Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Traditional Southern Funeral Foods

The celebration of a loved ones life always includes the gathering and breaking of bread. Here's a list of some of our favorite and traditional funeral food recipes.

The Cajun and I attended a funeral yesterday and the gathering of the family after, made me think of southern traditions that are centered around food, this being one of them.

Ever been on vacation in the south and wondered why people pull over and stop on the opposite side of the road when a funeral procession is passing? Click here to learn about that and other southern funeral traditions.

Aside from the casseroles and other dishes that make their way to the home of those suffering, once the funeral service is over, and the procession has carried the deceased to their final resting place, all of the friends and family gather, either returning to the church hall or else to a private residence, and the party begins.

Done pot luck style and never in a restaurant, everybody brings their favorite dishes and all of the family and friends gather, eat, chat and catch up with one another and reminisce about the departed. Don't be at all surprised if somebody breaks out some music and the dancing and general merriment commence - a celebration of life and the passing of a loved one into eternity in their next life is reason for celebration down south.

Traditional Southern Funeral Foods

Perfect Southern Iced Tea
Party Punch
Southern Fruit Iced Tea
Cold Pressed Iced Coffee

Cornbread Salad
Old Fashioned Seven Layer Salad
Fire 'n Ice Salad
Shrimp and Salad

Ham Salad Tea Sandwiches
Mississippi Caviar Salsa
Deviled Eggs
Pimento Cheese Tea Sandwiches
Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches
Cucumber Dill Tea Sandwiches

Tri-Color Rotini Pasta Salad
Shrimp and Bow Tie Pasta Salad
Ham and Macaroni Salad
Creamy Pasta Salad
Shrimp and Macaroni Salad
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad
Macaroni and Olive Salad

Cold Baked Potato Salad
Southern Style Potato Salad
Gumbo Potato Salad
Cajun Potato Salad
Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

King Ranch Casserole
Crunchy Beef and Onion Casserole
Chuck Wagon Casserole
Shipwreck Casserole
Hot Chicken Salad Casserole

Southern Chicken Casserole
Traditional Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
Chicken & Spaghetti Casserole
Chili Spaghetti

Chicken Spaghetti
Spaghetti Daube
Baked Ziti
Beef & Sausage Goulash
Hamburger Hot Dish Casserole
Beef Andouille and Mushroom Lasagna
Classic Grape Jelly Meatballs

Southern Chicken and Cornbread Dressing
Chicken and Herb Dressing Casserole
Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole
Old Fashioned Homestyle Chicken and Noodles
Cheese and Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
Chicken Noodle Casserole
Seafood and Eggplant Casserole

Shrimp Gumbo
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

Cajun Glazed Ham
Baked Ham
Baked Chicken
Southern Fried Chicken

Potatoes au Gratin
Scalloped Potatoes
Ultra Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole
Funeral Potatoes - Classic Sour Cream Hash Brown Casserole
Truck Stop Potatoes

Spicy Rice and Corn Casserole
Broccoli and Rice Casserole with Cheese
Broccoli and Cheese Casserole
Scalloped Cabbage
Southern Succotash
Layered Squash and Tomato Cassserole
Macaroni and Cheese
Southern Style Baked Beans

Watergate Salad
Cherry Coke Salad
Chocolate Sin
My Blueberry Heaven Pie

Sock it To Me Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Jimmy Carter Cake
Southern Pecan Pie Muffins
Almond Joy Cake

Homemade Banana Pudding
Mississippi Mud Bars
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Moon Pie Banana Pudding

Fresh Citrus Cake
Mandarin Orange Cake
Banana Cream Pie Dessert
Layered Banana Split Dessert
Chocolate Chip Cookies

Strawberry Cake with Coconut and Pecan
Texas Sheet Cake
Red Velvet Cake
Southern Pound Cake
Apple Dapple Cake with Maple Glaze
Lazy Daisy Cake
Southern Sweet Potato Bread
Banana Bread


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  1. I think the traditions of Southern funerals are some of the most respectful around. I've been through several and the visitors, the food, and the procession never ceased to amaze me.

    Sadly though, fewer and fewer folks pull over lately. I realize that some of that is the increased "portability" of people moving around the country and not being familiar with local customs.

  2. I've never lived in a Northern state where people don't pull over, in both directions. Matter of fact it is a traffic law in most states, since the procession ignores stoplights and stop signs, it's necessary. It has nevr stopped in Indianan, Ohio, and Florida, for sure. At some point it also remains a gesture of respect.

  3. OMG... My wife has this book. She has bought several copies for gifts for family and friends, and has highlighted what she expects served at her funeral!

    This is so funny... real quick, my mother shows up in this book ALOT (figuratively). My wife and my mother's relationship was polite but strained. I think she secretly blamed her for my first marriage split (although i did not even know her at the time). My wife gave her a copy of this book as a gift... about two days latter, my mother called and wanted to talk to Jackie... they laughed on the phone til the batteries went dead reading their favorite parts.

    Maybe I can talk my wife into a cook through book project for this book!

    Great stories

    There is a second book by the same team of authors about Southern Weddings called,

    "Somebody is Going to Die if Lilly Beth Doesn't Catch that Bouquet"... equal to the funeral book in every way

    1. I have that "Somebody is Going To die if Lilly Beth doesn't Catch that Bouquet" book and LOVE it!

  4. This is SO true! My mom (in her mid 50s) is now one of the "old ladies" of the community who is always asked to contribute to funeral dinners in the town where I grew up. All of the actual "old ladies" are too old to help out now...or it's their funerals the meals are being prepared for. No matter which church hosts the funeral, the meal is always at the community building and people from various churches contribute to the meal.

    Interestingly, the tradition in the town where I now live (about 8 miles away) is entirely different. There is a Food Committee at THE church and all of the people on the food committee bring a specified dish: ham, sliced cheese, rolls, potato salad (they are all supposed to use the same recipe), and/or sheet cake. Then all of the potato salads are mixed up (ew) and the cakes are sliced and the meal is served family style, with platters and bowls of everything on each table. The meal is the same at every funeral.

    1. I guess mixing up all the potato salads sounds better than what they do at my church. They have a "chili dump" and all the chili recipes get dumped into a big pot!

    2. Oh yeah... don't think that's a great idea with chili, unless of course, like Lisa mentioned they are all making the same chili recipe. Course, I don't know... how does it taste?! If they are using all different recipes there can be a wild variety of chili recipes!

    3. When the head cook had enough faith in you at our church.... after at least 10 years of marriage... you were gifted with "the potato salad recipe" for 10 pounds of potatoes and it was all dumped together also. It really blended quite well! By the way... the recipe is secret! :)

  5. Mary, here in Missouri, traditions are similar. Although I'm not Catholic, our church always serves a big dinner to the family of the deceased, and our police always escort the cars from the funeral home or church, to the gravesite. I almost always help with the funeral dinners, except when babysitting now. We always serve baked ham and hashed brown potato cassarole, maybe mashed potato cassarole, an assortment of desserts, and more. I'm very glad that I live in an area where we take care of peole like that!

    Enjoyed this post!

  6. Very interesting. I am going to star this in my reader and I have to try some of them. Thank you, this is a great post.

  7. I thought, when I moved here to Orlando, that no one ever dies, I never see processions at all. And they never have funeral services for people, GASP! and no food! They just cremate them, and go about their lives, strange to southern people I know. I like the tradition of the wake, the funeral service in the church, the service at the grave site, the after funeral feast at the host's home, and the 2 week long (or more) food feast that follows. Everyone should do it our way.

  8. I too love our southern traditions. It amazes me when people move to the south and we start taking dinners after they had a baby or a casserole after surgery, that many have never heard of doing such acts. I also love that connected feeling when we pull over for the departed and family.
    Thanks for sharing. You are a very talented writer!

  9. I loved the second book of that series ("Some Day You'll Thank Me for This,") but haven't read the "Being Dead is No Excuse." Thanks for the reminder!

    This sounds about like every Southern post-funeral gathering I've ever attended! Thanks.

    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen
    Mystery Writing is Murder

  10. And Mac and Cheese too! We always eat good at the Southern funerals. The Italians are pretty good at it too. In TX we pull over all the time for funerals, in VA we dont'- don't know why though. My uncle tells this story about his friend. His friend tried to pull over for a funeral and lost control of his rig, hit the hearse, the coffin fell out and his friend was killed. CRAZY!! I'll have to look for that book.

  11. I haven't been to a Southern funeral, but the traditions sound pretty similar to those of my rural Indiana upbringing, complete with a big church potluck afterward. My grandma usually heads them up : ). At my church here I've joined the women that provide food for funerals and I get an email with a category(salad, casserole, dessert, etc.) when there's a funeral. Technology is so handy.

    Oh, and I can't imagine NOT pulling over for a funeral procession, no matter which side of the road I am on. How disrespectful can you get?!

    I've read most of these recipes at one time or another on your blog and they all look delicious. You've gotta have comfort food for the grieving!

  12. What happened to the baked chicken recipe? Its no longer available.

  13. Hi SkinnyB! It was just a broken link apparently - I've fixed it now. You can find the roasted chicken here -

  14. You made me laugh with tears in my eyes. Every funeral I have been to that had a church meal afterwards. Served Baked Ham, Tossed Salad, Potato Salad, Hash Brown Casserole (aka Funeral Potatoes) and desserts. Love the post about passing out the book with highlighted recipes to people for your own funeral. My own will have plenty of hooch & lots of merriment I hope. Maybe they can host it at the Harley-Davidson Dealership!! booyah ya'll!!

  15. Great site taht is set up nicely. Awesome recipes and tips. Love the pictures. I'll be back, soon.

  16. Thanks so much - I work at it pretty hard! Hope that you come back & enjoy!

  17. Mary, I just got off the phone with a lady from church that wanted to know what I would be bringing Monday for the funeral! I came straight to your page :) I am bringing the Texas sheet cake by the way.

  18. Hi Carrie! That cake is always a hit & great for funeral food. So sorry for your loss.

  19. I have the "Being Dead is No Excuse" book and love it! Makes me want to take it out and read it again! Hadn't heard of the other books, I'll have to look them up. As far as pulling over, I do it, but I have to be careful about it when I'm in Florida. They don't even want to pull over for emergency vehicles!!! It's pathetic how self-centered so many people are these days. God help us all!

  20. Oh! I see you found the page Kit!! Amen to that - most people still do pull over here, well, when it's safe to. Isn't that a great book? Love it and the others! It's time for a new one I think.

  21. I live in central Florida and we always pull over for funerals. We're very southern in the small towns as most of our parents/grandparents came from the southeastern states. The more metropolitan areas of Florida have few true Floridians anymore, so I'm not surprised that you haven't seen the respect our smaller towns and cities show.

    1. Hey Marty! I have heard that about the smaller towns of Florida & that being where true Floridians are these days. I know the state of Florida has been pretty much taken over, but in my heart I knew there were still some southerners there somewhere!

  22. What would be a good dish to bring to a friend who just had a baby?!

    1. Oh gosh, just about anything really! One pot meals like taco soup or beans with a side of rice, pulled pork in the crockpot, or casseroles that are meal in one, like baked spaghetti, burrito or enchilada casserole, chicken enchiladas, baked ziti, meatloaf, just add salad!

  23. LOL oh Mary! Had to come straight to your site for advice on "funeral foods" for the southerner. Mississippi born Dad, age 96 just passed and my Tennessee born mom doesn't want to serve any food! Says the last six funerals she's attended didn't offer any more than a handshake goodbye. Could not believe it or her. Yes, we'll serve food, but since he gave up going to church years ago there's no church group to help. Bless you for all the great ideas and recipes - now I don't have to think, just cook. All these suggestions are wonderful to have at this time.

    1. Oh Bonita, somehow I missed this when you originally posted but I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm glad you found some help in this post.

  24. I read this book. Loved it. Being in Texas, some didn't actually apply to us but most did. It is worth reading. Just for the laughs. And the truth. LOL

    1. It's a great little funeral resource isn't it, and there's some good recipes in there too!

  25. Very is good articles. I was born and lived in Russia til I was 22. I came to America and settled in South Carolina. I married big john Wayne southern boy. I am amazed at southern kindness and thought. Is so touching. When we have had hard times there has always been a cake, cookies, Cass-a-roll etc. When I had our first of 3 babies people brought all kinds if goodies for us. Put them in freezer to have all the time I was on maternity leave. When my husband father pass the out pouring of care and food was overwhelming. I have learned the "good ol boy " foods but do throw in my own sometimes. I have had many people request I made borchet for them for funerals and such. Very comforting. So grateful to this country. Russian by birth, now American Southerner by grace of god.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and share this. Things are politically turbulent right now, but there is good to be found. Welcome to the Deep South Dish family! I hope to hear from you again.

  26. My brother-in-law has passed recently, and I'm just stuck not really knowing what to do. After searching and finding the mortuary, and securing that, a family member secured the church for the service...Now what? Though I believe the church will have a room after the service for the repass; do I bring the foods, does the church? I'm not an aggressive or verbal type person, and hate asking people to do anything, and feel so overwhelmed with the final pieces that need to be done, programs for the funeral, flowers, do I need to make arrangements for family members coming from out of town, foods, etc... I've never done anything like this before, but it doesn't seems like anyone else is kicking in to's not even my brother, and didn't know him that well, but for my husband, I feel like I need to take it...otherwise, it will turn out to be a complete mess.

    the service is November 11, 2017. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you Teri

    1. I'm so sorry for your loss. Please contact the funeral home and the church and tell them of your dilemma and that you've never done this before and don't know what to do or where to start. They have both handled the process for many, many years and will be able to give you guidance, especially for what is most traditional for the area where you live and relieve a lot of the stress you are feeling.

      In most cases here where I live, family gathers either at the home of one of the immediate family members or at the church hall to socialize and eat. It depends on how many people are coming, but folks should reach out to you if they know who to reach out to, otherwise contact a close family member who can give you names and phone numbers of other friends and family, so that you can let folks know there will be a gathering after the funeral and where. Most often the host and immediate family make a few basic dishes and then often people just show up with a covered dish, like they do at a potluck. Just let them know that it will happen and they are welcome to bring a covered dish.


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