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Just like grandma’s kitchen, these old-fashioned corn sticks are a little taste of nostalgia! Thanks to the magic of a cast iron pan, the baked cornbread sticks are perfectly crisp on the outside, yet tender and moist on the inside. Slather them with butter, drizzle them with honey, and serve a basket alongside your next bowl of soup or chili, plate of fried chicken, or pan of cozy meatloaf. The easy side dish is classic Southern comfort food!

Close up side shot of a serving tray with Southern corn sticks and butter in background

Cornbread is practically a way of life in the South, and these easy corn sticks are a fun twist on the original dish. They’re a perfect last-minute side that pairs well with everything from barbecue and ribs to soup, stew, chili and grilled chicken. You’ll want to keep these simple ingredients in your pantry all year round so that you can stir together a batch of the best cornbread sticks whenever a craving for grandma’s cookin’ strikes. Don’t forget the butter and honey on top!

What are corn sticks?

Corn sticks (also called “cornbread sticks”) are a fun cross between corn muffins and classic Southern cornbread. The cornbread batter is baked in cast iron corn stick pans, which yields individual loaves of cornbread in the shape of miniature ears of corn. Thanks to the preheated cast iron, the cornsticks are super-crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. You essentially get that ideal “edge piece” of cornbread in every bite!

Overhead shot of a plate of homemade cast iron corn sticks with a side of honey in a pot

Cast Iron Corn Stick Pan

There are a variety of different cast iron corn stick pans available on the market — from antique or heirloom pieces that your grandmother may have used, to new, pre-seasoned pans that you can add to your kitchen for less than $15. The Lodge cornstick pan has 5, 6 or 7 cavities (depending on the model that you buy). I use these 7-cavity cast iron corn stick pans made by Old Mountain, which come pre-seasoned as well.

Cast iron is ideal for baking cornbread because its naturally-seasoned cooking surface doesn’t dent, bend, or warp at high temperatures. Cast iron provides excellent heat distribution and retention for consistent, even baking. Plus, the cornstick shapes are fun — and will create fond memories around the table that last for generations.

Cast iron cornbread sticks pan

How to Season

New cast iron cornstick pans almost always come pre-seasoned, so there’s nothing that you need to do at home before using the equipment. If you have an older model, or if your pans are rusty, here are some helpful instructions for starting over with the seasoning process.

How to Keep Corn Sticks from Sticking to the Pan

A properly seasoned cast iron pan is naturally non-stick. That said, we want to be absolutely certain that the cornbread sticks will pop right out of the pan after baking, so it’s helpful to take extra precautions to really grease the pans well. Rub a generous amount of shortening in the cavities before pre-heating the pans, or brush each cavity with vegetable oil. The trick is to be very liberal with the oil or shortening! It will probably look like you’re putting too much oil in each impression…but you’re not. I recommend about 1 tablespoon of oil or shortening per pan, but you don’t necessarily have to measure it out.

How to Clean

Cleaning the pan is the easy part! If you’ve properly seasoned and greased the cavities, the corn sticks should pop right out and you’ll have virtually no cleanup at all.

If you have some hard-to-remove stuck-on bits, you can wash the pan with hot water and even a little bit of soap, when necessary. Use a pan-scraper for stubborn food. Once you’ve washed the pan, it’s important to dry it immediately to avoid any rusting. Finally, rub a light layer of cooking oil onto the surface of your pan, then use a paper towel to wipe the surface until no oil residue remains. The cast iron will be ready for its next use in minutes!

Rustic table with cornbread sticks and a cast iron corn stick pan

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a batch of corn sticks. As always, specific measurements and complete baking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Shortening or vegetable oil: for greasing the pan and to keep the cornbread sticks moist.
  • Yellow or white cornmeal: cornmeal is dried and ground corn, and can be found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores. Either medium or fine ground cornmeal will work well.
  • All-purpose flour: adds a softer, finer consistency to the base of the cornsticks.
  • Granulated sugar: just enough to make the cornbread sticks slightly sweet in the background, but not as sweet as honey cornbread.
  • Baking powder and baking soda: the leavening agents that help the corn sticks rise.
  • Salt: to enhance the other flavors in the bread.
  • Buttermilk: adds moisture to the cornsticks, creates a soft, tender crumb, provides a slight tangy flavor and richness. Use whole buttermilk (not low-fat) for the best texture and flavor.
  • Egg: for structure.

How to Make Corn Sticks

These easy homemade corn sticks are ready for the oven in about 10 minutes, making them a great last-minute addition to the weeknight dinner table.

  1. Grease corn stick pans and preheat them in the oven.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients.
  3. Add wet ingredients and stir just until the batter comes together.
  4. Fill the hot, greased pans with batter.
  5. Bake the corn sticks in a 450° F oven for about 12 minutes, or until they’re a light golden brown on top. The underside will be darker since it’s touching the hot pan.
  6. Remove the corn sticks from the pans immediately and serve warm.
Process shot showing how to make corn sticks
Cornbread batter in a mixing bowl with whisk
Square image of a plate of sweet cornsticks

What to Serve with Cornbread Sticks

These cornbread sticks are perfect when served warm with butter, a drizzle of honey, or homemade honey butter. They’re also a great side dish for any of the following entrées:

Drizzling honey on a plate of cast iron corn sticks

Storage

  • Cornbread sticks are best when freshly baked and warm from the oven, but you can prepare them up to 8 hours in advance and store them in an airtight container on your countertop until ready to serve.
  • How to Store Corn Sticks: Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Wrapped tightly, you can freeze the cornbread sticks for up to 3 months. Thaw on the countertop before enjoying.
  • To reheat leftover cornsticks, wrap in foil and warm in a 350° F oven for about 5 minutes. You can also microwave the corn sticks (without foil) just until warmed through — about 20-30 seconds.

Corn Sticks Recipe Variations

  • Buttermilk gives the corn sticks an even more moist and tender crumb; however, you can substitute with regular milk or cream if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Optional add-ins: 1-2 chopped jalapeño peppers, 1 cup fresh blueberries, 1 cup shredded cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese, or orange zest and dried cranberries.
  • Sweet corn sticks: increase the sugar to ¼ cup.
Overhead shot of cornbread sticks on a table with butter and honey

Tips for the Best Corn Stick Recipe

  • Use a finely-ground or medium ground cornmeal. Coarse cornmeal will give the sticks a more grainy texture.
  • Whole buttermilk (not low-fat) yields the best texture and flavor.
  • Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes before baking, if you have the time. This allows the baking powder to activate and incorporate more air.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter or it will become too dense, and you’ll end up with dry cornbread sticks.
  • The corn sticks are done when the tops are golden brown (the underside of the sticks will be darker and crispier since those sides are in contact with the hot pan). Don’t cook them for too long, or they can dry out or burn.
  • Since this recipe yields enough batter for about 18 corn sticks, you will likely have some extra batter leftover after baking two pans full of 7 sticks each. If you’d like to use the extra batter after the first batch is done, just grease one of the hot pans with additional oil and bake a final batch of corn sticks.
Side shot of a tray of old fashioned cornbread sticks

More Cornbread Recipes to Try

Close up side shot of a serving tray with Southern corn sticks and butter in background

Old-Fashioned Southern Corn Sticks

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 22 minutes
Servings 18 corn sticks
Calories 97 kcal
Just like grandma's kitchen, these old-fashioned cornbread sticks are a little taste of nostalgia!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons shortening or vegetable oil, for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted shortening

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450° F. Grease two (7-cavity) corn stick pans with 1 tablespoon of shortening or oil per pan. Place the greased pans in the hot oven to preheat for about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add buttermilk, egg and melted shortening (or vegetable oil). Stir just until the batter comes together; do not over-mix.
  • Carefully remove the hot corn stick pans from the oven. Fill each cavity with batter. Bake until slightly brown on top, about 12-14 minutes. Remove from pans immediately.
  • If you have extra batter, you can grease one of the hot pans and bake another batch of corn sticks to use up the leftover batter.

Notes

  • Use a finely-ground or medium ground cornmeal. Coarse cornmeal will give the sticks a more grainy texture.
  • Whole buttermilk (not low-fat) yields the best texture and flavor.
  • Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes before baking, if you have the time. This allows the baking powder to activate and incorporate more air.
  • Don’t over-mix the batter or it will become too dense, and you’ll end up with dry cornbread sticks.
  • The corn sticks are done when the tops are golden brown (the underside of the sticks will be darker and crispier since those sides are in contact with the hot pan). Don’t cook them for too long, or they can dry out or burn.
  • Since this recipe yields enough batter for about 18 corn sticks, you will likely have some extra batter leftover after baking two pans full of 7 sticks each. If you’d like to use the extra batter after the first batch is done, just grease one of the hot pans with additional oil and bake a final batch of corn sticks.

Nutrition

Serving: 1corn stickCalories: 97kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 2gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 130mgPotassium: 76mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 35IUCalcium: 27mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: corn sticks, cornbread sticks
Course: bread, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Are these the same as corn fritters or hush puppies?? Kind of look the same but has been MANY years since I’ve had them??!! Used to get a lot of these when I was a kid growing up in Nebraska. My Dad fished a lot and my Mom would make fried Catfish with hush puppies or fritters….. miss those!!
    Where was the “little guy” during the Christmas/New Year break?? He’s SO cute!!!!

    1. Hi, Sherrie! No, these are different. They’re like cornbread or cornbread muffins, since they’re baked instead of fried. I love fried hush puppies, too! Here’s our recipe for those if you’d like to make them yourself: https://www.theseasonedmom.com/hush-puppies-recipe/

      Teddy was right in the mix all throughout the holiday celebrations! I’ll have to snap another picture of him soon. Thanks for asking!

  2. 5 stars
    Blair: Sorry to say, but right now, those corn stick pans are not available at Amazon.They stated that they didn’t know when they would be available again. Just a quick “heads up” here.
    Lucky you, having such nice weather. Your fields are even showing a bit of green grass. We have snow here.

    Best Wishes for a great New Year to you & your whole family!
    Sandra W.

    1. Thanks, Sandra! I’ll have to find some different pans to link to. There are many different brands that make them. Take care, stay warm, and have a great New Year!

      1. 5 stars
        I found one of these pans at a second hand store so had to try corn sticks. Yum! Love how crunchy they get.

          1. Roughly any guidance on how much batter should go into each little corn basin in the pan? I’ve tried these twice now, and am having a tough time getting it right. The batter seems to pile up and not spread through the mold unless I overfill. Maybe my batter is too thick or I should try vegetable oil instead of melted shortening?

          2. Hi, Dave! I don’t have a specific measurement, but I spread the batter in each cavity so that it’s almost to the top. You want it thick so that it doesn’t overflow, and you can just use the back of a spoon (or something similar) to spread it evenly. Then when the corn sticks bake, the batter should puff up, but it shouldn’t run over the edges. Hope that makes sense!