Tennessee is home to delicious and comforting Southern food like no other. If you’re planning to visit this wonderful and diverse state, you can’t complete your trip without trying some of its signature foods and drinks.
Whether you like comfort in a plate or have a sweet tooth, the restaurants of Tennessee have something for everyone. From perfectly cooked BBQ and refreshing sweet tea to decadent blackberry cobbler and savory country ham, there’s no shortage of flavors in this state.
If you’re visiting soon, you’re at the right place. Keep reading to learn all about the menu you should be trying in Tennessee!
17 Foods and Drinks to Enjoy in Tennessee
- Hot Chicken
You simply can’t visit a Southern state and not try their chicken! Tennessee has delicious chicken in all forms worth trying, whether it’s fried chicken coated in a spicy cayenne-based glaze or some broast with a side of coleslaw.
There’s no doubt that BBQ is a Southern specialty, so you’ll find tons of it in Tennessee. But if you’re looking for the best BBQ in the state, we recommend exploring Memphis and East Tennessee. You’ll find pulled pork, ribs, and brisket paired with signature sauces.
- Goo Goo Cluster
Goo Goo Cluster sounds pretty strange, but it’s a must-try for any visitor with a sweet tooth visiting Tennessee. With a delicious mix of caramel, marshmallow, peanuts, and chocolate, Goo Goo Clusters are a decadent piece of candy you can take home. The best way to enjoy them is while walking and exploring the state.
- Moonshine Cocktails
Almost all bars and distilleries in Tennessee offer their own twist on moonshine cocktails. The best part is that these cocktails come in all sorts of flavors, with something for every palate. Some of the most popular flavors are Sour Gummy Worm, Dirty Dill, and Spiked Peach Punch.
- Biscuits and Gravy
Nothing says comfort food like Tennessee’s signature biscuits and gravy. They’re a Southern classic and make for the best breakfast dish to fill you up before you start the day. Many breakfast spots in Tennessee offer delicious and fluffy biscuits smothered in creamy sausage gravy.
- Jack Daniel’s Whiskey
Of course, you can find Jack Daniel’s whiskey in any state, but there’s something special about having it in Tennessee. The best part is that you can visit the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, where they’ll let you sample various whiskey varieties. Your guide will even educate you about the distillation process.
- Fried Catfish
If seafood is your cup of tea, you can’t leave Tennessee without trying out their fried catfish. Often served with a plethora of special sauces, this crispy and savory treat will melt in your mouth and make you fall in love at the first bite. It’s definitely worth a try!
- Blackberry Cobbler
Tennessee’s blackberry cobbler is decadent and truly scrumptious. While the cobbler itself is sweet, tangy, and perfectly cooked, the buttery crust is the perfect topping to this dish, making the flavors burst in your mouth. It’s the perfect way to finish off a savory meal full of Southern-style grits and moonshine.
- Country Ham
Believe us when we say country ham is better than any other kind of ham you’ve tried. Since it’s dry-aged and cured, country ham is flavorful and truly delicate. It’s mostly served as a breakfast food with crispy toast or as part of a classic and hearty Southern meal.
- Sweet Tea
If you’re visiting Tennessee on one of its sweltering summer days, the state’s signature sweet iced tea will quickly become a daily essential. It’s sweet, tangy, refreshing, and everything you need in a quintessential Southern beverage. There’s no better way to quench your thirst on a hot Tennessee day.
- Southern-Style Grits
Another must-have during your trip to Tennessee is a side of Southern-style grits. They’re creamy, cheesy, flavorful, and hearty. You’ll find yourself ordering them as a side for every meal you have in the state! It’s safe to say that the mashed potatoes of Tennessee are truly addicting, served best with a dollop of butter.
- Banana Pudding
Looking for a simple dessert to finish off your meal without having something too sweet or overwhelming? Well, the state of Tennessee has just the right thing for you. Banana pudding is simple yet decadent, making it the perfect sweet treat for those that like classics.
- Pulled Pork Sandwich
You can get pulled pork sandwiches anywhere, but the pulled pork in Tennessee is like no other! It’s succulent and slow-cooked, piled high on soft Brioche buns heightening its potential even more. They’re often served with a tangy barbecue sauce and crunchy coleslaw.
- Coca-Cola Cake
A Coca-Cola cake may sound pretty strange, but it’s more delicious than you think. The caramel notes of the cola are surprisingly decadent in a cake, complimenting the rich frosting and chopped pecan toppings. It’s a delightful, sweet treat that’s quintessentially Tennessee.
- Pimento Cheese
If you’re a cheese lover, you’ll absolutely love the pimento cheese found in Tennessee. It’s creamy, zesty, and spreadable as the perfect combination of cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and pimento peppers. The best way to elevate any snack is by spreading pimento cheese on your crackers and bread.
- Chess Pie
Another must-try for those with a sweet tooth is the classic chess pie of the South, with a buttery, sugary filling and a hint of cornmeal. It’s simple yet decadent, enjoyed best with a dollop of whipped cream.
- Tennessee Whiskey Cake
Tennessee whiskey cake is rich and moist, infused with their signature Jack Daniel’s whiskey and topped with toasted pecans or caramel sauce for a sweet finish. It’s not too sweet, making it perfect for someone who wants a simple and classic dessert.
Tennessee has many beautiful sights and adventurous tourist spots, but the state has much more to offer than just the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s also home to a wide array of Southern food catering to all sorts of palates. Whether you’re in the mood for something sweet, savory, or tangy, the restaurants of Tennessee have it all!