6 Tasty South Carolina Staple Dishes You’ve Got to Try

One of the greatest perks of traveling is being able to try different dishes from around the world. If you’re a foodie traveling to South Carolina for business or on a vacation, you won’t be disappointed with the variety of meals you can sample there. This state is famous for offering Southern-style culinary experiences that rely on local crops and marine life, so you’re sure to have many options to choose from.

No matter which part of South Carolina you visit, there are different dishes you should sample. The following sections highlight some of the quirky, delicious delicacies you can try no matter where you go in the state.

She-Crab Soup

If you’re a seafood fan, you’re sure to delight in South Carolina’s famous she-crab soup. For this to be an authentic dish, it must use blue crab meat. Other types of crab can be substituted in for the blue crab if you don’t have this available. However, to make a true she-crab soup, the one staple ingredient that transforms this dish is the crab roe.

Crab roe refers to the eggs that are inside female crabs’ bodies. In traditional she-crab soup, this ingredient is added to the soup along with:

  • Sherry.
  • Parsley.
  • Worcestershire sauce.
  • Crab meat.
  • Cream.
  • Seasoning.

When you add these ingredients together, the result is an orange bisque that is slightly tangier and brighter than usual crab soup. If you’re traveling through South Carolina and come across this dish, you should give it a try. It just might become your new favorite soup.

Shrimp and Grits

Grits has become synonymous with the American South, and it’s a dish that can be served during any meal. The closer you get to South Carolina’s coast, the more likely you are to see this food served with shrimp.

Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch option or a hearty meal at dinner, shrimp and grits should be something you try. While these two ingredients together might sound bland or boring, don’t worry. These staples are usually mixed with the following to give the dish a creamy, savory texture:

  • Butter
  • Bacon
  • Cheese
  • Cream
  • Garlic

As a result, you’ve met with a warm dish that’s sure to fill you up. This dish is good in any season, and no trip to South Carolina without giving shrimp and grits a try.

Country Captain

When you think about Southern cooking, your mind probably turns to classic soul food dishes like fried chicken. While these items are definitely a part of traditional South Carolinian cuisine, they aren’t the only foods that make up the dining scene in this part of the country.

If you’re looking to sample some local dishes in South Carolina, one meal that you might see popping up on menus throughout the state is Country Captain. When you see this dish being served at restaurants in Charleston or Columbia, you might be tempted to overlook it because it’s not something you immediately associate with the state. However, it’s a dish that locals have enjoyed for decades.

Country Captain originated in India, and it is essentially curry chicken served over rice. For flavor, the dish also usually consists of:

  • Green peppers.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Onions.
  • Raisins.
  • Almonds.
  • Seasoning.

Hoppin’ John

If you’re looking for a meal that’s easy to prepare and that will leave you satisfied, look no further than Hoppin’ John. This dish can serve the masses, and you really only need one pot to make it.

Hoppin’ John can also be called Carolina peas and rice. While there’s no clear consensus on what the dish should be called, most can agree on what goes into this dish. A traditional Hoppin’ John consists of:

  • Black-eyed peas.
  • Rice.
  • Onions.

Most dishes will also add bacon to the rice and bean mixture. However, some may choose to include other types of meat instead. Regardless, Hoppin’ John is a crowd-pleaser that graces many household kitchen tables throughout the state.

Collard Greens

Whether you’re at a barbecue, birthday party or family get-together, you’re bound to see collard greens on the menu. This side dish is a staple throughout the U.S. South, and it can easily be paired with any fried meat, potato or rice entrees.

While many southern states serve collard greens, creating this dish is an art form in South Carolina. You’ll usually see this food prepared with:

  • Chopped ham or turkey.
  • Onions.
  • Garlic.
  • Broth.

Boiled Peanuts

Less of a dish and more of a snack, no trip to South Carolina is complete without sampling boiled peanuts. This statewide delicacy may be unusual to tourists, but to SC natives, it’s a dietary staple. As the story goes, this snack became popular during the Civil War because peanuts were a strong source of protein for soldiers. Slaves also enjoyed the treat, so its origins aren’t fully known.

Regardless of who first started boiling peanuts, this snack is enjoyed throughout the state today. If you want to give this treat a try, you can pick up boiled peanuts at restaurants, as well as grocery or convenience stores.