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    26 Soulful And Celebratory Recipes To Make For Juneteenth

    Who's hungry?

    Juneteenth is the day we celebrate the liberation of Black Americans.

    Two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was in effect, hundreds of thousands of people were still enslaved. But on June 19th, 1865, the news finally made its way to Galveston Bay, Texas, and celebrations sprouted up all over the state. The following year, those free people in Texas officially organized what became known as Juneteenth.

    While I didn’t grow up celebrating Juneteenth with my family, this day of jubilee has become a staple among me and my friends — and has been gaining mainstream popularity recently. 

    And now that we can gather again, we gotta make sure our cookout game is strong.

    This collection of 20+ soul food recipes includes the classics, some modern twists, and even vegan-friendly options to make sure there's something for every eater. Gather your folks, put on your best cookout playlist (here’s a really good one on Tidal), and get ready to cha-cha, Wobble, and Electric Slide your way through the day. Happy Juneteenth!

    1. Smothered Okra With Chicken and Smoked Sausage

    Smothered Okra with Chicken and Smoked Sausage
    Ben Goodly / Via

    Okra has always been a big deal in Southern cooking, and this vegetable made it all the way to the Americas from West Africa. A tip for this recipe is to remove the chicken skin and roast it separately if you want it to be crispy.

    Recipe: Smothered Okra With Chicken and Smoked Sausage

    2. Fried Corn With Green Peppers (Maque Choux)

    Fried Corn With Green Peppers (Maque Choux)
    Toni Tipton-Martin / Random House / Via

    This French-influenced Creole dish has its origins in Louisiana, and it's pronounced "mock shoo" in case you were wondering (like I was). This recipe is from the acclaimed cookbook Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking by author and recent recipient of the Julia Child award Toni Tipton-Martin.

    Recipe: Fried Corn With Green Peppers (Maque Choux)

    3. Slow Cooker New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

    Slow Cooker New Orleans Red Beans and Rice
    Krysten and Marrekus Wilkes / Via

    This staple dish from Louisiana is full of flavor and made even better with spicy andouille sausage. While the ingredients stew in the slow cooker, be sure to whip up a pot of rice to serve it with.

    Recipe: Slow Cooker New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

    4. Sweet and Spicy Pork Roast

    Sweet and Spicy Pork Roast
    Jaylynn Little / Via

    A tender and succulent pork roast is sure to please, and this one is pretty simple to make. Get even more flavor out of your roast by letting it marinate overnight.

    Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Pork Roast

    5. Chicken, Shrimp, and Sausage Gumbo

    Chicken, Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo
    Imma / Via

    Nothing says soul food more than gumbo. The debate will forever remain, but for me and my house, it needs to be a seafood gumbo. There couldn’t be a more perfect dish. Beware: Gumbo does have a ton of ingredients, and it can definitely get expensive, but the steps from this recipe are easy to follow, and you can make it less expensive by cutting out things like crab legs.

    Recipe: Chicken, Shrimp, and Sausage Gumbo

    6. Fried Fish

    Fried fish
    Jehan Powell / Via

    Catfish and red snapper are the most popular fried fish options, but you can make yours with any white flakey variety. Goes great with rice or fries, and be sure to keep some hot sauce nearby!

    Recipe: Fried Fish

    7. Vegan Crab Cakes

    Vegan crab cakes
    Jessica Hylton / Via

    These "crab" cakes take less than 30 minutes to whip up and are great served up with greens, such as arugula. One suggestion in the comments was to make them mini-sized and serve as an appetizer.

    Recipe: Vegan Crab Cakes

    8. Michelada Hot Wings

    Hot wings
    Erika Council / Via

    No cookout would be complete without hot wings.

    Recipe: Michelada Hot Wings

    9. Vegan Chicken and Waffles

    Vegan chicken and waffles
    Jenné Claiborne / Via

    This "chicken" is made with juicy and crispy mushrooms! The recipe creator and others in the comments suggest finding the oyster mushrooms at an Asian market or farmer's market and warn that portobello mushrooms are not a good substitute. You can also make this recipe gluten-free!

    Recipe: Vegan Chicken and Waffles

    10. Tried and True Southern Greens

    Southern greens
    Tamara Johnson / Via

    Before we got all fancy with kale, we had greens. Watching an impossibly high pile of fresh greens get cooked down into a pot is one of my top family holiday memories.

    Recipe: Tried and True Southern Greens

    11. Cast Iron Cornbread

    Richelle Tucker / Via

    And of course, you can't have greens without cornbread.

    Recipe: Cast Iron Cornbread

    12. Collard Salad With Warm Bacon Dressing

    Collard Salad With Warm Bacon Dressing
    Alex Hill / Via

    It’s hot out, and a good swap for a pot of cooked greens is making a salad.

    Recipe: Collard Salad With Warm Bacon Dressing

    13. Southern Candied Yams

    Candied yams
    April Wright / Via

    OK, just to be clear, yams are not sweet potatoes. I’m not sure why we call them yams, but either way, no plate of food is complete without this sweet, caramelly, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. No marshmallows needed. Save yourself some oven space with this stovetop version.

    Recipe: Southern Candied Yams

    14. Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese

    Mac n cheese
    Eric and Shanna Jones / Via

    Mac 'n' cheese is supposed to be baked. Period. This recipe elevates the timeless classic with a blend of herbs and spices.

    Recipe: Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese

    15. Vegan Mac and Cheese

    Michelle Blackwood / Via

    The creamy, savory, ultimate comfort food is still delicious when made vegan-friendly. This can also easily be made gluten-free by swapping out your pasta.

    Recipe: Vegan Mac and Cheese

    16. Bourbon BBQ Baked Beans

    Baked beans
    Lauren Rea / Via

    Step up your already tasty baked beans with some whiskey! The alcohol cooks out, so no need to worry about the kiddos.

    Recipe: Bourbon BBQ Baked Beans

    17. Classic Southern Potato Salad

    Southern potato salad
    Brandi Crawford / Via

    "Who made the potato salad?" is the one question you can NOT escape at any Black cookout. Make sure you come correct with this recipe. Read ALL the notes and tips so your side dish is a major hit.

    Recipe: Classic Southern Potato Salad

    18. Black-Eyed Peas

    Black eyed peas
    Lola / Via

    Black-eyed peas have been known as a traditional good-luck food in the South, especially eaten on New Year's Day. Cook up good luck this summer with a big ol' pot!

    Recipe: Black-Eyed Peas

    19. Homemade Air Fryer Biscuits

    Air fryer biscuits
    Tanya Harris / Via

    Warm, golden, flaky deliciousness right out the air fryer? Sign me up!

    Recipe: Homemade Air Fryer Biscuits

    20. Vegan Cheddar Bay Biscuits

    Vegan biscuits
    Desirée Daniels / Via

    Red Lobster who?! Even the non-vegans will want to devour these biscuits.

    Recipe: Vegan Cheddar Bay Biscuits

    21. Red Velvet Cake With Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting

    Red velvet cake
    Jocelyn Delk Adams / Via

    This truly classic red velvet recipe (cocoa powder, coffee, and vinegar are some of the OG ingredients) gets a nice upgrade with the addition of in-season blackberries.

    Recipe: Red Velvet Cake With Blackberry Cream Cheese Frosting

    22. Peach Cobbler

    Peach cobbler
    Nicole Nared-Washington / Via

    Get your hands on fresh peaches if you can, and serve it up warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    Recipe: Peach Cobbler

    23. Apple Walnut Vegan Bread Pudding With Maple Bourbon Glaze

    Vegan bread pudding
    Rosalynn Daniels / Via

    Bread pudding is best done with stale or dried-out bread, so be sure to plan this ahead of time. Leave the bread out overnight if you can, or stick it in the oven for a little while on the day of to dry it out.

    Recipe: Apple Walnut Vegan Bread Pudding With Maple Bourbon Glaze

    24. Strawberries and Cream Pound Cake

    Pound cake
    Jazzmine Woodward / Via

    The pound cake is another item everyone will be looking for at the cookout, and not everyone gets the honor of being the favorite. There are several options of pound cake recipes out there, but this version is made with strawberries and seems just right for the summer.

    Recipe: Strawberries and Cream Pound Cake

    25. Juneteenth Strawberry Soda

    Strawberry soda
    Tatanisha and Derrick Worthey / Via

    You'll find strawberry or red beverages at any Juneteenth celebration. Mix up this refreshing drink by the pitcher. It's sure to go fast.

    Recipe: Juneteenth Strawberry Soda

    26. Spiked Strawberry Lemonade

    Strawberry lemonade
    Brittany Jernigan / Via

    The adult-only version of a red drink for Juneteenth. Bonus points if you get your hands on the Black-owned vodka this one is made with.

    Recipe: Spiked Strawberry Lemonade

    Did I miss any of your cookout favorites? Let me know in the comments!