Jump to RecipeJump to VideoLeave a ReviewPin Recipe

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

The perfect addition to your fall table! Tender and moist, this pumpkin cornbread is made from scratch with simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. Stir together the batter in just 10 minutes, and slather each slice with sweet pumpkin spice butter. From chili and bbq, to roasted chickenfried fish, and a Thanksgiving turkey, the tasty side dish will soon become a staple on your family’s autumn table.

Sliced wedges of pumpkin cornbread in a cast iron skillet

I make a skillet of cornbread or a batch of corn muffins at least once a week — either to have on hand for quick breakfasts or to serve alongside our supper. When the temperature starts to drop, the air becomes crisp, and fall settles in, this pumpkin cornbread is the perfect twist on a classic recipe. It’s slightly sweet, but not like a cake, and warmly spiced for cozy flavor. Spread each wedge with sorghum butter and you might not even need the entrée!

Slices of pumpkin cornbread on blue and white plates on a wooden table

What is cornbread?

Cornbread refers to any quick bread containing cornmeal, usually leavened by baking powder. Cornmeal is dried and ground corn, and can be found in the baking aisle of grocery stores. This simple, inexpensive bread originated with the Native Americans, who had been using ground corn (maize) for thousands of years.

European settlers in the Southern colonies learned the original recipes and processes for corn dishes from the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek, and soon created their own recipes for using cornmeal in breads similar to those that were familiar in Europe (source). Cornbread has been called a “cornerstone” of Southern cuisine, and is the perfect addition to just about any meal.

This homemade pumpkin cornbread has a more moist, tender texture than other old-fashioned cornbread recipes (thanks to the added moisture from the pumpkin puree), but is still slightly crumbly (as all cornbread should be). While there’s a bit of sugar to offer sweetness, this is not a cake-like cornbread — and is definitely more savory than a loaf of pumpkin bread or a batch of classic pumpkin muffins.

Square overhead image of a cast iron skillet full of pumpkin cornbread

What size skillet for cornbread?

Southern cornbread is typically baked in a preheated cast iron skillet, which gives it a really crispy crust (the best part!). I prefer this 9-inch cast iron skillet for this recipe, but a 10-inch cast iron skillet also works well for thinner slices. I don’t recommend using a skillet that’s larger than 10 inches, or your cornbread will be too thin. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can bake the cornbread in a 9-inch square or round baking dish or cake pan.

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a pan of pumpkin cornbread. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Pumpkin puree: make sure that you use a can of pure pumpkinnot pumpkin pie mix or pumpkin pie filling.
  • Eggs: give the cornbread structure.
  • Brown sugar: for just the right amount of sweetness. I like the richer flavor that you get from dark brown sugar in this recipe, but you can use light brown sugar if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Buttermilk: use whole buttermilk for the best flavor and texture. The buttermilk adds moisture to the bread, yields a softer crumb, and provides a slightly tangy flavor and richness. The acid in the buttermilk also activates the leavening agents to help the cornbread rise.
  • Vegetable oil: keeps the cornbread moist.
  • Self-rising cornmeal mix: use either white or yellow self-rising cornmeal mix. I prefer White Lily brand. This is not plain yellow cornmeal! Instead, self-rising cornmeal mix is a convenient blend of cornmeal, all purpose flour, leavening agents (like baking soda), and salt.
  • Pumpkin pie spice: a combination of warm spices, which typically includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice.
Close overhead image of a slice of pumpkin cornbread on a blue and white plate

How to Make Self-Rising Cornmeal

Just like self-rising flour, self-rising cornmeal mix is a staple in most Southern kitchens. If you don’t have any on hand, you can make your own batch of self-rising cornmeal mix to use in this recipe by following these directions.

Why add buttermilk to cornbread?

Buttermilk is another classic Southern pantry staple that we always keep in the fridge! From fluffy pancakes to salad dressinghoe cakes and biscuits to fried chicken, it’s an important ingredient in so many of our favorite recipes — including this pumpkin cornbread. The buttermilk serves a couple of purposes in this recipe that you can’t achieve with regular milk:

  • Flavor: the buttermilk gives the cornbread a nice, subtle tanginess.
  • Acidity: the acid in buttermilk helps the cornbread rise, because the acid from the buttermilk reacts with the alkaline baking soda, causing it to give off carbon dioxide. Baking powder will also react with buttermilk’s acidity to a small degree.
  • Texture: the fat and acid in the buttermilk also yields a lighter, more tender crumb.

I get my buttermilk at a local country market near our house — and this is the REAL stuff — the liquid that runs off a batch of fresh butter. It makes the most delicious biscuits and cornbread! The buttermilk that you buy in a grocery store is probably just cultured milk (check the label) — which is a far cry from the real thing. If you have access to a local dairy or similar small market, I highly recommend getting your hands on the ultra-thick, ultra-rich buttermilk that will truly make your Southern cornbread stand out.

Buttermilk Substitutes

Don’t have buttermilk? No problem! In a pinch, you can make your own buttermilk at home to use in this recipe. To do so, pour either 1 ¼ tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice or 1 ¼ tablespoons of white vinegar into a large measuring cup. Add enough whole milk to equal 1 ¼ cups of liquid. Give it a stir, let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then use it in the recipe as directed.

Stirring together batter in a large mixing bowl

How to Make Pumpkin Cornbread

This easy pumpkin cornbread recipe comes together in just minutes, with one bowl and a handful of basic ingredients. Stir together the pumpkin spice butter while the cornbread bakes, and then slather each wedge with the sweet spread while it’s still warm!

  1. Whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, buttermilk, and oil in a large mixing bowl until smooth.
  2. Add the dry ingredients (cornmeal mix and pumpkin pie spice) to the wet ingredients. Stir until combined.
  3. Grease a preheated cast iron skillet with about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. I like to use a pastry brush to make sure that the sides of the skillet are coated as well.
  4. Pour the batter into the hot, greased skillet.
  5. Bake in a 400°F oven until golden brown and cooked through, about 30-35 minutes.
  6. While the cornbread is in the oven, prepare the pumpkin spice butter by whisking together the softened butter, sorghum (or molasses), and pumpkin pie spice.
  7. Serve each wedge of cornbread with the sweet butter spread.
Making pumpkin spice butter with sorghum

What to Serve with Pumpkin Cornbread

Serve the cornbread with the pumpkin spice sorghum butter, plain salted butter, honey, honey butterjam, apple butter, or syrup. As a side dish, the cornbread goes well with any of these dinner entrées:

Overhead shot of a skillet of pumpkin cornbread

Storage

Cornbread is best when freshly baked and warm from the oven, but you can bake it up to 8 hours in advance and leave it on your counter until ready to serve. To extend the life of your homemade cornbread, store in an airtight container or cover with plastic wrap at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week.

How to Freeze

Wrapped tightly, you can store cornbread in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw on your countertop or in the refrigerator before enjoying.

How to Reheat

To reheat leftover cornbread, wrap in foil and warm in a 325°F oven for about 10 minutes. You can also microwave individual slices of cornbread just until warmed through — about 20-30 seconds.

Overhead image of a slice of pumpkin cornbread on a blue and white plate with butter on top

Recipe Variations

  • For savory pumpkin cornbread, cut the sugar to ¼ cup or even less, and add Parmesan cheese and/or chopped fresh herbs (such as rosemary and thyme) in lieu of the pumpkin pie spice.
  • If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice in your pantry, use a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and ginger.
  • For the pumpkin spice butter, you can use molasses as a sweetener instead of the sorghum. If you don’t have molasses or sorghum, add some cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to this whipped honey butter recipe.
  • Substitute an equal amount of melted butter, lard, or bacon grease for the vegetable oil.
  • Use unsalted butter for a less-salty cornbread. Remember, the self-rising cornmeal mix includes salt.
  • Don’t have a cast iron skillet? Bake the cornbread in a greased 8-inch or 9-inch baking dish or cake pan.
  • Make your own self-rising cornmeal mix with these directions, or stir together your own buttermilk substitute by following the instructions above.
  • Easy Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins: divide the batter between paper-lined cups in a standard muffin tin. Bake in a 350°F oven for 18-20 minutes.
Close overhead image of a sliced wedges of pumpkin cornbread in a skillet

Tips for the Best Pumpkin Cornbread Recipe

  • Make sure that you’re using self-rising cornmeal mixnot plain cornmeal. The self-rising mix includes flour, salt, and leavening agents in addition to the cornmeal.
  • I prefer this 9-inch cast iron skillet for nice, thick slices. You can also use a 10-inch skillet, which yields slightly thinner slices.
  • Use just one cup of 100% pure pumpkin puree (not the entire can). Make sure that you don’t pick up a can of pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin pie mix by accident!
  • Use full-fat buttermilk rather than a lower-fat alternative. The fat in the liquid adds richness to the batter and helps to keep the cornbread moist.
  • Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes before baking, if you have the time. This allows the leavening agents 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.
  • To check if the cornbread is done, insert a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean. Don’t cook for too long, or it can dry out.
Overhead shot of hands holding a cast iron skillet of pumpkin cornbread

More Cornbread Recipes to Try

Square overhead image of a cast iron skillet full of pumpkin cornbread

Pumpkin Cornbread

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings 8 slices
Calories 233 kcal
The perfect addition to your fall table! Tender and moist, this pumpkin cornbread is made from scratch with simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.

Ingredients
  

For the Cornbread:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups whole buttermilk, well shaken
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (plus extra for greasing the skillet)
  • 2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix (not plain cornmeal)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

For the Pumpkin Spice Sorghum Butter:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sorghum (or sub with molasses)
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

  • Place a 9-inch or 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven while you preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, buttermilk, and oil until smooth. Add the cornmeal mix and pumpkin pie spice; stir until combined.
  • Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Add about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the skillet and spread to coat the bottom and sides of the pan (I use a pastry brush for this step).
  • Pour the batter into the hot skillet.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

To Make the Pumpkin Spice Sorghum Butter:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, sorghum, and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Serve with cornbread.

Notes

  • Make sure that you’re using self-rising cornmeal mixnot plain cornmeal. The self-rising mix includes flour, salt, and leavening agents in addition to the cornmeal.
  • I prefer this 9-inch cast iron skillet for nice, thick slices. You can also use a 10-inch skillet, which yields slightly thinner slices.
  • Use just one cup of 100% pure pumpkin puree (not the entire can). Make sure that you don’t pick up a can of pumpkin pie filling or pumpkin pie mix by accident!
  • Use full-fat buttermilk rather than a lower-fat alternative. The fat in the liquid adds richness to the batter and helps to keep the cornbread moist.
  • Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes before baking, if you have the time. This allows the leavening agents 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.
  • To check if the cornbread is done, insert a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean. Don’t cook for too long, or it can dry out.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice cornbreadCalories: 233kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 7gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.004gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 620mgPotassium: 231mgFiber: 4gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 5010IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 194mgIron: 3mg
Keyword: pumpkin cornbread
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

Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. Blair, I found my mother’s cornbread recipe, the only one she ever made! She didn’t make it that often but always with her soupy navy beans so a couple of times in cold weather. The duo recipes were referred to as beans and pone. I suspect her mother made them before her. The only ingredient which may be a little off the beaten path is the stoneground cornmeal but I bet Yoder’s would have it or a health food store.

    I’m giving you the original recipe which makes two skillets full. Mother always made a half recipe which she notes is one skillet full and serves 4 to 5 people for one meal with maybe a slice or two left over.
    4c. cornmeal(preferably white stoneground)
    1/2c sugar
    1T salt
    4c boiling water
    1T butter
    1c flour
    1c buttermilk
    2 eggs, beaten
    2t baking powder
    1t baking soda, dissolved in a little warm water
    Place meal, sugar, and salt in bowl. Add boiling water and stir ’til smooth. Let stand at room temperature over night or from morning to supper time to ‘work’.
    Add all other ingredients except butter and mix well. Melt butter in skillet in oven, then mix butter into batter. Pour into 10 inch iron skillet or heavy pan. Bake in 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake another 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest covered for a few minutes, and serve. Good hot or cool.
    I like it with apple sauce on top. Mother notes that it’s good cold with butter and sorghum syrup.
    Recipe of June Carol Brewer McClung 1932-2003 Published in The San Marcos (Texas) Bicentennial Cookbook 1976

    1. Thank you! This looks great. I can’t wait to try it. I love apple butter on my cornbread, as well as sorghum syrup!

      1. You’re welcome! I’m excited to share a family recipe with you. I was thinking that your apple butter would be terrific on it. I’ll have to try sorghum sometime. I love molasses.

  2. This pumpkin cornbread sounds great, Blair! I love pumpkin and I love cornbread. I may just have to make all your cornbreads! Cornbread is usually easy to make and is so useful. It goes with everything and is fine to substitute for a meal when you want “something” but not a whole meal. Especially when it contains extra nutritious ingredients like pumpkin.
    I’m going to have to go through Mother’s and Grandma’s recipe boxes to find the gingerbread recipe I told you about. I would also like to share with you a super simple potato soup and a barbeque sauce recipe which was often used when she baked chicken. I may find more. I suspect when I go through the recipe boxes I may start saying to myself ” Oh, I forgot about that one! It was good!’ You be sure and tell me if I get to sending too many recipes at once, though. Take care and love to all!

  3. I do not have an iron pan. Can I use a skillet? Do I need to put in oven. Can I just use a baking dish? Nicolette

    1. Hi, Nicolette! If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can bake the cornbread in a 9-inch square or round baking dish or cake pan. Hope you enjoy!