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A classic old-fashioned Southern cornbread recipe — just like Grandma made it! With crisp edges from a cast iron skillet and a tangy, buttery flavor (no sugar!), this easy side dish works well for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Add a pat of butter, a drizzle of honey, or a dollop of apple butter, and pair it with chili, fried chicken, fried fish, pork chops, or beans and greens. It’s a 5-ingredient Southern staple!

Overhead shot of a cast iron skillet full of cornbread
Table of Contents
  1. How to Make Old Fashioned Southern Cornbread | 1-Minute Video
  2. Why You’ll Love this Recipe
  3. What size skillet for cornbread?
  4. Ingredients
  5. Directions
  6. What do Southerners eat with cornbread?
  7. Preparation and Storage Tips
  8. Recipe Variations
  9. Southern Cornbread Recipe Recipe

If you’re looking for even more cornbread recipes, try this cornbread with cake mix, a pan of sweet and fluffy cornbread with corn, this moist sour cream cornbread, and a skillet of honey butter cornbread, too!

How to Make Old Fashioned Southern Cornbread | 1-Minute Video

My love for cornbread runs deep, and I’m not too particular when it comes to the style! While a sweet, cake-like northern cornbread recipe has its place on my table (it’s definitely my kids’ preference), this classic southern cornbread recipe will always have my heart.

Nothing quite says “comfort” like a skillet of warm cornbread, only made better with a drizzle of honey or a slathering of extra butter and apple butter. Perfect for soaking up chili, gravy, or anything else that might be lingering on your plate…

Square side shot of drizzling honey on a piece of southern cornbread

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Easy. You don’t need an electric mixer or any fancy ingredients. Just stir everything together and pop it in the oven!
  • Affordable. With just 5 inexpensive ingredients, this quick side dish won’t break the bank.
  • Versatile. 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.
Side shot of a slice of southern cornbread on a plate with buttermilk nearby

What is the difference between cornbread and Southern cornbread?

There’s a bit of a debate out there about the proper way to make cornbread. If you’re north of the Mason-Dixon line, you probably like your cornbread sweet and cake-like, baked in a pan until it’s light and fluffy.

So what makes cornbread southern? Southern cornbread is typically baked in a preheated cast iron skillet, which gives it a really crispy crust (the best part!). The cornbread has a more coarse and crumbly texture than its northern counterparts, and the unsweetened cornbread has a tangy, savory taste (thanks to buttermilk). Sure, we like to drizzle it with honey or spread apple butter on top, but true Southerners do not put sugar in cornbread. Instead, we prefer its savory taste and dense texture, which align more closely with the region’s culinary heritage and complement savory dishes like barbecue and fried chicken.

Overhead shot of a slice of southern cornbread recipe on a white plate with a fork

What size skillet for cornbread?

An 8-inch cast iron skillet9-inch cast iron skillet, or 10-inch cast iron skillet work best for this recipe. The 8-inch or 9-inch skillets yields extra-thick slices. I don’t recommend using a skillet that’s larger than 10 inches, or your cornbread will be too thin.

Don’t have a cast iron skillet? Bake the cornbread in a greased 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish.

Adding buttermilk to a large bowl

Ingredients

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

  • 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. Yellow cornmeal tends to offer a slightly sweeter and more robust flavor, while white cornmeal produces a milder taste.
  • Eggs: give the cornbread structure and lift. Use two regular eggs or 1 extra-large egg.
  • 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.
  • Butter: for flavor, richness, and a touch of moisture. I like salted butter, but you can substitute with unsalted butter or vegetable oil for a less-salty bread. Remember, the cornmeal mix already includes salt. You can also substitute with an equal amount of bacon grease, vegetable oil, or lard.
  • Vegetable oil or bacon grease: for coating the hot skillet.
Stirring cornbread batter.

Directions

This authentic southern cornbread recipe comes together in just minutes, with only 5 simple pantry staples. Whip up a pan any night of the week for an easy side dish that pairs nicely with almost every entrée! You’ll find detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the overview with my notes:

  1. Heat a cast iron skillet in the oven while you preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Place the cornmeal mix in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk or stir the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter into the dry ingredients. Don’t over-mix the batter or it will become too dense, and you’ll end up with dry cornbread.
  4. 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.
  5. Grease the hot skillet.
  6. Pour the batter mixture from the mixing bowl into the skillet.
  7. Bake until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. 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 a Southern cornbread recipe in a cast iron skillet on a wooden table

What do Southerners eat with cornbread?

Serve the cornbread with butter, honey, honey butterjam, apple butter, or syrup. As a side dish, the cornbread goes well classic beef chili, fried catfish, Virginia Brunswick stew, Southern meatloaf, pan fried pork chops, Southern lima beans with ham, and crispy roast chicken with vegetables.

Overhead shot of a tray of skillet cornbread

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • How to Store: 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 countertop 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.
  • Leftover Cornbread Recipes: put the day-old cornbread to good use in recipes such as cornbread croutons, Southern Caesar salad, Southern cornbread dressing, cornbread salad, Southern meatloaf, cowboy casserole with cornbread and chicken.
Horizontal side shot of a bite of southern cornbread on a fork

Recipe Variations

  • If you prefer a sweet cornbread, try this recipe. It’s like a cornbread skillet cake!
  • For just a hint of sweetness, add about 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  • Make your own self-rising cornmeal mix with these directions.
  • Stir together your own buttermilk substitute. To do so, pour either 1 ½ tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice or 1 ½ tablespoons of white vinegar into a large measuring cup. Add enough whole milk to equal 1 ½ cups of liquid. Give it a stir, let it sit for about 5 minutes, and then use it in the recipe as directed.
  • 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.
  • Cornbread Muffins: divide the batter between paper-lined muffin cups. Bake in a 350°F oven for 18-20 minutes.
Drizzling honey on a slice of cornbread

More Cornbread Recipes to Try

Southern cornbread recipe in a cast iron skillet

Southern Cornbread Recipe

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 272 kcal
A classic old-fashioned Southern cornbread recipe — just like Grandma made it!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups white or yellow self-rising cornmeal mix (not plain cornmeal)
  • 2 large eggs (or 1 extra-large egg)
  • 1 ½ cups whole buttermilk, well shaken
  • ¼ cup (½ of a stick) salted butter, melted (use unsalted butter if you prefer a less-salty cornbread)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon grease, for coating the skillet

Instructions

  • Heat an 8-inch, 9-inch, or 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven while you preheat the oven to 450°F. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, you can use an 8-inch or 9-inch rectangular baking pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk or stir together the cornmeal, eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. Stir just until combined; do not over-mix.
    Whisking dry ingredients for southern cornbread in a bowl
  • Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Add the oil to the hot skillet; spread to coat on the bottom and sides (I use a pastry brush for this). Pour the batter into the greased skillet.
  • Bake until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
    Overhead shot of a cast iron skillet full of cornbread

Video

Notes

  • Make sure that you’re using self-rising cornmeal mixnot plain cornmeal. The self-rising mix includes some flour, salt, and leavening agents in addition to the cornmeal.
  • An 8-inch or 9-inch cast iron skillet yields thicker cornbread; however, a 10-inch cast iron skillet also works fine.
  • 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: 1sliceCalories: 272kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 6gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 669mgPotassium: 166mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 433IUCalcium: 187mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: cast iron skillet cornbread, Skillet Cornbread, southern cornbread, southern cornbread recipe
Course: bread, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
Butter and honey on a piece of cornbread

This recipe was originally published in September, 2022. It was updated in May, 2024.

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!

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Comments

  1. Tina H. says:

    5 stars
    This was the best Homemade southern cornbread recipe I’ve found so far!! I’ve tried others for years , especially when I run out of those packets. My husband has to have cornbread ❤️ I love how the recipes for buttermilk & self rising cornmeal mix is included. All in my cabinet already ,fast easy & just taste amazing!!! So glad I found this site. Thank you. It’s now a family recipe forever!❤️

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Oh, yay! Thank you, Tina. It’s a staple in our house, so I’m glad that your family approves, too! 🙂

  2. jon says:

    thanks

  3. Lee Blair says:

    5 stars
    Just wanted to thank you for this FABULOUS Cornbread recipe! My mother was known for hers and she is no longer with us so it’s up to me now!! You have too helped me achieve making the best cornbread I can! She’d make us all come into the kitchen and lean over the cornbread to hear the crisp when she would cut in to that first piece! She loved it and we always did that for her…how glad I am that we did! Just a little something special I thought I’d share! God Bless You! Lee B… (Sissie)

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      That makes me so happy to hear! My kids laugh at my love of cornbread, so I can certainly relate to your mom. I’m glad that you can enjoy a slice in her honor!