Recipes

perfect, forever cornbread

Here is my almost-summer wish for us: I think we should bring a pan of freshly-baked, thick, buttery, crisp on top, and plush with a flavor that absolutely reverberates with corn underneath, to your next park/picnic/potluck. It goes so well with summer salads and snacky things. And when cornbread is good, really good, it feels criminal not to share. This is.


what you'll needgrind the corn with sugar and saltcornmealswirl into a skillet

If you go way back on this site, you might know I’ve been on the hunt for my forever cornbread recipe for almost as long as I’ve been blogging here. I’ve shared a few over the years that I like very much, they’re good cornbreads, I tell them while scritching them amicably behind their ears. But it wasn’t until more recently that I found the cornbread that will end my cornbread studies. Whatever will I do with my newfound free time? [Yes, write that next cookbook, I know.]

perfect, forever cornbreadperfect, forever cornbread

It started with a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but I’ve tweaked it a bit in the approximately 38 batches I’ve made in the last two years — less sugar, more corn, no waiting for ingredients to warm up, and one bowl — we’re going to make the whole thing in a blender or food processor. We’ll melt the butter in the skillet we bake the cornbread in, and it’s going to swirl around the top as it bakes, lucky us.

The edges get crunchy. The rise is gorgeous. You’ll throw some foil over it and take it to the nearest park, along with some salted butter (yes, buttery cornbread needs more butter on each piece, it’s not even up for debate) and regular or hot honey, if you’re into it. You’re going to spend as much of the summer as you can outside with your favorite people, away from endless screens. You have definitely earned this, and I hope it’s as delicious as it can be.

perfect, forever cornbread

Something new and exciting! I have launched an SK YouTube channel. Through the end of July, there will be a new recipe video each Wednesday morning. This summer I’m focusing on SK forever favorites. If you subscribe to the channel, you won’t miss even one (plus, YouTube cares a lot about number of subscribers so it helps me too). I hope you love it.

Previously

6 months ago: Vanilla Custard Slices
1 year ago: Beach Bean Salad
2 year ago: Raspberry Crumble Tart Bars
3 years ago: Ice Cream Cake Roll
4 years ago: Strawberry Graham Icebox Cake and Broccoli Rubble Farro Salad
5 years ago: Almond-Rhubarb Picnic Bars
6 years ago: Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake, Fake Shack Burger, and Swirled Berry Yogurt Popsicles
7 years ago: Carrot Salad with Tahini and Crispy Chickpeas
8 years ago: Greek Salad with Lemon and Oregano and Two Classic Sangrias
9 years ago: Vidalia Onion Soup with Wild Rice and Tzatziki Potato Salad
10 years ago: Classic Cobb Salad, Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce and Blue Cheese Scallion Drop Biscuits
11 years ago: Asparagus, Lemon and Goat Cheese Pasta and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
12 years ago: Martha’s Mac-and-Cheese, Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
13 years ago: Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
14 years ago: Homemade Oreos and Cellophane Noodle and Roast Pork Salad

Perfect, Forever Cornbread

I bake this in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet but you could also use a 9-inch skillet, 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake. Each will bake slightly thinner, so check in at the 25-minute mark, just to be safe. For cornmeal, almost any kind can do, but this medium-grind is my pantry go-to.

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
  • 1 cup (135 grams) fresh or frozen corn kernels, no need to defrost
  • 3 tablespoons (40 grams) light brown or granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1 cup (235 ml) buttermilk, well-shaken, cold is fine
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (155 grams) cornmeal

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut butter into chunks and place in an 8-inch cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet in the oven until the butter melts. Remove the pan, leaving the oven on.

In a blender or food processor, blend corn, sugar, salt until well-chopped. Pour in buttermilk with the machine running. Add in all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, leaving the rest in the pan. [Roll it around the bottom and sides of the pan to coat it.] Add the eggs and blend to combine. Add baking soda and baking powder and blend well, then scrape down the sides. Add cornmeal and flour, blending just to combine. Pour the batter into the buttered skillet and spread it flat — the extra butter will roll over the top.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm, in wedges or squares with more butter on top, and a squeeze of honey, if you like.

Leftover cornbread keeps for two days at room temperature; for longer than two days, I think the fridge is best in the summer. Rewarm before eating, either wrapped in foil in a 350-degree oven or briefly in the microwave.

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192 comments on perfect, forever cornbread

    1. deb

      As few dishes in SK history have given me this much agita to photograph — this post is a mix of photos from four batches — this means a lot!

      1. Ari

        Wondering if you could sub yogurt for buttermilk (or something else?) to get the same effect? Can’t wait to try!

        1. Marva Grossman

          You can absolutely use yogurt instead of buttermilk. In fact, I always do. It worked just fine in this recipe.

          1. Addie’s mom

            Bob’s Red Mill sells buttermilk powder that you add water too & make as much as you need it’s great. Love this recipe it’s perfect.
            Just a reminder to those who critique Deb we pay nothing for her posts if you want NY Times recipes it’s $60 a year. So a little respect if you don’t like her recipe then leave the sugar out or just make your family recipe. My husband is from TN loves this recipe.

          2. Jessica LouAllen

            Help! I checked my cornmeal and it’s buttermilk enriched self rising. Can I use it and omit some buttermilk and the leaveners? Thank you.

            1. deb

              I haven’t tested this with self-rising but if the only ingredients are cornmeal and baking powder or soda, you can probably use it for both. But if it has flour or anything in it, it might be closer to a cornbread mix, in which case, you should just make it according to its instructions for best results.

    1. joriley

      I just did these as muffins they work great! The batter divides perfectly into a standard 12-muffin tin. I would suggest checking them at 15 minutes, as I checked mine at 20 and they were just the tiniest bit dry. (That said, I also made them gluten free so that could have affected it.)

  1. Dawn

    I use this technique of melting my fat in the skillet! I picked it up from a peach cobbler recipe I used to use when I first got married. I like butter and bacon fat equally and the butter is even better if it browns before you add your batter. The hot fat usually sizzles when I add the batter. Love that sound since it equals a crisp edge!

  2. Tanvi

    Well now I want some cornbread ASAP! Do you think the recipe will suffer if I omit the corn kernels for some picky family members?

    1. deb

      First, keep in mind that you’re going to grind it, and if you want, you can even puree it. Nobody will know kernels are in it. But I woulldn’t omit without replacing with something else, perhaps more buttermilk, but I don’t know exactly how much without testing — maybe 3/4 cup?

      1. Mabel

        I think I will love this bread, except that I can’t use milk or milk products, so I’ll try to substitute it for almond or coconut milk…we’ll see how it’ll work itself out.

    1. deb

      There is a print icon that leads to a print template at the bottom of each recipe, where it says “DO MORE:” You can also click CTRL or ⌘ + P from any recipe post and it will take you to a streamlined print template. We will definitely make it easier to find when we next redesign.

  3. Lila

    As a 70 yr old southerner who has been following you since you began……your creativity and attention to detail and obviously, your palette, is beyond words…..your recipes and instructions are truly poetry……I am sure you know this trick, but when I read your divine cornbread recipe, I simply had to make sure you also tried it: after you pour the butter out of your skillet, put a little oil – your choice as long as it can get to high temp without smoking- and put skillet back in the oven for a bit. Then pour the batter in so that the batter sizzles and actually fries on the bottom. When you take it out of the oven, don’t worry about cooling, just run a knife around the sides of the skillet and flip it out with bottom crust (pure deliciousness) on top.
    Thank you for all the delight and pure joy you bring to the world.

    1. k

      Lila, I’ve often baked cornbread in a hot, buttered skillet, but never with that extra step of oil (and turning it out bottoms up). Thank you for the tip! I cannot wait to try it. Cornbread is always and forever improved by the color and texture contrast of a crispy edge.
      Deb, I’ve had the same problem with cornbread for years: though I’ve been making it for well over 30 years (from a myriad of recipes, including yours), I’ve always been annoyed deep in my mind that it’s never ideal. I do believe that this one will pair perfectly with your brisket – thank gods I have some in the freezer!

    2. TinaD

      Yes! I was thinking this—could you put the buttered pan back in the oven without burning the butter? But obviously the solution is to add oil. Southern cornbread NEEDS a crust…that’s the whole point of the cast iron skillet. Northern cornbread lends to a more straightforward bake because it’s essentially cake. (My dad, a Georgian, used to favor a cornstick pan, because of the ratio of crust to cornbread. I found it likely to dry the bread out…) I’m looking forward to giving Deb’s a try, although I must admit the sugar’s a little anathema.

  4. Hillary

    I’ve been following all the cornbread variations and just popped this one out if the oven. Drizzled honey and spread sweet whipped butter on the first warm slice. Girl, it’s a winner! So quick and easy. Made the batter in the fp thinking it would be easier to pull out vs. blender…it was. Used up the buttermilk and frozen TJ’s corn. All upsides! Thxs.

  5. JP

    It is still mild enough in the Bay Area to have cornbread with soup or chili. I most often have “Alber’s” that old store brand, in my cupboard and it makes wonderful cornbread. Glad that there is no toasting of the cornmeal or a ton of sugar. Cornbread should be savory in my opinion and not like cake. This looks so good! Will be trying it soon, so thanks as always!

  6. Carrie

    Oh – I will make this soon! I bought a cast iron pie plate recently that is perfect for cornbread (I’ve been making Alex Guarnaschelli’s recipe). Gorgeous pics!

    1. Marva Grossman

      I just made a batch of this using Bob’s Red Mill cassava flour instead of AP flour. (I have previously used cassava flour in other cornbread recipes, with good results.) I just pulled it out of the oven now. It looks good – I will come back later to report on the taste and texture.

      1. Marva Grossman

        Here to report that my cassava-corn bread turned out great! I haven’t tried the recipe exactly as written, so I can’t vouch that nobody will notice the difference, but it looked good, smelled delicious and tasted delicious, and even held together well while we sliced it and spread it.

  7. Ann

    Does the corn get crushed up? I don’t like corn kernels in my cornbread. Could they be left out or are they indistinguishable once blended?

  8. Susan Oher

    Just out of the oven and it’s the perfect antidote to the hail storm we just had! The house smells amazing. Served with a side of Mike’s Hot Honey and it is DIVINE!

  9. Leissa

    Has anyone tried making cornbread with masa harina? Does it require alterations if the recipe calls for corn meal? I can find corn bread recipes that use masa harina, but I didn’t encounter anything about swapping it for corn meal, only information saying that the two are different because masa is nixtamalized. I have a bunch of masa that I’d like to use up. Thanks!

    1. Melissa

      I didn’t bother to substitute- I just stirred in a seeded, finely chopped jalapeño right before pouring the batter into the pan. Next time I think I’ll add two! =)

  10. Camille Stephens

    This looks just like the way I was taught by my Midwest mother to make cornbread–you must use a cast iron skillet, a large amount of butter must be melted directly in the skillet, and the melted butter must pool on the surface of the batter, to create a crispy, salty, brown crust. You call for unsalted butter–which is fine for those who prefer less salty–but I have always loved this technique using salted butter, to give a salty bite to the crust of the bread. Thanks Deb for highlighting the art of good cornbread!

  11. Marcia

    This looks really special. Can’t wait to make it as soon as I have fresh corn.
    My family is a big fan of all cornbreads, and always with honey. I am so glad you mentioned honey because it is indeed the perfect pairing!

  12. Scott

    My Grandmother would roll in her grave for this recipe(she lived in Sand Mountain Alabama her whole life) Happy to share hers. Sugar? Blasphemy.
    You’ve taught me a lot, maybe I can share with you now..,

    1. Lisa

      Sand Mountain is tiny! How are so many of us here related to people from there?

      But look, make your cornbread how you like and stop telling other folks they’re wrong for liking different things. Your grandma ain’t eating this.

      1. Lisa, thank you! I had to laugh when I read your on-the-mark comment! This is a cooking blog by a very talented, self-taught cook. It is not a life and death discussion. Scott and Dale, do your thing, but, please, CHILL!

        1. Scott

          Would you make these comments to an Italian grandmother about her sauce, or an Asian family about their dumplings? I assume you would appreciate their cultural culinary heritage and respect that they have done it this way for generations for a reason. Yeah, my Grandmother isn’t eating eat as she died decades ago, but I respect what she taught me. Something I’m not seeing here.

          1. Julia

            Just as there is not one Asian dumpling, there is not one cornbread. Cornbread is made all over the United States (and likely the world, I don’t claim to be a culinary expert), and in some regions it is indeed sweet. And has been for generations! Alabama doesn’t own cornbread.

    2. JULIA Ro

      Not from Alabama over here. My grandparents never used sugar either, probably a result of the Great Depression. Deb generally uses very little sugar in her recipes, which I appreciate. I usually omit the sugar (unless someone catches me). :)

    3. PJ

      Nothing, but nothing, grinds my gears more than people who gatekeep recipes here or tell Deb she’s doing it “wrong”.

      As others have pointed out, there is no single “right” way to make cornbread. Some recipes use sugar; others don’t. Some use white cornmeal, others prefer yellow. Some incorporate corn kernels while others omit or avoid them.

      The important thing is to accept difference. It’s as true in recipes and foodways as it is in everything else in life. For Pete’s sake, save the outrage for things that matter.

  13. This is the worst advice on making cornbread EVER! There’s no sugar in cornbread. That is cake. Sweetie, come on down to Memphis and we’ll teach you how to make it. All you need is a fork, a bowl, and a cast iron skillet. May God have mercy on your soul.

    1. Monica

      Deb is a New Yorker and I don’t remember reading anywhere that this was a southern style cornbread. I’m from New England and live there now, but I grew up in the south and lived in the southwest for a while – this is my preferred style of cornbread, too. The fact that folks get angry for not doing things their way will forever baffle me – especially in the kitchen because food is so personal. You can just…not make it.

    2. deb

      I’ve written about how classic Southern cornbread doesn’t have sugar in it several times on this site; I merely skipped the disclaimer this time because it was feeling redundant and this recipe makes no claims to being proper, authentic Southern cornbread. If it did, I would expect a lot of well-deserved consternation, as I would if I called something pad thai or falafel that wasn’t. But that’s not what this is. This is the perfect cornbread for me. It’s absolutely okay to skip the sugar, or skip the recipe entirely. I do, however, love a lively comment section full of opinions, as long as they’re friendly and good-natured.

      1. Monica

        Exactly the graceful response and overall approach I’d expect from you. For what it’s worth, I made this last night and thought it was perfect. Like I mentioned, I’ve lived in nearly every corner of the country and we all know that cornbread is different regionally, but this Mainer is 100% on board with the minimal sweetness. It definitely makes the corn taste more like corn, like salt does to most dishes.

        1. K

          Ding ding ding, Monica! This is why I add a little sugar AND salt to the boiling pot of sweet corn if it’s past its prime. And, for what it’s worth, I learned this from Mom, because we grew sweet corn on the farm.

    3. PJ

      Robert, sweetie – I’m sure if Deb or any of us came down/up to Memphis to peek in your kitchen we’d find something to criticize or tell you how wrong you are about how you make something.

      I’m also sure that Deb and many of us would be much more graceful about sharing our opinion than you’ve been here. As others have so eloquently put it: chill out and lighten up.

    4. Marty Priola

      As a fellow Memphian, I feel the need to minimally defend Robert.

      I think his comments were meant tongue in cheek. I don’t view this as a hill Robert wants to die on.

      I think it’s more: “There are regional differences.” And sort of laughing about them.

  14. I make a cornbread that is close to this heating the butter on a flame and baking in the toaster oven. Using more corn is also tasty, even lots of corn and another egg and it’s corn pudding, salsa optional, cheese ok, too

  15. Ari

    Wondering if you could sub yogurt for buttermilk (or something else?) to get the same effect? Can’t wait to try!

    1. Laura

      I have subbed yogurt for buttermilk with the addition of more liquid (milk, water, etc) to keep the consistency the same as buttermilk. Just make sure it has something tangy to related (chemistry-wise) to the other ingredients.

    2. Marva Grossman

      I regularly use my local sheep’s yoghurt when recipes call for buttermilk. I normally use liquid “stirred” yoghurt, which I buy in bottles, because it’s easier to measure in measuring cups. If you only have solid “set” yoghurt you might want to stir it vigorously with a fork before adding it. Just make sure your yoghurt is free of additives like stabilizers and thickeners.

  16. Laura

    Wow…all the hate and judgement over 3T of sugar is really unfortunate. I’m sorry you’ve been treated like that, Deb, especially when you work so hard to encourage readers to adapt your recipes to suit their preferences. Yet, somehow, you’re not allowed to have preferences and adapt recipes to suit them?!?! Ridiculous.

    1. Laura

      Another Laura agrees. Deb is a beacon of goodness, don’t bring your negativity here. Also, for those wondering…in my gluten-free household, I easily adapt Smitten Kitchen’s recipes using an all-purpose gf flour blend that contains xanthum (or add a teaspoon per cup flour). In addition, to be dairy-free (I know, we have one member who is fussy over here) a simple vegan butter and non-dairy milk mixed with lemon or vinegar to curdle works as well. Happy Saturday everyone.

      1. Sharon

        Laura, thank you for the GF input; I just developed gluten sensitivity in the last 2 years and am just venturing into baking now.

    2. Sallie Altman

      Really, I think people have just been expressing regional preferences and heritage. Nothing to do with “hate! Good grief! I just wish someone would make me either one right now, as they both sound great and sadly, I like to read about cooking more than I like doing it.

  17. Kim

    Ah, the sugar thing. It’s very decisive in the South. Some never use sugar, some always use a little sugar. It depends on how you grew up and maybe what part of the south you are from. So pay no mind to people who are going to be all know-it-all and rude about it! My family never used sugar but sometimes I use 1-3 tablespoons depending on what I’m serving it with. I find a slightly sweet cornbread goes exceptionally well with salty things like ham and bean soup. Where I am from in Middle Tennessee there is thing called corn light bread. It is quite sweet, has flour in it, and baked in a loaf pan. It is served with our tangy vinegar bbq pork shoulder. Your recipe sounds fabulous with the ground corn and I can’t wait to try this! I will add, if I have bacon grease, I put it in the skillet while it is preheating. Then I pour most of the hot fat into the batter, stirring quickly. I leave enough in the skillet to fry the crust, as others have mentioned.

      1. Lillian

        That is a fascinating article—thank you for sharing! As a first generation American who grew up in the north, but has lived in Virginia for 20+ years, I’ve heard about the sugar debate but never had any idea of its origins (although I probably should have suspected…)

    1. deb

      Yes although I find I have to use more than the package estimates to get a nice equivalent to storebought, i.e. 2x the power for the same equivalent.

  18. Billie Ross

    This Iooks so good! Have you ever tried @junkgypsy dad’s recipe? It just takes a few minutes to mix and bakes in 18-20 minutes. I’ve made it so many times that I’ve memorized the recipe.

  19. Deb, I live in a country where buttermilk isn’t available. Would your recipe work if I make my own buttermilk using regular milk and lemon juice or vinegar? Thanks!

  20. Cory

    It’s not corn season yet but I have some hominy in the freezer – do you think I could substitute it for the corn kernels?

  21. Bea

    Hey all of you, please help me understand!
    I am Italian and live in Italy and have literally no idea what cornbread is.
    It looks like cake, but evidently (from all
    the fuss on sugar/no sugar) it isn’t.
    So what is it? Breakfast food? A giant savoury muffin?
    I’m very curious and would like to make it but what should I eat it with? Would cheese and cold cuts (like prosciutto) be a sensible pairing….?
    Than you!

    1. stephanie

      hi bea! i live in new england (northeast US) so some may say my opinions about cornbread are invalid (up here, us “yankees” like sugar in our cornbread and corn muffins, down south they don’t, typically) but take them all with a pinch of salt. to be honest, the cornbread i make is somewhat cake like. but it’s less sweet, and has a different texture, and i’ve never served it as dessert. you can eat corn bread or a corn muffin for breakfast with butter and honey or butter and jam (my mom always liked to toast or griddle hers first too). it’s also a common side at dinner for bbq, and for chili (especially the ground beef variety). but as with all food, the best way to eat it (and to cook it) is the way you like best :)

      1. Bea

        Thank you! It seems (to me) quite rich to have as a side to chili (but also, European butter is heavier that yours, so I tend to avoid American recipes that call for a lot of butter because I know the outcome will be super-rich). I’ll try it on its own!

    2. pb

      Bea–A giant savory muffin would be the closest description. If you have the ingredients, give it a try, and when it’s done try pairing it with whatever seems like it would taste good to you. Or just eat it plain. Cornbread is delicious however you make it. And don’t worry about the sugar part; make it as is, and if it’s too sweet, next time try it with less sugar, or none. There’s no hard and fast rule.

        1. K

          Bea, I hope you do report back! I would love to hear your thoughts (and whether you used polenta). I had a couple more suggestions for you regarding pairings: I love cornbread with long-cooked greens (collard greens, for example) and beans of any kind (soups, stews, whatever). And, I like to cube and toast leftover bread as croutons, or even in a panzanella-style salad. Or (okay, one more) – I have even had fresh fruit and yogurt with toasted cornbread for breakfast.

  22. Janey

    Only one thing I would add to your recipe when I make it will be pepper. Not a little 1/2 teaspoon but maybe a scant Tablespoon. Just a flavor I remember in my mom’s cornbread .
    Thank you for sharing with all of us.

  23. phyllis Bienstock

    Hi.. instead of the REAL buttermilk, can I use the mixture of regular milk and vinegar?
    thanks
    Phyllis

  24. pjcamp

    No, no, no, no! That isn’t cornbread. It is a giant corn flavored biscuit and it’s just wrong.

    The reason you had to add sugar is because you added flour. Don’t add either. Corn is plenty sweet on its own. Do this:

    Put a good glug of oil (or I guess you could use ghee) in a cast iron skillet, put it in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. You want a blazing hot skillet.

    You need 2 cups corn meal, 2 teaspoons baking powder, one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon salt. Put an egg in a 2 cup measuring cup and whisk it. Add buttermilk until you have two cups and whisk again. Pour into the corn meal mixture and mix. You may have to add more buttermilk but you won’t have to add less. You’re looking for something the consistency of quicksand so it is self leveling. Pour into your hot skillet.

    Hear that sizzle? That’s the bottom frying. Cook for 25-35 minutes until it is nicely browned and pulling away from the sides.

    I swear, Yankees and their sugar bread.

    1. Lisa

      Oh yeah, us Yankees and our sugar. That’s why we love sickeningly sweet things like sweet tea. Oh no wait – that’s you!

  25. No sugar! Use good sweet corn ( my family loves the whole kernels) and stir through at the end.
    As someone’s Granny said long ago- “if I wanted sugar I’d have made a cake.”

    1. Alec

      I’d love to know what kind of disgusting cake you make with only 3 tablespoons of sugar. It’s not cake, you’re just going to have to get over it.

      1. Rose

        This 3T debate is hysterical. Glad everyone is chiming in – it’s great.
        But this comment is the best – “I’d love to know what kind of disgusting cake you make with 3 tablespoons of sugar.”
        I’m dying over here, and still need to make this delish cornbread.

  26. Helen Cave

    Before the chickenpox vaccination was available, chickenpox visited our family beginning with our 18 year old, then 16 and 13 year olds, followed by our 8 year old. Then me (who had never had it as a child) along with our nursing 16 month old. Not a fun time. Some friends from church organized some meal deliveries for us. One meal was baked beans and this cornbread recipe. It was so good and a family favourite ever since. Delicious! (You can also add some finely chopped onion to the batter if you wish).

  27. Sharyn Dimmick

    I made this tonight with a couple of leftover ears of corn on the cob. I liked the mixing method and it rose well and looked beautiful. I thought the texture was too soft and it was lacking in flavor — too much flour in the flour to cornmeal ratio. Next time I’ll try equal amounts of cornmeal and flour.

  28. Magpie

    I’ve always wanted to love cornbread but havwn’t yer found The One. Hoping this might be it. However I can only find tinned corn – not fresh or frozen – at rhe moment.
    Would that work?

    1. Lillie

      It’s similar, but corn meal is ground much finer than polenta. They are also usually made from different varieties of corn, but that doesn’t matter as much. Corn meal for baking should be ground as fine as flour or a little coarser.

    2. Marva Grossman

      Actually, any kind of ground dried corn is “corn meal”. This includes corn flour (which is ground very fine, to a consistency similar to wheat flour), corn grits (coarsely ground), corn meal for polenta (which may be coarse-ground or medium-ground) and alkali-treated corn meals like masa harina (used for making Mexican tortillas and tamales) and hominy grits. Most North American recipe-writers use a fine-ground, non-alkali-treated yellow cornmeal to make corn bread, but in my experience corn bread recipes are very forgiving. I routinely make corn bread using corn meal marketed as “polenta tradizionale”, sometimes labeled as “medium grind” or “coarse grind” and sometimes not labeled with a grind consistency at all. I made this recipe last night using a corn meal labeled “polenta tradizionale”. The results are always delicious, although the texture of my corn bread might not match that of Deb’s corn bread.

      What I haven’t ever used, however, is instant polenta, which as far as I understand is partially cooked and then dried again. It may or may not work in corn bread. I would expect the amount of liquid it absorbs to be rather different from the amount absorbed by traditional, “raw” corn meal.

    3. Julia in RI

      Agreeing with Marva–corn meal comes in lots of different grinds, fine to coarse. I actually like to use both fine and coarse in my cornbread. The fine-ground part gives a velvety texture and the coarser grind gives a bit of crunch. But often I just go with whatever I happen to have–fine, medium, coarse.

  29. Molly

    Can’t wait to try this out, Deb!
    In addition to honey/hot honey, I’d like to give a shout out for molasses drizzled on cornbread or biscuits. I never would have thought of it until my Southern husband introduced me to it, and it is to die for!

  30. Debby

    I’m very intimiated by cast iron. I don’t know what to buy (that versus carbon steel, size), what it can be used with, how to season, maintain, wash, etc. etc. I bought a wok a while ago, and while I enjoy using it, it still intimidates me and wasn’t exactly what I was expecting (can’t put it in the oven, just for example).

    Would it be possible for you to please make some recommendations, either here, or possibly if you have time (hahahh), in a separate instructional post?

    I’ve read about cast iron and alternatives before, as well as other issues, but honestly, I just wind up more confused than when I started. I know that wouldn’t happen here.

    1. deb

      Can you tell me more about what you find intimidating? The only theoretical rules are that you shouldn’t use soap on it (but many people do, just mildly, as needed) and it’s not the best for a super-acidic recipe like tomato sauce.

      1. debby

        I guess it is just the fact there is SO much information out there about cast iron. Size, brand, how to clean. I just get overloaded and don’t buy anything. Happens a lot really. Since I had a terrible day today though, I finally caved and bought one. It is the 10.25″ Lodge one on sale for Prime day. I do appreciate your not making your site all products, all the time, but sometimes I appreciate when somebody else has done the legwork – or you know, put out the money first.

        1. Donna

          Debby, the Lodge skillet you bought should be perfect for this cornbread recipe. I would suggest adding a little oil to the butter the first time you use it. I have an 8 inch cast iron skillet that I use just for cornbread. (I have a lot of cast iron!) I can’t remember the last time I washed it; just wipe it out when it’s cool. My family’s favorite cornbread recipe has been adjusted to make the thickness we like in that pan. That much liquid would make it thicker than we want. We’re all about the crust, top and bottom. I think my grandkids would be happy if I could make it without the middle. Though as Southern as can be, I add 1 TBSP sugar to my cornbread. I don’t tell anyone though — saves a lot of discussion.

    2. Monica

      I’ve had five different cast iron pans for 12+ years and they aren’t precious in the least! Even if you were to somehow “damage” one, it’s really easy to season one. The best thing you can do is get one, season it, and use it regularly! Be reasonably thoughtful about contact with soap and anything too acidic, but I don’t even really think about either and I’ve never had too much trouble. Lodge makes a huge variety of them and they are reasonably priced.

  31. Beth Mousseau

    About 35 years ago, I was given the best cornbread recipe ever at a frequented Mexican restaurant. As well as the usual dry ingredients, the “wet” ingredients are shredded jalapeno Jack cheese, a small can of creamed corn, eggs and a 1/2 cup of chopped red chilis (or jalapenos). Everyone that tries it wants my recipe!

  32. Kirsten

    I made this cornbread tonight, using polenta-grind cornmeal and thinned yogurt (half yogurt and half water). It was delicious—soft and fluffy, great flavor, and perfectly crispy edges. I’m a big fan of the “perfect corn muffins” recipe on this site, but rarely make it due to the work involved, and I didn’t have a go-to simple cornbread recipe that I love (despite trying a LOT of recipes)—until now! Easy prep, one bowl, excellent flavor and texture. It will be my new go-to cornbread.

  33. OD

    Have you tried soaking the cornmeal in the buttermilk for 30+ mins? I usually soak it while I gather the rest of the stuff/ingredients.

  34. Janet Katz

    I read somewhere that the cornmeal today tastes different and that’s why one adds a little sugar. It doesn’t really make it sweet but recreates the taste of the cornmeal of the past.

  35. Sarah

    I have used Helen Corbitt’s recipe as long as I can remember which is quite similar. Love the crusty bottom. No sugar in mine.

  36. Lisa H.

    (wow, do people ever have Opinions about cornbread!)

    “Well-shaken” buttermilk? This is the first recipe I’ve seen that asks me to shake it! Does yours separate or something? Or is the purpose to make it frothy and add air to the batter?

  37. Andee Beck Althoff

    It’s in the oven, spilling out over the sides of my 8” cast iron pan. (“What’s that smoking?” my cat Kosmo seemed to ask. I dared not answer.) I slid a pan onto the rack below, but it’s looking all goopy in the middle at 20 minutes. Might I have done something wrong? I checked the ingredients — all right according to recipe.

    1. Andee Beck Althoff

      Just pulled it out of the oven at 35 minutes. Oh, wow. I hope it tastes as good as it looks.
      Note to self: Next time just put a pan on the bottom rack.

  38. Anna

    So I only have a twelve inch cats iron skillet. Plus, my family really likes cornbread I’m thinking maybe I could do 1.5 of the recipe and put it in the 12 inch. What do you think Deb??

    1. Laura

      Our faithful friend geometry can come to our rescue and prove the soundness of Deb’s advice to double the recipe! Though we produce baked goods in 3 dimensions (i.e. they have volume) and formulas for area only account for 2 dimensions, using area can give you a pretty good idea of how to convert among pans of different sizes. My understanding is that skillet sizes provide the diameter, and you can use that to calculate each pan’s area.

      area of a circle = pi x radius squared (sorry…don’t know how to do symbols or exponents in the comments section so you’ve got words)
      For an 8″ skillet, the area is about 50″ | 3.14 x [0.5(8″)] squared = 3.14 x 4″ squared = 3.14 x 16″ = about 50 square inches
      For a 12″ skillet, the area is about 113″ | 3.14 x [0.5(12″)] squared = 3.14 x 6″ squared = 3.14 x 36″ = about 113 square inches

      So, geometry tells us that the 12″ skillet actually has more than twice the area of the 8″ skillet! If you double the recipe, this means your finished cornbread from a 12″ skillet won’t be quite as tall as Deb’s from an 8″ skillet because you’re spreading out twice the batter over more than twice the area…regardless of anybody’s personal opinions on sugar ;)

    1. JP

      Hi Holly,
      I have blended corn with my immersion blender and it works just fine as long as there is enough liquid. It looks to me if you use all the buttermilk, butter and eggs too you won’t have any problems. If you use frozen corn, thaw first. I am going to try it and see, but I bet for those who do not own a standard blender, the immersion blender is the ticket

  39. Babs

    Made this tonight, followed the recipe as written. Excellent – really is a fantastic cornbread. Buttery, great crumb, crunchy top and corners and I like the food processor technique – this is going in the rotation this summer (and fall, and winter…)

  40. Anna

    Wish I had read the comment about a 12″ skillet before baking. Since I didn’t, I made mine in an 8″ pyrex. Otherwise followed the recipe. Delicious!

  41. Illana

    I know it’s in some ways a crime, but do you think it would still be great with olive oil instead of butter? I’d like to make it for my dad, who can’t have butter.

    1. deb

      I think you should make any adaptations you need to make it work for you. But I’d probably go with a neutral oil over olive oil here.

  42. MQ

    One of my mother’s favorite breakfasts was to split a leftover piece of cornbread, butter the sliced sides, toast in a skillet until the butter (on top) starts to melt, turn over and, when golden brown, plate and slather with honey-butter, or cinnamon sugar, or chokecherry jelly. or a bit of salt and pepper with half and half or, even better, cream. All depending on however the spirit moved her. Whenever I have one of these versions, I can feel her close to me.

    I grew up thinking that sugar in cornbread was very close to an unforgivable sin–but this recipe looks so good, I am going to try it. Think I’ll use Mexi-Corn and have it with a pot of pinto beans.

  43. Deborah+N+Flanagan

    I made this for guests on Monday night. We were swooning over it. I warmed the leftover cornbread for dinner last night and it was just as good. AND yes, we put butter on it, Thank you!

  44. AnneinKensington

    Use a superior/heirloom white cornmeal from Anson Mills or Weisenberger and produce a superior cornbread, expecially when you attend to the crust-building steps outlined below. Melt your butter in the pan, brown it, then add oil and bring back up to temp in the oven before pouring in your batter. Flip and enjoy the crunch!

  45. deb l

    very entertaining reading through the comments this morning. not to wade into the sugar haters argument at all, but i always use honey in my cornbread. there. i’ve said it. can’t wait to try this one deb – looks awesome!

  46. Beth Goldman

    I’m a HUGE fan of the Cook’s Illustrated/ATK version of this! It is my go to cornbread recipe. A friend who grew up in Georgia told me it was the closest to her grandma’s. Drizzle some honey on it after schmering with gobs of unsalted butter……

  47. HoS

    Hi Deb — congratulations on the YouTube channel. I wasn’t sure if you were aware, but I think that there was no link in bio from your Insta as stated. Maybe you could double check. Looking forward to more videos.

  48. Kristin

    I just watched your blueberry muffin video – you’re a natural! Congratulations!! I’m a longtime fan of yours and I’m thrilled to see you trying this. Best of luck and I can’t wait to see more :-)

  49. KA

    This is one of my favorite cornbreads I’ve made!

    It’s also very forgiving – I weighed out the cornmeal, added it, reset my scale and started to weigh the flour before having the thought: “Did I just put in 195 grams cornmeal instead of 195g flour?!?”

    I couldn’t for the life of me remember, so I reduced the flour by a bit just in case. The consistency looked right, and it ended up perfect.

    So it’s possible this will work with the cornmeal-flour ratio reversed, or less flour overall :)

    Delicious with extra butter and a drizzle of honey.

  50. Joan Robertson

    What do you do with the 1-2T butter you remove from the pan after melting? Does it go on top of the batter before baking, or drizzle on top after baking, or use it for the extra butter you serve it with? Thanks, Joan

    1. deb l

      hi joan – you don’t remove it –
      “Add in all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, leaving the rest in the pan. [Roll it around the bottom and sides of the pan to coat it.]”

  51. Susan

    I think that a lot of cornbread recipes didn’t use sugar because corn meal is sweeter than your typical flour based breads and originally wasn’t thought to need sugar to sweeten or brown it. Probably depends on where the corn was grown and milled, too. It is a personal preference, though, and how you first learned to love it usually sets the standard..

  52. Kate

    Is there a good reason to do this in a skillet besides tradition? I like my glass pans for baking because: dishwasher.

  53. LitProf

    Happy birthday, Deb! I hope your day is filled with the kind of joyful yummy goodness that you’ve given to so many of us over the years!

  54. Carol Ann Krimmer

    Thoughts on doubling for a crowd? I have a deep (10 in bottom 12 across top) cast iron pan which seem like a good choice? Or would I be better off just doing 2 cake pans

  55. Sun Jae

    Hello from Belgium ! I have what might be a silly question but, if using fresh corn, do I need to cook it (boil ?) first ? And if so, does it have to be like super soft and well cooked ? Many thanks ! :)

  56. Timothy Richard

    I’m a Cajun male cook, steeped in traditions handed down from generations of Dads, Uncles, Moms, Grandmas, Aunts etc.. I’ve used a recipe with a few tweeks put in over the yrs off of a “Clabber Girl”© baking powder tin for a couple or three decades. I’ve gotten rave reviews from family matriarchs from North South East & West. It’s been described as a cake like taste & texture. I use canned milk and 3 caps full of vegetable oil instead of butter in the mix. I prefer to butter the cornbread post baking liberally. The amount of liquid can used can be adjusted to make it viable in corn muffins or pan bread. I use less heat(25°F below recommended heat.) And bake it for a few minutes longer. To precheck for doneness I gently press the center of the bread to see if rebounds before I remove it from the oven. If it rebounds then I test it with a toothpick. I serve it immediately upon removal. I’ve had ppl ask me for my recipe & I tell them you may make my recipe but you’ll never make MY food.. I do different things while mixing that make it mine. Like heaping some measures & leveling others. Measuring using my eyes & hands rather than cups n spoons. I use processed meal n flour a tad less sugar n a pinch less salt. I cook when I’m famished & shop when I’m full. The only sounds heard during meals is the clanking of forks & spoons against dishes. My sense of smell with a taste here n there to check if the seasoning is balanced. Like my Mother used to tell me” You know you’ve got it right when you can’t distinguish one seasoning over another. My homemade soup with my cornbread is a huge draw at family gatherings.

  57. MR in NJ

    Where is the June 9 surprise? “Next Wednesday, June 9th: I have something new and fun to share! I’ll update right here.”

    1. JP

      Yes. I have been checking to find out the fun surprise, too. I think we all can use something fun right now! Please post soon, Deb!

      1. deb

        Updated now! I was [don’t feel bad for me] whisked away on a surprise vacation and utterly forgot my site responsibilities this last week. ;)

        1. JP

          I watched the first recipe video and it was wonderful. I, who do not even really like blueberry muffins that much, decided I MUST make them. Plus you are just beautiful and have such a charming personality! I have subscribed and wish you the best of luck with your new venture.

  58. Mariann

    We made this over the weekend. Used Bob’s red mill polenta (did not have cornmeal on hand, just a coarser grind, really) and King Arthur measure-for measure GF flour to accommodate our GF household member. THIS WAS THE BEST! Deb is right, the search is over. Husband has spent the last 35 years of our marriage hankering for cornbread and I resisted as only experience was yucky jiffy box mix–any encounters in restaurants had not changed my mind. Six of us nearly consumed the entire pan in one sitting. A pretense of restraint left us with 3 pieces. Also, used salted butter and in ended up getting browned–serendipitous accident, will do so on purpose next time. There will be a next time, I have 35 years of neglect to make up for.

  59. eileen

    I just made this, was on my list since I first saw the post. I like it a lot!!! Very nice crumb. My go to cornbread is the recipe for honey cornbread in the Joy of Baking book. Different, but also yummy. I agree that cornbread is best made in cast iron, even though I made this in a regular square baking pan. Love all that you post Deb. Thank you one million times for the effort…and the amazing results! When I want please, both myself and others, I search your recipes for what make to make. :)

  60. Michelle

    Hubby and I each inhaled a chunk last night and a chunk each tonight with a healthy slather of salted butter. I didn’t think I came here for the comments, but I am now! Ha! Deb, this this an awesome recipe, and I think it is also MY preference for cornbread.

  61. Karen

    Made this tonight for my husband and he said “It’s the best I’ve had in a long time”. He has always mentioned the cornbread his Grandmother made and how good it was. We’ll be having a cornbread snack later with honey.
    I started the recipe with my Kitchen Aid blender and switched to my food processor because the corn wasn’t getting “well chopped”
    Thank you!

  62. Alia Congdon

    This dough/ batter was so stiff my blender wouldn’t even mix it, even though I added a third egg plus another 1/4 cup of milk. I hoped for an oven miracle, but got a brick. So sad.

    1. Margaret

      I haven’t made this yet, but I’ve had something similar happen with another cornbread recipe. I think it was because my cornmeal had gotten too dry/gone stale (it had been sitting in my pantry for at least a year). I read another comment that mentioned having the cornmeal sit in the buttermilk while the other ingredients got prepped and that sounded brilliant, I think I’ll try that next time my cornmeal is on the older/drier side. Hope this helps!

  63. Ruth

    Just made this. I actually found that in my oven (which is very accurate), this was ready in under 27 minutes using an 8″ cast iron pan (Lodge). Otherwise, this was easy to put together. Haven’t tasted yet, but the house smells amazing. Thinking this could be my lunch!

  64. Hannah

    The flavor of this cornbread is incredible and I will definitely make again. But I had some “lessons” this first time to share. I used an 8-inch Calphalon pan because my cast iron skillets were too big. This is not a shallow skillet, but I think this recipe requires a *deep* skillet. The butter from the top overflowed in the oven, causing an astonishing amount of smoke, and the center of the cornbread was still not fully baked at 38 minutes. (I thought it would finish cooking in the residual heat from the pan, but alas.) Lessons: use a deep pan or a bigger one; I personally would try it in a 9″ or 10″ skillet next time; bake time may be longer.

  65. Katy

    Made mostly as written and it was delicious! The level of sugar was perfect for me, born and raised in Georgia but grew up eating Jiffy cornbread. In fact, I looked up a copycat recipe and this recipe has slightly less sugar than Jiffy.

    The biggest change I made was to add 1/8 tsp of xanthan gum, which I keep around for my occasional experiments with gluten free baking. I add xanthan gum to all cornbread–it has become my secret weapon to make it slightly sturdier. Call it blasphemy if you will but I like being able to spread a piece with butter or dip it into a chili without it disintegrating in my hand.

    I also added some whole frozen corn kernels (the sad few left in the bag after grinding) and baked in a 9×9 ceramic pan because I don’t have a cast iron at the moment. Skipped preheating the pan (wasn’t sure how the ceramic would react). And yet, still turned out delicious! My husband and I agreed it was the best cornbread I’d ever made. Next time, I want to try adding some green chilis or chopped chipotle chilis–I think they’ll play off the gentle sweetness of this cornbread really nicely.

  66. Margaret

    Hi Deb! Long time reader, first time commenter – you’ve been my go-to when I want a recipe I can trust and know will be delicious for what feels like ages! I’ve been loving your videos and can’t wait for more!

    I want to make this so badly (and probably will tomorrow even if I don’t hear from anyone here) but find cleaning my food processor/blender a hassle. While I’m sure this recipe would make that worthwhile (the one hurdle of the recipe!), I’m wondering if I could just make this in a bowl. I saw earlier you mentioned chopping the corn, but I just wanted to go ahead and ask – how important is the breakdown of the corn, is chopping it fairly finely enough, could I just use whole kernel, and have others done this and have feedback?

    1. deb

      Absolutely no need to make it in a FP. You can chop the corn down to the side you want on a cutting board and whisk everything else in a bowl, or with a handmixer.

  67. Catherine G Keene

    My husband made the original Cook’s Illustrated recipe last weekend, and then we stupidly left it on the counter so it went bad (whoda thunk it, loads of dairy in an 80 degree kitchen!). I am looking forward to giving this one a try this weekend.

  68. Hilary

    Absolutely delicious! I added a charred/peeled/chopped poblano pepper as I was transferring the batter. I probably should have baked it for another 5 minutes or so (it was very high — spilled slightly from my 8″ cast iron skillet as it rose), but even a bit underdone we all thought it was pretty close to perfect. Thank you!

  69. Amelia Erwitt

    Can I used leftover grilled corn instead? Or other leftover grilled corn ideas? I’ve already made (and loved) the mexican corn salad.

  70. dk

    Made this for 4th of July BBQ using Vitamix blender, and it was fuss-free, and turned out beautifully. It was not too dry, as my past cornbreads have sometimes been. I wanted to add some jalapeños and goat cheese, but didn’t as there were little kids who had already been unable to eat a few other things over weekend due to spice. But next time I will try. Deb, your recipes are the BEST! Thank you for always trying to find ways to save time and fuss, appreciate it so much! Also love your new YouTube videos and made the broccoli slaw for same BBQ, loved it. I probably would not have prioritizing trying the broccoli slaw without the video, honestly, but figured you featured the best of the best, and it was great!

  71. Amy Slezewski

    I don’t have a skillet that goes in the oven. What would you do to bake in a baking pan and what size? Thanks for all of your great recipes!

  72. wallycat

    Oh dear, corn”bread” …ummmm, no. Corn cake, maybe.
    As someone posted, sugar in cornbread is blasphemy. Just as bad is adding flour.
    Laurel’s Kitchen has a real cornbread recipe. After making it, I can eat no other. Sorry.