Home cooking can mean different things depending on where home is. For the United States, top southern foods elicit emotional connections and cravings for many locals.

Consumers, especially young adults, look for the warm and soothing flavors of the south to spark a sense of comfort and joy. A recent survey found that 41% of American adults agreed that a restaurant should offer local flavors, and 53% of the Millennials surveyed found the local tastes important. 

In the south, “local” includes the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina. 

No matter where they live, southerners love the distinct flavors and dishes with low country foods. The motto could be: If it goes great with sweet tea, it’s something worth trying. These comfort foods, complete with indulgence and surprising fusion, are on-trend in modern southern cuisine.

Today, with the stress of the recent pandemic and the inability to go out to restaurants to enjoy their favorite dishes, consumers are seeking comfort. Southern and low country home-cooked cuisine is the latest of the southern food trends.

Here are the three key takeaways we discovered about innovative and nostalgic flavors and dishes prepared in the southern United States.


Low Country and Asian Fusion

As a nod to the different cultures that now live in the American southern states, there is a delicious trend of Low Country Asian fusion flavor combinations making surprising appearances on menus throughout the region. Chefs are taking a risk of combining these unique cultural crossovers — and it’s paying off. Consumers are wowed with the enhanced flavor profiles.

Rock Steady, in Atlanta, has Collard Green Fried Wontons on the menu. They’re prepared with smoked turnip collard greens, cream cheese, and pepper vinegar, and they’re deep-fried and craveable. In Portland, Eem restaurant serves Thai-inspired Red Curry Pulled Pork.

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Southern Plant Reinvigoration

No longer relegated to a side, southern plants are now making appearances in beverages and sweet treats. Chefs add spicebush, a Missouri native deciduous shrub with a peppery, cinnamon-like flavor. Consumers also can taste chicory, a Louisiana-favorite herb known for its toasty, nutty flavor with a suggestion of burnt sugar. 

These bold flavors kick up neutral foods, like the Braised Okra at the DC restaurant Oyster Oyster. This dish has spicebush, purple snake beans, crispy eggplant, coriander, and lemon basil. The Shot in the Dark cocktail at the Hubbard Inn in Chicago is made with Old Forester bourbon, Tempus Fugit crème de cacao, chicory, blackstrap bitters, toasted fenugreek, and mint.


Hot Chicken Remixed

While connoisseurs may think of Nashville for hot chicken, cultural remixes are making their mark. Pecking House in New York City serves Taiwanese Chili Hot Chicken that’s buttermilk-brined and finished with Tianjin chilis and Szechuan peppercorns. Consumers also love the Mexican Hot Chicken at Rojo’s Hot Chicken, where chefs use charred nopal and a strong blend of spices.

Related: New Spin on Comfort Food


Southern and Low Country: Comforting and Innovative

At Symrise, we share this top trend after collecting data and analysis in the food and beverage market. To learn more about our products and insights, get in touch with our team at Symrise today, Contact us here! 


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