The 24 Ingredients You'll Always Find In A Southern Pantry

Never run out of these basics.

pantry staples
Photo: Getty Images

Some pantry staples are universal, like pasta, flour, and sugar, but others are uniquely Southern. From Texas to Delaware, pantries are filled with grits, White Lily Flour , and Old Bay . There are bound to be plenty of baking basics in there too, from sweetened condensed milk to pecans. Then there are the condiments that Southerners rely on day after day, like hot sauce, mustard, and mayonnaise.

So many iconic Southern dishes start with humble pantry staples, like cornmeal for cornbread, or dried peas for Hoppin' John . This list is by no means exhaustive, but these are the items we're reaching for in our pantry regularly, and we bet you are too.

01 of 24

White Lily Flour

White Lily Flour

White Lily

This is a cult classic biscuit ingredient in the South. The lower protein content of this flour creates less gluten, and that means one tender biscuit.

02 of 24

Cornmeal

Cornmeal
sf_foodphoto/Getty Images

Sure, cornmeal is the key to cornbread, but in the South, that’s far from where its uses end. From cornmeal crusted fried green tomatoes to cornmeal waffles and pound cakes, you’ll find a sprinkle of it in recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus dessert.

03 of 24

Grits

white hominy grits
Getty Images

Served under shrimp or just topped with cheese, grits are always on hand in a Southern kitchen. Yellow or white, stone-ground or speckled, at least one type will be in the pantry.

04 of 24

Pecans

pecan nuts falling from glass container on wooden table background
Neydtstock/Getty Images

Whether you pronounce it PEE-can or puh-CAHN, it’s still a Southern staple. Nuts are widely used in Southern cuisine, but pecans have a special place in Southern hearts and recipes.

05 of 24

Peanuts and Peanut Butter

Chefs Refrigerate Peanut Butter
Yulia_Kotina/Getty Images

From boiled peanuts to cookies, both peanuts and peanut butter are must have ingredients. Pecans might win the popularity contest, but the humble peanut is just as delicious in our book.

06 of 24

Sugar

Piles of different kinds of sugar.
Sugar, cube sugar, icing sugar, crystal sugar, granulated sugar, rock sugar, cane sugar, brown sugar, muscovado sugar, demerara sugar.

Maximilian Stock Ltd. / Getty Images

Brown sugar, powdered sugar, and of course, granulated sugar are mandatory baking ingredients to keep on hand. Plus, sugar is vital for whipping up a pitcher of sweet tea at a moment's notice.

07 of 24

Hot Sauce

Tabasco, Crystal, and Texas Pete Hot Sauce
tabasco.com/baumerfoods.com/texaspete.com

Hot sauce is the ultimate Southern condiment (aside from mayo perhaps) and spices up everything from Bloody Marys to gumbo . Some folks prefer Tabasco, while our editors like Crystal, so keep a few different types in the pantry.

08 of 24

Jams, Jellies, and Preserves

Blackberry Jelly
Southern Living

You don't have to be a proficient canner to stock your pantry with jams, jellies, and preserves. Always on hand for biscuits and baking projects, a Southern kitchen is never without these sweet spreads.

09 of 24

Mayonnaise

Duke's Mayonnaise Jar
Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Whether team Duke's or Hellman's, everyone can agree mayo is a must. How else are you supposed to make Deviled Eggs ?

10 of 24

Honey

Best Honey Pots with Dippers
Crate & Barrel

From honey butter to honey mustard, Southerners aren't shy about using this naturally sweet ingredient to enhance vegetables, sweets, and of course, biscuits.

11 of 24

Shortening

Shortening
Getty Images

Butter is not better for everything. Don't get us wrong, we love butter for many things, but a Southerner knows when to use shortening in baking, Same goes for lard, and the flavor only it can impart. Plus, these shelf-stable fats are good to have on hand for when you're fresh out of butter.

12 of 24

Dried Beans

Camellia Red Beans Bag
Camellia

Red beans, black-eyed peas, or limas in a pinch, dried beans are dinner just waiting to happen. They might not be fancy, but cooked properly, they're a blank canvas for all sorts of flavorful meals.

13 of 24

Rice

Uncooked Jasmin Rice in Wood Bowl
Getty/BURCU ATALAY TANKUT

The star of casseroles , an easy way to bulk up soups, and a side dish mainstay, rice does it all. Having a few types on hand is always a good idea, both white and brown, as well as wild rice .

14 of 24

Vinegar

Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar
Hector Manuel Sanchez

Without vinegar there wouldn't be barbecue sauce, Chow Chow , pickles, or salad dressings. It adds a pop of flavor to peas and greens, plus its a multi-purpose cleaner, a true miracle product.

15 of 24

Pickles

Sweet Heat Garden Pickles
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Every Southerner knows that when we say pickles, we mean more than just bread and butter ones. A well-stocked Southern pantry has all the pickled goodies stored for a rainy day, from peppers to beets.

16 of 24

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Sweetened condensed milk tin
ninikas / Getty Images

Cracking open a can of sweetened condensed milk is always the beginning of something good. It's the key to great fudge, it caramelizes into silky dulce de leche, and it is the summertime sweetener behind your favorite ice box pies .

17 of 24

Worcestershire Sauce

A bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
© MCT via Getty Images

You might not know what exactly is in this sauce, but you do know it helps just about everything taste good. Meatloaf, burgers, even Chicken Spaghetti, wouldn't be the same without it.

18 of 24

Mustard

Dijon Mustard in a while bowl

RusN/Getty Images

No pantry is complete without at least three types of mustard. Classic yellow is a must, Creole too, and Dijon is a salad dressing go-to.

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Oil

Is vegetable oil healthy
dulezidar/Getty Images

At bare minimum, a Southern pantry will have one neutral oil, like canola or vegetable, and a flavorful oil like olive at the ready. Another Southern favorite to have on hand is peanut oil, especially for frying.

20 of 24

Broth and Bouillon

Homemade Turkey Stock
Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Whether its homemade and stocked in the freezer, or store-bought and tucked in the cabinet, there's always broth around for soups and stews. Bouillon is another pantry staple, for when you're fresh out of stock or looking to enhance the flavor of homemade.

21 of 24

Seasoning Blends and Salts

Old Bay Seasoning
via amazon.com

There are so many spices used over and over again throughout Southern cooking, like cayenne, garlic powder, and bay leaf, but you'll see those in any old pantry too. A Southern kitchen is always stocked with seasoning blends like Old Bay or Tony Chachere's on top of the basics.

22 of 24

Ketchup

Heinz tomato ketchup
Scott Olson/Getty Images

From barbecue sauce to meatloaf, ketchup is the sweet and tangy condiment no one should ever be without. The only real debate is whether or not is needs to be refrigerated .

23 of 24

Pasta

Assorted uncooked pasta
Anadolu Agency/Contributor/ Getty Images

Macaroni and cheese, Chicken Tetrazzini, and tuna noodle casserole all start with this humble staple. With pasta in the pantry, an easy dinner is always within reach.

24 of 24

Tea

an illustrated image of a box of Luizianne tea
KENDYLL HILLEGAS/SOUTHERN LIVING

This staple needs no explanation. Tea is a must have, year-round. Period.

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