Southern Cornbread

White cornmeal is used in most Southern cornbreads, but we could not find any here in California, so we used yellow cornmeal. If you can find white cornmeal, by all means use it.

The egg is optional, though without it the cornbread will be very crumbly.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 8 servings


  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings
  • 2 cups cornmeal OR 1 1/2 cups cornmeal and 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 large egg (optional)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1 Preheat pan with bacon drippings: Put the bacon drippings in a 9 or 10-inch well-seasoned cast iron skillet and put the skillet into the oven. Then preheat the oven to 400°F with the skillet inside. (If you don't have an iron skillet, you can use an uncovered Dutch oven or a metal cake pan.)


2 Make the batter: Whisk together all the dry ingredients (cornmeal, baking soda, salt, sugar if using) in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg (if using) and buttermilk until combined, then mix that into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter.

3 Pour batter into hot skillet and bake: When the oven is hot, take out the skillet (carefully, as the handle will be hot!). Add the cornbread batter and make sure it is evenly distributed in the skillet.

How to make cornbread in cast iron skillet cornbread recipe with bacon drippings and no sugar

Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

4 Rest bread in skillet, then serve: Let the bread rest for 10 to 30 minutes in the skillet before cutting it into wedges and serving.

To store, let the cornbread cool, then remove from pan and wrap in plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temp for 2 to 3 days

To avoid burning your hand because you've forgotten the pan is hot, I recommend placing a pot holder on the pan's handle while the cornbread is resting, or cooling the handle down a bit with an ice cube.

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  • Ed Tatsch

    A bit dry. But I’ll add an extra egg next time.
    I just wanna know how some of these folks make biscuits and gravy.


  • Lisa

    Delicious and my go-to recipe! Southern is a state of mind in my opinion and as a Georgia girl I give this a thumbs up!


  • Concerned

    You cannot call cornbread “southern” and at the same moment add flour, butter, or even worse, SUGAR! Sugar and flour were completely unknown in the southern states until relatively recently. Wheat can’t grow here. Smut, rust, are funguses that kill wheat. It wasn’t until the advent of the winter wheat hybrid that wheat could grow at all. Refined white sugar was also unknown. Honey and sorghum molasses were available but they were on the table, not in the cornbread. Lard was, and still is, much cheaper than butter. No cook would put expensive butter in the cornbread when lard was available. If you want to put those items in your cornbread then go ahead but don’t call it Southern!

  • Louise

    This sounds like the cornbread my mama used to make. She didn’t use bacon grease, just plain old lard( this was before she started using Crisco). I don’t remember her using flour, in the cornmeal. And No, she did not use sugar( my dad would have thrown it out, if she did). She did use an egg, and she also used powered milk and water. She would stir it with her hand(you have to feel the consistency of the batter, so you could tell if it feels right. She always used Martha White. Yes, you’re right, we always crumbled our cornbread in our milk, the next day. Delicious!!!!
    My mom learned to cook, from my dad. They both were from NC, cause my mom always said she couldn’t boil water, without burning it, when her and dad got married. So, they were both very good cooks, didn’t need any recipe. What happen to me? I need one to start me off.

  • Concerned

    Real Southern cornbread has NO sugar and NO flour! Reason is that refined sugar and wheat flour were unknown in the South until fairly recently. Wheat doesn’t grow in the heat common to southern states. It develops “rust” and therefore spoils. The only sweeteners common in Southern states were honey and sorghum molasses. Corn grown in southern states has enough sugar content to rival some fruits! No need for extra sweetness. If you want authentic Southern cornbread leave out the flour and sugar.

  • Quincie

    This recipe made a delicious cornbread. I did add an egg, and less than a tablespoon of sugar, I also added jalapeños, sweet corn and olives. It was a hit at the dinner table.


  • David

    I coat my 10” iron skillet with Cisco Shortening then sprinkle Cornmeal all over. Then I put in oven for the preheat. This keeps it from sticking and helps coming out of skillet.

  • Jeffery Hunt

    Being from Alabama, I can attest your recipe and tips are exactly right, except for this: don’t let it rest. Flip it immediately onto a plate, cut it into slices, split the slices, and butter them. Serve.

    After supper, crumble a leftover piece or two into a bowl and add milk or buttermilk and have the best bowl of cereal you’ve ever tasted.

  • gbc

    This recipe reminds me of Georgia. It should have turned out delicious (no sugar) and it looked exactly like the photo, so where did I go wrong? Maybe the flour brand, the corn meal brand, the butter, the bacon? I must say that I quit baking after Red Band flour was no longer available and of course my taste buds are not as sharp as they used to be.

    Would someone please share with me the brands used for this recipe and and if you use straight corn meal, so I can have another go at it. Thank you!


  • Kimberly

    This is my GO TO recipe for cornbread now! It is moist and loaded with flavor. It pairs nicely with pinto beans,fresh onion, and chow chow. It is also delicious heated up with real butter spread on it for a treat. Thank you for this recipe!


  • Mark

    WinCo in CA has Martha White bolted cornmeal, works well in this recipe Without flour and sugar, not crumbly.

  • sln

    I just made this recipe, using the flour and sugar since I’m a midwesterner and thought I’d creep up to Southern cornbread slowly. Instead of using bacon fat, I poured some oil into the pan while it heated and, following others’ suggestions, then poured it into the batter. I also put in an extra splash of buttermilk since I was concerned it would be dry. Used Red Mill yellow cornmeal. Wow, this is really delicious, and although the texture is crumbly it held together just fine; I can pick up a slice and just eat it, which I had to do because it is irresistible. The strong corn flavor makes this midwestern gal’s heart happy. Next time I’ll be brave and make it real Southern style.


  • Scott

    To begin with, I didn’t make this but I am from Alabama and make cornbread all the time. This recipe is closer to true southern cornbread than any I have seen online. (By the way, I love your site and use your recipes all the time!) First, please use whole buttermilk with the fat still in it (skip the butter), it makes a huge difference. Next, No flour and of course No sugar! The batter in the picture looks too thick. It should pour into the skillet (more buttermilk). Heat the skillet on the stove until the oil just starts to smoke then pour the hot oil into you batter and stir quickly and then pour the batter back into the piping hot skillet. Cook on 450, this makes the exterior really crispy and it cooks faster and doesn’t dry out and become crumbly. (This is even better made in a cast iron muffin pan.) Great add ins are shredded cheese, diced jalapenos, whole corn and diced up Cajun sausage.

    • Scott

      Sorry, I forgot to add that the egg is NOT optional! And good quality corn meal is a must. I use Martha White or White Lily but those may be regional?

    • McKenzie

      Hi Scott, your method sounds interesting, is there any way you could provide a recipe/ingredient list to get the batter right? And where would one get the full fat buttermilk? I also tried the recipe without sugar and felt like it needed some sweetness to bring out the flavor of the cornmeal, but maybe I’m missing the natural sweetness from good quality ingredients? Thanks!

      • Evan

        First time cornbreader here! I have to say it’s one of the nicest and most delicious things I’ve had! Paired really nice with dinner and I can honestly say it’s a recipe for the “ must repeat” recipe book! I started this with no prior planning, So I used ingredients already at home and it turned out awesome! 1 1/4 cups of skim milk with 1 Tbs of lemon rested for 15 mins (no buttermilk at home) and ‘polenta’ flour (very hard to find anything else in Australia) wored a treat! No bacon fat, so butter in the pan and then in the mixture and baked at 400 for 20!
        Thank you for the recipe! It held together enough to be sliced and shared but crumbly enough to fall apart with every bite!

    • Barb Hamer

      This is a true cornbread queen. Wear your crown proudly, sweetie.

  • Elise

    Oh this is very good. I highly recommend making it with cornmeal and flour. I made it with just cornmeal and it was crumbly. Also, I used Cup4Cup brand GF flour. I recommend using at least one egg.



      I live in the uk & love cornbread, i use all cornmeal & if i don’t have buttermilk i use full fat yoghut with a splash of milk & always lots of butter, me & my kids love it to dip in a bowl of chilli or on its own as a snack,sometimes with a dollop of strawberry jam. Going to try it crumbled in a bowl with milk for my morning cereal.

  • Susan

    This is great southern cornbread. One tip for day old cornbread is to crumble a piece into a class of really cold milk or buttermilk for a mixture that is called “crumbling” in the south. It sounds strange and is really old school, but it is a tasty, not too sweet desert.


  • Tasha

    It was fluffy and moist. I added a few extra ingredients:honey, vanilla extract, and extra egg. I excluded bacon drippings and use 1 cup of flour and cornmeal instead. Made it for Xmas and my family devoured it all.

  • Jim F

    Dry and crumbly, used cast iron, well seasoned. Entire family disliked it, threw away more than 2/3 of the cornbread.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jim, welcome to traditional southern cornbread! It does tend to be rather dry and crumbly, especially if you omit the egg and sugar.

  • Jessica

    The egg must not actually be optional. I left it out, and the bread was dry and grainy.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jessica, and now you know why I use an egg! Traditional southern cornbread is dry and crumbly, way too crumbly for me.

  • Luke

    This is a good recipe for traditional Southern Cornbread. I was born in Mississippi and cornbread is one thing that we know (along with scratch biscuits). My grandmothers and other ladies of the family never needed a recipe, but I do.

  • Julie

    Awesome! I didn’t have buttermilk or baking soda so I had to sub milk with vinegar and then baking powder. It turned out a little dry but otherwise was great!


  • Amanda Bell

    Literally the best cornbread I’ve ever had or made! Will pin this recipe for safe keeping! Im from SC, and will never look for another recipe.


    • Charlie

      Try replacing egg with mayonaise. That’s how we do it at mountain camp
      . Delicious

  • Debra Frazier

    It is the best cornbread I have ever had.


  • SweetTater

    I use just a dab of flour, more bacon grease and less butter in my cornbread. Butter goes on after it’s backed and your eating it.

  • Billy Hancock

    The first time I made cornbread in front of my mother I followed the package instructons and added the flour. I was almost kicked out of the family. YOU DON’T USE FLOUR IN CORNBREAD !!! I was informed, she then told me how to make North Louisiana style cornbread. If you use self rising cornmeal, bacon grease is while the number one choice, sausage grease, melted butter and whatever you have on hand works (as compared to not making cornbread!! ). Important!!! Heat enough grease / oil inthe bottom of the cast iron skillet or pan to thinly cover the pan. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup +/- of cornmeal in the skillet / pan. Make sure the cornmeal is evenly distributed and when the cornmeal in the pan turns brown good, pour in the cornbread mixture, then put into oven. It gives the crust crunchiness. dad would say “It would make you hit your Mother for the last piece. ” Just don’t use flour

    • Tad

      So…. May I ask… what’s the recipe?? Yours sounds like what I’m looking for. My mom and Grandmother used to make it without flour, and so did I years ago, but I’ve forgotten the recipe. I’d love to know yours. I hope it’s the same!
      Thank you!

    • Gail Petrie

      You mentioned “self-rising cornmeal”. I wonder if it could have been a cornmeal mix, which has flour in it. That’s what I use.

  • John Elliott

    My cast iron skillet is 15 inches so I did 1 and 1/2 times the ingredients. I risked exile from the South and included the sugar. The result was the best cornbread I have ever made. Made it with a pot of pinto beans . I love to crumble some in the bottoml of the bowl. The cornbread absorbing the soup from the beans is a spoonful of heaven. The piece on the side with butter is awesome. Ate some later crumbled in a glass of Buttermilkit is to die for. Thanks for an amazing recipe.


  • Tom

    I made this cornbread using the egg and one teaspoon of sugar. It was very tasty and the texture was perfect. It went great with the split pea soup we had for dinner and the honey from my wife’s bees. We’ll have the leftovers with milk and honey for breasfast.


  • Seonaid

    Is there a way to make this without the milk? What could I substitute for the milk/ buttermilk?

  • Patricia

    Delicious. I was hesitant to make this after reading way too many comments. Only changes I made was to use 1t baking soda, 1t baking powder and, since I didn’t have buttermilk, I added 1T of vinegar to whole milk, letting stand for 10 minutes. I used all cornmeal. It didn’t taste sweet and was quite moist. Great accompaniment to my navy bean soup.


  • Rosemary

    A silicon sleeve over the pan handle is the best way to avoid burns. You can leave it on the handle after you take the pan out of the oven and it’s a good reminder of “hot handle.”

  • Reir

    I used this recipe as a base and incorporated jalapeños, corn and cheese. Took about 27 minutes to bake, and my whole family loved it. I had no issues with “too much baking soda”, it really was just perfect.


  • Lisa

    My Grandmother raised 12 kids during g the depression in a little town called Milton, Florida. She made the best cornbread and I have never been able to find a similar receipt. She used white cornmeal, sold locally and baked it in an iron skillet in the oven. After heating the skillet she would always sprinkle a little bit of cornmeal Into the bottom of the skillet and let it brown for just a little before adding the batter. Her cornbread was thin and heavy. Very gummy like in side and crisp on the outside. Has anyone ever heard of a similar recipe?

    • Valerie

      It is called pone cornbread. My Mother made it too, she would pat the cornbread into two pieces and put in a greased screaming hot cast iron skillet and brown on top of the stove then put in the oven to finish cooking. I found a recipe at,” Just a Pinch Recipe” that sounds like how my Mother made it.

    • cj

      look for a recipe for old fashioned southern corn bread. 2 cups self-rising white corn meal. 1/4 cup flour. 1/4 cup cooking oil plus 3 tablespoons. 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk. mix well put in iron skillet bake on 450 till brown. this is the original recipe. using only oil keeps it from crumbling. good eating.

  • Greg

    My Momma fried cornbread 4 nights a week with field peas or turnip greens. White corn meal with flour, b powder, salt and boiling water to make the patties. Fried golden and crisp with fluffy,moist inside. Mmmmmmmmmm! I miss my Mom and her cornbread.

  • Roger

    Martha White or White Lily Cornmeal Mix are the brands most Southerners use.

    • Teresa

      Love it, can’t use it now , has flour in it. I use coconut flour now.

  • Garold Jennings

    I make this cornbread, with two exceptions. 1.) I use bacon drippings in the cornbread instead of butter. 2.) I don’t keep buttermilk on hand so I use sour milk from an old Alabama recipe. I pour 1 1/4 cup of sweet milk and add a teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Stir and let sit for about ten minutes.
    Great recipe for southern cornbread!

  • Eric

    I would highly suggest NOT putting ice on the handle of a hot cast iron pan. Thermal shock is an issue and could result in the cracking of the pan. Hate to see a nice vintage pan ruined by this.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Eric, maybe if you plunged the whole hot pan into a tub of ice water you might have an issue. But here we are just rubbing an ice cube on the hot handle. Not a problem.

  • Melody Gardner

    OK, you have heard from me before — and I am a cross between Oklahoma and Chicago upbringing. Now, I live in KC, MO, and I make my corn bread in between. That means just a little sugar. I ALWAYS use old fashioned stone ground corn meal, and sugar or not, makes a HUGE difference.
    BTW. I know I have told you, but I love your blog!!

  • K Houston

    I like this recipe but I have modified a bit. My grandmothers did not add butter to the batter but always heated a good amount, probably 1/3 cup of bacon drippings/lard/butter in the skillet till piping hot. When the batter is completed you would pull out the hot skillet and pour the hot grease into the batter. Stir well and pour batter back into the skillet and bake. I promise is makes a difference and it does not curdle the batter in any way.

    • Lisa

      This is exactly what my Southern great grandmother, grandmother and mama did!

  • Anthony J Barras

    Followed the recipe to the letter, made a beef pot roast for dinner with this cornbread and it went absolutely perfect together. My family devoured it all in one sitting. Love this recipe, trying next with fried cabbage and smoked hot links.

  • Kay

    Oh my! You used too much.
    Mine is delicious !

  • John Talley

    Real Cornbread ingredients ain’t measured in cups, its by sight according to your skillet.

    My 8″ takes one egg, my 12″ takes two
    Enough Martha White Self Rising to look right, enough buttermilk to get it fluid enough, a shot of oil in the pan heating, a shot in the batter. Bake at 400 till it gets a little golden in the center…usually 20-25 mins. Again, go by sight, not by a clock.

    Serve with anything and everything or break up into a tall tumbler and pour sweet ir buttermilk over it and eat with a spoon before bedtime like cereal….mmm

    • Christine

      My family would break up corn bread in a bowl, pour milk over it and eat it as a bedtime snack too!! So yummy! I grew up in California without a drop of southern in me. But my family is Portuguese and we are really big on using us leftover bread of all types, which probably explains our affinity for this.

  • Cherie

    I don’t have a cast iron skillet, any suggestions? Thank you

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Cherie, you need a pan that you can pre-heat at 400°F, and have it survive the oven at that temperature without warping. That’s why cast iron is perfect for it. You could also use enameled cast iron such as a Le Creuset, or a hard anodized aluminum pan (not a regular aluminum pan) that can take super high heat. A thick metal cake pan may work as well.

  • Don L.

    Mom had a cast iron skillet just for cornbread and cat’s head biscuits. A pot of beans and onions on the side. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

  • judy

    This is a good cornbread recipe. While it’s much more elaborate than my momma made (she used white lily self rising corn meal, milk, vegetable oil, and a touch of sugar, nothing else), this does have a rich corn taste (using Bob’s Red Mill corn meal and 1/2 cup flour) and delicious crunch.

  • Kitty Conrad

    All this fighting is amusing. My mama, 100% Southern, from the farm and in search of the simple, used self-rising cornmeal and milk–butter milk or sweet milk, didn’t matter. Yellow or white cornmeal, didn’t matter as both taste the same (but usually white because that’s the color of field corn commonly grown in the South). Cast iron pan, cold, heavily greased with lard or shortening. Everybody loved it. Nothing else added–no sugar, no onions, no jalapenos, no kernel corn, no flour, no eggs, no brushing the top with butter.

  • Paula Simmons

    I use bacon fat, no flour, no sugar, and generallly add choppped onions and fresh jalapeños plus some Monterey Jack cheese. White cornmeal definitely better…..I am from Arkansas.

  • Janet Sellers

    I made this cornbread and I loved it

  • Paul Newsom

    In the deep South, cornbread simply never had sugar. If it did, it would be called corn cake. Cornbread must be crumbly, and often it was crumbled into turnip greens or black eyed peas. You may know that FDR and Huey Long had a national debate over crumbling or dipping into pot likker.

    So if authenticity is a goal, skip the sugar and the flour. I find neither desirable.

  • John

    This looks great! B soda and buttermilk work and are old school for sure, but adding some b powder (and reduce soda) will give a better result. Regardin sugar or not, lots of southerners like their cornbread sweet. Its personal taste. Adding half a cup or so of fire roasted corn is a nice change of pace.

  • Jill Waldron Williams

    My Grandma was from McDowell, West Virginia & a Hatfield. The women never used butter in their cornbread recipes. They did use yellow corn meal 1 1/2 cups, 1/2 cup of flour plain, 1 tbsp of baking powder, 2 tsp of baking soda, 1 large egg and 1 1/2cups of cold butter milk home made. Fried fat back grease was placed into the cast iron skillet and heated until hot. After batter was made &oven preheated to 425% cornbread was baked until golden brown. Always spoon just a bit of grease on top of bread before baking for that pretty golden brown color and bacony taste.

  • Jessica

    White cornbread is not southern real southern cornbread is yellow and any amount of sugar added automatically disqualifies it from being considered southern.
    The South

    • Steve Harmon

      Preach it sister, preach it. Yellow corn is for corn on the cob, and sugar is for desserts. Leave cornbread up to the experts in the land of cotton, and stick with what ya know.
      Sincerely (once again),
      The South

      • Steve Harmon

        Wait, I read your statement backwards. Actually, white cornmeal is the staple of the south, not yellow. Certainly won’t see yeller grits in the south (unless you’re talking about south Italy). But certainly agree on the sugar- no cornbread should ever have sugar in it, and be called southern

        • Cheryl Taylor

          We use yellow

  • Victoria

    This was pretty good, but I only put one teaspoon of baking soda, I used whole milk instead of buttermilk, and a added an extra scoop of sugar to help outweigh the salty baking soda taste. The batter was a lot thinner than the pictures, which is actually what I wanted. Also, to get past it falling apart on me, I flipped it onto a plate from the cast iron skillet, right after taking it out of the oven.

  • Harold Cook

    My father-in-law’s recipe, he was affectionately called Pap, was passed down to me and I passed it on to our daughters. It consists of 2 cups of yellow cornmeal, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 egg, 2 cups buttermilk 1/4 cup of oil, I use bacon grease, and a tablespoon of bacon drippings for the iron skillet. Mix the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup oil or bacon grease and stir till it is well mixed. Pap would say mix till it’s done then mix some more. Add egg and 2 cups buttermilk. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and preheat skillet also. Pour cornbread mix into skillet. If it don’t sizzle the pan wasn’t hot enough! Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Enjoy!

    • Thelma

      This recipe sounds like what my grandma used to make. I can’t wait to try it. Thanks.

  • Emma Baumann

    Looks yummy and am trying it with dinner tonight. Thank you for the recipe.

  • Tim Smith

    I’m sorry but if you put sugar in it at all it is not ‘southern’ cornbread.

  • Anne Ficarra

    I’ve made this cornbread a number of times and it always turns out great. I use coconut oil instead of bacon fat, 1 1/2 cups cornmeal 1/2 cup flour and follow the recipe for th rest of the ingredients. Today I added a couple tablespoons of chopped pickled jalapeños and a couple ounces grated cheddar. Delicious.

  • Verner

    In Appalachia we did not add butter to the recipe,. Most of the people I know did not add flour at all, and adding a tablespoon of sugar or honey was a luxury, but egg is necessary (no egg means that it is called johnny cake or hoe cake). For 2C cornmeal, put 1/3-1/2 C bacon drippings in the skillet and put it in the oven, then turn the oven to 450. put the cornmeal, 1/2 level t baking powder, 1 level t baking soda, and a heaping t of salt (and sugar if using) in a mixing bowl and stir together (or use self-rising cornmeal). In a measuring cup break and beat the egg, and add fat free buttermilk (or real buttermilk, left from churning butter) to make 1 1/2 C. Add honey to the liquids if using, and mix it in well. Pour the liquids into the meal, and mix; remove the skillet from the oven, swirl the fat around to coat the skillet, pour the drippings into the batter and stir it in quickly, and pour the batter into the skillet. put the skillet in the oven and lower the temperature to 425, bake about 20 min. Cornbread is done when brown and pulled away from the sides of the skillet. Remove the skillet from the oven, shake to be sure the cornbread is loose, place a plate over the skillet, and invert it. Voila, now it’s ready for butter if you want it!

  • Mary on the Coast

    My father and all grandparents and great grands were from NW Arkansas. It was always, without fail, cooked in an iron skillet and it didn’t rise more than 2 inches. It was crumbly. My father crumbled his slice into pieces and put in his glass of milk and ate it with a spoon. That was the traditional Arkansas way of eating cornbread in my family.

  • Ron

    Disappointed also. Recipe was strictly followed but this cornbread fell apart horribly. Moving to the next site.

    • Joe

      Not only did it fall apart it was WAY too salty. I had mine with chili and when that was gone I threw the rest out :(

  • Michelle

    I am extremely disappointed with this recipe :(
    I followed this recipe to the letter. As I usually do with 1st time making something, when I went to serve it, I sliced it, picked it up & it just fell apart on me. It totally ruined my whole dinner. :(((
    Why was it so dry that it falls apart? I didn’t overmix, nor undermix (I’ve made cornbread before, just not your recipe). I’m sorry, I just can’t recommend this to anyone.
    Thank you anyways for trying to help.

  • Aemily

    DO NOT LEAVE CORNBREAD IN A HOT SKILLET. That is what turns it into a crumbly, soggy mess. Upon removing from the oven, put a wooden cutting board over the skillet, grip pan and board firmly with oven mitts, and flip them over. A skillet with a helper handle is ideal, as it makes turning easier. Lift the skillet off. This is how you turn cornbread out onto a cutting board. Slice and serve ASAP.

  • Logan

    Also of note, you can substitute bacon grease for Crisco. Works just fine for browning the crust. If you do make bacon grease for the pan, you can also add that bacon to the cornbread batter. This also works with fresh pork cracklins.

    Thanks for the recipe, love this site!

  • Nobby Nelson

    This recipe just made a pile of crumbs

  • Jeanna F Johnson

    I made this exactly by the recipe, used self-rising cornmeal and all purpose flour…I have no skillet so had to use round cake pan and hubby cut into it before I had a chance to let it rest. It seemed very crumbly and I used the 1 egg? The taste was delicious but can’t figure what I did wrong to have it come out so crumbly? Any suggestions from anyone. I am a novice in the kitchen so wondered if I stirred the dry ingredients to much? Was somewhat frustrated after looking over the ingredients and checking myself…

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jeanna, one of the main distinctions of southern cornbread, versus the sweeter, more cake like version of the north, is that it is crumbly. You haven’t done anything wrong.

      • Jeanna F Johnson

        okay thank you…will try another recipe that hopefully won’t be crumbly Lol…thanks again!!

        • Logan

          All you really need to make a more moist and less crumbly cornbread is more milk. I’m from Georgia, and I’ve seen many cornbread recipes, but I’ve never seen one with a batter that thick. Just keep adding milk (and/or some water) until the batter is thin.

          • John Cook

            Logan is spot on. The batter should be “juicy” as my mother used to say. I’ve never used butter in my cornbread recipe, but it was interesting for a change.

        • Justin LaGrange

          Jenna if you can find Martha White cornmeal where you are use it, try WalMart if you have to go there. It always has had a reliable and good basic true cornbread recipe on the back of the package. just make sure to use bacon grease for the cast iron as it is the only thing this recipe did correct everything else don’t sweat the being a novice part just keep trying it’s the only way you will make your own kitchen memories.

  • Phyllis Towns

    I grew up in Lynchburg VA & this recipe is very similar to my grandmother’s with the exception of the amount of baking soda. Her’s contained 2-3 teaspoons of baking powder & only 1 teaspoon of the soda. No sugar. I’ve been making it like this for the last 40 years. When we first moved to Baltimore, MD & I ordered cornbread in a restaurant I was shocked! To me, it was cake. Not a fan! Thanks so much for clarifying for so many the difference between Northern & Southern cornbread!

    • Pam Peck

      My recipe is from Lynchburg, also, and it uses 2-3 heaping teaspoons of baking powder and one teaspoon of soda dissolved in the buttermilk. White cornmeal-

  • Chris Macy

    Thank you for the clarifications on Southern style and applications; they will be useful. I will use sweeter cake-like Yankee recipes for some things, like maybe my Irish/Welsh pork recipes, and the more savory Southern style for things like my beans and rice, or fried chicken. Do you have any fried chicken aarticles? I would live to be able to de good fried chicken, but it has proven to be a challenge for me.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Chris, sure! Here’s our Buttermilk Fried Chicken. It’s delicious!

      • Bobby R.

        I know about cornmeal in California….but here in Tennessee we use yellow. AND….it is illegal, unconstitutional, and otherwise roundly deplored to put sugar in cornbread in any state south of the Ohio River!

        • Steve Harmon

          I’m from East Tennessee, many generations back, and every cornbread I’ve ever had has white cornmeal. Yeller cornmeal is too sweet to me. Can’t beat Martha White White cornmeal

          • Teresa

            Martha White hot rise is very good.

  • Shane

    Hi Elise. Shane from Australia here. Made your cornbread for the first time and it was fantastic! Thank you. For some reason I have recently become obsessed with food from the south of America. I have made Red Eye Gravy and Grits recently…….. ok simple I guess but hey you’ve gotta start somewhere. Next Brunswick Stew when I have the leftover meats required. Any other classic recipes from the South would be greatly appreciated. Thank’s again.

    • MCG

      Welcome to the South. As mentioned in some earlier comments, you must complement your cornbread… fried chicken, black-eyed peas, and fried okra are some nice options. Maybe collards with homemade pepper sauce. I’m a fan of jalapeno cornbread myself too. You’ve made some nice choices to start with. As a Southerner, I’m hoping your grits were not instant. If so, bless your heart, try some that aren’t. :) In my family from Georgia, I knew I was all grown up when I received my copy of the Tee Time at the Masters cookbook. Better yet, by all means, come for a visit!

  • Betty Mckee

    I made it without bacon grease used canola oil, used egg and buttermilk. Make your own buttermilk 1 cup milk 1 T. Vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes. It was really good my new recipe. Of course cast iron skillet

  • Miss Holly

    My husband from East Tennessee won’t eat any cornbread other than this – from his mother & back for generations. I pass the test with flying colors!
    In a 9″ iron skillet, cook 7-8pieces of the fattiest salt pork you can find, until all the fat is rendered. Save the pieces for dog & husband. Do not discard any fat. The more the better.
    Meanwhile, combine 1 cup self-rising cornmeal & 1 T. Flour. Add 1 cup of buttermilk. Stir to mix well. Let sit while finishing the salt pork.
    Mix 1T. of the rendered fat into cornmeal mixture, & carefully pour into skillet. Best scenario is when the fat actually surges over the top of the cornmeal (but don’t worry if it doesn’t.)
    Put skillet into preheated 450 degree oven & check after 20 minutes. If it is light brown & crispy on top , it’s done. CAREFULLY remove from oven (that sucker is HOT!) Let sit for a couple of minutes, run a knife around the edge to loosen (although with all that fat it doesn’t usually stick) and invert onto a waiting plate.
    Have butter handy. Step aside so you won’t be trampled. With luck you’ll get a piece.

  • Rhea Lawson

    Being from South Carolina,born in the 50’s, We do NOT use sugar in our cornbread. Sometimes is was a meal with pinto beans cooked with a ham hock. I still remember the smell of that glorious bread baking…..I try to find stone ground white corn meal for my bread. The cast iron pan? I have several. One is over 80 years old. I treasure it and cook in it almost every day. I will be making some tonight with some brunswick stew. Oh my, dinner is going to be so very good!.. Thanks for the recipe and the info! Sometimes we need to be reminded of our southern heritage and why things were done the way they were.

    • Teresa

      Soup beans, cornbread, and fried potatoes!! My mom is originally from Johnson City, TN and used to make this meal. It was definitely one of my favorites!!!

  • Joe

    This is my first time making cornbread and I am very happy with the result! I didn’t have bacon grease or butter, so I just used oil, used all cornmeal, used 1tsp baking soda and opted for the sugar and egg. Didn’t have buttermilk either, so used up my sour cream with some water, milk, and lemon juice. And just baked it in a glass pie plate. So I’m thinking if it turned out well with all my modifications, it would be fantastic as written!

  • Celeste Lane

    I use Aunt Jemima Cormeal Mix, buttermilk, and bacon grease only. No eggs, no sugar, no butter. It’s fantastic! Nothing else substitutes for a cast iron skillet.

  • Betty Haniotakis

    I made this recipe on Jan. 1 to go with my black-eyed peas, and was very pleased with the result. I followed the recipe almost exactly – I had no bacon drippings on hand, so used oil. I also used a round cake pan, as I don’t own a cast-iron skillet – I did follow the instructions to heat the pan in advance. It worked out perfectly – the bottom was crusty and came out of the pan beautifully. I had never tried adding melted butter, and this was a success – I think it came out less crumbly, which is a problem I have had with other recipes. I did add the 1 T. of sugar, and will continue to do so, as the small amount did not make the cornbread noticeably sweet. When serving cornbread with food such as beans or chili, I prefer it not to be sweet.


  • Chrissy

    Great recipe. I used soymilk with apple cider vinegar in place of the buttermilk. I also tossed a piece of bacon in the skillet as it preheated since I had no bacon grease. Came out absolutely stunning. Thank you for a simple and delicious recipe.

    • Elise Bauer

      You’re welcome Chrissy, I’m so glad you liked it! Also thank you for posting your substitutions, I’m delighted they worked for you.

  • Gilbert Schmitt

    My Mom’s family is from Kentucky and no one in that family uses sugar or flour in their cornbread and I never have either.

    • Vicki Helm

      That is absolutely right!! No sugar, no flour! I live in Meade Co., Ky, and cornbread is very much a staple here. And if you don’t have an iron skillet – get one!

      • Denise

        I’m from Kentucky as well and I’ve never seen my mother, grandmother, or anyone else use sugar, flour or eggs in cornbread. Glad I paid attention. No wonder decent basic cornbread is so scarce in the world. They only used white dent corn too. However I can’t find quality stone milled white corn all the time and prefer good quality yellow meal over the grocery store processed stuff.

  • Carisa

    I’m from Tennessee (Now in Kansas) and I have NEVER put sugar in my cornbread. Here in the Midwest, though, it seems to be the norm. I can’t eat most other’s cornbread here. I don’t like sweet cornbread.

  • Serina

    Texan here. I like my corn bread slightly sweet. Not overly sweet or cake like just a tad bit of sugar.

  • penny

    i am from the south and my great granny was and so on and we use 1 -2 tsp sugar in our cornbread…and i asked around and so do many many more of us lol

  • Mark

    Some of you folk crack me up. I grew up in the South. My mom didn’t put sugar in her cornbread. Neither of my grandmothers did either. That doesn’t mean that is the only way to make cornbread. That is just downright silly talk.

    Over the years, I’ve learnt a smidgen about cookin’ and such. I done learned that sugar not only adds flavour but it assists in browning and, lo and behold, due to that thang called science, it also helps baked goods retain moisture.

    I find that cornbread with sugar is better almost every single time than without. I add butter and molasses to my cooked cornbread because i like butter and molasses on it, not to cover up the fact that it is dry and bland.

  • Ann

    Hi,I’m from Texas city,Texas and I use sugar in my package,box,or scratch cornbread and it taste great. Ann

  • Michelle

    Just made this and it is so tasty! It’s my first time making cornbread (I’m Australian and its not common here). I used some flour as suggested, and it gave it the most gorgeous light crumb. Very good recipe, thanks :-)

  • Elise Bauer

    Hmm, did you use sweet (unsalted) butter? If you use salted butter, then you do not need to add as much salt. Also, everyone’s salt tolerance is different.

  • Tim Cuthbertson

    Elise, I have lived all my life in Georgia and Alabama. The only two things I would change in your recipe would be to specify white stone ground meal, and no sugar, ever. I personally use vegetable oil instead of butter and bacon fat, but those do sound good. We use butter on the cornbread at the table.


  • Elise Bauer

    Serious Eats recently published an article about the sugar issue in southern cornbread ( The bottom line is that the cornmeal that was used in Southern cornbread years ago was made from more flavorful corn, and was milled in a way that helped create flavor and structure in the cornbread. With modern corn and modern milling practices, some of that flavor has disappeared. Some cooks compensate by adding a little sugar to the cornbread to help intensify the corn flavor. Traditionally it wasn’t needed. And, if you use some of the special corn flour varieties that you can get in the south, you still don’t need it.

    Anyway, I updated the post here to include links to this article. Hopefully that will help shed some light on the issue.

    • Steve Harmon

      Adding sugar to compensate, is only applicable wherever there isn’t a good mill nearby, or- Martha White, which is the standard by which all other cornmeals should be measured. Sugar is for tea and cobblers

  • nan

    so like a good student i searched it out. sure enough . , sugar was hard to come by back then. besides cotton, it was the number commodities at that time. if a confederate or southern person was trying to hide their valuables yankee soldiers knew they had more than what they led on because of things sweatin with sugar. only the upper class could afford it back then. or farmers who grew sugar cane. yankee soldiers would burn the cane fields, plantations ect.. cause if there is no money there is no support confederate armies financial or with food.

  • nan

    my grandma and mother never put sugar in there cornbread either. louisiana folks. i ask my momma why she didn’t put it in, she said : ”because (fer 1 thang it will make your chickens sick over time like giving chocolate to a dog , 2. if your saving it like light bread it won’t mold as fast. 3. if your using it to make dressing (stuffing) you don’t put sugar in it. and number 4. well she says it don’t matter anymore but at one time it was just too despite a yankee soldier no southern lady suppose to be sweet to them , on them, not even in the cooking , cause a southern lady never gives her sugar away, unless he steals her heart and a kiss and then its not called sugar it a called a yankee dime!) ” so girl protect your sugar.

  • Deb

    YES! Leave the sugar out, grandma and momma NEVER put sugar in their cornbread. They were very picky about the cornmeal they used also, they liked Hodgkins white cornmeal.

  • Cat Riley

    I live in Kentucky. Born and raised. I was raised by my old regular Baptist papaw and anyone that know what that means knows what I am saying is true. Now granted he never put sugar in his corn bread. But me personaly after raising two teenage girls after the yr 2000 I added sugar.
    The reason i write this is because my 21 yr married daughter just called me a few days asking for my corn bread receipt so apparently it made an impression. dont add sugar,add sugar. its a personal preference but it has nothing to do with whether it is southern or not

  • Steve Clayton

    I guess if I wish to put jalapenos in my yogurt, or blackberries in my apple pie, I should be dragged into the nearest Southern Town Square and forced to eat Suggafied Corn Muffins?!! Bless my fritters… I love tradition, but they don’t call it “taste” for Nuttins’

    (Still lookin’ for that Southern Cooks Bible)

  • Jenni

    I love your post on cornbread. While living in NC, I am not yet southern enough for anyone in Georgia or Alabama. My family says.
    Thank you for the cornbread recipie. I thought it tasted like my grandma.
    She still cooked on a wood cook stove until the mid 80″s.

  • Dan

    I make my cornbread pretty much as in the recipe, but sometimes I like to “kick it up a notch” by adding 1 lb of ground beef, 2 or 3 jalapeno peppers (minced, leaving the seeds in) and 8 oz of grated sharp cheddar cheese. Brown the ground beef and set aside. I make my batter while the beef browns using House-Autry cornmeal. In over 20 years of using House-Autry I have never had a bad batch of cornbread as I have sometimes had happen with other brands. I preheat the cast iron skillet (10 1/2 inch). Pour 1/2 the batter into the skillet and evenly cover with the ground beef, then the peppers, and then the cheese. Pour the remaining batter on top and bake (425F) until bread is done (20-25 mins). Try this some time when you are wanting “a little extra”.

  • Phoenixwmn

    I know plenty of Southern women who use sugar in their cornbread; my beloved Grandmother in Virginia and her sisters did and so do I my entire life; thus far, no one has refused to eat it nor have any planets stopped spinning as a result. I think far too much is being made of this; it’s strictly a matter of personal preference and to assert that only REAL “Southern Cornbread” is made without sugar is rather silly.
    Geez. Wondering if any of you folks realize your posts could actually discourage someone from even TRYING to make it out of concern for making some blown-out-of-proportion culinary faux pas ??? It’s not a kidney, people, it’s cornbread.

    • wendy

      I agree, to each his own. I’m from Memphis and never liked cornbread as a child but my kids do so I made it many times without sugar, however I found a recipe that called for sugar and I tried it and loved it. I’m still not a fan of cornbread but I will eat it if it has a little sweetness to it

  • Robin

    I guess I am a bit of a cornbread snob myself. I tell my friends that use yellow cornmeal and sugar that theirs is not real cornbread. Cornbread in my family is white cornmeal, preferably stone ground, whole milk, an egg, baking powder and a little salt. I have to mix it in the 1950s Tupperware bowl that belonged to my mother or else I have no idea how much cornmeal to use. Mother always saved the bacon grease, melted it on the stovetop and poured it into the cornmeal mixture. It makes a wonderful crust that is delicious slathered with butter. My paternal grandmother was from Virginia and made something called “sweetin bread”. It is something like cornbread, hard to describe , very moist, the mix has to sit and come up to a brine somehow( darn it for not asking how to make it!) . I have never known anyone but my family to have ever made it. I have loved reading all the comments. My father and brothers loved sorghum and butter with cornbread and cornbread and milk is one of my comfort foods.

  • Austin

    My parents from Mississippi often made cornbread that I loved growing up. Living in California, I thought I had lost my taste for cornbread until I figured out that “Yankee” cornbread is more like a corn cake than the traditional unsweetened cornbread from the south. I’m all for the evolution of recipes, (i.e. California cuisine), but there’s nothing like a favorite from your childhood.

    I’m going to try this recipe today using my own garden grown cornmeal.

  • Jgirl

    Sweet cornbread is a no no if you’re making Southern cornbread. It is savory, part of the recipe should always include buttermilk. Making cornbread with sweet milk isn’t as rich. If you only have sweet milk you can add a teaspoon of white vinegar to add the correct flavor.

  • Grere

    Hi from New Zealand! I lived in Kentucky for a year and I’m pretty sure they put a little sugar in their cornbread. Anyway, has anyone tried using a coarser ground cornmeal? I find the finely ground one is just a little too fine and would like to know if the texture is improved by using a medium-ground polenta. Maybe split it fifty-fifty with the fine-ground? Can anyone advise?

    • Vicki Helm

      I’m from Ky, born and raised – I don’t put sugar in my cornbread, but I do like yellow corn meal, so I guess I’m a bit of a rebel. Best corn meal I have ever used is stone ground from the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge, TN. It has so much taste and texture!

  • Belinda Luck

    I use 2 cups of cornmeal and 1 cup of flour, everything else is the same! My mother-in-law taught me to sprinkle a little cornmeal in the bottom of my skillet and it will not stick! Turns out she was right! I always do it now! This is yummy cornbread and I omit the sugar, when I want cornbread I make cornbread! Cornbread muffins can be sweetened however! Love this recipe!

    • Vicki Helm

      I’m the same way! Cornbread and corn muffins are two different things!

  • Krissi

    Mississippi Girl from a long line of Mississippians here…no way, no how is there sugar in cornbread! My Granny would sometimes make cornbread fritters that she included a small amount of sugar in, but those were similar to pancakes…served at breakfast time with some butter & syrup. She would roll over in her grave if I put sugar in my supper/dinner time cornbread! Other than that, this recipe sounds pretty close to what my family does. The skillet and bacon grease make the recipe IMO ;)

    (Mississippi girl transplanted to California)

  • Jon Wright

    I have not had a cornbread I like for a long time but this one is top of the line. I used organic cornbread and added a bit of hot red peppers ground up and it was a delight to taste.
    I will make it again today with some blue cornbread for different twist.
    Thanks for sharing your info.

  • Denny Clements

    This is a very good recipe. Only one comment. No self-respecting southerner, and I am one would EVER put sugar in cornbread, unless one is making Yankee cornbread.
    Southern cornbread is not sweet bread!

  • Donna

    Need help! I folowed the recipe carefully using all cornmeal, no flour. I did use an egg but the cornbread was still very crumbly. Will flour hold it together better? It did have a great flavor! No sugar for my country boy husband! :)

    • Elise Bauer

      Yes, flour has gluten in it and will help provide the cornbread with structure. All corn cornbread can be rather crumbly, which is why I personally prefer cornbread with a little flour in it.

    • Grere

      Add some guar gum or xanthan gum if you’re going gluten free – this will help to hold it together better.

  • coastalcass

    I used one tablespoon of honey instead of sugar. It’s healthy and I think it brings out the flavor of the corn. :)

  • Bushman5

    I’m a Northener, way north, in Canada.

    own about 600 lbs worth of cast iron cookware, skittles, pans, griddles, pots, dutch ovens etc.

    i love using fresh bacon grease in my recipe, both for the pan and the mixture. My favorite is adding tiny diced jalapenos and cubes of strong cheddar or asiago cheese into the mixture. I serve it with big slices of real butter on top, not that fake margarine crap, and slabs of cheese.

    no sugar here either…..hahaha

  • Little Too Southern

    Here’s the thing with sugar in cornbread. (Yes I’m a no sugar girl but you might want to know where the difference came from.) Sugar was, and still is to a point, a precious commodity. It was expensive and most families could not afford it. So cornbread recipes from the slightly poorer to poor families did not include sugar in them but the families that had a little extra income and could afford the sugar would add it to their recipes. It isn’t just a difference of taste but the difference of expense of sugar.

  • Faria

    Can I make this recipe in the simple pan or oven tray?

    • Elise Bauer

      Not the way the recipe is written. You need a pan that can handle very high heat, and most pans warp under that kind of heat. Not cast iron though, which is why this cornbread is traditionally made in a cast iron skillet.

  • Ford

    This is the best base recipe out there. If you want it sweet add sugar if not don’t. It can be southern either way but, Bacon grease is a must for Southern cornbread. If you don’t have Bacon Grease on hand you might be from the South but you are not Southerner.

  • Leslie

    Sugar is meant for our tea and not our cornbread!

    • betty hayes

      prefer to use self-rising corn meal. However it is getting hard to find.

      • jane alexander

        walmart has it.


    Are you using self-rising corn meal and flour?
    I bake a lot of things but cornbread from scratch is not one of them. Mine is always dry which brings me to online search for recipes. I picked this one because “Southern Cornbread” caught my eye. I have it all measured out but not yet mixed and baked. I happened to notice before I mixed the wet in with the dry that your recipe does not call for Baking Powder only Baking Soda.

    • Elise Bauer

      No, no self-rising flour. The bread gets its leavening from buttermilk (acidic) and baking soda (alkaline), and an egg if using.

  • Niki Isaacs

    This is a wounderful corn bread i cook it every time i turn around, my husband loves it. Thank you

  • Samantha

    I’m from California but I grew up on Southern Cornbread (father and grandmother were from Alabama). Cornbread should NEVER be sweet. Sugar in cornbread is sinful in my family. :-)

  • prettydimples

    To all the southerners on here, good for you and your tastebuds! I love sugar in my cornbread and I grew up with a southern grandmother. Now what?! LOL
    Everyone likes what they like and you can put whatever you want in it and it’s still cornbread. Sheesh!

  • Eric Krauss MD

    Tania and I tried this recipe this AM and were delighted. We used a 10″ cast iron skillet. Might I suggest the option of substituting for the buttermilk 1/2 cup milk plus 3/4 cup plain yogurt; we don’t always find buttermilk, it’s sold by the quart, and there is the issue of what to do with 2 3/4 cups unused buttermilk…also I halved the salt (1/2 tsp). Rather than use 6 tablespoons of butter I used 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 2 tbsp melted butter…and it came out fine!

  • Edna

    Where I come from in Georgia, no sugar allowed. I learned from my grandmother who never measured so I don’t either. These are her instructions:

    Add grease from fried streak-o-lean to an iron skillet, enough to cover the bottom and a little bit more and heat the skillet in a hot oven (450). (I have used bacon grease when I lived in an area where it’s hard to find streak-o- lean, but I recommend streak-o-lean if you can find it)

    Put three or four handfuls of White Lily self rising white cornmeal in a bowl.

    Add enough buttermilk that the mixture looks like “loose grits”

    Add the excess hot grease to the batter and pour into the skillet. When I asked her “how long”. Her answer was always the same. “until it gets done.” For me, that’s 15 to 20 min, depending on the skillet size.

    She never used yellow cornmeal, flour or eggs. My uncle got trendy and starting adding a dollop of mayonnaise. My grandmother wouldn’t hear of it, but I once snuck it in on her, and she ended up liking it.

    If only I could make biscuits like hers.

  • bobbobwhite

    Most recipes I read are actually for corncake, not cornbread, due to the amount of sugar and butter added. Reduce butter and eliminate sugar, for true cornbread. The goal is to taste the corn, not the rich and fatty ingredients that make it taste more like cake than bread. Also, if you need gluten free, substitute rice flour. Great!

  • Arnie

    Sugar in cornbread is know as “johnny cake” in the south. That’s why sugar is not used, traditionally, in the south.

    • gala2

      I’m a total snob about cornbread. But I have learned rather than leaving out sugar entirely to use a very small amount 1 to 2 teaspoons. Because, besides being a sweetener, sugar has a way of rounding out some tastes. That is why you put in a pinch in salad dressings and tomato sauces. But that said, you need to use very, very little. The one thing you do not want your cornbread to be is sweet. Ever.
      I do think it is hilarious that Southerners who put way too much sugar in damn near everything get all hissy about any of it in cornbread.

      • Kathy Simon

        “. . . all hissy about any of it in cornbread.” I’m a northerner (Michigan), and will never forget my first visit to Nashville, staying with a true southern family. Starting with the tea and moving through the meals, sugar seemed to be an additional food group! Your remark brought back fond memories of friends, great food and enjoying a new gastronomic cultural experience. You also made me laugh which is as good for the soul as cornbread.

      • Rhonda J

        LOL! Yes … Southerners use a lot of sugar. If the hummingbirds aren’t buzzing around the top of my tea glass, it’s not sweet enough!

        I have always added a pinch of sugar (not a lot… just a sprinkle) in my cornbread. As you said.. it can round out the flavor without actually tasting sweet.

        I’ve had a hard time balancing my cornbread since they took 3 Rivers off the market. That was the only brand of cornmeal I ever used, and didn’t have to add anything but milk, egg and grease…. It was always good, never crumbly and best when it was hot inside a cold glass of milk…

  • Lynnewebb

    I am nearing three quarters of a century and never put sugar in my cornbread. I know a handful of ‘old timers’ who do and I dread being asked to eat theirs. Neither do I use butter in the pan. I put at least 2TBS bacon grease that’s kept and added to in the refrigerator. I swish it around and pour whatever will, into
    my cornbread mixture.
    Also I never, ever wash that skillet. It’s my cornbread skillet, and that’s
    it’s only purpose! I wipe it out while it’s hot and put it up adder it cools a spell.

    • Amy

      I love reading about you making your cornbread Lynnewebb. I totally agree. I’m living in Australia now but I grew up in the South and I never heard of cornbread having sugar in it either. My mammaw used to keep all her skillets in a special place and only one was used to make cornbread. She never washed it either lol. She used those old black good quality iron skillets . I sure miss her and her cooking soooooo much!:)

  • pjcamp

    Do not EVER put sugar in cornbread. It is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord.

    Also, actual Southern cornbread has about a quarter cup extra oil heating up in the oven that you mix into the batter before pouring the batter into the skillet.

  • Janie Skaggs

    Kentucky “cornbread”

    It is very simple–I have been baking it for a long time.

    1.5 Cups Self rising cornmeal
    buttermilk–make it a good texture

    spray pan with oil—bake cornbread 450 until it is brown
    on top.
    serve with butter!!!!

  • Jason

    I remember hearing my grandmother speaking negatively about someone putting sugar in their cornbread… all the other ladies in the room gasped.

    (Alabamian transplanted to California)

  • Jeff Wykel

    My world famous cornbread,I use the same cast iron skillet for cornbread and it’s not used for anything else, When I turn it over and drop the cornbread on a plate it is placed in the spare oven,”never wash it” just wipe it out when using again. Put a little coat of crisco inside the skillet and set aside,put 2 cups of self rising white cornmeal in a bowl,add 1 egg,2 tablespoons of cooking oil, then stir in buttermilk until batter is very thin, add 1 chopped onion stir and pour in skillet. Place in preheated oven @ 450 degrees bake until golden brown. Slice while hot in wedges spread butter on and enjoy.

  • Harriet

    Native Georgian here. White Lily cornbread mix, add buttermilk and egg, heat the butter and/or bacon grease in the oven in a cast iron skillet until really hot, pour in mix, wait about 30 minutes and eat! No sugar in these parts. But I don’t mind sugary corn muffins once in a while. No flour for me, but to each her own.

  • Anna H.

    I just made this recipe tonight. I used the egg and flour, 1 tsp of sugar instead of 2 tbsp, and my cornmeal was homegrown, homeground blue cornmeal that my mother sent me from home. Amazing. I’m sure it would be even more amazing with bacon grease, but alas–no bacon in the house, so I used butter instead.

  • meg

    I’ve always been a staunch “no sugar” cornbread devotee. As many of the southerners I know would say, “Cornbread with sugar in it is cake.” However, there are southern enclaves where sweet cornbread is the norm. I guess it’s just a matter of taste. Bacon grease, though, is necessary.

    • Elise Bauer

      This cornbread is not sweet. The added scant amount of sugar accomplishes 2 things. First it helps keeping the cornbread more moist. Second, it intensifies the corn flavor.

  • mary

    2-2-2 –
    2 cups of stoneground yellow corn meal
    2 cups buttermilk
    2 eggs
    1 tsp salt
    1-1/2 tsp baking soda
    the real deal

    • Elizabeth

      Yes! This is almost exactly the same recipe I use that I found in the original Betty Crocker cookbook from the 1950’s. I made this last night and it was wonderful. Love the density. I experimented using Roasted cornmeal. I suppose it’s an acquired taste but I think I prefer good, basic, yellow, stone-ground cornmeal (un-roasted). Does anyone know… Roasted cornmeal a Yankee thing? Pennsylvania Dutch, maybe?

    • Thi

      Mary, I would love to try the 2-2-2 cornbread recipe, please advise on what to do after the cornbread is mixed. Thank you.

  • Beth Walker

    Arkansas born and bred – NO SUGAR! But bacon drippings, yes. I just use more than you do, melting it in the cast iron pan and pouring about what you do into the recipe but leaving lots to coat the pan.

  • Scott

    Nothing says comfort like good old Southern Cornbread. Nothing goes better with greens, vegetable soup, gumbo or red beans and rice than cornbread. A cast iron skillet is crucial for the crust to be correct. Buttermilk and bacon grease are must haves as well. I’ve always heated the skillet on top of the stove with the bacon grease. Then pour the hot bacon grease into the batter and stir (the batter in the picture above looks too thick, it should pour). When done, flip it out onto a plate and slide a knife between the cornbread and plate to let the steam escape and enjoy. Also, to make it even better add cracklins to the batter.

  • Debbie

    Gosh! And you haven’t even touched on the white vs yellow cornmeal controversy:). That issue could definitely divide the South and cause all -out war!

  • Nancy Long

    still use my mother’s cast iron skillet for cornbread; though mine probably isn’t southern. I prefer a more equal mix of yellow cornmeal/flour and a bit of sugar. definitely heat the fat in the skillet and Louisiana hubby who never really cared for cornbread/muffins/corn sticks, loves mine.

  • Barbara

    Here in the southern Appalachian mountains, NC….
    Never sugar, heat that skillet to 425 or 450, your cornbread’s only as good as your meal! Use really fresh ground cornmeal from a local mill (splurge on Anson Mills heirloom white or yellow corn if you want to see what good meal tastes like.) Or grind your own corn in a food mill. The germ goes rancid quickly and the meal needs to be stored in the freezer. And Sorghum syrup is in season. Oh. My. You have to serve it with sorghum syrup!
    Great discussion. Thanks!

    • Deb

      YES, grandpa always brought the sorghum. That is one reason we don’t want sugar in the batter of the cornbread!

      We also liked to make this treat: A big glass, 1/2 filled with milk, put in some white beans, chunks of cornbread, lots of pepper and eat it with a spoon. Has anyone else done this? Or is my family weird?

  • Donald Kemp

    I’ve been making cornbread using a cast iron skillet for years now and love it. I learned about heating the pan first from Homesick Texan. I had been doing equal parts of flour and cornmeal. I will try your ratio the next time I make cornbread.

  • Katja

    Looks great! I am a recent convert to using polenta (what Bob’s Red Mill calls “corn grits”, but they’re not real grits) in (Southern-style) cornbread, and it’s an incredible improvement over regular degerminated cornmeal. Much more substantial and toothsome, with a real corn flavor.

    (Virginian transplanted to Colorado)

    • Sharon

      NO SUGAR in Southern cornbread. Use 2 cups self-rising white cornmeal and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup milk, one egg, 3 T oil and 2 T butter melted in black skillet. Pour the oils in batter, add 1/2 cup cold water, let pan continue to heat, then pour batter into skillet. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

      • Krista

        YES! #nosugar

      • Kathy Williams

        Real southern cornbread is best without sugar.

      • Deb

        High Five Sharon. When people put sugar in cornbread it tastes like cake to me and not that delicious stuff grandma and momma made. My favorite meal when I go home that mom makes is: garden vegetable soup (thick with tons of veggies) and her crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside, black skillet, white cornmeal, wonderful cornbread!

  • joanne stone

    Great cornbread at our house has to be crispy on the bottom….the only way to accomplish that is to flip it over the minute you take out the oven….if not, it sweats and the bottom loses that crunchy goodness. You don’t need sugar…just an added calorie…I add a little olive oil to the batter, as well as in the muffin tins…(which are almost as old as I am…they are pitiful looking but cook great!)I like using White Lily cornbread mix and buttermilk…Ahhhh…cornbread….one of life’s great comfort foods!
    By the way….LOVE the recipes that appear on this link!

  • Neil

    Heat the skillet. When hot, spray it with Pam. Add the batter and bake. Never sticks.

  • Kay

    I am from NC. LOVE your recipes! I always use white self rising cornmeal. No flour, definitely no sugar. Hot skillet. Perfect with chili and vegetable soups. Recently I made a batch in my mini muffin pan and it turned out terrific. I think I will make some too keep in the freezer.

  • joanne stone

    Great cornbread at our house has to be crispy on the bottom….the only way to accomplish that is to flip it over the minute you take out the oven….if not, it sweats and the bottom loses that crunchy goodness. You don’t need sugar…just an added calorie…I add a little olive oil to the batter, as well as in the muffin tins…(which are almost as old as I am…they are pitiful looking but cook great!)I like using White Lily cornbread mix and buttermilk…Ahhhh…cornbread….one of life’s great comfort foods!
    By the way….LOVE the recipes that appear on this link!

  • Kathy

    Hi.. My husband and I just visited the Smoky Mtns area and he bought a bag of cornmeal…I had a sample of something the size of an egg yolk but it was fried in a skillet on a hotplate. Has any one ever tried this? And can you share a recipe on how to make this? It sure looked easy, an tasted good.

  • Julie

    Thanks for the savory recipe! I’m a northerner but I don’t enjoy sweetness in cornbread. I made your recipe to go with some chili. The cornbread tasted good but it was very dry. I went with 100% yellow cornmeal and used the optional egg. Maybe I overbaked it? Or the partial flour option would be better? Or maybe my uber-dry SoCal climate means I should’ve added more buttermilk? I’ll plan to try it again with tweaks!

    That is one thing that 2 Tbsp of sugar should help with, in addition to intensifying the taste, moisture. It could have gotten overbaked. The times that I made it, both with and without eggs, it wasn’t dry. Crumbly without the egg, but not dry. ~Elise

  • Adjoran

    I know many people who have a religious fervor against any sugar, but I never understood it. If it makes the cornbread taste sweet, you are using too much! Use the proper amount 1-2 T, and it merely enhances the flavor.

    I always use whole wheat flour instead of AP or bread flour, it complements the cornmeal very nicely for a hearty bread. Ditto to heating the skillet in the oven while you mix the ingredients.

    If you don’t have buttermilk, substitute 1/2 whole milk, 1/2 plain yogurt, add 1 tsp cider vinegar and whisk together, allow to stand for a couple of minutes, then blend as usual.

    Add-ins like cracklings, chopped chiles, or creamed corn are optional – but in the case of creamed corn, use sparingly, perhaps a 1/2 cup.

  • Totem

    I’m confused folks. Are we saying ‘no sugar’ because of ideology, or because it changes the flavor?

    Multiple people have commented that the scant amount of sugar heightens the corn flavor, not that it makes it sweet, so are the objections to it based on ideology or is there something else I’m missing?

    I think I’m gonna have to make it both ways and see which I like better…

  • Holly

    I’m from Idaho, and consider myself to be open minded. (I think it comes from all the open space there–lots of room for lots of opinions and ideas. Just kidding! As if where I grew up has anything to do with that!) I like cornbread sweet or savory, they are both good, but please don’t ever serve me anything from a Jiffy box and I am BEGGING YOU don’t mix that Jiffy box with a yellow cake mix!! Those are only palatable when actually starving!! AHEM. I guess I’m not so open minded after all, haha!

    I like a sweet cakey cornbread with cream on top on occasion, but there is something outstandingly original and fantastic about the crunchy goodness of savory skillet cornbread. I like white and yellow cornmeal too, I’m not picky. Much. And I liked the comment about being a relater, not a hater. To each their own, I say! Thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes here, I enjoy trying them and seeing if they are a fit for our tastebuds. :)

  • Fat Dave

    I love cornbread! My mom always made it without sugar and without egg (she claims she can taste the egg in it). Must be made in the cast iron skillet. When I make cornbread dressing, I use 50/50 cornbread and biscuits, wonderful!

  • DGee

    In Oklahoma and Texas, we put a little sugar in our cornbread, it intensifies the flavor… 1 or 2 tablespoons isn’t going to make the whole pan sweet, at all, it just brings it alive! My grandmother had a diner called the Dixie Pig in Alabama and customer’s couldn’t get enough of her cornbread. During the holidays, people came from miles & miles away to get it for their dressing. Her recipe was similar to yours, it was savory. I think the biggest mistake people make with cornbread is the 50/50 cornmeal/flour…it’s not a good mixture..your’s is true to southern form. She never admitted to putting sugar in it when asked, which I really think a lot of people do. But I know for a fact she did, because I watched her do it!

  • Mrs G

    I always add real corn and sour cream. Yum!

  • Carol

    Florida via Tennessee…Grew up in Tennessee & I’ve made cornbread since I was 8 years old. No sugar…preferably bacon grease, but have used Crisco (and long ago, lard) instead, both in the batter and in the skillet. I prefer white cornmeal (occ. a little flour) and buttermilk, but will use regular milk if I have to. You don’t have an iron skillet? Muffin tins are fine…same taste. And btw, I won a 4-H county bread baking contest when I was in the 5th grade!

  • Mary

    Wow, a lot of people are really passionate about no sugar. But I think you’re right Elise, the small amount of sugar would bring out the flavors in the cornbread–not make it sweet. It’s like putting a pinch of salt in a brownie or cake batter. In fact, there’s this savory indonesian dish using beef. I tried making it once, and it was missing something to make it as good as my mom’s. Apparently the secret ingredient was sugar!

  • Nilstria

    I wasn’t going to comment, but after seeing this debate, I couldn’t resist!

    My mother’s family is from Arkansas, but we’re all Texan down here. Regardless of ratios or sugar, there are two tricks to cornbread. You have the first one. Hot cast iron skillet with the oil. I consider cornbread cooked any other way to be blasphemous. The second trick is to use stone-ground cornmeal. White or yellow doesn’t matter (I didn’t know you could buy white cornmeal,) but stone-ground gives the bread such texture, body, and flavor that the regular grind stuff looks like flour in comparison. It’s so…rustic and Southern. When you have something as simple as cornbread, you need to use the best ingredients you have.

    Now, I use a bit of sugar in mine. Two tablespoons max. It brings out the flavor of the cornmeal so nicely without actually tasting sweet. I also use more baking powder. A heaping tablespoon.

    Here’s my great-grandmother’s recipe. Simple and easy to remember ratios.

    1 cup each AP flour and stone-ground cornmeal
    1-2 TB sugar
    Heaping TB baking powder
    1 1/2 tsp Season-all (I eyeball this)

    1 cup milk
    1/2 cup oil
    1 egg

    Makes the best cornbread I’ve ever had. And I agree with whoever said you should make a cornbread dressing post. Do that. I could eat my weight in my mother’s cornbread dressing. Yums.

    (Lastly, if the oil in your skillet is smoking, that’s because you burned it. That’s bad.)

    • Thi

      I am interested in making Nilstria’s grandmother’s recipe. Please share what to do once the cornbread is mixed.

  • Sandy

    Raised in the far reaches of SW VA and my grandmother made cornbread, no sugar, using lard in the skillet, but she brushed bacon fat on top of her biscuits (also made from scratch). I’m not a purist about the sugar, but I remember that Grandma’s had a saltier taste than I’ve tasted in anyone’s cornbread since. I’ve tried to find a cornbread that would stand up to hers, but have never managed it. She taught me to eat cornbread in milk (she used buttermilk) as a bedtime snack. But you really need a decent-tasting cornbread to begin with if you’re going to enjoy it in milk. It’s a good way to use up cornbread that’s gone slightly stale if it’s not near enough to a holiday to make stuffing. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  • Nini03

    I didn’t realize this would be such a hot button topic (or that it would cause such a passionate response in me that this long time lurker would finally comment). I’m from Tennessee, born and raised, and I’ve had my cornbread both with and without sugar. Usually, we add a little sugar to bread that we’re going to eat with a meal (with greens, pinto beans, etc.) or alone. For cornbread that we’ll turn into dressing, we omit the sugar. I use yellow cornmeal, not white. I also prefer butter to bacon grease. I prep the cornbread while heating the cast iron skillet and butter in the oven. Once melted, I mix in the butter and bake. My mother, also a Tennessean, adds sour cream to her cornbread. As you can see, there is no one right way to do it! Your recipe looks great, and I’ll try it the next time I make cabbage.

  • Rocky Mountain Woman

    I would just love a nice warm piece of that with some sweet butter right now!

  • Heather B

    Looks delicious! I love all varities of cornbread, sweet or not. I grew up in Texas with sweet (but not cake-y sweet) cornbread so that is my preference. However, I will not turn down a good slice of non-sweet cornbread!

  • Againstthegrain

    My introduction to Southern food was in Durham, NC, where I lived for a decade after graduating from college. Despite my northeastern roots, I quickly developed a deep affection for pulled pork BBQ with slaw on top, pimiento cheese sandwiches, savory grits, fluffy biscuits, hushpuppies, and many other Carolina & Southern specialties (but not “sweet tea” or okra!). When well made by hand with high quality traditional ingredients, there is nothing inherently unhealthful about these foods.

    I truly regret, however, consuming the amounts I did of the industrial versions of Southern foods – in particular, the biscuits made with industrial seed oil shortening (oh, the transfat ignorance was blissful back then), and the food service rendition of pimiento cheese that I often had for a snack or lunch from the Duke University Medical Center’s cafeteria are stuck in my mind like a bad song. My omega 3:6 fatty acid balance must have been seriously out of whack in those days, but I was still young enough to weather the nutritional abuse of industrial food. While I still love traditional Southern foods, I’m considerably more discriminating about the quality.

    The book Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, and set in North Carolina during the Civil war era, fascinated me with its rich details of food production, living off the land (talk about extreme locavorism), and which practical foods will allow survival during extreme hardship (it’s not kale, it’s pork fat!). The book’s romance characters paled in comparison to the story of how people survived and avoided starvation in that horrible time and desperate place.

    Melissa McEwan posted a blog recently about the healthful vs unhealthfulness of Southern food:

    Now pass the pulled pork, please.

  • Marzia

    Has no one ever taught some of you that if you ain’t got nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all… 1 or 2 tblsps of sugar in that amount of flour does not make a batter sweet like cake. It’s like putting a little salt in cake batter, it merely enhances the other flavors… and besides… read… she states in both the introduction and the recipe that it is OPTIONAL, and that you can leave it out… geez… alot like certain southern Italian women… a recipe is their way, or no way… il mondo è bello perchè e vario! What a boring world it would be if everyone made their corn bread exactly the same… I say Thank You Elise! for all your terrific recipes and for your really great blog!

    Grazie Marzia! ~Elise

  • Bronwyn

    Wow. This sugar / bacon fat / white / yellow / flour / egg debate is a bit of an attention getter in the States. Northern, Southern…
    Guess there’s a lot to be said for what you get used to eating as you grow up.
    Anyway, over here in NZ, I love making & eating cornbread but I haven’t made it often enough or with enough of the variants to have a personal preference … Yet! Must make some more again soon. Yum!!!

  • JKHH

    I use 1.5 c cornmeal and .5 flour, add 1/2 tsp Baking soda and also use 1/4 c honey and either olive oil or canola oil (not a meat eater any more) but I did used to use bacon grease. The honey does NOT make it sweet but adds some richness. The cast iron skillet is the key, the batter must sizzle when you pour it in the pan. Adding chopped green chiles or jalapenos and a little cheddar is yummy, too.

  • Claire L.

    This native Alabamian says “No sugar, ever, in cornbread!” I make mine in my grandmother’s cast iron skillet. Lately, I’ve tried it with coconut oil instead of butter, bacon grease or shortening, and I really like it! It gives a nice crunch on the edge. Of course, it’s not only just for eating by itself, but it’s a must-have ingredient for Thanksgiving dressing.

  • Robyn

    Most of my family always used White Lily Self-rising Cornmeal Mix when I was growing up in Georgia. Since it’s not that common in California, I make mine similar to this recipe, except I use equal parts cornmeal and flour, and use butter or oil, eggs and buttermilk. And 1-2 Tbs of sugar. It’s not sweet at all, just gives a boost to flavor and browning. My mom and I like the crunchy outside that comes from baking it in a hot cast iron skillet. So, I use a 12″ skillet so it’s thinner and has more crust. No fluffy corn cake for us :).

  • Julie S.

    I’ve lived in Texas for 40+ years & don’t know anyone who uses sugar in their cornbread. I learned to make cornbread from my mom and grandmothers. They were all three Illinois girls who never used sugar either, so not sure it’s just a southern thing.

  • Melinda

    This looks very dry! And no to SUGAR in Southern Cornbread & white, not yellow for this Georgia Peach!

    It wasn’t dry, just a bit crumbly because this particular cornbread I made with all cornmeal and without an egg. When I’ve made them with egg, they hold together well. ~Elise

  • Carolyn

    I’m from Charleston, SC….no flour, NO sugar, smoking hot cast iron pan and bacon drippings.

  • Sharmila

    I love that the sugar is optional. I’m still on the fence about how I feel about the sweetness of maple syrup or sugar in cornbread. I’ve come to understand people have strong feelings one way or the other. I’m waiting to be convinced but meanwhile, this is perfect!

  • Jennifer

    Funny about the sugar debate. My parents make theirs with no sugar, ever. But, to me, seems a tad dry. I add the small amount of sugar and it is much more flavorful and moist. I’d say it won’t kill anyone to try it with the sugar, but, c’mon… We’re dealing with Southerners here.

  • Daniel

    I’m a Texan born n’ bred, but I don’t follow many “rules” when I cook. Cornbread is a favorite because you can do just about anything to it. A few successful experiments included (no necessarily together) garlic, agave nectar (2 or 3 drops, don’t go crazy), chipotle peppers, and even Sriracha Sauce (it was delicious). Bacon grease is the primary lubricant for my cast iron skillet.

  • Shelley

    I remember My mom makin white cornbread and the next day she would soak it in buttermilk It took a while for me to appreciate the flavor but it was worth it.

  • devon from fallbrook, ca

    Beans and Cornbread had a Fight. Look it up if interested. It is a nifty little song you could jump and jive to while cooking this with children or grandkids. Beans and Corn Bread is a 1949 jump blues song by Louis Jordan and Tympany Five. Find it on You-Tube or where all y’all get your grooves.

    Great song! Thanks for bringing it to our attention. Here’s the link: ~Elise

  • Christi

    I’m a South Carolina girl, and my family always made it with no sugar. It is funny how we will pour sugar into our desserts (and lots of other food) but turn up our noses at a few tablespoons of sugar in cornbread :)

    Our family’s “secret” was the divided round cast iron pan- comes out in 8 perfect triangles (higher crust ratio = more crunchy, yum!) We also usually add some onion- just a little very finely diced, it gives a great (but subtle) flavor. Other musts: a well-seasoned cast iron pan, and good quality cornmeal (stone ground and fresh).

  • Jane

    Southerners never use sugar. Also, the recipe seems dry to me in the pictures. I heat a cast iron skillet in the oven with shortening at 425 degrees. While it is heating, I mix Cornmeal mix (which contains cornmeal, flour and leavening ingredients) together, beat in an egg and then add buttermilk until I reached a consistency which will pour easily. When the skillet is almost smoking, I pour most of the heated shortening into the mix to make it silky smooth and activate the leavening. I leave some in the pan to keep the cornbread from sticking. The heated pan is essential. When the cornbread is brown on top, about 20 minutes, remove from oven and serve. You can make any amount, so I just eyeball it.

    Hi Jane, the cornbread pictured was made with 100 percent cornmeal and without an egg, so it was a bit on the crumbly side, hence the photo. It was not at all dry though. ~Elise

  • almoore

    I grew up on beans and corn bread. This recipe sounds great, I can’t wait to try it. I do like to preheat the skillet smokin hot before adding the batter. My neighbor’s mom used to make it that way and the crust was fantastic. Mom used to preheat the pan of grease then pour most of the grease in the batter. My neighbor’s mom would get the pan so hot when she poured the batter in it would sizzle and start to fry.

    The butter sounds like a good idea too. My corn bread comes out on the dry side. And bacon just makes everything taste better. Mom never used sugar but I think I’ll give it a go at least once.

  • Shelby

    One thing I have not seen in your comments: since I only use bacon grease for cornbread, I don’t save it- I put 2 thin slices of bacon in the cast iron
    pan as the oven is heating. Take out the bacon,pour batter into the hot
    bacon grease-never sticks, always crusty. I am Southern! 2Tbl.sugar is just right! Also, 2 Tbl.flour with white cornmeal-any kind of oil-buttermilk – and only 1 egg. Secrets abound- it’s really what you get use to having. Thanks,
    you posted a good recipe.

  • Jim Bennett

    I have enjoyed this conversation, but like someone else mentioned, I am surprised that cornbread does not have sugar, seems like everything else southern does!
    I wanted to ask another question: does anyone have a recipe they use for corn pancakes? I could not find a recipe in the cookbooks that I usually use. I used JIFFY in the past but like to make it from scratch now.

  • skibotex

    I’m from Florida and all my kin grew up or still live in GA. As I remember, My Aunt Charlotte used to make two kinds of cornbread. One with sugar and one without. It always depended on what was for dinner. If it was for soppin, Pintos and ham, Butter Beans it was no sugar. More like a biscuit. If it was for treat after dinner it had sugar and was more like cake, (not sure how that recipe went). We would eat with Strawberry jam or syrup. It was great both ways but I do like my soppin style. Always Butter milk, egg and Bacon Drippin’s in the soppin style. I’d have to ask about the sweet Cornbread Cake Recipe but maybe it was just the sugar. Also there was a little thing she used to do to her corn which was add a TBLSP of suger to the water for each ear when she boiled it. Ever heard of Sweet Corn? Don’t hate…Relate.

  • Paula

    I grew up in North Dakota where corn bread was yellow and sweet, but very good. Then I moved to lower Alabama where corn bread(according to my mother in law anyway) was white, dry and tasteless. I couldn’t get yellow corn meal so I found a good recipe for white and it does include sugar. I’m not talking about a lot, just a little will enhance the flavor of your corn meal and help get that crispy crust. I use a local corm meal now and the recipe on the back calls for sugar. So somebody else in Alabama is sneaking sugar in their cornmeal. And always use an iron skillet. I don’t think it’s even legal to make corn bread in a cake pan. Watch out for the southern corn bread police!

  • Karen

    I loved reading all the comments. I’ve had the best of both worlds! My mom’s family is from Georgia. Mom makes her corn bread with sugar. Her sister Evelyn, did not – and used white corn meal. I have an appreciation for both.
    I think my own family would be in shock if they ever tasted corn bread without sugar.

  • Lettie

    My husband and and I preferred honey instead of sugar in our cornbread.

  • Bill Boswell

    As you can see from the comments, cornbread with sugar is a “Yankee” thing. Once in Maine, with a partially eaten plate of “cornbread” on the table, I was asked if I would like a desert. So, I told here that I had already had it……..

  • Paul Carroll

    Texan, manning a forward outpost in the hinterlands of Oregon:

    Mince up a jalapeño and a clove or two of garlic, plus a sprinkle of fresh chopped chives, if you have them. Any herbs work fine, truth be known, just don’t get carried away (a problem for me).

    Consider using creme fraiche instead of butter (bacon grease is good!) and a scant tbsp of honey (no sugar otherwise).

  • Shel F.

    I moved to Illinois from Texas about 8 years ago now. One of the culture shock moments for me was realizing that up here, cornbread could easily be considered dessert! It doesn’t just have sugar in it, it’s so sweet you can see and smell the sugar in the finished product before you even get around to tasting it!
    Not for this Texas girl. Cake is sweet, cornbread is NOT. I’m having no luck converting the natives to this way of thinking, however *grin*.

    I’ve also had to change my answer to the question “Do you like cornbread?” when asked by an Illinoisian. If I say yes, they will gleefully present me with an alternative for cake.

  • Shannon of Arkansas

    Buttermilk is needed when plain flour and cornmeal are used. The acid in the milk activates the baking powder so the batter will rise as it bakes. Sour milk is fine, and a teaspoon of vinegar stirred into a up of milk will work. Just wait a minute or so ’til it thickens. A good self rising corn meal MIX will cut out getting flour everywhere as I usually do. Don’t make the batter too thin, like one would a cake mix. Don’t beat it to death either.
    Bacon grease is for flavor. I can’t see tainting a pan of cornbread with olive oil,
    Sugar in the batter? Then bake it in a muffin tin, and call it a corn cake. Whatever taste folks are accustomed to is the way to go tho’.”

  • Kate

    Huh. Well, I’ve read all these comments with interest. My very southern friend, born in Florida panhandle, Atlanta parentage and now himself living in Atlanta gave me his cornbread recipe. It included at LOT of sugar. Actually, he had a version that use sweetened condensed milk, fer pete’s sake. Did he snooker me? Wow, stupid northerner that I am, I believed him. Trouble is I LOVE his recipe. Almost sticky sweet and goes GREAT with his spicy Cajun food (did I mention he went to college and lived in Louisiana for quite a while?) and his chili. I think he has impeccable southern cred. But he sure has a different take on cornbread than y’all.

  • Linda Harrington

    Having grown up “southern” I think you are right on except for the sugar! No Sugar! These days though with only two of us at home I make the cornbread into muffins and freeze them to eat with homemde soups. Yummy!

  • Edward Sudduth

    I have lived in Mississippi all my life. The way my Grand-Mother made cornbread was twice the yellow cornmeal (fresh ground) as flower. Eggs were from the chickens on the yard and the bacon grease was from our own hogs, WITH NO SUGAR! My Granny used buttermilk, and lard from the pigs instead of butter. Your recipe brought back some really good memories. I’m 35 and I still make this cornbread from memory. Thanks.

  • Laura

    But…the best cornbread of all for me is always gonna be hot water cornbread. I want that in the ground with me when I go.

  • Paul M.

    As a Philadelphia Yankee (with some South Carolina relatives from waaaay back,) I respect both recipes. But please don’t call yellow cornmeal with added sugar Southern or, for the sake of expediency, substitute yellow for white just because you can’t find it locally. Northern is more like a yellow cake while southern is more like a light savory biscuit. INHO, they are two different renditions altogether.

  • joanne stone

    Great cornbread at our house has to be crispy on the bottom….the only way to accomplish that is to flip it over the minute you take out the oven….if not, it sweats and the bottom loses that crunchy goodness. You don’t need sugar…just an added calorie…I add a little olive oil to the batter, as well as in the muffin tins…(which are almost as old as I am…they are pitiful looking but cook great!)I like using White Lily cornbread mix and buttermilk…Ahhhh…cornbread….one of life’s great comfort foods!
    By the way….LOVE the recipes that appear on this link!

  • Paula

    We Southerers love to talk about our cornbread, don’t we? Traditionally my family used vegetable oil heated in the iron skillet in the oven. Put it in when you turn the oven on, and when the oven comes up to temp the oil will be perfectly hot. Corn meal “mix” was used by both sides of my Carolina folks from the time it was invented. Half flour,half white corn meal (self-rising) , buttermilk most of the time, 1 egg. Cracklins were Grandmother’s occasional treat. I don’t think you can find the mix outside of the South, but I recently found some reasonably priced on Amazon. Hooray, no more hauling it back in my suitcase!
    I’ve experimented some. A teaspoon or two of sugar actually complements it without being sweet and makes for nice browning. You can healthify it by using all olive oil and a combo of whole wheat flour and coarse corn meal, hearty and delicious. I love to add rubbed sage and dried onion for a dressing taste, and always do that when I fix it to actually make dressing. I recently used melted butter for all the oils, and it was sooo good.
    Good soupy pintos and cornbread is one of my favorite meals. Throw some good ol collards on the plate for perfection.
    I never order cornbread in a restauraunt here in the PNW unless I want dessert. I’ll never understand dunking corn cake in your chili!

  • kate C.

    So funny to see all the southerners complaining about a tablespoon or two of sugar in cornbread! Have they ever tried it? It’s not the same as that super-sweet cake-like stuff, which I don’t like either (midwest girl with mom from rural southern IL, which has some southern similarities, and uses 2T of sugar in cornbread :).

  • Linda Neyland

    I’ve been making cornbread since 6 years old
    (I’m now almost 75.) Buttermilk for sure;
    only very little flour; egg for sure;
    sugar NO !!! Who wants cake???? Cook in an
    iron skillet for sure. “Southern” at its
    BEST !!!!!!

  • Gregg

    Leave sugar out of corn bread and no beans in chili. :)

  • gablesgirl

    I have a similar recipe from Helen Corbitt’s cookbook using 1/4 cup of lard melted in the pan. No sugar! Delicious.

  • Reli

    Hi, Elise! Long time reader, first time commenter. I am from the north (Cleveland) but my family hails from the south 2-4 generations ago – Louisiana, Mississippi, and I think Georgia. In any case, I grew up eating southern cornbread, and the first time I tried Jiffy I was completely revolted! As far as my family is concerned sugar does NOT belong in cornbread, although buttermilk does when it’s available. My mom preheats her skillet in the oven with the vegetable oil already in it, as well as a little cornmeal sprinkled in. It adds a nice texture to the bottom crust. My husband was born in the south but grew up in a family that does not cook from scratch, so he prefers his sweet. But I do not know anyone from a southern cooking family who would eat sweet cornbread. It tastes like some weird dessert. Thanks for posting such amazing recipes all the time. Your blog is one of my go-tos.

  • Betty M

    I grew up in Alabama and my grandmothers made cornbread a great deal like this recipe. We didn’t put sugar in ours though. I make my own cornbread mix and keep it handy. 2 cups yellow self-rising cornmeal mixed with 1/2 cup self rising flour is my ratio. To that I add two eggs, 1 cup milk and 1/4 cup oil (you could use bacon drippings if you wanted). I liberally coat the cast iron pan with oil and put it in the oven to heat up as the stove preheats. Then I pour the mixture into the hot pan and bake for 20 minutes. My family loves it.
    My mom likes to put cracklins in it or turnit into “Mexican” cornbread with cheddar cheese, chopped jalapenos, creamed corn.

  • June Lovell

    i’m a SoCal gal with parents from Little Dixie (aka SEOkla). this is the deal with cornbread in my family: ‘clabbered’ milk (as my dear, departed Daddy would say) or buttermilk; big, black cast iron frying pan heated with bacon drippings (which used to be kept in a bowl on the back of the stove but now go in the frig); white/yellow cornmeal; baking pwdr; no more than a tsp of sugar; batter to make a thin round (about an inch high). my Dad would break up cold, leftover cornbread and put it in a glass of buttermilk and eat it with a spoon ‘larruping good!’ Best with slow cooked pinto beans/black eyed peas/chili/soup/stew. i ordered pinto beans and cornbread in Idabel, OK, one time and bread was prepared like a thick pancake–crust on both sides, oh lawdy….

  • Susan

    Southerners and their “no sugar” cornbread! It’s almost as bad as the Mayonaise/Miracle Whip people! I use a couple of Tbsp’s of sugar sometimes. It doesn’t make it sweet, just brings out the corn flavor. The best southern style cornbread I’ve ever eaten was a recipe from Cook’s Country magazine. It had no sugar or flour it in. The recipe had you toast the cornmeal, like you’d toast nuts, just enough to bring out the corn flavor but without browning the cornmeal. You then soak the hot cornmeal in the buttermilk to soften it and until cool enough to add the eggs and leavener. Meanwhile, you heat the cast iron skillet in the oven with oil (enough to coat the pan) then add some butter to melt and pour it in the batter. It was moist and held together without crumbling, with a good crust and the corn flavor was outstanding. Best I’ve ever eaten!

  • Rich Hill

    Put the grease, butter or oil in the skillet so it is hot when you blend the wet and dry ingredients.
    Let it rest 30 minutes? Let it rest long enough to get a tall glass from the cupboard and an ice tea spoon. Cut a slice and break it into the glass. Burn your fingers a little and then pour buttermilk over the bread and enjoy.

  • Edith

    I learned to make cornbread (without measurements) by my grandmother’s side around age 4! Having been reared in Mississippi and marrying a Chicago boy, I’ve had to compromise a bit. I now add two eggs to my cornbread to fluff it up a bit for the northern tastebuds (not so dense and less gritty). My family never used buttermilk (just reg milk) and didn’t add grease of any sort to the batter, just to the hot pan. You’re spot-on in directing to preheat the cast iron skillet. We flip out bread in the pan, before resting.

  • Babs

    Too funny re the sugar/no sugar opinions. I’m from Tennessee/North Carolina, and we’ve always made it with sugar when serving with certain foods, without when serving with other foods. And with bacon grease, in a cast iron skillet (the original “non-stick” cookware). Either way is southern, and either way is the “right” way. It’s how you like it, what your tradition is, just like anything else.

    My absolute favorite way to eat cornbread – has to be the type without sugar – is leftover with oatmeal in the morning. PERFECT!

    Also: torn up in a glass of buttermilk, and eaten with a spoon.

  • Leslie

    Always a cast iron skillet, always heated with the shortening or drippings (I’ve used both. Bacon drippings are the best, but there’s only so much bacon fat I’m willing to eat these days!)Always eggs and buttermilk. A teaspoon or so of sugar doesn’t hurt. The real sugar issue is adding enough sugar to make it taste sweet and cakelike, that’s really what most Southerners hate. There’s a difference in adding a half cup or a tablespoon. We all add salt to cakes, don’t we? Sugar and salt in proper balance enhance a lot of foods, both sweet and savory.

  • Quinn

    I’m so happy to see this recipe (and the comments; though I haven’t read all of them yet, I will!) because I’ve bought cornbread so many times hoping for the “right” toothsome texture and flavor, and instead end up with something like a cupcake :(

    Guess it’s time to make my own! And my first batch will have no egg, only because my hens are all moulting and have stopped laying. I noticed this morning that one of the hens is almost completely feathered again, so maybe my second batch will have an egg for comparison.


  • Martha

    . . . just to add a note to my previous comment. I use The self-rising cornmeal. The Crispy crust is wonderful. Love eating hot cornbread with a fresh sliced garden tomato.

  • Kitty Temperley

    Golly, how good to see a cornbread discussion. I grew up in Louisiana and my grandmothers never used sugar. Both used castiron skillets that were heated red hot in the oven with corn oil that would then be pored into the batter. I live in England now, but still make my cornbread in my Grandma Powe’s castiron skillet, which I figure is going on a hundred years old now. It’s so black with years of cooking that nothing sticks to it. My Grandma Woodward used white cornmeal and I think no flour or eggs so her’s was a wonderful chewy dense cornbread that was great in a glass of ice-cold milk as an after school snack. Can’t get good stone-ground cornmeal here, but I make do with cornmeal from the Asian store. Would love to have some white cornmeal though.

  • Becki's Whole Life

    You are right. Calling something southern definitely stirs up controversy and that is one of the things I love about southern cooking! I do need to perfect my cornbread. I am a New Yorker living in North Carolina and I have to admit I like my cornbread on the sweet and cake-like side. However, my husband likes a more savory cornbread and I have been in search of a good recipe. The last recipe I made was from the back of a bag of Martha White cornmeal (I think) and it was pretty good, but definitely not the last recipe I will try. I will try this one next, which will be soon. I would probably drizzle with a little honey and my husband would probably just eat it as is.

  • Susan

    I’m a Bama girl. I won’t get into the sugar/no sugar debate (no sugar, ever) or the bacon grease option (it tastes and browns better with bacon grease! but you can use shortening)- but you should definitely turn the bread out of the pan immediately. otherwise the lovely brown crust turns soft. The light top during baking is meant to be on the bottom on serving.

  • JO jo

    I completely agree with the above comments that the oil/fat is heated in the empty skillet in the oven.

    My family is from Arkansas and we never used sugar or buttermilk, just regular milk, and we always heated up vegetable oil in the skillet. Then we poured that hot oil into the batter (leaving enough to still coat the pan), stirred it two or three times, and then poured it in the skillet and baked.

    The result is an amazingly crispy crust and a savory cornbread that is great crumbled into a glass of milk. It’s like the best breakfast ever.

  • raigna

    I grew up just south of the Arctic Circle. I used plain medium ground cornmeal slightly more then the amount of flour. An egg and some sugar. Yes, Don’t you use sugar in your yeast breads too? Sugar snobs. :)

    I used bacon fat and soured milk (who could afford buttermilk?). That was then. Now I use Bob’s course ground corn meal, whole wheat flour, browned butter in the batter, but bacon fat for the pan. I use it for everything, as bread by splitting a slice for sandwiches, with meals plain, toasted with jam, cheese, crumbled croutons if there’s any left for soup or salad. I make it in whatever pan I have handy since I don’t have a cast iron pan anymore, but I can’t recall it made any difference over pyrex, or metal, except looked cool. :)

  • Cindy

    My husband and I once visited my Dad (and step-Mom who was from New York) She made some chili beans and her version of corn bread. It was Jiffy Muffin Mix baked and cut into squares. We live in North Carolina so this Yankee version of so-called corn bread was just awful to us. I prefer to make mine with 2:1 white self-rising corn meal to self-rising flour. I use whole milk and buttermilk, 1 egg and about 1/2 c. shortening. Keep adding milk until it is just a little thinner than cake batter. Absolutely use a cast iron pan. I don’t heat mine. I grease it with shortening and dust it with flour and my corn bread never sticks.

  • BPR

    I’m from New Orleans and true southern cornbread never ever ever has any sugar in it!!!!! That is a yankee thing cause they can’t seem to eat it without sugar. The Nola way always has bacon drippins in it!!!

  • Todd

    Good starter recipe. The buttermilk and quality cornmeal is key. The bacon grease is not necessary. Plain olive oil or canola oil can be added to the hot skillet prior to adding the batter and works very well to brown the crust and keep it from sticking. You can add pimiento from a jar with juice, fresh jalapenos, green onion and cheddar cheese for a twist. Creamed corn can be added to this twist too but you have to cook it longer than expected and adjust for your other liquids. As a true southerner I dip my warm cornbread in buttermilk when I eat it with fried green tomatoes, black eyed peas or pintos with onions, collard greens and macaroni and cheese.

  • Lisa

    This old Southern gal learned to make cornbread from her Mama and Mamaw…always use a cast iron skillet and can’t imagine ever putting sugar in the bread!

    • Ronnie agree. Sugar makes cornbread taste like cake and should not be used.. I also prefer to leave out flour.

  • Martha

    I grew up in a southern state. I frequently make cornbread in a cast iron skillet. I use 1 egg, 2c white cornmeal, 1 1/2c milk, 2 tsp canola oil, (no sugar) batter will be somewhat thin.
    Grease the skillet sides and bottom with 3 TBS oil. (Tip) sprinkle 1 TBS cornmeal in the skillet to prevent the crust from sticking. Place the skillet on bottom rack of oven as it preheats.
    When oil is very hot and meal in skillet begins to brown, pour in the batter. Bake 30 min at 425. Last 10 mins I move the skillet to the middle rack so the top browns evenly. Results is delicious light fluffy cornbread.

    • Mary Milionis

      I love cornbread, I am not a Southern American but a Greek all the way from
      Athens. Where I come from, I the old days people survived eating cornbread.
      I’ve been looking for a good recipe and I think this comes very close to what I like. My problem is the bacon grease and the butter. I wonder if I use olive oil
      would it be ok?

      • Elise Bauer

        Sure, sounds like using olive oil instead of bacon would get you closer to what you had in Greece.

  • RM

    My mom is from the Midwest and my dad is from the South (I grew up in the South), so I grew up eating it both ways. A few years ago, when I was in college, my mom started making a hybrid version with buttermilk and 2 Tbsp of sugar, which is I believe relatively similar to this version. I think that’s my favorite way. But you can give it to me full on Southern style (although no bacon drippings…vegetarian here!) or Jiffy style (that’s as cake-like/sweet as I’ll go), and I won’t complain. I love me some cornbread!

    And @Kathleen, cornbread dressing is the best food ever! I’m in law school and can’t go home for Thanksgiving this year, and I’m so sad that I won’t get dressing!

  • Lynne

    I grew up in Mississippi. Had cornbread often with dinner and supper, and often milk and cornbread for a snack. Mom uses white cornmeal and just a little flour but never sugar. I think she uses one egg. No butter. Just canola oil or drippings if available. She told me people used to use lard. The way she browns the crust is swirling a fine coat of oil in the iron skillet and then dusting cornmeal (white) in the skillet. She browns the crust in the oven for about 5 minutes, then (carefully) removes it from the oven to add the batter. Then she bakes it normally. This makes for a really nice crust that holds up well in milk or with pot liquor from your peas, greens or butter beans. My grandmother baked hers in a wood stove when I was a kid. She had a regular oven but she swore that wood stove made for the best biscuits and cornbread. As the lucky little taste-tester, I would always agree!

  • pateberry

    I’ve lived nowhere other than the Deep South. If you are interested in cornbread made as both my grandmothers and my mother made it things will go like this: Put 4Tbsp bacon grease into small (2C) cold iron skillet and place into oven as it preheats to 425. While oven and skillet heat put 1C self rising cornmeal mix into small bowl. Mix a pinch of baking soda into 1/2 C buttermilk; stir in measuring cup. Crack and stir 1 large egg into cornmeal then add buttermilk to make a batter of medium consistency. When bacon grease has melted in oven, pour it into the batter, sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of dry cornmeal into skillet and return it to hot oven while melted grease is stirred into batter. Pour batter into skillet when meal in skillet has browned. Bake 15-20 minutes or bread is browned and crusty. To prevent sticking and a soggy crust, immediately turn out of skillet onto a paper towel lined dinner plate.

  • Marcia

    Love it! Just like my Mama used to make except she just used 1 Tbsp sugar.

  • georgia

    My mother used the cornmeal/flour ratio as in your recipe, but always yellow cornmeal. She used either shortening or bacon grease both in the mix and in the cast iron skillet to bake the bread in. Never, ever would she put sugar in her corn meal. As she said, “If I wanted cake I’d make a cake.” She used buttermilk if she had it and regular milk if she didn’t have buttermilk. Butter was never included in the batter. Butter was for slathering on the hot baked bread. However she made it it was always perfect and delicious.

  • Judi

    Oh my, you have touched upon a subject that I love…. cornbread. And whether or not to include sugar. I don’t and I don’t know anyone in my family or circle of friends who does either. But I’m from Georgia. :)
    My method is to heat the oil/bacon grease with the skillet. That way when you add the batter the whole thing sizzles and the crust is perfect when you remove it from the oven. As far as the flour/cornmeal ratio, I go for the same as you. Also, yes to the addition of egg.
    Mmmm, cornbread. Just don’t add sugar. Ever.

  • Tim Clark

    I’m always amused when I see Southerners complain about sugar in cornbread. I’ve lived in the south for years and over time I’ve discovered that cornbread is just about the only food all of us down here DON’T put sugar in. So I kind of think it’s a small step in the right direction. This recipe looks just about perfect to me.

    • gala2

      I wrote pretty much the same thing just above. Just for the sake of variety I suggest trying to add one to two teaspoons of sugar to your next batch. You won’t taste sugar. You’ll taste a more complex cornbread. If you taste any sugar at all in your cornbread, you are for sure adding too much. Although I can’t see how Southerners can actually taste something that doesn’t have sugar in it.
      I believe that Southerners think sugar is a flavor like chocolate, for example. My view on it is if the first thing you taste when you put something into your mouth is sugar, you are definitely doing something wrong unless you are making cotton candy.

  • KimH

    Haha… good thing you asked all your Southern readers to comment, cuz you knew they were gonna anyways, didntja? ;)

    Yeah, I can barely stand sugar in cornbread unless Im eating it like cake… gag! To get a good piece of cornbread in Yankee-land, ya gotta do it yourself. I keep hoping though. ;)

    Mom & Grandma always made it in the oven hot cast iron skillet too… Yum.. bacon grease.. yum!!

    I had a neighbor man (Old Man Myers) who was like a grandfather to me who use to mix white corn and yellow corn in his mix and it was the best cornbread I ever ate in my life.. but he wouldnt give me the recipe other than to tell me it had both types of cornmeal in it.

    Looking forward to trying your recipe, cuz I dont have a great one! Thanks! :)

  • Lori

    Never, never, ever any sugar. My Mimaw would roll over in her grave. She did often do a Mexican cornbread with cheddar cheese, jalapenos, and corn and only occasionally bacon. Always in a smoking hot cast iron skillet. Good hot or cold, but awesome with fried chicken or brunswick stew. Please, for the love of everything you hold holy, DO NOT add any sugar, for flavor balance or anything else. Another of her favorite jokes – Do you know the difference between a Yankee and a Damned Yankee? A Yankee will visit, but a Damned Yankee won’t ever go home!!! ;)

  • Debbie

    I make cornbread in the same cast iron skillet used by my grandmother many years ago. My favorite part of the cornbread is the outside crust made nice & crunchy by adding the batter to the skillet after the butter has melted in it in the oven. This Carolina girl likes a tad bit of sugar added to the batter. I’ll give your recipe a try to see how it compares to the one I use from an old issue of Southern Living.

  • Kathleen

    OH. Didn’t even mention cornbread dressing. You could do a whole post on cornbread dressing.

  • Kathleen

    Louisiana – sugar! We also do all the incarnations of canned cream corn, mexican corn, jalapenos. Its like soup. You want more than one flavor of soup. Red beans and rice, gumbo. Cornbread is the go-to sopper upper.

  • marykistre

    Question: How necessary is it to cook the cornbread in a cast iron skillet? If I didn’t use one, would it seriously affect the result?

    • denver

      yes use cast iron the heavy cast iron once heated holds the temp up to start
      cooking the crust nice and thick thin pans will cook the bread but with thin crust and the crust is the best part…. west Virginia hillbilly raised appalachia hills

    • Susi Franco

      Hi Mary—you can use a heavy rectangular pan (or any shape cake pan of substantial weight you may have, even an Air-Bake pan will work well; thin pans won’t do the trick), but you’ll want to put it in a pre-heated hot oven with a stick of butter in it to melt and heat up the pan ( have your batter ready to go first and don’t let the butter burn!); a hot baking surface when the batter hits it is what helps create a wonderful crust; you’ll know you’ve done it well if the batter “curls” around the edges when you put it in your pan. A cast-iron skillet will turn out a very consistent and reliable “crust” on your cornbread every time, but you can still make a respectable cornbread without one. You can always get a cast iron skillet later on.

  • Dottie

    Southern born, raised and educated. Cook cornbread the way my grandmama did. Definitely must use: cast iron skillet, buttermilk, egg. No sugar or flour. Put the bacon grease in the skillet and heat in a 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Pour hot bacon grease into cornbread mixture. It should really sizzle when you pour into mixture.. Bake for 20 minutes. This results in no sticking to the pan and a crusty exterior to the bread. As soon as you remove from oven, turn bread over in hot pan and let rest for no more than 10 minutes.

    • Sheryll & Critters.

      NO Sugar, NO Flour, NO butter except in the REAL buttermilk. If you do not have bacon grease, use corn oil…… but definitely NO sugar or flour in mine. I am born and raised and retired in my south…… so yes I consider Southern Cornbread, just that… CORNBREAD…. NOT cake!

    • bruce

      Amen, Dottie. NO Flour, NO Sugar, prefer buttermilk, but can use whole milk.

      And absolutely MUST heat that skillet well before adding mixture! I also like to sprinkle a pinch or two of cornbread to the hot grease. Let it brown just a bit before adding the batter. Just a thing my Momma taught me.

      BTW, Alabama born and 53 year resident. I was raised in the Mountains of Northeastern Alabama and I have never heard of any of the old folks using flour in cornbread. AND if you can find it, try using cornmeal that is fresh stone ground. I grew up near a grist mill and my Grandmother always used the fresh ground.

  • Jon

    Every Southerner has a take on cornbread but you definitely have a good starter recipe here. Mom never measured anything, but I would guess the corn meal, White Lily of course, to flour was about 50/50. About 2-3 tablespoons of bacon grease in the skillet to heat up and once it was hot add some grease and the buttermilk to the dry mix. If you want to kick it up a notch find some cracklings and add to the batter, now that is real eating! You are right about heating the skillet up, but she would get the grease to the smoke point and when the batter hit the pan it would develop this incredible crust that was the best part.

  • Mary Black

    Your recipe and directions are certainly appropriate for Southern cornbread. I am 74 years old and have eaten a tremendous amount of various cooks renditions of this bread and this recipe is close to standard. If someone wants to try ‘southern cornbread’ this recipe will certainly give you a sampling of what it is all about!

    My mother would say —-the small amount of sugar is a good thing. Brings out the flavors! You other southerners —quit nitpicking!!! Every family has a tiny little ‘secret’.

    • ANnE

      Amen to that!

    • Susi Franco

      I am Southern by birth & long tradition, although transplanted to New England since the 70’s, and have ALWAYS added sugar to my cornbread ; my Grandmother, a formidable Southern cook, used it and as a few others have said here, she felt it emphasized the other flavors. Following her tradition, I do too. My cornbread is not dry and mealy but moist & has a very fine crumb, almost cake-y in texture and my family would absolutely revolt if I made it any other way. It is also not overly sweet nor cloying; just a comfortable note you barely notice in the bite.The recipe stated is a very good one, I feel, and traditional. Tradition is important to most cooks, I think, and dictates how we do what we do, but I think respecting other’s traditions is just as important~ Good Eatin’ to you all~ :)

  • Stuart Macdade

    Add creamed corn to create a deliciously moist corn bread. Try it, you’ll like it!!……((=”~

  • A.A. Bruisee

    I grew up in north Alabama. My Mom mixed two cups yellow self-rising cornmeal, one cup self-rising flour, an egg or two, enough buttermilk to make a nice batter, then stirred in a couple of tbsps of bacon drippings. Once in a blue moon, she’d throw in some pork cracklings. No sugar. I use the recipe in the Pioneer Woman link when I make cornbread. I add a teaspoon of sugar and use bacon drippings. I have cousins who use mayonnaise instead of eggs in their cornbread. When I was 8 in 1956, my Grandfather let me accompany him in his mule-drawn wagon to the local grist mill to have corn that he himself had raised and shelled ground into cornmeal

  • Jackie

    This Louisiana girl would NEVER put sugar in cornbread! I don’t use bacon drippings, either – a scant amount of canola oil to grease the pan is sufficient.

  • Debbie

    Southern born and raised, grew up eating cornbread nearly every night for supper, as my mother called it. White cornmeal definitely, with some flour, an egg, buttermilk if possible, NO sugar. I preheat the bacon drippings with the iron skillet. This is a good southern cornbread recipe!

  • Debbie

    I grew up in Texas. When my mother made cornbread she used mostly cornmeal and a little bit of flour. Probably close to your ratio of the two. A tiny bit of sugar. Crisco in a cast iron skillet that was put in the oven to heat up and melt. Taken out of the oven and the extra melted crisco was dumped into the cornbread mix. No butter or bacon grease,ever! Regular milk and 1 egg and some baking powder. Unfortunately my mother was a dump cook, as am I most of the time. She tried to guesstimate her measurements for cornbread and it just wasn’t the same.