Let one (or more) of these soulful recipe ideas grace your holiday dinner table this year and prepare to rake in an abundance of compliments from everyone who eats. Updated for Thanksgiving 2023!
The 2023 holiday season is around the corner and I don't know about you, but I like to plan ahead. I even wrote a holiday dinner guide to help you plan, too. Part of getting ready for the holidays is picking the right recipes to fill out your menu. For me, classic soul food dishes with a twist always make the cut. If you're trying to get right for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other gathering this time of year, start scrolling for my top 13 soul food holiday side dishes and desserts.
Real quick, one soul food classic you won't find on this list is my Grandma Carolyn's cornbread dressing, which you definitely need! It gets rave reviews every year and has taken the top dressing recipe spot in many families outside my own.
Get that recipe exclusively in my Guide to a Flawless Holiday Dinner right now!
Baked mac & cheese is a must in any Black folks Thanksgiving spread and being the person to make it is an honor of the highest order. Did you know it was invented by James Hemings?
My Baked Browned Butter & Garlic Mac is perfect for the holidays. And my Baked Mac & Cheese Cups are perfectly ooey-gooey and single-serve, so they're great for smaller gatherings, kids, and easily packing to-go plates.
Sweet potatoes are central to Black American cuisine and get all the love around the holidays, from side dishes to desserts. Add my Spiced Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole to your Thanksgiving 2023 spread.
Cornbread dressing comes from the ingenuity and our enslaved ancestors in the American South. It has become one of those go-to Black recipes for the holidays and special occasions. This seafood cornbread dressing builds on my Grandma Carolyn's classic recipe plus crab, shrimp and lobster for a Third Coast twist paying homage to Texas and Louisiana Soul Food!
We typically serve biscuits, rolls, or cornbread at the holiday dinner table--or even all three. And you'd never know by looking at (or tasting) them but my fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits are vegan!
Candied sweet potatoes, also known as candied yams, are simple to make and a must at this time of year. Slow Cooker Candied Sweet Potatoes take the pressure off, save precious stove top space while preparing holiday meals, and taste just as good.
One more soulful mac & cheese recipe for good measure: Three Cheese Bacon Mac & Cheese. This is also a baked mac & cheese with a bechamel style sauce containing three creamy, flavorful cheeses and crumbled bacon.
Now, mashed potatoes aren't technically soul food but as my Grandma would say, it is the way I make it! My Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes are restaurant-style decadence, made with plenty of love, garlic, and butter.
While not originally a Black or even American recipe, cobbler, peach cobbler specifically, has become an official part of soul food canon. My Great Great Aunt Georgia's Peach Cobbler is a family heirloom passed down through storytelling and worth a spot on your celebratory menu.
A well-made pound cake is probably at the top of my favorite soul food desserts list. Probably because my late maternal grandmother, Carolyn, specialized in them. Dense, buttery, sweet, and simple. I recommend you try my Pecan Praline Pound Cake for the holidays. It presents beautifully and is a real crowd pleaser. And I have several other pound cake options, in case you want to avoid using nuts!
You'll find this staple dessert at many Black family gatherings from Juneteenth cookouts to Christmas dinner and my Red Velvet Layer Cake with scratch-made cream cheese frosting will be a wonderful addition to the end of your holiday meal.
Why stop at just pecan pie or sweet potato pie when you can combine two classics in one and wow your guests with my layered Sweet Potato Pecan Pie recipe?
At the same time, there's nothing wrong with keeping it simple. My Bourbon Sweet Potato Pie recipe is inspired by my late maternal Grandma Carolyn and Ms. Patti LaBelle and it is soul food dessert perfection.
Lastly, Black people can be particular about bread pudding and I'm no exception. This Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Praline Sauce hits the mark for me every single time. And I'm not the only one. People have stolen over this dish, you hear me? It's that good.
And I'll keep it a buck with you, we typically order Cajun turkeys and focus on the sides and desserts in my family. So I'll absolutely co-sign saving yourself the stress but make sure you keep those turkey bones to make homemade turkey bone broth! For everything else, refer to Plies' rules for leftovers.
I hope this recipe roundup gets you set for the 2023 holiday season and beyond. And sharing is caring so be sure to pin this list of soul food Thanksgiving recipes over on Pinterest. Thanks for reading!