Virginia foodways and fare are rooted in more than just taste – they trace back to early native cultures and colonists who first settled here more than four centuries ago.
Traditional Virginia foods are southern in style while unique to the landscape where they’re found. From fresh out of the Bay oysters in the coastal region to pickled heirloom vegetables in the Appalachian Mountains, chefs across the state are putting a modern spin on old recipes and techniques.
Find a Very Virginia recipe from local chefs and spirit makers below for your next gathering. And don’t miss Virginia’s Customs, Cultures, and Cuisines events this November.
Oyster Stew & Cornbread Recipe | Julep's, Richmond
Oyster Stew is an old Virginia favorite and topped with cornbread makes it a hearty southern meal.
See RecipeOyster Stew
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ cup onion – brunoise*
- 1/4 cup celery – brunoise*
- 4 tablespoon sherry
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 16 shucked Virginia oysters
- 6 slices of bacon - cooked crisp
- In a large pot combine sweat onions and celery in the melted butter on medium heat
- Deglaze with sherry and then add cream
- Reduce by a quarter
- Season with salt and pepper and then add the oysters last when heat is off to not overcook the oysters
- *Brunoise is a culinary knife cut in which the food item is first julienned and then turned a quarter turn and diced again, producing cubes of about 3 mm or less on each side, or 1/8-inch dice. In France, a "brunoise" cut is smaller, 1 to 2 mm on each side, or 1/16-inch dice.
- 1 pound flour
- 1 pound cornmeal
- .75 pound sugar
- .7 ounce baking powder
- .2 ounce baking soda
- 7 eggs
- 25 fluid ounce buttermilk
- 8 fluid ounce oil (blend/canola/vegetable)
- Combine all dry ingredients and sift
- Separately mix the wet ingredients well with a whisk
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and incorporate, making sure there are no clumps
- Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray, scoop 4 ounce of batter into tray
- Bake 325 degrees for 23 minutes, preferably on high convection
Oyster Stew Assembly
- Place cornbread in middle of bowl, place a large piece of the cooked bacon in the middle of corn bread, pour broth and oysters
Southern Pride Sandwich | The Shack, Virginia Beach
Pulled Smithfield pork sandwich with an Asian twist crafted by Chef Eric Aymer of The Shack in Virginia Beach.
- Dry rub pork butt and let marinate for 48 hours
- Smoke at 225 for 18 hours
- Let rest and pull meat
- Add 1 cup apple cider vinegar + 1/2 cup of your favorite rub
- Place on freshly baked brioche bun
- Serve with Asian slaw, pickles and hand-cut fries
Autumnal Pork Belly | Early Mountain Vineyard, Madison
The Autumnal Pork Belly is a seasonal favorite featuring hearty ingredients both earthy and sweet.
- Crust the pork with local ground nuts and roast to crisp the fat and maximize flavor
- Braise red cabbage and local granny smith apples with apple cider vinegar
- Assemble the pork belly on top the cabbage and apple
- Glaze the pork with black garlic mollasses and sauce with sorghum reduction
- Pair with Quaker Run Vineyard Cabernet Franc to perfectly balance the richness of the dish
Pimento Cheese, Ham, Green Tomato Ravioli | Julep's, Richmond
Chef Corey Chaney of Julep's puts an upscale twist on three southern favorites making a remarkable and memorable dish.
See RecipePimento Cheese Filler
- 1 pound cheddar cheese, grated
- 4 ounces Duke’s mayonnaise
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 each red peppers, roasted
- 2 each jalapenos, roasted
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ pound Edward’s Country Ham, diced
- Mince peppers in a food processor and retain the liquid.
- Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a paddle and whip until all ingredients and incorporated well.
Green Tomato Chutney
- 2 medium green tomatoes
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Slowly simmer and stir every few minutes until liquid has dissolved and mixture is thickened
- 1 3/4 Cups Ap Flour
- 6 each egg yolks
- 1 each whole egg
- 1 ½ teaspoon pork fat
- 1 tablespoon milk
- In a standard mixer, combine the flour, pork fat and milk. On medium to low speed, slowly add 1 egg yolk at a time, incorporating fully. After the 3rd yolk, add the whole egg. Continue slowly adding the yolks until dough’s consistently achieved. Slowly pull pasta through a pasta roller. You want to make them into sheets.
- Lay sheets of pasta out on a flat service. With one ounce scoop fill the pasta sheets with the pimento cheese/ham filler. Lay a sheet of pasta over top and cut into squares. Pinch the corners. In a skillet heat oil and cook ravioli until they are golden brown. Top with green tomato chutney.
Southend Tuna | Chix on the Beach, Virginia Beach
Chix on the Beach is a Virginia Beach staple serving up fresh seafood daily including locally caught yellowfin in the Southend Tuna recipe.
- Cook Israeli couscous cooked in vegetable stock.
- Sautee charred sweet yellow corn, baby arugula, garden fresh basil and roasted garlic in white balsamic vinaigrette
-Blacken 7 ounce filet of yellowfin tuna to desired temperature, then placed on top of the couscous salad.
- Finally, top the tuna with a yogurt based cilantro and lime sauce and is garnished with a lemon wedge
Trout Almondine | The Omni Homestead, Hot Springs
Trout has been a guest favorite at The Homestead for generations is still served today in the Dining Room, currently as Trout Almondine.
- 4 Filets of Trout, boneless
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Sliced Almonds
- ¼ cup AP Flour
- 1ea Fresh Lemon, cut in half
- 8oz French Green Beans
- 1oz Whole Butter
- 1lb Marble Potatoes, cut in half
- 3oz Olive Oil
- 2Tbsp Capers, chopped
- ½ bunch Parsley, chopped
- ½ pound Edward’s Country Ham, diced
Brown Butter Sauce:
- 6oz Butter
- 2 sprigs Sage
- 1oz Fresh lemon juice
- 4oz Chicken or Vegetable stock
- 4oz Heavy Cream
- ½ tsp Kosher Salt
- 4oz Green Grapes, cut in quarters
- 2oz Red onion, short julienne
- 1oz White wine vinegar
- 2oz White wine
- 1oz Sugar
- ¼ tsp Kosher Salt
- Wash the marble potatoes place in large pot covered with water, seasoned with salt and bring to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender, drain the water and cool. Trim the French beans cutting the end stem off, bring a pot of salty water to a boil, and blanch the French beans until slightly tender (about 4 minutes), place in ice bath to shock them.
- In a small pot combine white wine, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and make sure the salt and sugar dissolve. Place onions in the pot and stir. Simmer until onions are fully tender. Mix with quartered grape and set aside for plating.
- For the Brown Butter Sauce, place the butter in a 4 quart sauce pot, melt the butter over medium high heat, then to the brown butter stage (at this point the milk solids turn a golden brown color and emit a nutty scent). Turn off heat and add the sage. After 30 seconds add the lemon juice (be careful as the lemon juice reacts to the butter, the contents will begin to boil rapidly). Carefully add the stock and reduce by 2/3. Add the white wine and reduce by 2/3. Next add cream and reduce sauce by half. Pass the sauce through a fine mesh strainer. Adjust the seasoning with lemon juice and salt if necessary.
- Heat a sauté pan over medium heat add 1oz of the olive oil and the potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook till light golden brown. Next, add 1-2oz of the brown butter sauce, parsley, capers, and toss to combine. Heat another small pan for your French beans and add butter and a splash of stock to make a glaze. Season the trout with salt and pepper, and press with the almonds and flour. Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat, add olive oil and place the trout in the pan with the almond side down. Once the almonds are light golden brown, flip over and finish cooking.
- Place sauce around the plate in a circular pattern, place the potatoes in the middle left of the plate and the French beans beside them. Place your trout on top of the potatoes and beans, Top with the lemon and grapes and you’re ready to enjoy.
Lamb Meatloaf | From Patrick Evans Hylton's Dishing Up Virginia
Meatloaf is a meal born out of a hardscrabble existence and was common in the beginning of the Virginia colony.
- 2 pounds ground lamb (see Note on Lamb)
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 barbecue or tomato sauce sauce (see Note on Tomato Sauce)
- 1½ cups breadcrumbs
- 4 ounces shredded firm or semi-firm Virginia artisan cheese (see Note on Cheese)
- 1/2 cup chopped white onion
- 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* Note on Lamb - Look for lamb from Border Springs Farm in Patrick County or other Virginia lamb. You can also substitute ground turkey, which is another of Virginia’s Culinary Calling Cards, raised extensively in the Shenandoah Valley.
* Note on Cheese - Three top Virginia picks for cheese in this recipe are Everona Dairy’s Piedmont, Locksley Estate Farmstead Cheese’s Little John, a cheddar, or Meadow Creek Dairy’s Mountaineer, Otherwise, substitute your favorite firm or semi-firm cheese in the recipe.
- Preheat oven to 325F. Combine the lamb, eggs, barbecue sauce, breadcrumbs, cheese, onions, bell peppers, salt, and black pepper thoroughly in a large bowl.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch loaf pan and bake at 325F for 65 to 75 minutes or until the center reaches 145F on a meat thermometer. Let the loaf rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
- Serve with heated brown gravy tomato sauce (see Note on Tomato Sauce) on top. Makes 6-8 servings.
Starters & Desserts
Boiled Peanuts | From Patrick Evans Hylton's Dishing Up Virginia
Peanuts are one of Virginia's best known crops and often enjoyed boiled, which makes the kernel soft and salty.
- 4 pounds raw peanuts in the shell (It is important to use raw, green peanuts in the shell for this recipe, not ones that have already been roasted or otherwise cooked)
- 4 cups salt
- Rinse the peanuts under cold water, drain, and place in a large stockpot with the salt. Add enough water to cover the peanut. Bring the water to a rapid boil, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 4 hours. Add additional water, if needed, to keep the peanuts covered.
- Remove one or two peanuts, crack them open, and taste for texture and flavor; the peanuts should be soft and salty. If the peanuts still have a crunch to them, continue cooking, check- ing them every 15 minutes until done.
- Remove the peanuts from the heat; if they are at desired saltiness, drain immediately. If they are not salty enough, allow them to cool in the brine, which allows more salt to be absorbed, checking periodically for saltiness.
- Store leftovers, if you have any, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 10 days. Makes 10-12 servings.
Whiskey Sauce | From Patrick Evans Hylton's Dishing Up Virginia
Whiskey sauce is delicious over ice cream, a favorite dessert of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and First Lady Dolley Madison, or try over bread pudding, pound cake, or banana bread.
- 1/3 cup bourbon (or dark rum)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1⁄3 cup sugar
- 1-1⁄2 cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- Combine the bourbon and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk in the sugar. Set aside. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the cream, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk constantly for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and whisk constantly for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat.
- Add the bourbon mixture to the cream mixture in the sauce- pan and whisk constantly for 1 minute. Set aside and cool completely before serving. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Makes approximately 1 to 1-1/2 cups.
Colonial Johnnycakes | Newport House B&B, Williamsburg
Johnny means “Journey” because these thin cornmeal pancakes are easy to eat on the go. They were a breakfast staple in colonial times and often served with molasses or lemon curd.
- 2 cups of WHITE flint cornmeal (the more common yellow meal does not work as well)
- 1 cup of dark rum (we think that Gosling’s Black Seal is the most authentic)
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Add enough hot water to make the mix about as thick as runny mashed potatoes.
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl using a spoon, then cover and leave the batter out overnight.
- When ready to cook, you may need to add a tiny bit of water to make it runny enough, as the cornmeal may have soaked up some of the previous liquid. Mix it well again.
- Spray PAM on a medium-hot griddle and drop 1 tablespoon of mix onto the griddle. Cook about 70 seconds, turn over after spraying them with PAM and cook another 60-70 seconds.
- 6 ears Fresh Corn, shucked and silked
- 8oz Chesapeake Blue Crab Lump Meat
- 2 each Peppers, Small Diced
- 2oz Fresh Dill, chopped
- 1oz Fresh Chives, chopped
- 1 each Lemon, Zested
- 2 each Lime, Zested
- 1 cup Crème Fraiche
- As Needed Kosher Salt
- As Needed Fresh Ground Pepper
- On a preheated grill, cook corn on all sides till done (1-2 minutes per “side”). There should be a fair amount of caramelization from the grill on the corn, but not burnt.
- Once the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cob.
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.
Hokey Pokey Ice Cream | Richland's Dairy & Creamery, Blackstone
Vanilla Ice Cream with Honeycomb Toffee
See RecipeHoneycomb Toffee
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp Virginia Honey
- 4 tbsp light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Spread a sheet of parchment or wax paper over a cookie sheet, and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan melt the sugar, corn syrup and Virginia honey and bring to a hard boil. Don't stir, but swirl the mixture occasionally. Heat to 290 degrees.
- Moving quickly, remove the pan from the heat and add the baking soda. Stir quickly, as the mixture will begin to foam as the soda reacts with the syrup. Once the soda is completely dissolved, pour over the prepared baking sheet.
- Allow the mixture to cool completely, then crack with a knife or break into bite size pieces.
Vanilla Ice Cream
- 2 cups Heavy Cream
- 2 Cups Richlands Creamery Whole Milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tsp Vanilla
- Pinch Salt
- Whisk all ingredients together until sugar dissolves. Pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. After the ice cream is made, add Honeycomb Toffee chunks and transfer to an airtight container. Cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve.
Lancaster Lemonade | The Tides Inn, Irvington
Lancaster Lemonade is the flagship drink of The Tides Inn coastal resort and the perfect refreshment for cooling down on a hot summer day.
- 1 part Vodka
- 1 part Limoncello
- Juice of ½ Lemon
- Add Fresh Lemon and Ice
- Fill the glass with Northern Neck Ginger Ale and Ice
- Garnish with Lemon Balm and a Lemon Wedge
The Botanist Gin & Tonic | Baladi Cafe, Virginia Beach
"The Botanist" is a summer spin-off on the classic Gin & Tonic, making it a very refreshing, effervescent, floral, yet earthy cocktail made with just a few simple ingredients.
- Start by infusing Botanist Gin, a dry Scottish gin, with organic cucumbers and mint.
- Slice cucumbers into very thin sheets and layer with mint leaves then submerge into the gin.
- After 24 hours, strain the gin, which is enough time to take all the sweet cucumber and mint flavor without pulling any of the bitter flavors out.
- Then simply blend with Elderflower Tonic (made with no sugar, only organic agave nectar) and serve in a glass over ice.
Bourbon Slush | From Patrick Evans Hylton's Dishing Up Virginia
Distilled spirits, especially whiskey, have a long tradition in Virginia. Refreshing any time of year, this southern cocktail blends equal parts bourbon, lemonade, and sweet ice tea.
- 4 cups bourbon
- 4 cups lemonade
- 4 cups sweet ice tea
- 1 cup ginger ale
- Combine the bourbon, lemonade, and tea in a 9- by 13- by 2-inch baking dish. Freeze overnight.
- Remove the frozen mixture from the freezer 30 minutes before serving. Break up the mixture slightly and transfer to a punch bowl.
- Add the ginger ale and stir until a slushy consistency is reached and serve immediately. Makes 12-16 cocktails.
Cherry Shrub | From Patrick Evans Hylton's Dishing Up Virginia
A shrub is an old-timey drink, popular in Colonial America, mixing fruit syrup and vinegar, stirring into cold water with a splash of spirits. This version uses one of George Washington’s favorite fruits, the cherry.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 ounces sherry
- 4 ounces sparkling water
- Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the cherries, and simmer until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and lightly mashing the cherries against the side of the saucepan.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Strain the liquid into a seal-able, quart-size glass jar, pressing on the cherry solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the cherries.
- Add the vinegar to the jar, stir, and refrigerate until chilled, at least an hour
- Stir 1 ounce of the shrub base and the sherry (or spirit) together in a tall glass. Fill the glass with ice, pour in the sparkling water, and stir to incorporate. Serve immediately. Makes 1 serving.
- .5 oz Lairds Old Apple Brandy (Distilled in North Garden, VA)
- .25 oz Mint infused simple syrup*
- 4 oz VA Sparkling Brut Champagne - recommend Barboursville Brut
- Seasonal berries for garnish
*Mint Infused simple syrup:
- 1/2 lb of de-stemmed mint leafs
- 1lb of sugar
- 2 Cups water
- In a large sauce pan combine sugar, water, and mint over high heat. Bring mixture to barely a boil and turn off. Set aside till room temp. Pour through an extra fine mesh strainer
- In large wine glass mix Brandy, simple syrup, & Champagne.
- Fill wine glass with crushed ice (Not too much all at once or the champagne will bubble over)
- Slap mint to release essential oils & put in ice next to your straw to increase essence while drinking
- Top with a few berries & a slice of pineapple/apple/peach
Cucumber Mule | Sage's Kitchen, Virginia Beach
This fresh-made sipper from Sage Kitchen is a refreshing reinvigoration of the Moscow Mule.
- Tito’s Handmade Vodka
- Freshly squeeze juices of lime, cucumber and ginger
- Add a sparkling splash of Tractor Organic Lemongrass soda
- Garnish with cucumber and lime
- 2 oz Church Bourbon
- 2 dashes angostura
- 1 sugar cube
- Lemon twist
- With bitters & sugar cube, add a dash of water
- Muddle until dissolved
- Fill the glass with ice cubes and add Church Bourbon
- Stir and serve on the rocks
Old Ration | Blue Bee Cider, Richmond
An Old Fashioned made with decadent dessert cider, Harvest Ration, a 12-month recipe featuring a custom apple brandy distilled from Blue Bee cider by Catoctin Creek Distilling Company. It’s rich and warming, with notes of butterscotch and caramel. Recipe by Cider Club Member Drew Campbell.
- 1 sugar cube
- Angostura Bitters
- Club Soda
- 2 oz. bourbon (Perhaps Reservoir if you’d like to keep the recipe Richmond-specific)
- 3/4 oz. Blue Bee Cider Harvest Ration
- Orange Peel garnish
- Tumbler glass
- Place sugar cube at the bottom of the glass. Add 4 dashes of bitters and a splash of soda, then muddle until sugar is totally dissolved. Swirl to coat the bottom of the glass.
- In a separate glass, briefly stir bourbon and Harvest Ration. Add to tumbler and stir lightly again.
- Add a large ice cube.
- Cut a large section of orange peel, run around the rim of the glass, twist over the drink, then drop in.
Autumn Harvest | Copper Fox Distillery, Williambsburg & Sperryville
Lift your spirits with a seasonal cocktail from Copper Fox Distillery, crafted with smoked flavors from local apple and fruit woods.
- 1 ½ oz Copper Fox Peachwood Single Malt Whisky
- 1 ½ TBS Pumpkin Butter
- 1/3 TBS Apple Butter
- 2oz Apple Cider
- Cinnamon Sugar
- Lemon peel
- Add Peachwood Single Malt, pumpkin butter, apple butter and cider to shaker with ice. Shake vigorously.
- Pour into a cinnamon sugar rimmed rocks glass.
- Garnish with lemon peel.
Burnt Sunset | Copper Fox Distillery, Williambsburg & Sperryville
- 1 ½ oz Copper Fox Original Single Malt Whisky
- 2 tsp Orange Marmalade
- 1 tsp Amarena Cherry Syrup
- 2 dashes Smoky Bitters
- Orange Peel
- Add marmalade, syrup, single malt whisky and bitters into mixing glass
- Stir and blend
- Add large ice cube or ball to rocks glass
- Pour cocktail over ice
- Twist and express oils from orange peel and char with a torch. Rub peel around rim and drop the twist into the drink.
Pear & Ginger Old Fashioned | Copper Fox Distillery, Williambsburg & Sperryville
- 1 ½ oz Copper Fox Rye Whisky
- ½ oz Pear and Ginger Syrup
- 1 Amarena cherry
- 4-5 drops bitters (variations to taste) Angostura Aromatic Bitters
- 1 orange quarter wheel
- Place the cherry, bitters, syrup, and orange in the bottom of a rocks glass and muddle
- Stir up with a spoon and lift off the bottom of glass
- Add large ice cube or ball, pour rye over, and stir
Last Updated: 11/8/2019