savory like mac and cheese.
Whole buttermilk turkey
Why you gotta have it: Having buttermilk turkey makes for a perfect thanksgiving. Turkey is one of the best soul food recipes you’ll ever have.
The buttermilk tenderizing the meat will give your perfect turkey main dish a delicious flavor that will bring your guests back for seconds (and thirds!). My sisters and I made this eight-plus years ago when our mom decided to pass the baton, and it was an instant hit
Southern collard greens
Why you gotta have it: If there’s one thing about black people, we have a family recipe for collard greens, and we seldom stray from it. Whether adding ham hocks, turkey necks, bacon fat, or cooking meatless collard greens, there’s nothing like some good ole’ southern greens to enjoy during the holiday season.
Another idea for this popular side dish is to combine collard greens with mustard greens.
Why you gotta have it:
Black-eyed peas are a perfect side dish addition to any thanksgiving spread. This dish is usually made with ham hocks or bacon, giving it a smoky flavor that will have your guests wanting more.
Why you gotta have it: On Thanksgiving day, many of us cannot imagine enjoying the company of family and friends without devouring some delicious mac-n-cheese. This dish is usually made with various kinds of cheese, giving it a rich and creamy flavor that is hard to resist.
Whether you swear by cheddar cheese or gouda, there’s no denying that mac-n-cheese is a soul food classic.
Why you gotta have it: Well, homemade cornbread is just the icing on the cake. This dish can be enjoyed as a side and is usually made with buttermilk, giving it a moist and fluffy texture. You can also add some sugar to make a sweeter cornbread or some jalapenos for a bit of spice.
Why you gotta have it: This is an easy recipe because there isn’t one. Canned cranberry sauce is the best, and you can argue with me up and down that making a delicious one homemade is better, and I’ll still use the ocean spray cranberry sauce.
It’s my version of fresh cranberry sauce.
Dessert ideas to enjoy on turkey day
Why you gotta have it: When brainstorming the components of a traditional dinner, you cannot leave out desserts. Specifically, the banana pudding should be on your list of desserts to try this year.
This dish contains vanilla wafers, ripe bananas, and a creamy pudding mixture. It’s an easy dish to make to enjoy your holiday stress-free.
Why you gotta have it: One word: family tradition. The best part about pecan pie is that it can be enjoyed year-round, not just on Thanksgiving.
This dish is usually made with sweet syrup or molasses and is loaded with pecans. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and crunchy and will satisfy your holiday cravings.
Why you gotta have it: Its primary ingredients include apples, sugar, butter, flour, and salt. That’s it! This dish is simple to make and tastes delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
And what’s more American during this time of year than apple pie?
Sweet potato pie recipe
Why you gotta have it: When engaging in a friendly argument with friends and family, we all agree that baking a sweet potato pie is the most important dish on the Thanksgiving table.
This dish contains mashed sweet potatoes, spices, milk, and sugar. This dish is heavenly, from the pie crust to the slight lemon zest detected in the filling.
Why you gotta have it: Some of the essential traditions I think of when it comes to Thanksgiving are family, friends, and of course, sweet tea. No matter where you’re from in the South, sweet tea is a staple.
It’s the perfect beverage to enjoy with your Thanksgiving meal because it’s refreshing and pairs well with all of the savory dishes. And, let’s be honest, what’s a meal without sweet tea?
Just a few ideas for a traditional southern Thanksgiving dinner menu
With this list of soul food dishes, you will have a delicious and memorable Thanksgiving feast!! What are some of your favorite soul food dishes?