Hot out of the oven, this Old-Fashioned Southern Buttermilk Cornbread with its delicious corn flavor and crispy, crunchy edges has been a family favorite for generations. And, it’s a quick and easy, gluten-free recipe. Classic Southern cornbread made in a cast-iron skillet is a true Southern staple.
When I was growing up, my mother made this skillet cornbread recipe and served it often. I make my cornbread in the same cast-iron pan she used, and I’m thrilled to be able to share her recipe with you.
What’s the secret to good moist cornbread?
The secret to moist cornbread is buttermilk. The other secrets to good cornbread are the type of cornmeal used and a well seasoned cast-iron skillet.
What to serve with cornbread?
One of my favorite ways to enjoy cornbread is crumbling still hot and crusty cornbread into a tall glass of cold, tangy buttermilk. This may be an acquired taste, but if you have never had it this way, it’s something you really should try! Classic Southern cornbread is also often served with chili, and other soups, pink eye peas, field peas, succotash, and collard greens. In the summer, I like to serve it with fresh sliced tomatoes, white acre peas, and creamed corn for an easy meatless meal.
Authentic old-fashioned Southern cornbread doesn’t contain any sugar, or flour for that matter, which means it’s gluten-free. There are probably as many ways to prepare cornbread as there are varieties of corn and you will see lots of cornbread recipes that call for some flour and just as many that call for sugar as well.
What is cornbread, and what does it taste like?
Cornbread is simply a type of bread which is often made with only cornmeal or cornmeal and flour. Most cornbread recipes also call for buttermilk. In the South, cornbread is usually baked in a cast-iron skillet which gives it a crispy crust and how it tastes depends on the recipe, the type of cornmeal used, and whether sugar is added or not. To me, cornbread tastes of cornfields on a warm summer day!
I am a lover of all types of cornbread, and as much as I love good Old-Fashioned Southern Cornbread, I also like the versions with sugar added. But today I am sticking with this basic old-fashioned Southern recipe which can be mixed up in just a few minutes.
What kind of cornmeal works best in cornbread?
This recipe works best with old-fashioned coarse stone-ground cornmeal. If you are in the Tallahassee area, try Bumpy Road Farm Cornmeal or Bradley’s Stone Ground Cornmeal, which are both locally made and can be purchased at most farmers markets.
Besides cornmeal, the other ingredients for this buttermilk cornbread recipe include vegetable oil or bacon grease, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, eggs, and buttermilk. For the best results and crispiest cornbread, you will also need a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet.
More recipes with cornbread:
If you like cornbread, you might also like my Traditional Southern Style Cornbread, my spicy Mexican Jalapeno Cornbread, and Broccoli Cheddar Cornbread Muffins. Traditional Southern Style Cornbread contains some flour and is not quite as dense as Old-Fashioned Cornbread. I think it is best in cornbread dressing recipes like my Traditional Southern Cornbread Dressing or my Make-Ahead Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Pecans.
Comment from a reader:
Ladonna says: “This is the best cornbread recipe ever! It reminds me of the cornbread my grandmother used to make. I’ve been searching for a recipe without flour and sugar for a long time. I used regular cornmeal and bacon grease and cooked it in an iron skillet. I made it to use in dressing, but when I sampled a piece it was so delicious my husband and I had to have a slice just plain. Thanks!”
How to make Old-Fashioned Southern Cornbread from scratch:
When you are ready to make Old-Fashioned Southern Cornbread, gather your ingredients and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Add two tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon grease to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Place the skillet in the oven for about five to seven minutes to heat up.
While the skillet is heating up, combine the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
Add the eggs, buttermilk and two tablespoons vegetable oil or melted bacon grease to a smaller bowl and whisk until well combined.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over mix.
Using a heavy-duty oven mitt or potholder, carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Tilt the skillet to make sure the bottom and sides are covered with oil. Immediately pour the cornbread batter into the skillet. You should hear a nice sizzle, and you will see the cornbread already start to rise.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes. The cornbread is done when the top is a deep golden brown and has slightly pulled away from the sides. To ensure it is done, insert a toothpick into the center. It should come out clean. Serve immediately with plenty of butter.
Sharon’s Expert Tips:
Cornbread will keep two-three days on your kitchen counter, about a week in the refrigerator, or about two-three months in the freezer. Be sure to wrap it tightly and keep it covered.
Leftover cornbread is delicious sliced with a pat of butter and toasted under the broiler for a minute or so.
This recipe for Old-Fashioned Southern Buttermilk Cornbread produces a dense cornbread because it doesn’t contain any flour. If you are looking for a lighter cornbread to use in dressings, give my Traditional Southern-Style Cornbread Recipe a try.
This recipe works best with old-fashioned coarse stone-ground cornmeal. Try to find locally sourced cornmeal if you can.
If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by combining one cup of whole milk with one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Let this mixture sit for five minutes and voila, homemade buttermilk!
For the best results and crispiest cornbread, you will also need a 10-inch well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. You can also use a regular baking pan, but you won’t get the crispy edges.
**If you make this recipe, please give it a star rating and leave a comment below. I love hearing from you!**
Thank you so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones!
Old-Fashioned Southern Buttermilk Cornbread - Gluten Free
- 4 Tbsp vegetable oil or bacon grease divided (I usually use peanut oil)
- 2 cups coarse stone-ground cornmeal
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Add 2 Tbsp vegetable oil or bacon grease to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Place the skillet in the oven for about 5-7 minutes to heat up.
- While the skillet is heating up, combine the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the eggs, buttermilk and 2 Tbsp vegetable oil or melted bacon grease to a smaller bowl and whisk until well combined.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over mix.
- Using a heavy-duty oven mitt or potholder, carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Tilt the skillet to make sure the bottom and sides are covered with oil. Immediately pour the cornbread batter into the skillet. You should hear a nice sizzle, and you will see the cornbread already start to rise.
- Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cornbread is a deep golden brown and has pulled away from the sides a little. To ensure it is done, insert a toothpick into the center. It should come out clean. Serve immediately.