18 Things Every Southern Grandma Has in Her Kitchen

Stepping into a southern grandma’s kitchen is like stepping back in time. It often comes with the comforting, delicious aroma of home-cooked meals and sweet treats straight from the oven! Her kitchen hasn’t changed much over the years, and this article explores the 18 classic tools, decorative items, and ingredients you’re always likely to find in the family matriarch’s kitchen down South.

Cast Iron Skillet

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The skillet is the workhorse of the southern kitchen and can handle everything from frying catfish to baking cornbread. Southern Living states they’re often treasured culinary tools or heirlooms and have become seasoned to perfection over the years. Grandma’s skillet is likely passed down from her mother, making everything she cooks in it taste better!

Crisco Shortening

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You’re not likely to find extra-virgin olive oil or cold-pressed coconut oil in a southern grandma’s kitchen—she likely reaches for a tub of Crisco shortening for most of her baking needs. This reliable fat lasts far longer than butter, giving biscuits, pies, and cobblers a deliciously flaky, tender crust. It’s also perfect for whipping up a batch of fried okra or traditional hushpuppies.

Rotary Beater

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Why rely on electrical gizmos when a classic, hand-held beater gets the job done without needing plugs or buttons? Often made of chrome, this classic kitchen tool can be used for whipping cream, beating eggs, or blending cake batter. Electric mixers may be faster, but there’s a certain satisfaction in whisking a bowl of cream to perfection using only your bare hands!

Mason Jars

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These versatile glass jars are a staple in any southern pantry. They store everything from homemade jams and jellies to pickled vegetables and leftover greens. Grandma might even preserve her own peaches, tomatoes, or pickles in the fall, ensuring a year-round supply of summer fruits for her favorite dishes, like plum cobbler.

Pastel Kitchen Appliances

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According to Elle Decor, the 1950s saw a trend for pastel-colored kitchen appliances—from mint green toasters and pale pink ovens to baby blue stand mixers! Often made to last, these kitchen items remain in use in Grandma’s kitchen and have served her well. They add a nostalgic touch of vintage charm, especially compared to today’s homes’ modern stainless steel finishes. 

Decorative China Plates

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In a specifically-purposed ‘china cabinet’ lies a collection of fine china plates strictly reserved for special occasions. They might feature delicate floral patterns, intricate gold trim, or even hand-painted scenes and are often a family heirloom or wedding present. Eating off these plates is often a delicious experience that brings back fond memories of past celebrations. 

Animal-Themed Décor 

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Southern grandmas love to add a touch of whimsy to their kitchens, often with farm or animal-inspired decorative pieces. You might find a shelf adorned with a collection of rooster figurines, tea towels emblazoned with cows, or ceramics featuring horses. These often reflect the owner’s love of nature and perhaps a childhood spent on a farm or cattle ranch.

Collection of Silver

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Many older ladies down South have inherited silver in the form of old forks, spoons, and knives that may or may not be polished to perfection. Many such collections have been passed down through generations and come with family stories. Like the formal china, this silverware is kept for special occasions like holiday dinners and celebratory family gatherings.

Butter Dish

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Despite the warm climate of the South, Grandma asserted that butter didn’t need to be refrigerated and placed it in a butter dish in a shady spot on the counter. While we do still refrigerate our dairy products, she was probably right, especially given how quickly her butter was depleted! Purpose-made butter dishes were often made of ceramic or glass and kept butter spreadable.

Sweet Tea Pitcher

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Southern Breeze claims that sweetened iced tea is most popular in Alabama, Arkansas, Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. And it’s not just a beverage, either! Grandmas would make a tall, cool pitcher of heavily sweetened tea to show hospitality and to cool down during the hot southern summers.

Old Containers 

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Southern people, in general, are known for their resourcefulness, and Grandma was no exception. She often kept old Cool Whip containers, empty glass jars, and coffee tins and repurposed them. Often meticulously labeled and categorized, she could always find the one she needed, and they remain a reminder that nothing useful should ever go to waste.

Flowered Flour Sack Towels

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These multipurpose towels frequently featured floral decorations or wildflowers and were used for various tasks, including drying dishes, wiping hands, dusting surfaces, and even straining vegetables. Despite being regularly washed and dried, they only seemed to get softer and more absorbent with age and remain a cheerful and practical kitchen feature.

Stack of Cookbooks

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Southern grandmas often have a well-worn collection of classic cookbooks, typically filled with handwritten notes and recipes passed down from friends or older generations. In our modern times of online recipes and dietary apps, she still puts faith in the traditional recipes that have stood the test of time and always yield predictably delicious results!

Bisquick Box

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This baking mix is a lifesaver for busy southern cooks with plenty of hungry grandchildren to feed. It can be used to make a variety of dishes, from fluffy buttermilk biscuits to savory sausage balls and dumplings (for chicken and dumplings). It may seem a little old-fashioned nowadays, but it’s still a convenient and trusted time-saver that many traditional cooks still use.

Can Opener

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Today, most cans feature ring pulls, and those that don’t are generally opened with electric can openers. Not so in Grandma’s kitchen! The Smithsonian maintains that the twist-style hand opener was invented 50 years after canning began (early can tops were sawn off with a hammer and chisel!). Since then, it’s been a vital tool in any older southern lady’s kitchen.

Pyrex Dishes

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This colorful glass bakeware literally never dies and is a mainstay in southern kitchens. These heat-resistant dishes, jugs, and bowls are perfect for baking casseroles, mac and cheese, or a sweet potato pie, or whisking up hot sauces like gravy. They may seem nostalgic and heavily vintage, but they remain functional, and some well-kept examples may even be valuable.

Large Stock Pot

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A hefty pot is essential for making big batches of soups, stews, and gumbos, mainly when feeding a crowd of family members. Southern stock pots are also used to boil vegetables, crabs, or crawfish for a delicious meal. They are typically made of steel or enamelware or, in some cases, copper! Grandma’s pot has likely simmered countless delicious meals over the years.


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No southern pantry is complete without a container of grits: coarsely ground cornmeal that has a variety of uses. Grits can be cooked into a creamy breakfast porridge, a savory side dish for fried chicken or shrimp, or even used to make a cheesy grits casserole. They’re a versatile, filling, and affordable ingredient that no southern grandma would be caught without!

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