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This born-and-raised Virginia gal couldn’t resist sharing a classic, easy side dish recipe for old-fashioned Virginia spoon bread! If you’ve visited Williamsburg (or many other parts of the South), then you’ve likely enjoyed the moist, custard-like cornbread that you can scoop with a spoon. If not, then let me introduce you to this cozy treat…

Dish of Virginia Spoon Bread
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love this Spoon Bread Recipe
  2. What is spoon bread?
  3. Ingredients
  4. How to Make Old Fashioned Spoon Bread
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. Preparation and Storage Tips
  7. Recipe Variations
  8. Tips for the Best Spoon Bread Recipe
  9. Virginia Spoon Bread Recipe

Looking for even more cozy sides? Try this Jiffy corn casserole, our wildly popular Jiffy cornbread with creamed corn, and these old-fashioned Southern corn sticks, too!

Spoon bread topped with butter and honey

Why You’ll Love this Spoon Bread Recipe

There are so many reasons that spoon bread has stood the test of time:

  • it’s affordable;
  • it only requires a handful of basic pantry staples;
  • it comes together with about 10 minutes of prep;
  • it’s a versatile and easy side dish that pairs nicely with almost any entrée;
  • and, most importantly, it’s incredibly delicious!!!
Easy spoon bread recipe in baking dish

What is spoon bread?

We love cornbread and corn muffins around here, but there’s something special and decadent about their close cousin, spoon bread. The texture of spoon bread is like a cross between a classic cornbread and a savory Yorkshire pudding. The crispy, golden edges contrast beautifully with the soft, tender inside.

While the dish is popular throughout the Southern United States, a little bit of research taught me that spoon bread is thought to have originated with the Native Americans. Sarah Rutledge’s cookbook included the first print version of a spoon bread recipe in 1847! The history major in me would love to see how that recipe compares to the version that we’re enjoying today.

This easy side became popular around the turn of the 20th century, as cornmeal replaced yeast in Southern cooking. You know that I’m a big fan of any bread baking that doesn’t involve yeast!

Spoon bread ingredients

Ingredients

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

  • Boiling water: the old technique of adding boiling water to cornmeal supposedly converts some of the starches to sugar (which should help to combat cornmeal’s somewhat bitter taste), and also softens the meal prior to baking.
  • Cornmeal: use just about any cornmeal that you prefer — yellow cornmeal or white cornmeal, fine ground or stone-ground will all work.
  • Eggs: help the spoon bread puff up as it bakes, and also gives it structure.
  • Salt: enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Baking powder: the leavening agent that gives the spoon bread a little bit of “lift” to help it rise slightly.
  • Milk: for richness.
  • Butter: to grease the hot skillet or baking dish.
Spoon bread batter with whisk

How to Make Old Fashioned Spoon Bread

This quick and easy recipe comes together in just minutes! You’ll find the detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the short version:

  • Add the cornmeal to a bowl of boiling water. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. You’ll have a nice, thick mush!
  • Whisk together the cornmeal mixture with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Bake the spoonbread in a hot 2-quart casserole dish or cast iron skillet that’s been greased with melted butter.
Pieces of old fashioned spoon bread on plates

Serving Suggestions

Whether you’re pulling together a Thanksgiving feast, planning ahead for your next Sunday supper, or just whipping up a quick weeknight dinner, I hope that you’ll take a step back in history and give this old fashioned Williamsburg spoon bread a try! It’s delicious alongside Southern collard greens and butter beans for a meal, or paired with any of these entrees:

Spoon bread on fork

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • This dish is best enjoyed immediately while warm from the oven.
  • Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  • How to Reheat: Tent loosely with foil and warm in a 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave for 30-60 seconds.
Williamsburg spoon bread recipe on plates

Recipe Variations

  • For a larger batch of spoon bread, double all of the ingredients and bake in a 9×13-inch baking dish. You may need to increase the total time in the oven slightly to account for the larger pan.
  • Add grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, diced green chilies, and/or jalapeno peppers for a Mexican twist.
  • For more savory flavor, stir in some sliced green onions or fresh herbs like chives, parsley, rosemary, or thyme.
  • Add drained whole kernel corn for more texture and sweet pops of flavor.
  • Make it sweet by adding sugar to the batter. Two tablespoons of sugar will make it slightly sweet, while ¼ cup (or more) will make it more decadent.
  • If you’re looking for a similar corn pudding recipe with jiffy corn muffin mix, you’ll find that here.
Pieces of easy homemade spoon bread on plates

Tips for the Best Spoon Bread Recipe

  • Bake the spoon bread in a preheated dish or cast iron skillet. Similar to cast iron cornbread, the preheated pan creates extra-crispy edges, while the spoon bread stays tender and moist on the inside.
  • Serve your warm spoon bread with a pat of butter and a hefty drizzle of honey, maple syrup, or apple butter.
  • Use whole milk or at least 2% milk rather than skim milk. The fat in the liquid adds richness to the batter and helps to keep the spoonbread moist.
  • To check if the spoon bread 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.
Spoon Bread in baking dish

More Easy Recipes with Cornmeal

Square side shot of the best spoon bread recipe served on a blue and white plate.

Virginia Spoon Bread

5 from 10 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 140 kcal
This born-and-raised Virginia gal couldn't resist sharing a classic spoon bread recipe!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup boiling water*
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk, plus 3 tablespoons, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter (for greasing the pan)
  • Optional, for serving: extra butter and honey!

Instructions

  • Place a medium baking dish (about 8 inches square) or an 8-inch cast iron skillet in a cold oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F. The pan will warm up while the oven heats.
  • Meanwhile, stir cornmeal into boiling water. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • Add salt. Dissolve baking powder in 3 tablespoons of milk. Add the baking powder mixture to the remaining 1 cup of milk. Add milk and baking powder mixture to the cornmeal.
  • Butter the hot baking dish. Transfer mixture to the buttered dish. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Serve spoon bread warm from the oven.

Notes

  • Bake the spoon bread in a preheated dish or cast iron skillet. Similar to cast iron cornbread, the preheated pan creates extra-crispy edges, while the spoon bread stays tender and moist on the inside.
  • Serve your warm spoon bread with a pat of butter and a hefty drizzle of honey, maple syrup, or apple butter.
  • Use whole milk or at least 2% milk rather than skim milk. The fat in the liquid adds richness to the batter and helps to keep the spoonbread moist.
  • To check if the spoon bread 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: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 140kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 5gFat: 3gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 430mgPotassium: 299mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 155IUCalcium: 115mgIron: 1.2mg
Keyword: best spoon bread recipe, easy spoon bread recipe, old fashioned spoon bread, spoon bread, spoon bread recipe, Williamsburg spoon bread
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
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!

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Comments

  1. Mila Bassett says:

    This sounds sooo good! I’ve never heard of Williamsburg spoon bread but I now can’t wait to try it. The process seems to be similar to making the dough for cream puffs, minus the butter.

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Mila! It’s SO good!! I’ve never made cream puffs, so I have no idea if they’re similar. 🙂

  2. Margaret Gross says:

    I am going to try this. I have never had Spoon Bread, but heard about here and there- it sounds just delicious. Because I am from NM, the first thing I thought of was putting green chile in it. Corn and green chile go together really well. It would be great with grilled steaks or chicken.

    1. Blair says:

      The green chile sounds like the perfect New Mexico-inspired addition! 🙂

  3. John Mouring says:

    I’m 88 and have enjoyed my share of Spoon Bread over the years. When we have leftover cornbread, I crumble it in a bowl , add milk, butter, and Agave nectar and microwave. Result is a tasty pseudo spoonbread that is quite good.

    1. Blair says:

      That does sound delicious, John! Thank you! 🙂

      1. Deborah says:

        5 stars
        I can’t wait to try these recipes remind me of my grandma ‘s recipes thank so much please send me more recipes so I can try

        1. Blair Lonergan says:

          That’s great, Deborah! Hope you love them!

  4. Carla Hagood says:

    Mom used to make this but she’d separate the eggs and whip the whites until stiff peaks. The egg whites were folded in just before batter is placed in the baking dish. She also used melted butter in the recipe. This is more of the traditional spoon bread style. Makes it fluffier and creamier in my opinion.

    1. Lisa Joan Murphey says:

      Just like my Mom did back in the 60’s! Wish I could find her recipe….thanks for the memories.

      1. Blair says:

        That’s great, Lisa Joan! I hope that it brought back many good memories! 🙂

    2. Lisa Murphey says:

      yes! that’s how my Mom made this. a egg whites peaked high….unfortunately, I’ve had a hard time getting peaks lately.

  5. Kal El says:

    Your wish is granted! Here is an Library of Congress link verifying your thoughts that Spoon Bread, is indeed an recipe born if Native American cuisine.

    None are titled spoon bread, however, you will see the variations in recipe indicating the different styles among a few different tribes.

  6. Ann says:

    Oh my. My mother was from Virginia. I LOVED her spoonbread. This sounds hopefully like the diviness she made! Can’t wait to try.

    1. Blair says:

      I hope that you enjoy it, Ann! Recipes like mom’s are always the best! 🙂

  7. Daniel D.Teoli Jr. says:

    5 stars
    I lost my old spoonbread recipe from years ago and found this one. I use a dollop of sour cream on top of the arm bread. Man, nothing better on a cold day than some warm spoonbread!

    1. Blair says:

      So glad that you’ve found it again! I agree — spoonbread is such comfort food!

  8. Gia says:

    Hi. What type of cornmeal did you use for this recipe…fine, medium, or course ground?

    Thanks!

      1. Gia says:

        Thanks!

  9. Barry R says:

    I had never had spoonbread until I was in college renting a house where the owner had a live-in caregiver who was from one of the Virginia peninsula towns on the Bay. While the fresh spoonbread was okay, I really enjoyed it the next day, scooped out from the refrigerated bowl and fried quickly in a hot skillet of butter! Crusty outside, warm soft inside – Yummy!

    1. Blair says:

      Totally agree, Barry! I hope that you get to enjoy this soon. 🙂

  10. kelly bannister says:

    5 stars
    My 91 year old mother-in-law has been craving spoon bread and I had never tried it in my life. I used this recipe and she was delighted. Her only critique was that I should have used white corn meal. I asked if her recipe was different and she said yes — she used the Jiffy instant….lol

    1. Blair says:

      Hah! This makes me happy, Kelly! I’m so glad that you could help satisfy your mother-in-law’s craving — even if it wasn’t exactly the same as she remembers. 🙂

  11. Laura says:

    I looked up this recipe in curiosity after listening to the episode of the Sporkful podcast in which you were featured. I just want to say that I appreciate the fact that you have since removed the word “plantation” from the title. In being willing to change, you set a good example. Know better – do better 🙂

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Laura! 🙂

    2. Polly Tredman says:

      5 stars
      GOOD GRIEF!! There were plantations, you know!

      1. Susan Lee says:

        I agree!

    3. Anne says:

      Plantations did exist. Go be woke somewhere else!

      1. Cam says:

        Would it make more sense to call it Slaveholder’s Sweetbread? Has a good ring to it, and more accurate. Would that satisfy you apologists snowflakes? Plantations were places of great pain and suffering for all but the white people. Your history sucks. Deal with it.

  12. Tereasa Yokota says:

    I quite like reading an article that will make men and women think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

  13. Donna says:

    I’m making this tonight
    I’ll comment later

  14. Angie says:

    Thank you for this! I was just reminiscing about Evans Farm. We would go there for special events in our family. The spoon bread was the BEST! Can’t wait to try this out.

    1. Blair says:

      Excellent! I hope it brings back all of the good memories. 🙂

    2. Justine says:

      5 stars
      The first time I had spoonbread was at The Evans Farm Inn! I loved that place and ate there for years until I moved south. So glad to see someone else remembers it fondly! I’m trying this recipe tonight! Thanks

      1. Blair says:

        Hope you enjoy, Justine! 🙂

      2. J Brown says:

        OMG it’s great to hear someone else misses Evans Farm Inn like I do. Their food was amazing, and the spoonbread divine. The only place I know to get spoonbread close to it is Piccadilly Cafeteria and most of them have closed too. My father owned a cafeteria when I was a child, and I think his recipe separated the egg yolks and beat the whites, but I look forward to trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing it, and Justine thanks for taking me down memory lane.

  15. Jacquelyn Farlow says:

    This recipe sounds good. I use to have the Herring Hall recipe, but have lost it. It had lots of butter and was more like a pudding, I think folded in egg whites also at the last minute before baking. Served in a large round casserole at the table, like a soufflé bowl.

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Jacquelyn! I hope you enjoy this version, too! 🙂

  16. CAROLYN ARMSTRONG says:

    DO YOU TAKE THE THREE TABLESPOONS OF MILK FROM THE ONE CUP

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Carolyn! No, you need 1 cup of milk, plus 3 tablespoons. So the 3 tablespoons are in addition to the 1 cup. Hope you enjoy!

    2. Linda Sivilich says:

      5 stars
      Hi Blair,
      Loved this recipe. I halted the recipe and added cooked veggies I had for more complete meal. Loved how easy it came together.

      1. Blair Lonergan says:

        That’s a great idea, Linda! Thank you for taking the time to come back here and leave a note. 🙂

  17. Gloria says:

    Can you substitute buttermilk for the whole milk? If so, would it be the same amount?

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Gloria! Yes, I think that should work well. I’d use the same amount. 🙂

  18. Jim says:

    Does the recipe say to put the eggs in boiling water? That does not seem to be a good idea.

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Jim! The water will not be boiling once you’ve stirred in the cornmeal. While the mixture is still obviously warm, I’ve never had a problem with the eggs curdling. Hope that helps to clarify, and enjoy!

  19. bob says:

    5 stars
    this was very good. my mom was the greatest spoon bread maker of all time. i too lose her recipe, yours is the closest i have been able to get to the taste of hers. we were all from va. by the way and we ate our spoon bread with black eyed peas, stewed tomatos and bacon all on the same plate. always put butter on the spoon bread.

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thank you, Bob! I’m so glad that it reminds you of your mom, and that supper with the peas, tomatoes, and bacon sounds like a perfect meal in my book! 🙂

  20. ginny says:

    5 stars
    Great spoonbread recipe!
    Tastes just like spoonbread we had at Christiana Campbell’s Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg last week.
    Thanks for this great recipe…..Super yummy and easy.
    As we are Virginia natives, we always look for spoonbread on any menus.

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Amazing! I’m so glad that you love and appreciate Virginia spoon bread as much as we do! 🙂

  21. Margie Long says:

    5 stars
    I am a born & bred VA girl also. Born in Lynchburg, Virginia. When I moved to Tennessee in 1990 everyone looked at me like I was nuts when I talked about spoon bread. They had never heard of it. I have such fond memories as a little girl watching my dad load up his plate with spoon bread and then top it off with strawberry preserves. This is an easy recipe & produces a very enjoyable dish. Thanks again!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      Thank you so much for sharing such a lovely memory and trying this recipe. We’re so glad you enjoyed it!

  22. Linda B Jones says:

    5 stars
    Awesome and easy

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thanks, Linda!