18 Southern Desserts Every Sweets Lover Needs to Know

All-American Classics

Classic Southern pecan pie recipe

​The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Southern home bakers know a thing or two about making divinely decadent desserts. From sweet potato and pecan pies to coconut and pineapple cakes, these recipes all come to us from below the Mason-Dixon line.

  • 01 of 18

    Mississippi Mud Cake

    Mississippi Mud Cake

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Rich and gooey Mississippi mud cake has won hearts all over America for good reason. What's not to love about fudgy chocolate cake filled with flaked coconut and pecans, then topped with marshmallow fluff, chocolate frosting, and extra nuts? Recreate the insanely indulgent Southern dessert in your kitchen with this classic recipe.

  • 02 of 18

    Classic Lemon Chess Pie

    Classic Lemon Chess Pie

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Southern baking has long been about making the most of what's at hand, which is how the classic chess pie came about. With a classic pastry shell and a simple filling made with sugar, eggs, butter, cornmeal, and salt, chess pie is proof that simple can be delicious. Swap the typical vinegar for lemon zest and juice for a brighter-tasting pie.

  • 03 of 18

    Bananas Foster

    Bananas Foster

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

    Impress family and friends with this flambeed banana dish that's an after-dinner show and dessert all in one! Add banana liqueur and rum to a skillet of warm, sauteed bananas and ignite the alcohol (use a long-handled fireplace match) for a delicious, showstopping treat. This now classic American dish was created by chefs at Brennan's restaurant in New Orleans.

  • 04 of 18

    Hummingbird Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

    Classic hummingbird cake recipe

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

    Hummingbird cake is a popular Southern party dessert that features pineapple, bananas, pecans, and cinnamon. It traces its origins to Jamaica, but became an instant Southern classic in the 1970s, when a home baker in North Carolina submitted the recipe to Southern Living magazine. Bake up three layers of tender, moist cake and top with rich cream cheese frosting.

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  • 05 of 18

    Texas Sheet Cake With Chocolate Frosting

    Texas Sheet Cake With Chocolate Frosting

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    They say everything is bigger in the Lone Star State and this sheet cake fits the bill. It may take only 30 minutes to make, but it is undeniably rich and makes a statement on the table. The classic recipe features pecans, which grow abundantly in Texas, and a buttery chocolate frosting.

  • 06 of 18

    Fresh Peach Cobbler

    Fresh Peach Cobbler

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    A time-honored celebration of the South's bountiful summer fruit, a peach cobbler is mighty easy to bake in about 30 minutes. Enjoy it all year round with this recipe, which works well with fresh or thawed frozen peaches.

  • 07 of 18

    Kentucky Butter Bundt Cake

    Kentucky Butter Bundt Cake

    The Spruce

    Serve this fabulous Kentucky butter bundt cake at your next get together and prepare for oohs and aahs. The secret to its richness is in the hot butter sauce that's poured over the baked cake, which soaks into every nook and cranny.

  • 08 of 18

    Coconut Layer Cake

    Coconut layer cake

    The Spruce / Teena Angel

    Coconut cake is a real Southern tradition and this lovely layer cake would make a fabulous Derby Day dessert or a special treat for family dinners. Use coconut milk and fresh coconut for a double-whammy of nutty flavor, and top the cake with fluffy coconut frosting. Yum!

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  • 09 of 18

    Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake With Peanut Butter Frosting

    Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake With Peanut Butter Frosting

    The Spruce

    Southerners love their mayonnaise, which you use to replace eggs and oil in this classic chocolate cake topping it with fluffy peanut butter frosting. Slice into squares for serving and scatter some chopped peanuts over top for a pretty presentation.

  • 10 of 18

    Mississippi Sweet Potato Pie

    Mississippi Sweet Potato Pie

    The Spruce

    Sweet potato pie is a true Southern icon. This vintage Mississippi recipe produces two, single-crust pies with a similar texture and flavor to pumpkin pie, but a little bit sweeter. Serve it as a sweet ending for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

  • 11 of 18

    Louisiana King Cake

    Louisiana King Cake

    Erik Rank/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Do as Southerners do and make a tri-color Louisiana king cake to celebrate Epiphany, when the three kings arrived bearing gifts for baby Jesus. The traditional cake—enjoyed by Mardi Gras goers—is made with a delicious, cinnamon-roll style dough, inside which you can hide a plastic baby doll for a fun surprise.

  • 12 of 18

    Bourbon Apple Pie With Raisins and Pecans

    Bourbon Apple Pie With Raisins and Pecans

    Louise Lister/StockFood Creative/Getty Images

    Kentuckians love to sneak bourbon into their recipes. It adds wonderful, caramel-like flavor to this delicious apple pie. Soak toasted pecans and raisins in bourbon, before adding the nuts, fruit, and liquor to the apple pie filling. Use your go-to double-crust pastry recipe or try our buttery version.

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  • 13 of 18

    New Orleans Bread Pudding With Whiskey Sauce

    New Orleans Bread Pudding With Whiskey Sauce

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    New Orleans is a modern foodie mecca and their wonderful restaurants feature many delicious baked puddings. This elevated bread pudding evokes the classic flavors of French Quarter cooking, with soft, eggy French bread, booze-infused raisins, creamy vanilla custard, and rich whiskey sauce.

  • 14 of 18

    Old-Fashioned Banana Pudding

    Banana pudding

    Andre Baranowski/Getty Images

    Banana pudding is down-home comfort food at its best and makes an indulgent after-school treat or weekend dessert. Whip up a batch in about half an hour, layering crispy vanilla wafers with rich banana custard and finishing with an optional topping of sweetened meringue.

  • 15 of 18

    Kentucky Transparent Pie

    Kentucky Transparent Pie

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Transparent pie is a scrumptious Kentucky tradition that originated in the state's frontier days, when pies requiring no refrigeration were the thing. Make the chilled, one-crust pie served at Southern Thanksgiving dinners, with a rich, custard-like filling of eggs, brown sugar, butter, flour, vanilla, and heavy cream.

  • 16 of 18

    Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

    Pineapple upside down cake

    The Spruce / Kristini Vanni

    Pineapple upside-down cake is thought to hail from pre-oven days, when Southerners cooked desserts in skillets set over fires. Use your oven for this modern version, layering pineapple rings and juice, butter, and brown sugar at the bottom of the baking pan, for a pretty, caramelized topping when the cake is inverted. Garnish with optional maraschino cherries.

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  • 17 of 18

    Southern Pecan Pie

    Classic Southern pecan pie recipe

    ​The Spruce / Teena Agnel

    Old-fashioned pecan pie is an essential Thanksgiving dessert, but this Southern heirloom recipe can be enjoyed in every season. Bake up a classic pie with a butter-and-shortening pastry crust, and a dense, rich, sugary filling loaded with toasty pecans. Allow the pie to cool and set thoroughly before slicing.

  • 18 of 18

    Three-Layer Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake

    3-Layer Kentucky Blackberry Jam Cake

    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    Three-layer Kentucky blackberry jam cake is a moist, sweet, and tangy regional dessert. Make the cake batter with seedless fruit preserves, pecans, buttermilk, raisins, and warming spices. This cake is often finished with caramel icing, but a cream cheese frosting will work well, too.