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Delicious Tennessee Famous Foods

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Check out this list of Tennessee Famous Foods! If you’re wanting to teach your kids all about the history of Tennessee during your next homeschool lesson, why not teach them about the best foods to eat in Tennessee? This list of foods is certain to make your mouth water and have you whipping up these recipes asap. We all know that the best way to learn about something is to taste test it too, right?!

Be certain to check out our 50 states unit study as well for more great information.

foods that tennessee is known for

Don’t forget to check out this Tennessee Unit Study as well to learn more about fun state facts and history. None of this will teach you what to wear in Nashville, but trust me, stay away from white if you are heading to a Memphis-style barbecue. LOL!

We often try to put a healthy spin on our mostly fried dishes whenever we can!

Check out this list of foods that Tennessee is known for!

Fried Pickles

The South is famous for deep frying just about everything, and Tennessee stands out with its fried pickles.

We batter and fry these tangy treats to golden perfection, offering a unique crunch that tantalizes your taste buds.

Typically served with a side of ranch dressing, they are a local favorite at many Tennessee food joints.

Whether you’re visiting a small diner or a well-known restaurant like Loveless Cafe, don’t miss out on this Southern classic.

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries might be the ultimate side dish in Southern cuisine. Their natural sweetness makes them almost like a dessert, yet you get to enjoy them alongside your main meal.

Found in restaurants all over the South, these fries are often baked rather than fried, adding a healthier twist.

Seasoned with a hint of cinnamon or cayenne pepper, they offer a unique flavor that complements any dish, making them a must-try.

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Biscuits and sausage gravy are a staple of Southern comfort food and a reason many look forward to breakfast.

Fluffy, buttery biscuits smothered in rich, savory sausage gravy create a combination that’s hard to resist.

Each bite delivers a varied taste experience, especially when the gravy is loaded with chunks of spicy sausage.

Whether at home or a place like Biscuit Love in Nashville, this dish is sure to start your day off right.

Red Eye Gravy

Red eye gravy may sound unusual, but its taste is unforgettable.

Country ham drippings and black coffee make this gravy, named for the way it separates in a bowl, resembling an eye.

We pour it over biscuits, grits, or even french fries, adding a unique, robust flavor.

A Southern staple, this dish is worth trying for anyone exploring the diverse tastes of Tennessee.

Country Ham

Country ham hits the sweet spot between salty and sweet, making it a beloved dish among Tennessee residents.

Typically cured with brown sugar and served with a splash of red-eye gravy, it’s over-the-top delicious.

You can enjoy this Southern classic at various Tennessee restaurants, often paired with side dishes like collard greens or potato salad, creating a hearty meal reflective of Tennessee’s rich culinary heritage.

Fluffy Pancakes

Country ham hits the sweet spot between salty and sweet, making it a beloved dish among Tennessee residents.

Typically cured with brown sugar and served with a splash of red-eye gravy, it’s over-the-top delicious.

Various Tennessee restaurants serve this Southern classic, often pairing it with side dishes like collard greens or potato salad to create a hearty meal that reflects Tennessee’s rich culinary heritage.

Ribs in Memphis

In Memphis, ribs are king. Whether you prefer a dry rub or a “wet” rub, the smoky, tender meat falls off the bone and bursts with flavor.

Iconic spots like Central BBQ and Rendezvous Restaurant serve mouth-watering ribs that have earned them renown.

Pair them with Southern side dishes like homemade mac and cheese or collard greens, and you’ve got a meal fit for a King – just ask Elvis. 😉

Don’t miss this popular dish when visiting the birthplace of blues and rock ‘n’ roll.

Hot Chicken in Nashville

Nashville’s hot chicken is a culinary experience you can’t miss. Spiced with cayenne pepper and other seasonings, this fried chicken packs a punch.

Places like Hattie B’s Hot Chicken have perfected this dish, serving it with a range of heat levels to suit all taste buds.

Hot chicken has become synonymous with Nashville, appearing on menus across the city and beyond, making it a must-try for visitors and locals alike.

Fried Pies

Fried pies are little pockets of dessert heaven. Filled with fruits like apples or peaches and fried to a perfect golden brown, these treats offer a crisp exterior and a warm, melty inside.

They are a match made in dessert perfection and can be found at numerous Southern eateries.

Often enjoyed as a special occasion treat, fried pies are a delightful end to any meal in Tennessee.

Famous Tennessee Food Brands

Tennessee is home to several iconic food brands that have made a significant impact both locally and globally. 

Here are a few well-known brands from the Volunteer State, along with their rich histories:

Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniel’s is a world-famous whiskey distillery located in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Established in 1866, it’s one of the oldest registered distilleries in the United States.

The brand is renowned for its distinctive black label and smooth, mellow flavor, achieved through a unique charcoal-mellowing process. J

ack Daniels Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey is the flagship product, but the company also produces a range of other whiskeys and specialty items.

Tours of the distillery offer a fascinating glimpse into its storied past and meticulous production methods.

Bush’s Beans

Bush’s Beans, founded in 1908 in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee, is a staple in many American households.

Known for their famous baked beans (and Secret Family Recipe that Duke won’t share), Bush’s offers a variety of canned bean products that are perfect for quick meals and barbecues.

The company’s commitment to quality and taste has made it a trusted name in kitchens across the country.

Visitors to the original Chestnut Hill location can explore the Bush’s Visitor Center, which includes a museum, café, and general store, offering an immersive experience into the brand’s history and products.


MoonPies were first created in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1917 by the Chattanooga Bakery. These delightful treats consist of marshmallow filling sandwiched between two graham cracker cookies, all dipped in a flavored coating like chocolate, vanilla, or banana.

Originally designed as a portable and filling snack for coal miners, MoonPies have become a beloved Southern staple enjoyed by people of all ages.

The annual RC Cola and MoonPie Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee, celebrates this iconic snack with games, music, and, of course, plenty of MoonPies.

Goo Goo Clusters

Goo Goo Clusters, originating in Nashville in 1912, are considered the first combination candy bar. This sweet treat combines caramel, marshmallow nougat, roasted peanuts, and milk chocolate, creating a deliciously complex flavor profile.

The brand has maintained its popularity for over a century and continues to be a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

The Goo Goo Shop in downtown Nashville offers a chance to learn about the candy’s history, enjoy tastings, and even create custom Goo Goo Clusters.

Mayfield Dairy Farms

Mayfield Dairy Farms, founded in 1910 in Athens, Tennessee, is renowned for its high-quality dairy products, particularly its rich and creamy ice cream.

Over the decades, Mayfield has expanded its product line to include milk, cottage cheese, and other dairy delights.

The brand prides itself on using fresh, local ingredients and maintaining rigorous quality standards.

Visitors to the dairy can take a tour to see how their favorite products are made and sample some of the best ice cream in the South.

Lodge Cast Iron

Lodge Cast Iron, established in 1896 in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, is a name synonymous with durable, high-quality cast iron cookware.

This brand is beloved by chefs and home cooks alike for its versatile and enduring products.

From skillets to Dutch ovens, Lodge’s cast iron pieces are essential tools in any kitchen, perfect for making Southern classics like cornbread and fried chicken.

The company offers factory tours and an outlet store where fans can purchase their favorite cast iron cookware at a reasonable price.

These famous Tennessee food brands have not only become household names but also a source of pride for the state. Their dedication to quality and tradition continues to influence culinary practices and consumer tastes around the world.

Top Food Destinations in Tennessee

When exploring Tennessee, make sure to visit these iconic food destinations that capture the essence of Southern cuisine:

Loveless Cafe (Nashville)

Famous for its biscuits and preserves, Loveless Cafe offers a quintessential Tennessee dining experience.

Founded in 1951, this beloved spot serves up fluffy, buttery biscuits accompanied by homemade preserves, making it a must-visit for breakfast lovers.

The cafe also boasts a menu filled with Southern classics like fried chicken and country ham, ensuring there’s something to tantalize everyone’s taste buds.

Central BBQ (Memphis)

Renowned for its mouth-watering ribs, Central BBQ is a Memphis institution.

Whether you prefer dry rub or a saucy finish, their ribs are smoked to perfection, offering a rich, smoky flavor that’s hard to beat.

In addition to ribs, Central BBQ also serves an array of other Southern staples, including pulled pork sandwiches, brisket, and homemade mac and cheese, providing a comprehensive taste of Memphis barbecue culture.

Biscuit Love (Nashville)

Popular for its fluffy, buttery biscuits, Biscuit Love started as a food truck before becoming a Nashville favorite.

Their signature biscuits are made from scratch daily and paired with a variety of toppings, from fried chicken to sausage gravy.

Not just a breakfast spot, Biscuit Love also offers inventive takes on Southern classics, such as the “East Nasty” and the “Princess,” making it a must-visit for anyone seeking a modern twist on traditional Southern fare.

By visiting these top food destinations, you’ll get an authentic taste of Tennessee’s rich culinary heritage. Each location offers a unique dining experience showcasing the best Southern comfort food.

FAQ: Exploring Tennessee’s Famous Foods

best foods to eat in tennessee

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