The Most Popular Soul Food: Celebrating Traditional Southern Cuisine

Choose the soul dish you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Jun 16, 2023 10:18 (Updated on Dec 7, 2023 09:18)
Welcome to StrawPoll, where the flavors of the South unite in a mouthwatering showdown! We've cooked up a scrumptious ranking of the most popular soul food dishes, and it's time for you to have your say. From the crispy goodness of fried chicken to the comforting warmth of shrimp and grits, our list covers a delicious array of soul-satisfying favorites. So, pull up a seat at our virtual dinner table and help us determine the ultimate soul food champion! Cast your vote for your all-time favorite, or if your most-loved dish isn't on our menu, feel free to add it into the mix. Let's dig in and discover the taste of true Southern hospitality together!

What Is the Most Popular Soul Food?

  1. 1
    Fried chicken
    Evan-Amos · CC0
    A staple in Southern cuisine, fried chicken is a popular soul food dish that is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It is often served with sides such as collard greens, mac and cheese, and cornbread.
    Fried chicken is a popular dish made by coating chicken pieces in a seasoned batter or breadcrumbs and then deep-frying them until they become golden and crispy on the outside, while remaining juicy and tender on the inside.
    • Main Ingredient: Chicken
    • Cooking Method: Deep-fried
    • Seasoning: Varies, but commonly includes salt, pepper, and a blend of herbs and spices
    • Batter or Breading: Can be either a seasoned batter or a coating of breadcrumbs
    • Texture: Crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside
    Fried chicken in other rankings
  2. 2
    Served with ham hocks or smoked turkey, collard greens are a popular soul food side dish that are cooked until tender and seasoned with onions, garlic, and vinegar.
    Collard greens are a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica oleracea species, which also includes cabbage, broccoli, and kale. They are characterized by their large, dark-colored, and slightly bitter leaves, which are commonly used in Southern cuisine in the United States. Collard greens are known for their nutritional value and potential health benefits.
    • Species: Brassica oleracea
    • Common Name: Collard greens
    • Leaf Color: Dark green
    • Leaf Texture: Thick and slightly leathery
    • Taste: Mildly bitter
    Collard greens in other rankings
  3. 3
    A creamy, cheesy comfort food, macaroni and cheese is a popular side dish in soul food cuisine. It is often baked with breadcrumbs on top for added texture.
    Macaroni and cheese is a classic comfort food dish made with macaroni pasta and a cheesy sauce. The pasta is cooked until al dente and then mixed with a rich and creamy cheese sauce. The dish is often baked until the cheese is golden and bubbly on top, creating a deliciously crispy crust. Macaroni and cheese is a favorite among both kids and adults, offering a comforting combination of pasta and cheese in every bite.
    • Type: Main dish
    • Cuisine: Comfort food
    • Ingredients: Macaroni pasta, cheese (commonly cheddar or American cheese), milk, butter
    • Texture: Creamy and cheesy
    • Flavor: Rich, savory, and cheesy
    Macaroni and cheese in other rankings
  4. 4
    A staple in Southern cuisine, cornbread is a popular soul food side dish that is made with cornmeal, flour, and buttermilk. It is often served with butter or honey.
    Cornbread is a traditional American bread made primarily with cornmeal. It is popular during Thanksgiving and is enjoyed as a side dish or as a base for stuffing. The bread has a rich golden color, a slightly crumbly texture, and a mildly sweet and savory taste.
    • Main ingredients: Cornmeal, flour, milk, eggs, and leavening agents
    • Texture: Slightly crumbly
    • Color: Golden
    • Taste: Mildly sweet and savory
    • Serving style: Served as a square or wedge-shaped slices
  5. 5

    Sweet potato pie

    African American slaves
    A dessert made with mashed sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and spices, sweet potato pie is a popular soul food dish that is similar to pumpkin pie. It is often served during the holidays.
    Sweet potato pie is a delicious dessert that is often associated with soul food cuisine. It is made with a flaky pie crust filled with a smooth and creamy mixture made from mashed sweet potatoes. The filling is sweetened with brown sugar, flavored with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and bound together with eggs and milk. The pie is then baked until the filling sets, resulting in a rich and velvety texture. Sweet potato pie is typically served as a sweet treat, especially during holiday gatherings and celebrations.
    • Flavor: Sweet and spiced
    • Texture: Smooth and velvety
    • Main ingredient: Sweet potatoes
    • Sweetener: Brown sugar
    • Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
  6. 6
    A popular soul food dish in the Southern United States, fried catfish is a crispy and flavorful seafood dish that is often served with hushpuppies and coleslaw.
    Fried catfish is a popular Cajun dish known for its crispy breaded exterior and tender, flaky interior. It features catfish fillets that are coated in a seasoned cornmeal or flour mixture and then deep-fried to perfection.
    • Type of Fish: Catfish
    • Coating: Seasoned cornmeal or flour mixture
    • Cooking Method: Deep-fried
    • Texture: Crispy exterior, tender and flaky interior
    • Flavor: Savory with subtle Cajun spices
    Fried catfish in other rankings
  7. 7
    Black-eyed peas
    Matthew Waller · Public domain
    A type of legume that is often served with rice, black-eyed peas are a popular soul food dish that is said to bring good luck if eaten on New Year's Day. They are traditionally cooked with ham hocks or bacon for added flavor.
    Black-eyed peas, also known as cowpeas, are a type of legume commonly used in soul food cuisine. They are small, creamy white beans with a black spot on one side, resembling an eye. The dish made with black-eyed peas is a staple in Southern cooking, often served as a side dish or in a stew with vegetables and seasonings.
    • Nutritional Value: Black-eyed peas are a rich source of protein, dietary fiber, folate, iron, and potassium.
    • Cultural Significance: Black-eyed peas are considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity in Southern traditions and are often eaten on New Year's Day.
    • Cooking Methods: Black-eyed peas can be cooked by boiling, pressure cooking, or slow cooking. They are often seasoned with ingredients like onions, garlic, smoked meat, and spices.
    • Variations: There are various ways to prepare black-eyed peas, including Hoppin' John (a dish made with black-eyed peas, rice, and pork), black-eyed pea salad, and black-eyed pea fritters.
    • Texture: When cooked, black-eyed peas have a soft, creamy texture with a slightly nutty flavor.
  8. 8
    A smoky and flavorful meat dish, barbecue ribs are a popular soul food dish that is slow-cooked until tender and glazed with a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce.
    Barbecue ribs is a popular soul food dish consisting of tender, slow-cooked pork or beef ribs that are seasoned and then grilled or smoked over an open flame. The ribs are typically marinated in a savory and tangy barbecue sauce, which caramelizes and forms a sticky glaze during the cooking process. This results in a rich and smoky flavor with a perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess.
    • Type: Meat dish
    • Main Ingredient: Pork or beef ribs
    • Cooking Method: Grilling or smoking
    • Seasoning: Various spices and herbs
    • Serving Style: Sliced or as whole ribs
  9. 9
    Fried okra
    Monali.mishra · CC BY-SA 4.0
    A crispy and crunchy side dish, fried okra is a popular soul food dish that is made by coating sliced okra in cornmeal and frying until golden brown. It is often served with ranch dressing or hot sauce.
    Fried okra is a popular dish in Oklahoma made from sliced and breaded okra pods that are deep-fried until golden and crisp. It is a classic Southern comfort food beloved for its crunchy texture and unique flavor.
    • Preparation: Sliced and breaded okra pods
    • Cooking method: Deep-fried until golden and crisp
    • Texture: Crunchy
    • Flavor: Unique and savory
    • Popular dish: Southern comfort food
    Fried okra in other rankings
  10. 10
    A dessert made with fresh peaches, cinnamon, and a buttery crust, peach cobbler is a popular soul food dish that is often served with vanilla ice cream.
    Peach cobbler is a classic southern dessert made with sweet, juicy peaches baked in a buttery crust. The dessert is warm, comforting, and often served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It is known for its rich, gooey filling and golden-brown crust.
    • Main Ingredients: Peaches, butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon
    • Crust: Buttery and flaky
    • Texture: Gooey and syrupy filling, crispy crust
    • Serving Temperature: Typically served warm
    • Flavor: Sweet with a hint of tanginess from the peaches
    Peach cobbler in other rankings

Missing your favorite soul dish?


Ranking factors for popular soul food

  1. Popularity
    how popular the dish is among people who eat soul food 2. Historical Significance: how long the dish has been a part of soul food cuisine and its cultural significance 3. Flavor: how delicious the dish tastes and its authenticity 4. Representation: how well the dish represents the wide variety of soul food cuisine 5. Accessibility: how easily the dish can be found and prepared in different regions of the United States

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular soul food. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or soul dish is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 169 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each soul dish once every 24 hours. The rank of each soul dish is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


More information on most popular soul food

Soul food is a type of cuisine that originated in the Southern United States, particularly among African American communities. It's characterized by its rich and hearty flavors, often featuring ingredients such as fried chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, and sweet potato pie. The roots of soul food can be traced back to the days of slavery when African Americans had to rely on inexpensive and readily available ingredients to create filling meals. Today, soul food remains a beloved cuisine and a symbol of African American culture and heritage. With so many delicious dishes to choose from, it's no wonder that soul food is a popular choice for people of all backgrounds. So, what is the most popular soul food? Let's take a look at the top contenders and see which dish reigns supreme.

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