Virginia Willis
Virginia Willis

Virginia Willis

Title: Contributor, Recipe Developer

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Education: B.A. in History, University of Georgia; Grande Diplôme, Culinary Arts/Chef Training, La Varenne; Certificate of Culinary Training, L'Academie de Cuisine

Expertise: Southern food and cooking, classic French cuisine, healthy cooking and baking

- Author of six books on cooking, including Bon Appétit, Y'all
- Frequent live and on-air speaker

Experience

Virginia Willis is a Food Network Kitchen chef and James Beard award-winning cookbook author. Her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y'all, premiered in 2008, and since then, she's developed a stellar reputation for chef-inspired recipes for home cooks. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, People, USA Today, EatingWell, Garden & Gun, Bon Appétit, Southern Living and many other publications.

In 2022, her health journey was documented in EatingWell magazine as a weight-loss success story. Virginia embraced her new outlook on life and became a cheerleader for those who want to make their own life changes. As she says, "If a French-trained Southern chef can do it, you can, too!"

This award-winning writer, author and food expert has almost 30 years of experience. Her first job cooking was behind the scenes of a PBS TV cooking show, and she hasn't looked back.

Since then, she was the TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay and Nathalie Dupree and executive producer for Epicurious TV on the Discovery Channel. She made cookies with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in Sicily, and beguiled celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman and Julie Chrisley with her cooking.

Virginia is the author of Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y'all; Bon Appétit, Y'all; Basic to Brilliant, Y'all; Okra; and Grits.

About EatingWell

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Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie
Rating: Unrated
New!
Some sweet potato pies call for boiling these root vegetables, but here they're roasted to concentrate their flavor. This helps the earthiness come through, which we enhance with the nuttiness of browned butter. The overall effect is a sweet potato pie that's more complex and a little less sweet.
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Custard Pecan Pie
Rating: Unrated
New!
While every bit as delish as the classic pie, this one has less sugar. Cane syrup, a toasty alternative to corn syrup or molasses, sweetens the pie along with brown sugar. Because the filling for the pie is wet, we brush the crust with egg white and par-bake it to create a barrier to prevent sogginess.
Chocolate Chess Pie
Rating: Unrated
New!
Chocolate chess pie is simple yet extraordinary. Eggs, butter, sugar and in this instance, cornmeal as a starch, transform in the oven into a bubbly and crisp top with a custardy filling below. Here, chocolate chips and cocoa give it a deeper flavor than vanilla, and buttermilk balances the creamy custard with a little tang.
Fresh wedges of tomato, thinly sliced onion and sliced cucumber dressed simply with vinegar and oil makes the most simple salad possible—think of it as the Southern counterpart to the classic Italian tomato-and-mozzarella salad. This cucumber, tomato and onion salad is best enjoyed at the height of summer, when tomatoes and cucumbers are fresh from the garden.
This West African–inspired chicken stew is hearty and has lots of bold, umami flavors.
Gravy gets a bad rap because it's often made with fat drippings or served over fried meat, but it's not inherently unhealthy.
These brothy beans get a kick when served with fermented cabbage and black-pepper-spiced skillet cornbread.
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These small-batch chocolate chip cookies are thin, crispy and will satisfy any craving for something sweet.
Gingery Vegetable Broth
Rating: Unrated
New!
Learn how to make vegetable broth with this easy recipe. Freeze this broth for up to 6 months, so you always have some on hand when you need it.
These brothy beans get a kick when served with fermented cabbage and black-pepper-spiced skillet cornbread.
These small-batch chocolate chip cookies are thin, crispy and will satisfy any craving for something sweet.
Gingery Vegetable Broth
Rating: Unrated
New!
Learn how to make vegetable broth with this easy recipe. Freeze this broth for up to 6 months, so you always have some on hand when you need it.
Cooking the sweet potatoes in a slow cooker frees up space on the stove if you're cooking a big holiday dinner—plus you can serve it straight from the crock if you'd like.
Angel Biscuits
Rating: Unrated
3
Angel biscuits are lighter than traditional buttermilk ones because they contain yeast as well as the usual baking powder and/or baking soda. Making the dough in advance is not only convenient, but also gives the yeasty flavor time to develop and shine.
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This buttermilk pie is a stunner—and perfect for the holidays—with its creamy, golden custard marbled with a crimson cranberry swirl.
Pear Upside-Down Cake
Rating: Unrated
New!
In this update of a retro dessert, a judicious amount of caramel coats the bottom of the pan before the fruit and batter are added. If you have a melon baller, pull it out—it's the perfect tool for coring pears.
Turkey Stock & Gravy
Rating: Unrated
1
We tend to think of gravy as a last-minute holiday hassle, whisking like mad over a hot stove right before dinner is served. But there's absolutely no reason not to make it ahead of time using turkey parts.
Creamy Smoked Trout Spread
Rating: Unrated
New!
Here the smoky flavor of the fish pairs exceptionally well with the robust bite of horseradish and onion. Serve with crackers, apple slices or cucumber slices for an easy appetizer.
Sage Cornbread Dressing
Rating: Unrated
1
This sage cornbread dressing can be made ahead of time for Thanksgiving. If you have it, leftover turkey stock can be used to moisten the cornbread.
This Brussels sprout slaw is the perfect complement to any dish. The bright lemon dressing adds acidity and freshness, while nuts and dried fruit add texture.
For this old-fashioned Southern cucumber and onion salad, thin slices of cucumber and onion marinate just long enough to develop a touch of tanginess without any sharp bite. Serve with sweet dishes like barbecue to lend a refreshing balance.
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This satisfyingly moist and dense cake uses a tried-and-true technique for baking. Most cakes go right into a hot oven so all the rising happens fast and the cake firms up before any batter overflows out of the pan. With pound cake the batter is so dense that a speedy rise isn't necessary. So here we start the cake in a cold oven and then bake at a relatively low temp. Besides the convenience of no preheating, the cake rises slowly as the heat increases, resulting in a wonderful crust and tender, moist crumb. Serve drizzled with orange curd (see Associated Recipe) for a touch of seasonal citrus.
Orange Curd
Rating: Unrated
New!
This decadent orange curd recipe provides a blast of citrus that will make citrus lovers pucker with joy. This technique is slightly different than a traditional curd in that the butter is whisked into the egg-sugar mixture as it's heating rather than being creamed with the sugar first. It is a bit more fussy than just mixing it all up in the pot, but the velvety results are well worth it. Spoon it over Buttermilk Poundcake (see Associated Recipe) or over scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Many pumpkin roll cakes have the starring ingredient only in the cake, which is a missed opportunity to enjoy all the flavor, plus you end up with leftover canned puree sitting in your fridge. Here, the remaining pumpkin is whipped with cream cheese, pecans and crystallized ginger for a tangy filling.
Peach & Blueberry Cobbler
Rating: Unrated
19
This is a healthier version of a traditional cobbler, with canola oil in place of some of the butter and whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour. Unlike more classic biscuit-topped cobblers, the peaches and blueberries are nestled into a tender batter that swells around the fruit as it bakes. Other fruits may be substituted. It's especially beautiful when baked in and served right from a cast-iron skillet.
Chunky Peach Popsicles
Rating: Unrated
8
Make sure to reserve a portion of the peaches as you puree the mixture so the pops will be packed with icy cold, chunky bits of fruit. For a grown-up twist, try adding 1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint, lemon verbena or basil.
Vidalia Onion BBQ Sauce
Rating: Unrated
New!
Use this sweet and tangy healthy BBQ sauce recipe to make pulled pork or slather it on chicken or even on a burger instead of plain old ketchup.
Use your slow cooker to transform lean pork tenderloin into moist and tender meat ready for shredding in this healthy BBQ recipe. Serve the pulled pork as part of a BBQ platter with pickles and cornbread or pile it on a soft bun to make a delightfully messy sandwich.