How to Host a Southern-Style Summer Party

The key to throwing a good Southern-style party is sharing good food with friends that are like family.

Whether you live in the South or not, here’s how to get that vibe at your laid-back summer party. Capture true Southern hospitality by opening your doors to friends, neighbors and even strangers—they won’t be strangers for long. Serve endless batches of fried chicken, peach cobbler and, of course, pies. Savor time with each guest, all while sipping from a lemonade-filled mason jar.

What to Make for a Southern Party

Fill the menu with classics. Start people off with a glass of icy lemonade, sweet tea or a Kentucky Lemonade if they want a boozy kick.

When it’s time to eat, make sure everyone gets a scoop of this Southern potato salad. Want a tip? To chop hard-boiled eggs in a flash, use a grid-style cooling rack. Position the rack over a bowl and push the peeled egg through. It’s faster—and less slippery—than chopping by hand.

Whether the party is on your veranda, in the dining room or outside on the lawn, give your tables some fresh Southern charm with a beautiful seafoam striped table runner ($29). It’ll help keep down on the cleanup, too.

Southern Recipes to Make This Summer
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Fried Food Tips

Taste of Home

It’s not a Southern-style party without some fried food! Whether you’re dishing up fried chicken with gravy, hush puppies or fried pickles, get to know a few Southern secrets to making any fried food better before you begin:

  • Use the right oil: Common oils, like olive oil, have a low smoke point, which means that you can’t bring them to a high enough heat without ruining the dish. Instead, opt for a neutral alternative such as canola or peanut oil.
  • Season your batter well: Adding some seasoning to the batter before you deep fry your ingredients is essential. Beyond simple salt and pepper, you could include a kick from a pinch of cayenne, garlic powder or chili flakes. Experiment a little until you figure out what works for you.
  • Dry before you fry: Pat down chicken before you add the batter to get rid of any moisture. This small step means that the finished product will be extra crispy!

Slather Everything in Barbecue Sauce

Pulled pork, slow-cooked chicken and ribs are just better with barbecue sauce. Check out our favorites below, and see the complete list here: The 10 Best Bottled & Jarred Barbecue Sauce Brands.

These are the regional barbecue sauce recipes every grill master should know.

And for Dessert…

If you think of classic Southern desserts, peach cobbler probably jumps out right away. Iva’s Peach Cobbler is one of our faves (make it in one of these 13×9 pans). Fresh peaches are key here. If you’re able to pluck them from a tree in your backyard, lucky you! If you’re picking them out at the grocery store, look at the color and texture. Fresh peaches should be a deep, golden yellow with red blush and should be soft and a little wrinkly around the stem. For more tips, check out How to Make Peach Cobbler from Scratch.

Find More Spins on Classic Peach Cobbler
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Southern Pie Secrets

Taste of Home

It’s no secret that mighty good pies come from the South. Up your pie game with these decadent Southern pie recipes, like peach pie, Key lime pie and bourbon chocolate pecan pie. And if you’re not already a pie pro, follow these best-kept secrets for perfect pie crust:

  • Use ice-cold water: Make sure the water is truly ice-cold before measuring and adding it into the butter/flour mixture. This keeps the butter from melting as you mix the dough.
  • Bake on the bottom rack: Another way to avoid a soggy crust is to bake the pie on the bottom rack of the oven. The oven’s heating element is there. Keeping the pie as close to that as possible helps crisp up the bottom crust.
  • Get your oven really, really hot: If the recipe calls for starting the pie in a piping-hot oven, then reducing the temperature to complete baking, don’t skip this step! This initial heat blast helps the gluten set before the butter melts, preventing your pretty fluted edge from collapsing. When you turn down the temp, the pie can finish baking without getting burned edges.
  • Use a foil protector: Prevent the possibility of burned edges by loosely covering the edges of the pie crust with strips of aluminum foil if they’re browning too fast. Or you could invest in this reusable pie shield ($8).

Make your pie shine bright by baking it in one of these pie plates we can’t wait to get our hands on. Then step back and watch proudly as all your favorite people dig in. You just planned an amazing Southern-style summer party!

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Emily Racette Parulski
Emily Racette Parulski is a Senior Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in email newsletters. When she’s not writing about food, she’s baking something sweet to feed her chocolate obsession.