11 Best And 5 Worst Things To Order From Paula Deen's Family Kitchen

Paula Deen's Family Kitchen offers a family-style dining experience where each person gets two to four Down Home Dishes (entrées) and four sides to share with the table. Everyone also gets cheddar biscuits and a dessert. Since you're getting to choose from such a wide range of menu items, it's important to start with a plan. It can be tricky knowing what to order at any restaurant, but we have compiled a list of the best and worst menu items at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen to give you a head start. The food there is good, but some menu items are definitely better than others. Once you know what you should and shouldn't order, you're likely to have a better overall experience.

We've looked at hundreds of customer reviews from Paula Deen's family restaurant to find out exactly which menu items will make your mouth happy and which you're more likely to wish you had skipped. Armed with our list of worst and best menu items, you'll be able to make a more informed choice and leave happier next time you visit.

Worst: Chicken & Dumplings

Normally, the most talked about menu item at a restaurant in reviews is the best item to order. However, when it comes to Paula Deen's Family Kitchen's Chicken and Dumplings, it's one of the worst things you can order. Different people have different ideas of what dumplings should taste like, which is probably part of the problem. It seems to have many flaws with nearly half of reviewers not liking it.

Some complaints about this dish are related to the seasoning profile. Deen's recipe for chicken and dumplings on her professional website lists Paula Deen's House Seasoning and bay leaves in the ingredient list. While some think it's too salty or bland, others said it had too much rosemary, sage, pepper, or oregano. There were complaints of it not being cooked long enough and being hard, or being cooked too long and being mushy. One Google reviewer said, "When you order the chicken and dumplings, and you get a bowl of gravy with 3 dumplings and no chicken.....how is that chicken and dumplings." So, there seems to be a lack of consistency in the preparation, cooking, and presentation of this dish.

Worst: Beef Pot Roast

We think that part of what makes people not like the Beef Pot Roast is their expectation for pot roast to have potatoes and carrots rather than just roasted beef and gravy over white rice. However, the menu is clear about what you're getting. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other problems with this dish as well. Nearly half of the customers who have tried it have nothing good to say about it.

Some of the complaints are that the rice is hard or that it's too salty. The texture isn't always the greatest, with it sometimes being overly stringy or too chewy to easily swallow. Paula Deen's recipe for Southern-style pot roast calls for Chardonnay, which gives it a flavor some people aren't expecting. One person even complained about it smelling like dog food. Since it needs a little work to be a real winner, you might be better off skipping it for something else.

Best: Creamed Corn

Creamed corn is simple, but when it's done right, it can be one of the stars of a meal. Even people who weren't happy with other dishes they got at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen thought the creamed corn was outstanding and enjoyed it enough to write a review singing its praises. It's among the most highly rated sides you can get at the restaurant, so don't sleep on it.

Many people say it's the best creamed corn they've ever had (no offense to Grandma). One Google reviewer went as far as to say that "the creamed corn is something you will never forget." A few people find it too thick or sweet for their liking, but most give it a glowing review. It's even good enough for seconds. So, if you're on the fence about what to get as a side dish, this should be one of your choices without hesitation.

Best: Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Paula Deen's Ooey Gooey Butter Cake is a Southern dessert usually known as chess cake or chess bars. It's a gooey, custardy cake that transforms a regular box of yellow cake mix into something divine with the addition of eggs, butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar. If you're wondering which dessert you should get and haven't tried chess cake before, you're in for a treat. Occasionally, you'll find a chocolate version of the cake on the menu as well.

One Google reviewer says, "The ooey gooey cake was very good and buttery. It was crisp on the outside and rich and moist on the inside similar to the texture of a brownie but it's a buttery vanilla cake." Just be aware that you're getting a sweet dessert that has tons of powdered sugar mixed into the top layer, and you'll be fine. While you can pick up a boxed mix of Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Mix from the Paula Deen Store, you'd do just as well to make it at home with a regular box of butter or yellow cake mix (which is far cheaper).

Best: Broccoli Casserole

Broccoli Casserole is a Southern comfort food you have to try. Paula Deen's version of the casserole contains broccoli, mayo, sharp cheddar cheese, cream of mushroom soup, and eggs with melted butter and buttery Ritz-style crackers crumbled on top. It's one of those dishes that shows up at many potlucks in the South and makes the perfect comfort side when eating Southern cuisine.

The majority of customers genuinely enjoy this fantastic casserole, and consider it a favorite. It's a great option for vegetarians who are looking for a filling dish. However, it rides the line between best and worst since some people have complained of it being too cheesy (is there such a thing?), not having enough flavor, or not having rice. Overall, it seems to be about expectations. Traditional broccoli casserole doesn't contain rice or extra spices, so you might want to rework your definition of a casserole before ordering it if that's what you're expecting.

Worst: Corn Casserole

Corn casserole is a comfort-food favorite in some areas of the South. Unfortunately, Paula Deen's corn casserole just isn't cutting it for most customers. In fact, it has the lowest ratings of any menu item on our list. When most people think of corn casserole, they envision something that's moist and like a casserole as its name suggests. However, the version that Paula Deen's Family Kitchen serves is dry and more like cornbread.

Paula Deen's recipe for it contains both whole-kernel and cream-style corn, sour cream, butter, cheddar cheese, and corn muffin mix. One Google reviewer said, "The corn casserole was dry and pasty but the flavor was good." Another complained there weren't many corn kernels in the casserole. So, maybe the ingredient proportions are just off. The restaurant's menu changes occasionally, and we're not seeing corn casserole in the current iteration. We're hoping it's just being reworked and will return better than ever.

Best: Poppyseed Tossed Salad

Surprisingly enough, the best side dish you can get at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen is the Poppyseed Tossed Salad. It contains fresh salad greens, carrots, red onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, croutons, and Paula Deen's famous poppy seed dressing. The dressing is popular enough that you can buy it in the store. Deen also has a recipe for it on her website. It contains salt, vegetable oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, lots of sugar, poppy seeds, and Dijon mustard.

Several people found the Poppyseed Tossed Salad to be the best thing they ate during their dining experience. So, it comes highly recommended. There are a few naysayers who think it's too sweet or too simple, but sometimes that's exactly what you want. Just be aware that Deen's recipe makes about 2 ¼ cups of salad dressing, and a ½ cup of it is sugar. So, you could almost categorize it as a dessert salad.

Best: Cheddar Biscuits

A Southern meal isn't complete without a basket of biscuits. So, you'll find a basket of Cheddar Biscuits on your table every time you visit Paula Deen's Family Kitchen. One Google reviewer says that Paula Deen's "cheddar biscuits put Red Lobster to shame" (referring to Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits). They're one of the best things you can eat in the restaurant, and they're complimentary. So, it's definitely a win. You won't want to leave the table without giving them a try.

One Google reviewer described them as being "topped with a butter and what I think was basil, because it was reminiscent of pesto." If they're anything like the recipe on her website, it's probably garlic butter and parsley on top. You can also buy a mix for them in her store. It's called the Famous Original Recipes Mix, and you can use it to make biscuits, pancakes, or cobbler, depending on what you add to it.

Best: Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken

We're happy to report to all the fried chicken lovers out there that the fried chicken at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen is among the top two entrées you can order. True to its name, customers report that it's some of the best fried chicken they've had the pleasure of tasting anywhere.

One Google reviewer reported that it's "exceptionally fresh and tender. The flavors were outstanding, making it a delightful culinary experience." And that's what you're hoping for when you get Southern fried chicken. Great fried chicken can be difficult to find out in the wild, so this restaurant might just become your fried chicken Mecca. As long as it's fresh and hasn't been sitting around for a while, it's delicious. If you want to attempt it at home, you can even buy a box of Paul Deen's Famous Fried Chicken Coating in the store. You can also use it as a coating for fried veggies like okra or to make gravy.

Best: Chicken Fried Pork Chops

When Paula Deen is eating at her restaurant, this is the dish she's most likely to choose. So, you know it's good. However, Chicken Fried Pork Chops is another example of needing to know what to expect before you order it. Anything that's "chicken fried" in the South comes smothered in gravy, so, you should expect the crust to be moist rather than crisp. These also come topped with sautéed onions and bell peppers. If you're expecting smothered pork chops (which would probably be a better name for it), you're probably going to like it.

Like Deen, many people find the pork chop dish to be one of the best entrée options. They have a homemade flavor that people from the South might recognize. Some customers have complained about it being overly salty or about them being soggy. So, if you're looking for a crisp fried option, you might be better off with the fried chicken.

Worst: Ol' Fashioned Southern Meatloaf

Meatloaf tastes are highly variable. Any time you order meatloaf, it's a gamble whether or not you're going to like it. Unfortunately, the meatloaf at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen doesn't pass muster for a large percentage of customers. Deen's version of Southern meatloaf contains ground beef, onions, pepper, eggs, tomatoes, and oatmeal with a sweet topping of ketchup, brown mustard, and brown sugar. It also comes with tobacco onions (thinly sliced fried onions) on top.

While some people like it just fine and say it's the best thing they ordered, others aren't remotely impressed. One Google reviewer even says, "Some of our party were enchanted by the meatloaf, including our 4 year old grandsons, who previously hated meatloaf." It was likely the sweet sauce on top that won them over. Others find the sauce to be far too sweet for their liking. Texture is also an issue, with some saying it looks like it came out of a can, and comparing it to Spam or dog food. So, try it at your own risk.

Best: Georgia Fried Catfish

Southerners love their catfish, and no Southern restaurant menu wouldn't be complete without it. Georgia Fried Catfish is the third-best entrée you can order at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen. If you are a catfish fan, you're likely going to be happy ordering it. It comes with tartar sauce on the side for dipping.

One customer says it tastes like clouds. Another customer left a Google review saying, "The star of the proteins is the Catfish, it is so perfect it's crazy! A big fat fillet, with no fishy flavor and a great breading." It comes hot, but it's not Southern fried, meaning that the flour and cornmeal coating is light and doesn't produce a crust that is necessarily super crispy. If you end up really liking the catfish, you can get Paula Deen's Famous Fish Fry Breading Mix from her store. Even if you're not a fan of frying, you can use it for baking fish, too.

Best: Spare Ribs

The best entrée you can get at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen seems to be the Spare Ribs. Customers have more good things and fewer bad things to say about them than any other menu item. The first thing you need to know about them is that they're slow-roasted, not smoked like some people expect. The next thing you need to know is that they're so tender that they fall off the bone. The ribs come covered in tangy Southern barbecue sauce, and they're delicious.

One Google reviewer who enjoyed them says, "The ribs are amazing, so tender, sweet & flavorful!" Another Google reviewer called the rib "to die for." While some wish they came with more BBQ sauce, others say they come with plenty. So, you could always ask for more if you're a big BBQ sauce fan and you don't get as much as you'd like. One person thought they were too spicy, but overwhelmingly, the reviews for Spare Ribs are positive.

Worst: Baked Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is nearly always tempting when it's on the menu at a Southern restaurant. It also tends to be a favorite of children and vegetarians. But you might want to skip the macaroni and cheese at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen. Unfortunately, it has the second lowest rating of the sides.

For some reason, the mac and cheese that the restaurant serves tends to be grainy, and many customers complain about it being separated or watery. One Google reviewer says the "[t]exture was gritty and not really cheesy and the noodles a bit soft." It seems to be bland and not good overall. Another Google reviewer went as far as to say that you "would never even consider serving that at a southern gathering unless you want to be made fun of." However the restaurant is making this dish, it just isn't working for most customers. We would love to see the chain rework it since it's one that so many people order by default.

Best: Collard greens

Collard greens are a Southern staple when it comes to sides. The ones you get at Paula Deen's Family Kitchen are the real deal and come with smoked meat. You're likely to enjoy them whether you've been eating them all your life or you're new to this strong-flavored leafy green vegetable. According to Healthline, this brassica contains plenty of vitamins, including 128% of the daily value of Vitamin K. So, choosing it as your side has culinary as well as health benefits.

Collard lovers can be picky when it comes to this dish, but many reviewers consider them among the best they've ever tasted. One Google reviewer described them as being "Fresh, with just enough texture for a light crunch. Not mushy, nor over cooked." So, if you're looking for somewhere to get your collard fix without smelling up the house, Paula Deen's restaurant may be the place to go.

Best: Fried Okra

Okra made its way to the U.S. South through enslaved people from West Africa between the 1500s and 1800s. It has since become popular in soul cooking and Southern cuisine. If you're a fan of fried okra, you're not likely to be disappointed ordering it as one of your side items since it's among the best sides the restaurant serves. Paula Deen's recipe for fried okra uses buttermilk, flour, and cornmeal to make a delightfully thick coating.

The okra tastes fresh, and customers love it. One Google reviewer said, "The fried okra was truly the best I have ever had," and "When I come back, it will be for the Fried Okra and Broccoli Casserole." That's a pretty strong recommendation for a fried vegetable side. Some find it a little too salty, but you can always brush off the salt if the cook accidentally stumps their toe when salting your okra.


To determine the worst and best menu items to order from Paula Deen's Family Kitchen, we looked at customer reviews of the restaurant online. With the restaurant offering family-style dining, most reviewers gave a long list of all the menu items they tried, loved, and loathed. So, we chose the items customers were talking about most. Looking at reviews, a clear pattern emerges of what to try and what to skip. We went a step further by creating a score for each item based on positive versus negative comments for popular menu items. We labeled anything with fewer than 75% positive reviews as being the worst items to order. Whereas we considered anything scoring 75% or above to be the best bet for ordering. Taste might be subjective, but the majority view is a good gauge in the long run.