This rustic southern cornbread recipe is cooked in a cast-iron skillet for a crispy crumb. It’s going to make your mouth so happy!
Serve it with this sweet potato black bean chili.
Originally published in September 2019; this post has been updated.
What is a True Southern Cornbread?
Ask a hundred people and you’ll get a hundred different answers as to what makes a recipe qualify as a southern-style cornbread.
There are two mindsets when it comes to cornbread.The first is that cornbread should be sweet and cake-like. The second is that it should be somewhat crumbly and less sweet.
This is an interesting look at the cultural divide between sweet and not-sweet cornbread. If you like a not-too-sweet cornbread recipe, this one’s for you.
This old-fashioned cornbread is a quick bread recipe, meaning that it’s leavened with a combination of a self-rising cornmeal mix and baking soda. Unlike yeast breads, it doesn’t require any rising time.
Self-rising corn meal — You’ll notice the recipe itself doesn’t have salt and baking powder. That’s because we are essentially using a sort of pre-made mix here. If this isn’t readily available at your grocery store, see the recipe notes to make your own.
All purpose flour — When I bake with all-purpose flour I opt for the unbleached version. Bleached flour is very white, but it’s also treated with bleaching agents that I don’t really need in my food.
Sugar — Opinions are mixed on whether or not cornbread should be sweet. This recipe calls for just a quarter cup of sugar so it’s not overly sweet.
Buttermilk — It’s essential to use cultured buttermilk from the store here to add fat and tang.
Butter — This ensures our bread comes out of the skillet nice and moist and baked to a perfect golden brown.
Making This Classic Cornbread Recipe
First let’s talk about using cast iron for cooking this recipe. Honestly? It’s the best. Pouring the batter into a hot cast iron pan assures a crispy bottom on the cornbread.
How to Make Southern Style Cornbread
Add oil to a well-seasoned cast iron skillet and stick it in the oven after it has preheated.
Whisk the dry goods in a large bowl, and whisk together the wet ingredients in a large measuring cup.
Now combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. It will make a thick batter.
Very carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and pour batter in.
Bake for 30 minutes or until set. Carefully flip the finished cornbread onto a plate and serve with a little butter on each slice and a drizzle of honey if you like.
This southern buttermilk cornbread is perfect served with cooked collard greens or homemade chili. It’s a perfect cornbread to serve with pork chops and a great addition to cornbread stuffing.
What pan can I use?
If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you can use a metal cake pan. You can also use a casserole dish, but for the love of everything don’t preheat it and pour the batter in. This could cause a glass or ceramic dish to crack, or worse, explode.
What if I can’t find self-rising cornmeal?
This classic southern cornbread recipe calls for self-rising cornmeal. This ingredient seems to be more readily available in some regions than others. If you don’t have access to this ingredient, it’s easy to make your own. Simply combine one cup of cornmeal with a tablespoon of baking powder and a half teaspoon of salt.
Yep! For this recipe, all you need to do is add a tablespoon of baking powder and a half teaspoon of salt to the dry ingredients. Easy, peasy and now you know how to do it for other recipes that call for self-rising cornmeal.
You can use yellow cornmeal or white cornmeal for this recipe. Plus if you keep plain cornmeal on hand (and use it to make your own self-rising version) you can also use it in recipes like polenta.
You could also use bacon drippings in lieu of the oil in the pan. That would make your tastebuds extra happy!
Storing Homemade Cornbread
If you have any leftovers, store in an airtight container on the counter for a few days. The possibilities are endless here. Serve with three bean chili the next day. The chili will take care of any dryness that may come with leftover cornbread. It’s also delicious used to make cornbread stuffing.
Southern Style Cornbread Recipe
This slightly crumbly, not-too-sweet cornbread recipe is perfect topped with a pat of butter. This not-too-sweet southern style cornbread recipe includes buttermilk to help keep the bread moist.
- ¼ to ½ cup oil, for pan
- 1 cup self-rising corn meal
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup butter (1 stick), melted
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour oil in cast iron skillet and place in oven to heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk together corn meal, flour, sugar, and baking soda.
- In a large measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs until well blended.
- Stir together wet ingredients with dry ingredients. The cornbread batter will be somewhat thick.
- Carefully remove prepared pan from oven and add batter to skillet.
- Immediately return the skillet to the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven.
- Cover the skillet with a plate and flip the cornbread onto the plate. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.
This skillet cornbread recipe uses an 8-inch cast iron pan which helps to form that delicious crispy crust we all love on cornbread. If you don't have a cast iron pan, use a metal cake pan. You can also use a baking dish, but DO NOT preheat it and pour the batter in. This could cause a glass or ceramic dish to crack, or worse, explode. which helps to form that delicious crispy crust we all love on cornbread.
To make your own self-rising cornbread, combine one cup of cornmeal with a tablespoon of baking powder and a half teaspoon of salt.
To make a buttermilk substitute if you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can stir 4 teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar into 1-1/4 cup of regular milk.
For an extra rich and savory flavor, use bacon fat instead of vegetable oil to grease your pan.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 8 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 360Saturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 226mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 6g