When you think of Alabama, visions of southern hospitality, beautiful natural scenery, and a vibrant cultural heritage likely come to mind. But the Heart of Dixie is also a state brimming with delicious, iconic dishes that are an essential part of its identity. From old-fashioned comfort foods to unique regional specialties, Alabama’s cuisine tells the story of its history and people.

At the top of the list is Alabama’s famous White Barbecue Sauce. Unlike the thick, tomato-based sauces popular in other barbecue hotbeds, this tangy, mayonnaise-based sauce is the perfect complement to smoked chicken. Originating in northern Alabama, it provides a delightful contrast to the richness of the meat. Recipes can include ingredients like vinegar, horseradish, brown sugar, and cayenne. Slather it on and prepare for barbecue bliss.

No discussion of Alabama food is complete without mentioning Lane Cake. This decadent, multi-layered dessert was born in the state and features a rich frosting made with egg yolks, butter, and sugar. Legend has it that the cake was a 19th-century gift for an Alabama newcomer to help her travel “along the lane” to her new home. Today, it remains an iconic part of celebratory gatherings.

Fried Green Tomatoes are another can’t-miss Alabama classic. Unripe green tomatoes are dipped in cornmeal batter and fried until crispy on the outside and firm yet juicy inside. Often served as an appetizer or side, they make for the ultimate contrast of tang and crunch. Restaurants across the state offer their own twist, but purists stick to the simple recipe.

Finally, Banana Pudding is a staple on Alabama tables from Huntsville to Mobile. This old-fashioned, creamy dessert combines custard, vanilla wafers, and fresh banana slices. Many restaurants and home cooks put their own spin on it by folding in meringue or crumbled vanilla cookies. It’s cool, comforting, and completely crave-worthy.

From fish frys to church picnics, Alabama’s cuisines evolved from humble traditions and local, seasonal ingredients. But today, they are celebrated as a source of pride for this unique southern state. So grab a forkful of lane cake or a fried green tomato – a true taste of Alabama awaits.