BEST Crispy Southern Cornbread Recipe (5th Generation Recipe!) (2024)

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This crispy southern cornbread recipe is passed down 5 generations, so it’s tried and tested to say the least! It’s gluten free and simple to make, too. Quick, classic, mouthwatering comfort food you’ll make over and over again – kind of like easy buttermilk biscuits.

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The humble skillet of cornbread. For me, it conjures up memories of childhood and my grandma’s house. Every time my sweet mom comes to visit, she whips up a skillet of crispy cornbread goodness.

The women in our family have been making it for 5 generations now, and it’s so special to us that I have it framed in my kitchen. The perfect quick side dish for any meal – you won’t be able to help feeling good after eating this country staple!

But… is cornbread healthy?

The short answer… yes! Here’s why:

Cornbread is a traditional food that has been eaten for centuries.

Cornbreadwas one of the main parts of the diet of many North American nativesand settlers – for good reason. The ingredients (mainly ground corn, milk, and egg) were easy for them to obtain.It sustained many of our pioneer and traveling ancestors and it can keep you going strong too!

Cornbread is a nutrient-dense whole grain.

A whole grain is one that has not been separated and stripped of its nutrients. Cornbread contains manygreat elementslike magnesium, calcium, iron, folate… the list goes on.

Corn bread contains all 10 of the essential amino acids, building blocks for proteins that control growth, cellular processes and organ function. A newer field of inquiry concerns antioxidants, chemicals that protect cells against damage by oxidation. (source)

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Cornbread is a great complex carbohydrate.

The humble cornbread doesn’t get enough attention. The low-carb trend has caused many to miss out on this simple pleasure.

God created corn, among other complex carbs, with a purpose. Complex carbs are essential for energy, sleep, mood, and metabolism. One Green Planet says,

Without carbs you may become foggy-headed, feel light-headed, have a hard time concentrating, feel sad or depressed, or just not feel like yourself. You may also have a harder time retaining information. Don’t deprive your brain of carbs- it needs them!

Indeed, cornbread has some mighty benefits to boast of for a strong body!

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How to Make a Gluten Free Cornbread Recipe Without Flour

Notall types of cornbread are created equal. I wouldn’t recommend buying a box of Jiffy and calling it good. The healthiest cornbread is made from scratch, preferably using simple, non-GMO and organic, stone ground cornmeal.And it’s stinkin’ delicious.

You may not realize this, but the traditional southern method is to make a cornbread recipe with cornmeal only. Cooks didn’t start using flour until later on, when corn grinding methods changed and the cornmeal was lower quality (they added wheat flour to restore the texture).

All you need for the perfect cornbread recipe is good quality cornmeal, a rising agent like baking powder, egg, buttermilk, and oil for the skillet.

The Cornbread Debate: Sugar or No Sugar?

Also, classic southern cornbread is made WITHOUT sugar! Yes, you heard me right.

This is an age-old debate, but sugar was also added later on to help with the taste and texture of lower quality cornmeal. When you have the good stuff, there’s no need to add anything else. And if you use the recipe below, you won’t want to! Plus, who needs added sugar anyway?

According to Serious Eats,

For all but the wealthiest Southerners, the daily bread was cornbread.“In the interior of the country,” aNew York Timescorrespondent observed in an 1853 article about Texas, “cornbread forms the staple article of diet—anything composed of wheat flour being about as scarce as ice-cream in Sahara.” Biscuits made from wheat flour are very closely associated with the South, but for most Southerners they were rare treats reserved for special occasions like Sunday dinner.

The Real Reason Sugar Has No Place in Cornbread

What to Serve with this Crispy Southern Cornbread Recipe

Cornbread is the perfect accompaniment to pretty much any meal! Here are some great recipes to pair with it:

How to Make a Moist Cornbread Recipe That’s Full of Flavor

The absolute KEY to the perfect skillet of cornbread is the method. I’m going to share some tricks of the trade to help you achieve an old fashioned cornbread recipe that’s so good, you’ll forsake all others.

  • Pour your batter into a HOT (almost smoking) skillet. Getting your skillet extremely hot creates that brown, crispy crust we all know and love. In fact, the crust is so good that my grandparents used to cut all the crusty edges off the cornbread and eat those first.
  • Don’t overmix the batter. This is really important to ensure your cornbread is super moist and not dry (the hot skillet helps, too).
  • Use real, quality buttermilk. The buttermilk imparts such a delectable flavor to this recipe and is key for a soft, spongy interior! But, if you don’t have any, there is a way to make this southern cornbread recipe without buttermilk. Just add a splash of white vinegar to regular milk and let it sit for a few minutes. It’s definitely not the same as real buttermilk, but it’ll do in a pinch.
  • Use quality ingredients and tools. I recommend this cornmeal and either bacon grease (you can strain and save it in the fridge anytime you cook bacon) or this oil for the perfect skillet of cornbread. And of course, a quality cast-iron skillet is a must.
  • Substitute wisely. In all honesty, this cornbread tastes best by staying true to the recipe. But if you have food sensitivities or preferences, try these ideas. If you want to try making this cornbread without eggs or milk, do the following: You may substitute the milk with non-dairy milk. You may also make egg free or vegan cornbread by grinding up 2 tablespoons chia seeds, mixing with water, and letting it sit for a few minutes. It will create a gelatinous compound that’s a great egg substitute! Here’s the full run-down from Whole New Mom on how to make a chia egg substitute.

Now I’m going to let you in on the most prized recipe in my family history. Even better, it is SO easy to make (it literally takes 5 minutes to whip up).

Note: This recipe is for use with a standard size 10” cast iron skillet.

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Yield: 8 servings

Crispy Southern Cornbread Recipe (5th Generation Recipe & Gluten Free!)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

The best southern cornbread recipe ever, passed down FIVE generations. This gluten free cornbread is quick, tasty, crispy, and healthy.


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp high heat oil (like refined coconut), or bacon grease for extra flavor


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat a skillet on medium high heat until hot. Add oil to a cast iron skillet and allow to heat. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure the oil doesn't start to smoke.
  2. While the pan/oil is heating, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a large mug or small bowl, whisk egg and buttermilk together. If batter appears too thick, add a little more buttermilk.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
  4. When the oil starts to dance (appears to be moving in the pan), pour batter into the hot skillet and transfer to the oven. You want a super hot skillet with plenty of oil to achieve the best crispy crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.


  • No buttermilk on hand? Just add a splash of white vinegar to regular milk, let it sit for a few minutes. However, for best results, use real buttermilk.
  • You can substitute the milk with non-dairy milk if you like.
  • To make this recipe egg-free, you can grind up 2 tablespoons chia seeds, mix with water, and let it sit for a few minutes. It will create a gelatinous compound that's a good egg substitute!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

8 Servings

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 116Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 426mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g

Now, print the recipe card (orPin this post) because you’re going to want to make this at least once a week!

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Are you team sweet or savory cornbread?


BEST Crispy Southern Cornbread Recipe (5th Generation Recipe!) (7)
BEST Crispy Southern Cornbread Recipe (5th Generation Recipe!) (2024)


Do southerners put sugar in cornbread? ›

Sugar Is Optional

Whether to include sugar or not in a southern cornbread recipe is an issue for debate. We've included as an option a tablespoon which just intensifies the flavor of the cornmeal; it doesn't make the cornbread sweet. The choice is yours as to whether or not to include it.

Why is my cornbread not crispy? ›

To achieve the crispiest golden crust on your cornbread, Delk Adams instructs you to grease the skillet liberally with bacon grease (if you don't have that, shortening, butter, or oil will do), then pop it into the hot oven for 5 minutes before pouring the batter in.

What is the difference between cornbread and southern cornbread? ›

She notes that Northern cornbread is sweeter, lighter, and more cake-like than Southern cornbread. Not surprisingly, it includes sugar (or molasses, in the earlier centuries), unlike traditional Southern cornbread.

What ingredient keeps cornbread from crumbling? ›

Add shredded cheese.

Melty, gooey cheese will hold your cornbread together and give it a fantastic flavor. Shredded cheddar cheese is best for most cornbread recipes, but you can try experimenting with another variety.

Why is southern cornbread not sweet? ›

The most common theory is a change in cornmeal itself. Until early in the 20th century, Southern cornmeal was made with sweeter white corn and it was water-ground. When industrial milling came along, that changed. The steel-roller mills used yellow corn that was harvested before it was ripe, so it had less sugar.

What does a pone of cornbread mean? ›

The term "pone" most likely entered English from Native American language terms like apan, oppone or supawn, meaning baked, possibly related to earlier ash cakes baked in hot coals. A "corn pone" is usually a small round loaf of cornbread, about the size of a biscuit, traditionally baked in a round cast iron skillet.

Should you let cornbread batter rest before baking? ›

By letting the cornbread batter sit at room temperature before baking, the cornmeal has some extra time to absorb the flavor from the other ingredients, and the baking powder gets a head start. I love using my cast-iron skillet for cornbread and preheat it before adding my batter.

How to crisp cornbread? ›

Cut the leftover bread into serving-size pieces and place on a baking sheet or other oven-safe dish in a single layer. Cover with aluminum foil to avoid burning and to keep the bread from getting too dry. Bake in a 350-degree F oven for 10 minutes, or until bread is warmed through.

Should cornbread batter be thick or thin? ›

The consistency of the batter should be a bit like pancake batter—a little on the thin side. Thick batter can result in dry texture and cornbread that crumbles easily after baking. If you feel your batter is too thick, simply add a splash of extra milk.

Which cornmeal is best for cornbread? ›

As for the best cornmeal for cornbread, either fine- or medium-grind cornmeal is a great choice. Medium-grind cornmeal will bring slightly more texture and grittiness to the batter, which you may or may not want (it's up to you!). You can use fine or medium cornmeal in these extra corny muffins.

Is white or yellow cornmeal better for cornbread? ›

Traditional southern cornbread is a staple in the south and is classically made from white cornmeal, although yellow cornmeal can be used, and cooked in a pre-heated cast iron skillet.

What is Southern cornbread called? ›

Hot water cornbread

This type of cornbread is often known as "hot water" or "scald meal" cornbread and is unique to the American South.

What does adding an extra egg to Jiffy cornbread mix do? ›

The extra egg which is increased protein and binder makes the cornbread denser and heavier in texture.

Why is my cornbread crunchy? ›

A scattering of dry coarse cornmeal in the hot skillet before you pour in the batter makes the cornbread extra crunchy. Flipping it onto a plate or rack also helps the crust stay crisp. Or you could make it thicker and cook it ahead of time, then split the slices and toast them before serving.

What makes cornbread less dry? ›

Add in some oil. Adding in oil will help to keep the cornbread moist as well. The extra oil and fat help to keep the cornbread hydrated while it is cooking, therefore, giving an extra moist cornbread when it is done.

Does traditional cornbread have sugar in it? ›

Over time, the basic pone recipe was enhanced to become cornbread. Cooks first added buttermilk and a little baking soda to help it rise. Later, eggs and baking powder made their way into many recipes. But there are two ingredients you almost never see in any recipes before the 20th century: wheat flour and sugar.

Did cornbread originally have sugar? ›

Early cornbread consisted of cornmeal, water, and salt and was baked over a fire or in a hearth. Without milk, eggs, or sugar, early versions of the bread were quite different than what we eat today, but they offered a vital source of energy.

Does cornbread mix have sugar in it? ›

Sugar provides color in baked foods, so food companies will almost always include it. Truly sugar-less cornbreads are often not as golden and brown as ones with some sugar.

What do Southerners eat cornbread with? ›

Serve Southern-style cornbread for breakfast with coffee or a glass of milk, offer it alongside a bowl of soup or chili for lunch, or pair it with fried chicken, beans, or pulled pork for supper. It's one of those great options that tastes great at any time of day.


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