8 Foods You Must Try When Visiting Tennessee

8 Foods You Must Try When Visiting Tennessee
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Among the many things that Tennessee is known for, its delicious cuisine takes the top spot. From Memphis and Nashville to the charming small towns scattered throughout the state, you’ll find various restaurants, food trucks, and local eateries. Each serves up mouth-watering dishes that will satisfy any food lover’s cravings.

What’s even better is that Tennessee’s cuisine has diverse influences. You’ll find a mix of Southern, Cajun, and Appalachian flavors that create unique and irresistible dishes. International cuisines, such as Mexican and Asian, are also a popular addition to the state’s food scene.

So, considering the diverse food culture, it’s no surprise visitors feel overwhelmed when deciding what to eat when in Tennessee. To make it easier, here’s a list of eight foods you must try when visiting the Volunteer State.

Hot Chicken

A trip to Tennessee would be incomplete without indulging in the state’s iconic hot chicken. This local specialty, particularly famous in Nashville, takes traditional fried chicken to a fiery new level by marinating the meat in a potent spice blend, then breading and frying it. The result is a crispy, spicy, and mouth-watering chicken dish that will leave you wanting more.

You’ll find numerous restaurants serving hot chicken, each with its unique recipe and spice level. Pair it with a beverage to balance out the flavors and enjoy a true Tennessee dining experience. This refreshing drink can be paired with many dishes and is another must-try when visiting the state.


Tennessee’s barbecue scene is also a big draw for food lovers. From pulled pork to beef ribs, the state’s barbecue joints offer a variety of slow-cooked and smoky meats that will leave you licking your fingers.

Try the Memphis-style dry-rub ribs for a flavorful and tender experience, or opt for the classic pulled pork sandwich served with tangy barbecue sauce. Smoked brisket, pulled chicken, and sausage are other popular BBQ options that you can find at many restaurants in Tennessee. You can also try “meat and three” style restaurants, where you can choose a main meat dish and three sides to create your BBQ feast.

Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and gravy is a must-try Southern breakfast staple in Tennessee. This hearty dish consists of warm, flaky biscuits smothered in creamy sausage gravy and served with eggs and bacon as sides.

Many local restaurants serve their twist on this classic dish, so be sure to try it at multiple places to find your favorite version. It’s the perfect comfort food to start your day and will keep you full until lunchtime.

Fried Pies

You might have had pies before, but these southern fried pies are a whole new level of deliciousness. These hand-held treats are made with a flaky crust filled with various sweet fillings, such as apple, peach, or cherry. They are then fried to perfection and often served with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Fried pies are a popular dessert in Tennessee, and you can find them at local bakeries, food trucks, and even some restaurants. They are a perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth while exploring the state.

Pimento Cheese

Cheese lovers, you have to try this when in Tennessee. Pimento cheese is a yummy spread made with cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and diced pimentos. It can be served as an appetizer with crackers or used as a topping for burgers and sandwiches.

Pimento cheese is revered as the caviar of the South and is a staple at Tennessee’s picnics, potlucks, and tailgate parties. The perfect combination of creamy, tangy, and slightly spicy flavors makes it irresistible to locals and visitors alike. You can find it at multiple grocery stores and restaurants in Tennessee.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Another fried delicacy that Tennessee is famous for is fried green tomatoes. These tart and tangy tomatoes are coated in cornmeal and fried until crispy. They can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, or even a main course with toppings like remoulade sauce or ranch dressing.

Fried green tomatoes are popular throughout the Southern states, but they have a special place in the hearts of Tennesseans. You can find them on the menu at many traditional Southern restaurants in Tennessee, and they are a must-try for anyone looking to experience true Southern cuisine.

Goo Goo Clusters

A true Tennessee original, Goo Goo Clusters has been a beloved candy bar since 1912. They are made with caramel, marshmallow nougat, and peanuts, all covered in milk chocolate. This disk-shaped treat has been a favorite among Tennesseans for generations and will satisfy any sweet tooth.

Not only are Goo Goo Clusters a delicious snack, but they also hold a special place in history. They were the first candy bars to combine different ingredients. Goo Goo Clusters now come in various flavors, such as pecan and peanut butter. You can find them in many convenience stores, gift shops, and even at the Goo Goo Chocolate Co. in Nashville.

Stack Cake

Stack cake is a traditional Tennessee dessert consisting of multiple thin layers of cake with a fruit filling between each layer and frosting on the outside. The popular flavor is apple, but other fruits like blackberry or peach are also savored in Tennessee.

This cake tastes delicious and is a staple at many family gatherings and special occasions in Tennessee. You can buy stack cakes at local bakeries or make your own using traditional recipes. It’s a sweet and comforting taste of Tennessee that truly captures the essence of Southern hospitality and tradition.


Tennessee’s food scene is one that no food lover can resist. Its rich cultural history and diverse influences have created a unique blend of flavors that will tantalize your taste buds. From savory barbeque to sweet treats like Goo Goo Clusters and stack cakes, there is something for all palates to enjoy. Also, try Nashville hot chicken for a spicy kick, pimento cheese for a creamy indulgence, and fried pies for a delicious treat. Biscuits and gravy and fried green tomatoes are other must-try dishes in Tennessee. So, if you ever visit this beautiful state, come with an empty stomach to fully experience the delicious food it offers.

Published by: Martin De Juan

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