This easy southern cornbread recipe is baked in a cast iron skillet and is savory with a hint of sweetness. It's perfect as a side dish with a bowl of chili or in a traditional cornbread dressing.
What is Southern Cornbread?
There are two primary varieties of cornbread, one is sweet, and the other is savory. Sweet cornbread is also known as Nothern-style cornbread and is lighter and more cake-like. It has more flour and a good bit of added sugar to provide sweetness. I prefer this style with barbecue or as cornbread muffins.
Southern style cornbread is savory and has little to no sugar at all. It is more crumbly and dense than sweet cornbread. This style goes great with a warm, hearty bowl of chili. And I always make a batch at Thanksgiving to use in my traditional southern cornbread dressing.
In this recipe, I'll show you how to make classic southern cornbread, though I do use a small amount of sugar to enhance the natural sweetness of the cornmeal. If you're a passionate believer that cornbread should have no sugar, you can totally leave it out!
- Cornmeal - I recommend using a high-quality stone ground cornmeal in this recipe. You may be able to find smaller regional brands at your supermarket or you can order online. It will have a variety of textures, from coarse crumbs to fine powder. Mass produced cornmeal from the big brands typically has a more consistent medium-coarse grind and will not provide enough structure for the cornbread, so you will need an extra ¼ cup of flour if using that style of cornmeal. Also, be sure to not use self-rising cornmeal in this recipe.
- Buttermilk - The buttermilk provides acidity to help the bread rise. If you don't have any on hand you can make a homemade buttermilk substitute by combining a cup of whole milk and a tablespoon of white vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes until slightly thickened, then use in place of buttermilk.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F and place your skillet in the oven while it preheats. Add the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add the buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs to a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Be careful to let the butter cool so you don't cook the eggs. If I'm in a hurry, I'll combine the buttermilk and butter first then stir in the eggs.
- Combine the wet ingredients and dry ingredients in a bowl and stir together until it forms a thick batter.
- Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and coat with vegetable oil (or bacon grease if you have it), then scrape the batter into the skillet. Smooth out the top and return the skillet to the oven.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the skillet before serving.
What to Serve with Cornbread
This cast iron skillet cornbread goes perfectly with chili and barbecue and is also great alongside roasted turkey and chicken. Here are a few of my favorite pairings:
- Homestyle Chili
- Creamy Instant Pot White Chicken Chili
- Herb Roasted Split Turkey Breast
- Smoked Pulled Pork Barbecue
This savory cornbread is a good base for additions if you want to get more flavor in your cornbread.
- Jalapeño Cheddar - Add ½ cup of diced pickled jalapeños and ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the batter for a spicy kick!
- Cheesy - Add 1 cup of shredded cheese to your batter. Cheddar is a classic choice, but it's hard to go wrong.
- Bacon - Add ½ cup of crumbled cooked bacon to the batter.
Recipe Tips and FAQs
Let the cornbread cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for 1-2 days. If you need to keep it for longer, refrigerate it for up to a week.
To freeze, place the wrapped cornbread in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
Classic southern cornbread has a crispy bottom and side crust. For the best results, I recommend baking the cornbread in a very hot cast iron skillet.
More Side Dish Recipes
- Sauteéd Butternut Squash
- Garlic Butter Green Beans
- Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Creamy Cauliflower Gratin
Southern Cornbread Recipe
- 2 cups yellow cornmeal
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 6 Tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet with oil, bacon grease, or cooking spray and place it in the oven to preheat. A square baking dish will also work.
- Add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt to a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- Stir together the buttermilk and melted butter, then add the egg and whisk to combine.
- Combine the wet ingredients and dry ingredients and stir to combine to form a thick batter.
- Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and scrape the batter into the pan into an even thickness and smooth out the top. Return the skillet to the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Let cool for 10 mintutes before serving.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.
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