16 Foods to Try in Tennessee

Foods to Try in Tennessee

Did you know that some of the most popular musicians of the country were from Tennessee? But Tennessee isn’t just the birthplace of the likes of Dolly Parton and Justin Timberlake, it is also home to the delicious Southern cuisines that tempt every traveler who goes there.

Here are the 16 foods you should try when in Tennessee:

Meat and three

Meat and three, as the name suggests, is meat alongside three side dishes. Although it is available throughout the United States, it originated in Nashville, Tennessee.

For the meat part, you could go with any one of these options: fried chicken, beef, steak, pork chop, or country ham.

For side dishes, there are dozens of options, depending on what the restaurant offers. Some special Southern food items, like cornbread and sweet tea, also go well with this dish.

Fried pickles

Meat and poultry aren’t the only fried food items in Southern cuisine. Deep-fried pickles are one of South’s fried specialties. The crispy and tender dill pickles, a popular Southern snack served as an appetizer and with a glass of wine, are a great addition to a three-course meal. Plenty of food stops in Nashville offer the fried pickles with live music.


Cornbread is not just offered as a side with meat and three. This cornmeal bread is so famous that it even has its own festival in Tennessee. Sweetbread baked in an iron skillet with tasty cornmeal is the perfect food for Southerners to pair up with meat or devoured on its own. The annual National Cornbread Festival commemorates cornbread and has loads of fun activities for kids and adults.

Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Although mac ’n’ cheese seems like America’s national food at this point, many places to eat in Gatlinburg offer the best versions of this dish. The Park Grill offers delicious gouda mac and cheese fried in raspberry sauce. The spicy and tingly flavor of the sauce is worth devouring.


Among all other food choices that Tennessee has to offer, its barbecue stands on a league above all others. From pulled pork to spicy barbecue nachos, there is something for everyone here.

There are so many restaurants offering barbecue menus that it might become difficult to pick one. No matter which restaurant you go to, a barbecue-flavored mac ’n’ cheese, sandwich, or pulled pork is a must-have when in Tennessee.


One of the fried delicacies of Tennessee is the deep-fried catfish. Just like mac ‘n’ cheese, catfish is served in many varieties like hushpuppies (fried cornmeal), as fries, or as a combination with other types of seafood.

Sweet Potato Fries

French fries are a staple food item in a lot of cuisines around the world. But in US’s southern cuisine, the fries are made out of sweet potatoes. This crispy, yet tender on the inside, delicacy is so famous that a lot of the restaurants have evolved other recipes from it, like the sweet potato pancakes.

Country ham

Remember when we said barbecue is one of Tennessee’s most favorite food? Well, country ham is unapologetically the most famous dish in Tennessee.

What makes it so special is the way it is cooked. Salt-cured ham is deep-fried, smoked, boiled, or broiled to give you a taste of an exquisite Southern meal. Once the meat is salted, it is marinated with spices for as long as 90 days to give you the best country ham you’ve ever had. Plenty of places in Tennessee offer this delicacy, be sure to check it out.

Banana pudding

Banana pudding in Tennessee isn’t your regular after-dinner or breakfast-style pudding. In Tennessee, you enjoy it either as a dessert or as a side dish. Most restaurants in Tennessee make the entire pudding from scratch and top it off with some wafers or cookies.

Jack Daniels

You’ve probably spotted this famous whiskey in a lot of movies and shows, but did you know that Tennessee is the home of the Jack Daniel’s whiskey? Jack Daniel’s has been distilled and bottled in Tennessee since 1875. Its exquisite taste has made it one of the top drinks everyone should try when in Tennessee.

Hot-fried chicken

Southerners just love their meat and chicken, which should be obvious by now. Most southern recipes range from hot and spicy to crispy fried, and chicken is prepared in both ways. Deep-fried Tennessee chicken is a delicacy that you cannot skip on. With sides of mashed potatoes, southern greens, or sweet corn, it is the perfect dish for experiencing what a true home-cooked dinner tastes like in the south.


Southerners find the regular “pancakes” outright boring, so they invented the flapjacks—a pan-fried batter of eggs, buttermilk, flour, and sugar. Topped with a variety of syrups and sides, like banana slices or strawberries. If you’re planning to visit the Smokies then do stop by to check out the flapjacks nearby.

Biscuits and gravy

Biscuits and gravy are popular breakfast meals in Tennessee. Some prefer this warm meal in supper as well, but it is a true depiction of the southern cuisine. Crispy biscuits dipped into a warm and tasteful gravy, provide the best of both the worlds. You can also top these with peanut butter or jelly.

Dry ribs

Dry ribs, unlike wet ones, are a one-of-a-kind devouring experience. Made out of pork ribs, this delicacy is marinated with various dry spices before grilling and then generously smeared with barbecue sauce to make them extra juicy and flavorful.

The Memphis Ribs are one of the most famous dry ribs in Tennessee. Though its sauce will get all over your face while you are biting off the meat from the bone, but who doesn’t like to get down and dirty once in a while to get a good bite?

Goo Goo Clusters

Goo Goo Clusters is a famous candy bar made since the 1912 by the Standard Candy Company, Nashville, Tennessee. This sweet treat is filled with marshmallows, nuts, milk chocolate, and caramel. This first-of-its-kind combination bar is an amazing treat for those with a sweet tooth.

Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich

If there weren’t enough chicken dishes on this list already, let’s include this last Southern delight. The Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich is a deep-fried saucy delight perfect for chicken lovers. Although just a sandwich for the common man, this popular Nashville treat has made it to a lot of international cuisines and is loved by many.


Tennessee boasts of popular musicians, breathtaking landscapes, and deliciously unmatched cuisine. Due to its wide range of food offerings, Tennessee has become a popular hub for most travelers and food lovers. Whether it is meat, chicken, or something sweet, there is a treat awaiting for everyone here.

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