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52 recipes from Black chefs to celebrate Black history

We've rounded up some of our favorite recipes from cuisines spanning from West African to Caribbean and Creole to Southern.
/ Source: TODAY

February is Black History Month, a 52-year-old tradition in the U.S. dedicated to celebrating the achievements, culture and history of Black people. And what better way to tell a story than through a recipe? So, we've rounded up 52 of our favorite recipes — one for each year since the month was first nationally recognized in 1970. With origins represented from West African to Caribbean and Creole to Southern, these dishes from Black chefs and cooks around the country are nourishing and satisfying.

Whether you're in the mood for hearty meats, fresh seafood or vegetarian fare, enjoy lighter desserts or decadent ones, these recipes are guaranteed to become regulars in your kitchen.

Savory meat dishes

Martin Luther King Jr. loved his smothered steak, so JJ Johnson developed this easy-to-make recipe inspired by one of his favorite dishes — with his own spin on it, of course.

Nyesha Arrington's Bacon and Egg Ramen

A little savory, a little smoky and with just the right amount of spice, this nourishing ramen infuses plenty of umami into a breakfast-themed dinner. Combining caramelized bacon and thing ribbons of egg with the broth and noodles makes this dish irresistible any day or night of the week.

Cheeseburger Pasta

"I love this recipe because it can be pulled together with ingredients that are usually already on hand," says Kia Damon. "I get a nostalgic feeling whenever I eat this hearty and comforting dish."

Chicken Yassa

Dr. Jessica B. Harris

"Chicken yassa (aka poulet yassa or yassa ganar) is my totemic dish," says Dr. Jessica B. Harris. "I first tasted it in Senegal in 1972 on my first trip to the African continent — and it was love at first bite."

Suya-Spiced Short Ribs with Shito Honey

Craving some big, bold flavors? The spice blend in this dish from chef Kwame Onwuachi is smoky, nutty and savory, while the sauce is sweet, spicy and aromatic. The best part is the meat turns out melt-in-your-mouth tender from the slow braise.

This cozy dish takes its cue from pastelón, a Puerto Rican casserole that varies by region but usually includes plantains, meat, onion, bell pepper, cheese, tomato, olives, herbs, spices and sometimes raisins. Nadine Nelson uses the plantains as a top crust, in the style of shepherd's pie.

Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich

Lazarus Lynch's fried chicken sandwich puts most you have tasted to shame. The buttermilk breading is incredibly crispy, spiced and topped with the ideal balance of crunchy cabbage, creamy hot sauce and tart pickles. This is a sandwich you will forever crave.

Nkrakra (Light Chicken Soup)

Perfect for chilly days or anytime your soul needs a nourishing boost, this light and spicy broth is always wholesome and warming. If you feel any bit under the weather, it can stave off cold symptoms — Zoe Adjonyoh swears it works every time!

Rib-eye Cheesesteak Sliders

Elevate ordinary cheesesteaks by upping the cut to a rib-eye steak. With the natural smoky flavors from the grill and ornamented fixings like cheese, mayo, tomatoes and some spice, this Philly classic from Rodney Scott is hard to beat.

This slow-cooked chicken from Kevin Curry works in so many different dishes, which makes it great for meal prep. Whether you're making tacos or stuffed bell peppers, it's something that you'll enjoy all week long.

Haitian Pork Griot

Haitian Pork Griot

Cherven Desauguste

Griot is a rich, flavorful dish that is one of Haiti’s most popular foods. It's quick and easy to serve at parties and family gatherings. In Cherven Desauguste's version, cubes of pork are soaked in a sour orange marinade and then slow-roasted until tender. The tender morsels are then given a final fry in oil until delectably caramelized.

Carla Hall's Oven-Smothered Chicken

Smothered chicken is a time-honored tradition in the South. This updated, healthier version from Carla Hall isn't just cooked completely in the oven for a perfect weeknight meal, but it's fall-off-the-bone delicious. All you have to do before serving is smash the garlic and onion to make a light pan sauce to spoon over the chicken.

Instant Pot Brisket

Instant Pot Brisket

Phil Johnson

You don't have to miss out on delicious, melt-in-your-mouth brisket just because you don't have a smoker, says Phil "The Grill" Johnson. Making the tasty meat in an Instant Pot cuts down on the cooking time and seals in all the savory flavors.

This recipe tastes like Alfredo sauce but it doesn't leave behind unwanted bloating. There's a "secret" serving of a vegetable in every bite. Plus, you can opt to use gluten-free pasta alternatives such as garbanzo pasta or zoodles.

Nkatsenkwan, as this dish is known in Ghana, is most frequently eaten with fufu (pounded green plantain), but you can also serve it with boiled yams, cassava or even rice. It's equally good served on its own with a sprinkling of gari (fermented, dried and ground cassava) and a side of fried sweet plantain.

Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwich

Stay far away from the beef between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A over who has the best fried chicken sandwich and make this one from JJ Johnson right at home. It's got a super crispy crust thanks to its secret ingredient … grits!

This spread is a game-changer for entertaining at home. If you're looking to host a soul food-inspired dinner, make this incredible fried chicken and hot honey mustard dipping sauce recipe.

Serve this simple salad warm, with a vinaigrette that’s bright, acidic and onion-y. The pancetta adds an additional salty crisp, which matches the heavily roasted veggies beautifully.

Cooking a large roast or brisket on the weekends is an ideal hack for easy midweek meals. This braised brisket will remind you of barbecue and is most comforting during the winter months.

Chicken, Sausage and Okra Stew

Smothered chicken, sausage and okra is a Southerner's dream. It’s a one-pot wonder that is full of both flavor and history that can feed two (with leftovers) or an entire family. With its rich, deep flavor, it's just about as comforting as food can get.

Seafood entrées

According to Ace Champion, this is hands down one of the best seafood sandwiches he has ever eaten. The tangy, tart and creamy remoulade perks up the crispy, sweet fried shrimp and the satisfying crunch of the slaw brings it all together.

Orzo Pasta with Shrimp and Peas

Ideal for cold winter days, this nourishing, tomato-based, white wine seafood stew from Jernard Wells is filled with delicate orzo and protein-packed shrimp. With a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, it hits the spot every time.

Using a sheet pan for vegetables, fish and honey mustard makes this a one-pan meal, so there's less clean up after prepping. It's also great for solo suppers, according to Klancy Miller, because it's easy to buy a single serving and it doesn't take much time to cook.

Jerk Shrimp Fried Rice

Jerk Shrimp Fried Rice

Wenford Simpson

This recipe because it's a very easy, quick (like 15 minutes from start to finish) and flavorful one-pot meal — plus it represents Jamaica with the jerk seasoning.

Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo

JJ Johnson

There are several different styles and preparations of gumbo, but Johnson's style is a mix of flavors from South Carolina, West Africa and Louisiana. The word gumbo comes from the West African word "ki ngombo" for "okra."

Honey-Baked Salmon

Honey-Baked Salmon

Will Coleman

Salmon covered in a sweet and slightly smoky glaze gets slow-cooked until its perfectly tender. It is great all year round, but it's extra special when entertaining for an occasion. Who isn't impressed by a flaky fish that melts in your mouth?

Vegetarian dishes and sides

Charred Cauliflower

Charred Cauliflower

Kwame Onwuachi

This cauliflower puts all other preparations to shame. The spicy coconut syrup transports you to the islands while the romesco sauce is reminiscent of classic European cuisine. It is a globally inspired dish that will keep you going back for more.

Kardea Brown loves Southern-style mac and cheese because it's cheesy and hearty, yet sturdy. It's basically a custard-style baked macaroni and cheese with eggs, heavy cream and sharp cheddar cheese. There's no denying it's irresistible!

A versatile rice medley is perfect for a weeknight meal because everything is conveniently mixed together, dumped right onto a sheet pan and ready to eat in 30 minutes. Once you pull this pan from the oven, the onions will be caramelized, the raisins will be plump, the veggies will be tender and the room will fill with the smell of what Jerrelle Guy calls "sheet pan potpourri."

Sweet Jalapeño-Cheddar Cornbread

This isn't your average cornbread recipe. It's super flavorful and very easy to make. The sweet honey, cheesy cheddar and spicy jalapeño work really well together in this dish.

Awaze is a versatile sauce hailing from Ethiopia where it's used on just about everything. You can use it as a finishing sauce, as Hawa Hassan does, or brush it on just about any protein (fish, poultry, tofu or tempeh) before grilling, sautéing or roasting. In Ethiopia, they use local honey wine to make this sauce, but here, she uses a combo of red wine and honey to replicate its sweet but tannic flavor.

Kelewele (Fried Spicy Plantains)

This is kelewele, a simple and quick side dish of spiced and fried plantain, and a common snack available from roadside chop bars and street-food vendors across Ghana.

Vegan Loaded Pizza Bagels

Gabrielle Reyes took years to tailor this simple plant-based pepperoni substitue that uses mushrooms to soak in the full, robust flavors. Made on these plant-based and gluten-free bagels, these pizzas can be jazzed up all with sorts of fun toppings.

Mexican Quinoa Stew

Loaded with beans, quinoa and veggies, this Mexican-inspired stew is guaranteed to make your mouth water — plus, it can easily go from vegetarian to vegan by omitting the cheese garnish.

Sunny's Black Bean Burgers

These black bean burgers are so hearty and satisfying you'll forget they're meat-free. Oatmeal helps bind the burger but also adds bulk to the patties.

Southern Smoked Meatless Greens

These vegetarian greens are so good they will fool even the savviest culinary connoisseur. They get their meaty flavor from a blend of savory spices, liquid smoke and barbecue sauce.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Sweet shallots, juicy pomegranate sees and crunchy peanuts make this Brussels sprouts dish stand out from any other. It'll make even those wary of some good ruffage salivate for a scoop on their plates.

Cauliflower 'Chicken'

Cauliflower 'Chicken'

Jenné Claiborne

It's crispy, it's tender, it's full of flavor and it's vegan! This spicy fried cauliflower "chicken" is just as delicious as the real thing, but no chickens were harmed, and it's so much healthier.

Lentil Tacos

Lentil Tacos

Jenné Claiborne

This recipe always takes under 30 minutes, so if you haven't meal prepped or want a quick dinner, it's the recipe for you. It's very nutritious and filling.

Slow-Braised Mustard Greens

"I was so proud of myself for transforming a mundane side dish, braised greens, into a complexly flavored and delicious standout," says Bryant Terry. "Inspired by smoor tomatoes and onions — a traditional South African dish eaten as a sauce, relish or side — I caramelize onions, then sauté them with tomato paste. I top slow-braised mustard greens with this mixture and finish it with minced jalapeños and hot-pepper vinegar. Warm, savory, and tangy sweet, this dish is everything a side of greens in potlikker should be."

Sweets

Pralines

Pralines

Dr. Jessica B. Harris

One of the most fascinating things about the history of pralines is that they are the work of women confectioners and, in many notable cases, the candies were used to generate income. In times of enslavement, this income may have enabled many of the women to purchase their freedom and that of their relatives. To honor these women, make the five-ingredient confection at home.

Mama's Lemon-Lime Soda Cake

Mama's Lemon-Lime Soda Cake

Jocelyn Delk Adams

"This is a vintage recipe that has been in my family for decades. It was actually the very first cake I ever learned to bake, which I suspect is not only because it is my mother's absolute favorite cake but also because it was an unintimidating induction into the baking world, with results that even a nine-year-old girl could master," says Jocelyn Delk Adams.

Have you ever enjoyed a sourdough chocolate chip cookie? Well, there's no time like the present. According to Bryan Ford, quarantine's favorite baking project imparts a distinguished flavor in the cookies that makes them funky, smooth and delicious all at once.

A decadent bread pudding becomes even better with Sunny Anderson's bourbon whipped cream. The recipe is inspired from her time in the Air Force.

Cherry and Goat Cheese Hand Pies

A creamy, ever-so-slightly savory dessert that doesn't require cutlery? Yes, please! These cherry and goat cheese hand pies are decadent, but not overly sweet.

Sunny Anderson's Easy Basic Pancakes

There's nothing better than a pile of fluffy pancakes to start the day — especially from Sunny Anderson. All you need is a bit of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup to finish them off. But should you feel inspired, you can also amp them up with chocolate chips, peanut butter, broken candy bars, crumbled cookies, crushed candy canes, chopped crisped bacon, cooked sausage or any other tasty add-ins.

Salted Caramel Mocha Chess Pie

Salted Caramel Mocha Chess Pie

Maya-Camille Broussard

If the photo for Maya-Camille Broussard's chess pie didn't get you gathering ingredients in your kitchen already, the description of its warm, salted caramel sauce with chocolaty, espresso filling certainly will.

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Jocelyn Delk Adams

This authentic gooey butter cake from Jocelyn Delk Adams has a chewy blondie texture bottom topped with a custardy cream cheese layer of perfection. It is the true, original St. Louis classic.

One-Bowl Carrot Cake

This one bowl, one-layer carrot cake from Vallery Lomas is the perfect "mix-and-bake" dessert for novices and skilled bakers alike. It's packed full of flavor from cozy spices like cinnamon and vanilla, and it's also got texture from toasty nuts.

Sweet Potato and Plantain Pie

Sweet Potato and Plantain Pie

Maya-Camille Broussard

Broussard puts an exciting twist on traditional sweet potato pie — by throwing in sweet plantains. It might be a perfect fit for the Thanksgiving table, but it's definitely worthy of your winter table.

Peach Crisp

Peach Crisp

Vallery Lomas

Crisps are a flavorful and satisfying alternative for people who want the same peachy goodness of a cobbler or pie but don't want to fool around with pie dough.

"These are sweet enough to make you remember what a mess you’d make with the icing from a cinnamon roll as a little kid," Jenné Claiborne says. "They're also delicious enough to put your 'healthy diet' rules on suspension for a few minutes, and then reject any bit of regret."

Classic Key Lime Pie

Classic Key Lime Pie

Jocelyn Delk Adams

"This is my daddy's absolutely favorite recipe," says Jocelyn Delk Adams. "I make it for my family several times a year. The raspberry twist was something I added to bring in color and fun to the recipe."