Southern food has grown such a reputation in the U.S. that entire restaurants are devoted to the cuisine, spanning far outside of the southern region. It's so iconic that it's been immortalized in both literature and film, with certain dishes - such as fried green tomatoes - even earning itself a movie title. Grits have become an integral part of a southern lifestyle with fried chicken becoming symbolic of every kitchen throughout the southeastern seaboard. With a cuisine this popular and well-known, it would seem as though there are too many dishes to pick out of an already incredible lineup.

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Some are more beloved than others, though, and many have the reputation but aren't made outside of the southern states. There's no better time than the summer to bring a little southern cookin' to your own kitchen, starting with these dishes.

Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are a staple at picnics and outdoor gatherings throughout the summer season but they're also an important part of southern cuisine. They have roots dating back to ancient Rome and were originally known as 'stuffed' eggs, although they looked quite a bit different. The term 'deviled' was descriptive of the spicy edge they had which was indicative of the paprika used, which wasn't spicy as much as it was smokey. In the south, Duke's mayo is a necessity when it comes to making this favorite.

Chicken And Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings exist in many ways throughout the world but in the south, the dumplings are boiled rather than baked or fried. The dumplings also have a distinct shape in the south, and rather than being round or puffed, they're shaped into strips which are then boiled in the chicken broth. A mix of vegetables and shredded chicken help to bring this dish together to make one of the most comforting winter meals in the U.S.

Grits

Some people may not have even known what grits were until watching My Cousin Vinny which gave a fairly accurate portrayal of the dish. A truly deep-rooted southern staple, grits are made from grinding hominy, and both cream and butter are usually added to give them their easily recognizable creamy consistency. The dish is either eaten on its own or with shrimp or cooked greens on top to make a more complete meal.

Hoppin' John

Traditionally Hoppin' John is eaten for New Year's Day, which is why many people outside of the southern states may not have heard of it. The dish is made with pork, rice, and black-eyed peas, and is said to bring good luck to those who eat it in the New Year. Freshly made cornbread and collard greens are usually served along with it.

Fried Okra

Okra is a vegetable that gets an unusual reputation due to its slightly strange nature, as it can be an interesting veggie to work with. However, when fried as is traditional in the south, it takes on a delicious, savory flavor that's come to be a favorite. It's usually served along with creamed corn and some fried chicken as lunch or dinner, and there's really no meal that's more iconic.

Brunswick Stew

There's still some debate as to whether or not Brunswick stew originated in Virginia or Georgia but regardless of which you believe, it's delicious nonetheless. This stew evokes all the flavors of BBQ that the south is known for, along with ingredients such as potatoes, beans, corn, and tomatoes. Depending on where you have it, the traditional meat of choice in Georgia is beef while in Virginia, it's chicken.

Coca-Cola Cake

Just as Dr. Pepper has become a widely-accepted ingredient in BBQ ribs, Coca-Cola is a well-known ingredient in cake down south. The bubbles in the soda allow for an airy texture while the sweetness that's in Coca-Cola only serves to add to the cake, making it sweeter than many that just have sugar.

Divinity

This super sweet treat isn't one that's overly popular outside of the south which is surprising because of how good it actually is. With a name that's rather fitting for both its texture and its flavor, this pillow-like treat is only made with six ingredients, total. While candy isn't always the easiest to make, divinity is a little trickier due to the fact that both the temperature and the humidity levels during the cooking process must be just right in order to bring it together.

 Sour Cream Pound Cake

Pound cake is an important dessert in any southern kitchen but sour cream pound cake, in particular, is one of the most popular types of this dense cake. Authentic pound cake will contain an entire pound of butter along with sugar, flour, and sour cream. It can also be used in a trifle, another southern dish - assuming there are any leftovers!

Next: A Guide To The Best Southern Food In Charleston