Pass the chicken, pass the pie
At first glance, a Southern funeral spread looks part special holiday feast, part celebratory potluck. The impressive lineup of casseroles, warm and cold salads, stately hams and rotisserie chickens, pans of cornbread, and baskets of rolls is fit for the coronation of a king; but in this case, it’s for a very different occasion. It really is true when they say: “Nobody in the world eats better than a bereaved Southerner.” And don’t forget the desserts. The delicious array of pound cakes, pies, jello creations, coffee cakes, and biscuits give every sweet ounce of condolence you need in a time of grieving. Southern funeral food is all about providing comfort to those in attendance and honoring those who are not. Here are the staple Southern comfort classics you’ll see on every funeral reception menu.
Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
There's little more comforting that melty, creamy macaroni and cheese—and this classic recipe will feed a funeral crowd without sacrificing an ounce of flavor.
Recipe: Ham Biscuits
There might not be anything better for the heart than a fluffy buttermilk biscuit accompanied by country ham. Pair these with our newest spreads—Creole Mayonnaise, Chive-Radish Compound Butter, Spicy Orange-Peach Butter, and Pecan Cheese Spread—and every guest’s need will be satisfied.
Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad
Recipe: Shout Hallelujah Potato Salad
This Southern classic belongs on the funeral spread just as much as with our Easter ham or at our summer picnics. This traditional version always pleases the crowd—who generally thinks their plate deserves at least a little spoonful of it, no matter what.
Mama's Fried Chicken
Recipe: Mama's Fried Chicken
For reasons unknown, you simply can't beat the comforting touch of perfectly crispy fried chicken, making it a staple at wakes across the South.
Recipe: Chicken-Spaghetti Casserole
This vintage classic is Mama-approved, making it an obvious staple at any reception or for any condolence gift. The ingredient list might be short and simple, but the helpings are packed with flavor.
Classic Fresh Field Peas
Recipe: Classic Fresh Field Peas
We're hard pressed to find a situation that can't benefit from the addition of a ham hock, and a Southern funeral is no exception.
Recipe: Funeral Potatoes
Like their name suggests, funeral potatoes are Southerners' most faithful attendee at wakes and for condolence gifts. The hashbrown-based casserole usually includes plenty of cheese, a cream-based soup, onions, butter, and a flaky, crunchy topping, which is usually made of potato chips or corn flakes.
Recipe: Southern-Style Collard Greens
Even if we don’t serve collard greens at every funeral, they always deserve a place on funeral spreads honoring a true Southern soul food lover.
We're not sure any funeral spread would be right without a poppyseed casserole. Odds are, you’ve seen this comforting casserole everywhere from wakes to potlucks to Mama’s house.
Recipe: Ben Mims' Perfect Cornbread
Funeral spreads can always use a few full dishes of this classic comfort food.
New Tuna Casserole
Recipe: New Tuna Casserole
We updated this old-fashioned recipe to be creamier, cheesier, and crunchier; but it still lives on as a classic sympathy dish in the South.
Classic Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes
Cheesy scalloped potatoes fosters comradery between Southerners like no other, making the dish a great big helping of comfort during grieving.
Honey-Bourbon Glazed Ham
Recipe: Honey-Bourbon Glazed Ham
Make this bourbon-glazed, clove-studded ham the focal point of your spread.
King Ranch Chicken
Recipe: King Ranch Chicken
Spice up the offerings with this longtime favorite. The cheesy Mexican dish is packed with smoked chicken, sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, and green chiles for a flavor-bursting combination.
5-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork
You probably have these five ingredients on hand, so you’re already on your way to helping supply one of the most appreciated and versatile components of the Southern funeral spread.
Smoky Sausage-and-Grits Casserole
This savory casserole of smoked sausage, grits, and Cheddar cheese works for just about any occasion or at any time of day, but it really makes a great fit for late-morning receptions where everyone needs a little extra indulgent comfort.
Recipe: Picnic Egg Salad
Whether it's served with crostinis or on tea-sized sandwiches, classic egg salad provides a simple sense of familiarity for those grieving.
Recipe: Cocktail Meatballs
While we love the ones our mamas made with chili sauce and grape jelly, these meatballs are another crowd-pleaser. This recipe mixes ground beef with the sweet, the tart, and the unexpected: brown sugar, lemon juice, and horseradish, to make the perfect mini bite.
Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage
Recipe: Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage
This Italian dish is hearty, flavorful, and super quick to make.
Cheesy Broccoli-and-Rice Casserole
You pretty much can't go wrong with this old-school casserole. Without even a dollop of creamy canned soup, it'll stay fresh and delicious as the hours pass.
Creamy Grape Salad
Recipe: Creamy Grape Salad
Funeral spreads aren't complete without plenty of cold salads, and this grape-studded dish is deliciously creamy but gets a slight crunch from chopped pecans.
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
Recipe: Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
This Creole classic has been supplying support and comfort to grieving Southerners for decades, and this recipe is a no-brainer because it’s easy to make, full of delicious ingredients, and comes together in less than an hour!
Classic Deviled Eggs
Recipe: Classic Deviled Eggs
Plop a tray of traditional deviled eggs down at any Southern gathering, and you'll find them gone before anything else. A hearty batch of these will make the funeral spread complete.
Recipe: Pineapple Casserole
This sweet, cheesy, and savory casserole full of chunks of pineapple will bring some nostalgic solace to any group of grieving Southerners. Double up this recipe for a hearty 13x9 version.
Recipe: Tomato Aspic
While this dish is no less polarizing than the great Southern barbecue sauce debate, it's a beloved staple at old-fashioned Southern affairs. Even just seeing it at a reception will provide a little warmth and comfort.
Marbled Pecan Pound Cake
Recipe: Marbled Pecan Pound Cake
Pound cake quite literally packs more consolation per pound than any other dessert, and this marbled pecan pound cake recipe is simple and not overly sweet.
Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
Recipe: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
This 13x9 version of the old-school classic makes it even easier to prepare and transport to any wake, and the crowd will scrape that dish clean.
Zesty Lemon Pie
Recipe: Zesty Lemon Pie
You'll pair amazing citrus flavor with a beautful presentation if you make sure to add a mound of fresh whipped cream, lemon slices, and fresh mint leaves to this beloved pie.
Chocolate Icebox Pie
Recipe: Chocolate Icebox Pie
This cool decadent dessert will bring sweet joy to any summer reception, and the pretty presentation of pecan and candy bar pieces over fluffy whipped cream doesn't hurt either.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Recipe: Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Is any Southern wake complete without a jello salad? This strawberry gelatin, cream cheese, whipped topping, and pretzel creation has been making appearances on the funeral scene for decades past.