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a bowl of food on a plate
by: Sofia Ciancaglini

The State of Alabama has many wonderful things to offer, from its white sandy beaches and incomparable nature sights, to top tier football and genuine Southern charm, but arguably the best thing we have is our food. The flavor palette of Alabama is diverse, encapsulating a state with history as rich as its culinary heritage. Different influences, like French and West African, are not lacking in the foods that have shaped our identity. Ever wondered what makes Alabama’s cuisine so irresistibly delightful? Our guide will walk you through the iconic dishes that represent Alabama’s rich culinary heritage.


Fried Green Tomatoes

a bowl of food on a plate

Fried green tomatoes are one of the quintessential southern foods, and although its origins are not domestic, we have adopted it into our identity and culture. The history of fried green tomatoes traces back to Jewish immigrants in the Northeast United States, as suggested by food historian Robert F. Moss. The reason this dish became so popular might be closer to home, thanks to the book and movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”, which takes place in Alabama and is inspired by the fried green tomatoes at the Irondale Cafe in Birmingham. Regardless of its origins,  you can now find fried green tomatoes in every corner of our state. The variations that have surfaced will also not disappoint, such as the fried green tomatoes at Dauphin’s in Mobile, which are topped with chilled gulf shrimp and a red remoulade sauce. Delicately fried and on its own, or bearing different toppings, this dish is a definite staple of Alabama.


a close up of food

Oysters are the heart and soul of lower Alabama, where they’ve been growing abundantly for centuries. Oysters might be one of  the oldest heritage foods that we have, as they were enjoyed and relied on by the natives, long before the Europeans settled on our shores. Oysters are especially significant to the Mobile area, where some of the very first restaurants of the newly developing city were oyster bars, serving up raw, broiled, fried, stewed, roasted, and even pickled oysters. Oysters have always been a central part of the diet of lower Alabamians, especially at local icons like Wintzell’s Oyster House, the city’s first oyster bar, established in 1938. Transportation developments allowed lower Alabama to share its treasure with the rest of the state, as well as the rest of the country. Yet in the present day, people still travel down to our southern hidden gem just to try some of our fresh and beloved oysters. 

Conecuh Sausage 

a plate of food with rice meat and vegetables

A delicious, hickory-smoked icon of the state of Alabama, conecuh sausage is memorable to every person who’s had the privilege to eat it. The Conecuh Sausage company has been smoking their sausage over a pure hickory fire in Evergreen, Alabama for over seven decades. Although it has garnered popularity throughout the Southeast, this beloved brand has stayed loyal to their home state. Not only is the flavor of this sausage irreplicable, but it also lends itself to many delicious recipes, marked by the distinct smoked flavor and spice from the red pepper flakes. Conecuh is so popular in our state that there is even a donut that has Conecuh sausage sandwiched in the middle at Sugar Rush Donut Company in Mobile. Other tasty options would be to serve it for breakfast, or in stews, red beans and rice, shrimp and grits, and many more creative twists like the Breakfast Gumbo – grits and scrambled eggs topped with Conecuh Sausage, applewood bacon, sausage, green onions, in Satsuma, Alabama. One thing is for certain, and that is that once you try this sausage, you will not forget its unique and remarkable flavor. 

Gulf Shrimp 

a bowl of food on a plate

Shrimp might seem like a very broad food to have on this list, but it is simply too hard to decide on just one shrimp dish that represents Alabama cuisine. While fried shrimp might be the most well-known on a national level, Gulf Coasters know that shrimp and grits is one of the best meals that we have to offer. This essential Southern dish has  roots in Africa, where corn and shellfish was a relatively common meal at the time slaves were brought to North America. Once slaves arrived to the South, they were met with similar foods, which enabled them to recreate and popularize a simple but filling meal. Shrimp and grits slowly became a staple of the whole south, and in Alabama, we have the privilege to eat it with our very own Gulf shrimp. 

Alabama BBQ

a piece of bread on a plate

The South has been a part of many debates regarding barbecue and who does it best. Although the answer to that is totally subjective, it is undeniable that Alabama has the most unique barbecue sauce. Alabama- style white barbecue sauce is mayonnaise, vinegar, and black pepper based, but people are known to add horseradish, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, mustard, hot sauce, and a variety of spices. This uniquely Alabamian sauce derives from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, where the owner came up with his creation in 1925 in order to accompany his smoked chicken and pork shoulders. Now decades later, his delicious sauce is used all over our state at various barbecue joints, like Moe’s Original BBQ. At Moe’s, you can have any of their delicious smoked Alabama meats with a side of white barbecue sauce as the perfect creamy and tangy addition. 


a pile of fruit

Peanuts ARE Alabama. The history of our state and its development is intertwined with the history of peanut production, going back over a hundred years. Although peanuts were essentially around for years, it wasn’t until around after the Civil War that peanuts were popularized. Since peanuts had previously been deemed a poor people’s food, it was largely ignored and unincorporated into the culinary culture of the south. Once their popularity began to rise, people started learning different ways to utilize peanuts, most notably, peanut butter. In Alabama, the destruction of cotton due to the boll weevil allowed for peanuts to replace cotton as the main cash crop of the state. George Washington Carver of the Alabama Tuskegee Institute was one of the figures that helped promote the peanut as a viable and profitable cash crop, especially to black farmers. In modern day Alabama, peanuts are farmed on approximately 160,000 acres of our state. Dothan, Alabama is the self-proclaimed “Peanut Capital of the World” and holds the annual  National Peanut Festival. In our state, peanuts are enjoyed in various ways, from boiled to roasted. In Mobile’s A&M Peanut Shop, peanuts have been roasting since 1949 at its location on iconic Dauphin Street. Safe to say, peanuts are nothing short of a state-wide icon for Alabama. 

Pecan Pie
a table topped with plates of food on a plate

Pies are famously beloved in the South, but pecan pie has a special spot in the hearts of Alabamians. This classic dessert did not really become popular until the 1940’s, when the wife of a Karo corn syrup salesman made a pecan pie using that brand. From then on, the recipe was featured on Karo bottles and spread throughout the United States. Although pecan pie wasn’t a household staple before the 1940’s, pecans were still one of the popular nuts of Alabama, which is one of the states to which pecans are native. No one has done more to satisfy the sweet tooth of Alabamians with pecans and pecan pie than Preister’s Pecans. Open just off I-65 in Fort Deposit, Alabama, Preister’s Pecans is open 7 days a week serving sweet treats and handmade candies from local pecans. Nowadays, pecans are used in so many local treats and recipes. Even pecan pie has evolved, now sometimes made with additional ingredients, or made into pecan bars. Whether people use the Karo recipe or come up with their own twists, this pie surely has a place at every table in Alabama. 

Fried Catfish

a piece of cake on a plate

Fried catfish is a staple of Alabama soul food. The credit for this food is debted to the African slaves that were brought to the South, specifically areas populated by rivers and lakes. With catfish already being popular to the slaves that hailed from West Africa, it was only natural that catfish became such an important part of their diet in the American South. Fish fries were held in celebration among the African American communities, and eventually fried catfish became a permanent part of the definition of soul food. Around the state of Alabama, catfish is a beloved as ever, and remains to be a proud centerpiece of our culinary heritage. 

Chilton County Peaches 

a close up of a fruit

An Alabama summer is not complete without Chilton County’s very own delectable peaches. Although our neighbor to the East might take the title of Peach State, Chilton County certainly takes the title of Peach county for Alabama. The largest peach producer in the state, this county has over 3,500 acres of peach trees. Chilton County also has Peach Park, which is a center for all things peaches, from ice cream to jam, to the freshest peaches themselves. Chilton County has certainly earned its reputation for having the most succulent peaches in our state!

Banana Pudding 

a bowl of food on a table

Banana pudding is inarguably one of Alabama’s favorite desserts, present at a plethora of birthdays, restaurant menus, cookouts, or church potlucks. Yet, this might be the one food on this list that is made with a non-Alabama native ingredient: bananas. The history of bananas in the United States is funnily enough closely tied to Alabama’s port city of Mobile. With imports beginning as early as the 1820’s, bananas did not become high in demand until the 1880’s when the United States established plantations in Central and South America. Soon enough, Mobile witnessed the arrival of thousands and thousands of bananas at its ports, becoming the country’s third-largest banana importer. Once bananas became a commodity, people started developing different uses for it, one of them being the banana pudding. Nowadays, banana pudding can be found everywhere in our state, claiming its spot as one of Alabama’s favorite and most popular desserts.