Martin Luther King Jr.’s Favorite Foods

Updated: Feb. 25, 2024

While celebrating the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr., we take a closer look at some of the things he loved to eat. Go-to dishes include Southern staples like fried chicken, collard greens and pecan pie. Read on for more!

American civil rights activists Andrew Young and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In addition to being an essential part of the civil rights movement in the United States, Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister, father, husband and proud Southerner. Here are the foods he loved to eat and share, according to his family and friends. Many are classic Southern foods we all love.

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Fried Chicken

It’s not surprising that a native of the South was a big fan of fried chicken. Those who knew MLK Jr. claimed he particularly enjoyed it as part of a big Sunday meal. (Read our fried chicken tips before you start frying.)

Get Our Recipe for Crispy Fried Chicken

Southern Bourbon Pecan Pie
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Pecan Pie

Dr. King’s dessert of choice was pecan pie, holding him true to those Georgia roots. People celebrate his life by eating this pecan dessert on his birthday each year.

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This light dessert with a made-up name comes from Dr. King’s mother’s recipe box. It consists of gelatin, whipped cream, marshmallows and fruit salad all molded together. It sounds just like our beloved retro dessert salads.

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Pickled Eggs

One of Dr. King’s favorite travel snacks was pickled pigs feet, and he never shied away from pickled eggs, either. The list of things you can pickle goes on and on!

Get Our Recipe for Pickled Eggs with Beets

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Smothered Steak

Dr. King reportedly loved smothered steak. He might have liked these Salisbury steak recipes, too.

Get Our Recipe for Smothered Round Steak

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Macaroni and Cheese

As far as Southern comfort foods go, nothing can top homemade macaroni and cheese. It was a Dr. King favorite.

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Peach Cobbler

Peach cobbler was a runner-up to pecan pie on Dr. King’s list of top desserts, and he loved his mother’s version most of all. How many of these Southern desserts have you tried?

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Collard Greens

Dr. King would’ve undoubtedly enjoyed this classic recipe for collards as part of a big family meal. Pair this dish with a piece of warm buttermilk cornbread.

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