I’ve had a LOT of cornbread in my life and this Homemade Cornbread is the best I’ve tasted and my absolute favorite. It has a tender crumb and moist bite, delicious buttermilk flavor, and a touch of sweetness. It’s easy to make, no fancy equipment required, in less than an hour!
Cornbread is one of those foods that is very personal. There is plenty of disagreement about how this quick bread should be made, but this in my opinion the best cornbread recipe I’ve ever tasted and hits all the checkmarks I’m looking for. Cornbread is all about ratios, and the proportions here are spot on.
This easy cornbread is absolutely heavenly on its own, but also essential to any BBQ feast with Smoked Pork Butt, Oven BBQ Pork Spare Ribs, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and Coleslaw, or a hot bowl of Turkey Chili or Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili.
Why This Recipe Is The Best
Incredibly Moist and Tender – There’s more cornmeal in here than flour, but there’s enough flour to keep the bite relatively soft. The texture is absolutely wonderful, almost cake-like, with a very tender texture to sink your teeth into. Both butter and buttermilk make it moist.
Flavorful – True buttermilk and butter enhance the flavor of the cornmeal and allow it to shine. Vegetable oil is tasteless, and will never come close to the flavor and aroma of real butter. There’s a very “clean” flavor to this homemade cornbread, and it’s just sweet enough to enhance the corn.
Simple – This easy cornbread recipe is made in a couple bowls and a whisk, and no fancy equipment is needed.
Simple, minimal ingredients – 8 ingredients is all you need: flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, butter, sugar, eggs, and buttermilk. It’s a short ingredient list, but still flavorful and delicious.
Northern vs Southern Style
If you’re not familiar with cornbread variations, Northern cornbread (sometimes called Yankee cornbread) has a softer, more cake-like texture to it, and sweetness to enhance the flavor of the corn. Southern cornbread on the other hand is never sweetened. And I often see versions with no flour at all, so the texture can be quite gritty.
I’ve played with quite a few variations of Southern style cornbread during periods of sugar-free and gluten-free eating. The truth is I just don’t enjoy Southern-style cornbread as much. Corn has a natural quality of sweetness to it (which is why desserts like corn ice cream and corn cookies work so well). This sweetness is quite obvious when you eat fresh corn on the cob, but this quality can be lost in cornmeal form. Adding a touch of sugar really brings that sweet corn flavor forward.
Step by Step Overview:
Get the dry ingredients going by combining all-purpose flour, yellow cornmeal, baking soda, and salt with a whisk:
What Kind of Cornmeal to Use
Cornmeals vary tremendously from brand to brand, and come in different grind sizes, colors, and coarseness. The most common type of cornmeal you’ll find at the grocery store is a standard yellow finely ground cornmeal that has been degerminated. That will work well, though I recommend a finer, organic cornmeal, and I personally purchase Arrowhead Mills brand. I recommend not getting something too coarse unless you enjoy a more gritty texture.
In a separate bowl, whisk to combine melted butter and granulated white sugar, until smooth, glossy, and thick:
Add two eggs to the bowl, ideally at room temperature so they don’t re-solidify the melted butter:
Whisk the egg mixture well until smooth and frothy on top, then add and whisk in the buttermilk:
Use real buttermilk, not a substitute
I know people always say you can simply substitute whole milk + vinegar for buttermilk, and while this may work out okay chemically, it’s definitely not the same. The buttermilk is an essential part of this recipe. It’s worth it, and makes all the difference in richness and flavor. You can always use any leftover buttermilk for these heavenly Blueberry Muffins, Lemon Buttermilk Pie, or Buttermilk Pancakes.
What about Mix-Ins?
If you want to add anything extra, I recommend adding it here. I recommend up to a 1/2 cup of mix-ins like cheese or bacon, and up to 1 tsp of spices.
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Corn kernels
- Bacon bits (see How to Cook Bacon in the Oven)
- Chopped canned jalapenos
- Smoked paprika
- Chili powder
Add your mix-ins to the dry ingredients, then add the dry ingredients to the wet:
Combine the two until the flour just disappears. I use a whisk at first, then switch to a spatula once the mixture gets too thick.
You want to make sure not to overmix the batter. This is what you want right here:
There are still lumps, but there’s no dry flour anywhere. Perfect.
Spread the cornbread batter into an 8×8 metal baking pan or baking dish. I line with parchment paper to make it easy to get out later. You can also grease the pan with butter or bacon grease.
Want to bake in other pans?
Cast Iron Skillet: An 8″ square pan is the same volume as a 9″ round, so feel free to bake this in a 9″ cast iron pan instead. Watch for doneness, as bake time might vary. If you wish to have a more crunchy crust, preheat the skillet before adding the batter. You can even melt some bacon drippings in the hot skillet first, so it coats the bottom.
Cornbread Muffins: If you’d like to make corn muffins instead, fill the wells about 3/4 full, then bake for about 17-19 minutes, until lightly golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top has a lightly golden-brown color:
Let it cool to ensure the perfect crumb and a moist cornbread, then it’s ready to cut into squares:
How to Serve It
Once your homemade cornbread is cut into squares, it’s ready to enjoy. Serve it promptly so it doesn’t dry out. It’s a great side dish as is, with butter, with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, or with your favorite topping.
- Plain – Truly, it’s good enough to eat on its own.
- Butter – Slather on top.
- Homemade Orange Honey Butter – The orange is wonderfully fragrant.
- Honey – Make sure to use a quality honey.
FAQ and Expert Tips
You can leave it at room temperature for up to 2 days. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or store in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out. Make sure you only cover completely cooled cornbread, so condensation doesn’t get trapped and make the leftovers wet.
Store in an airtight container to prevent the cornbread from absorbing off-flavors, then keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. You can thaw by leaving at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
Heat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds for a 3×3″ square piece. Or, warm in a 300F oven for about 5 minutes.
I like to bake it in an 8×8 pan, but you may also use a 9″ cake pan or a 9″ skillet. You can also double the recipe and bake it in a 9×13 pan. The cook time should actually be about the same.
Try to find a quality organic cornmeal. I purchase Arrowhead Mills brand. Note that cornmeals vary with different grind sizes and coarseness. I recommend not getting something too coarse unless you enjoy a more gritty texture. You can also have fun with Blue Corn Cornbread next time.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (108g by weight)
- 1.25 cups yellow cornmeal* (180g by weight)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs (preferably at room temperature)**
- 1 cup buttermilk (preferably at room temperature)**
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper (or, you can grease with butter).
- In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine the butter and sugar until glossy and thick.
- Whisk in the eggs until evenly incorporated and frothy on top.
- Whisk in the buttermilk until smooth.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix together until the flour just disappears (note: I whisk at first, then switch to a spatula when the batter gets too thick). Do not overmix, it's okay if there are some lumps (see photo in blog post).
- Pour the cornbread into the lined pan, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.