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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…
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!!!
We love cornbread and corn muffins around here, but there’s something even more special and decadent about their close cousin, spoon bread.
WHAT IS 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!
HOW TO MAKE OLD FASHIONED SPOON BREAD:
As I mentioned above, you only need a handful of basic pantry staples for this easy recipe.
Water, cornmeal, eggs, salt, baking powder, and milk.
Start by adding the cornmeal to a bowl of boiling water. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
You’ll have a nice, thick mush!
After you add the rest of the ingredients, your batter is ready for the oven!
I bake it in a HOT, buttered dish. Pouring the batter into a pre-heated dish helps to form that great crust on the outside, while the inside stays tender and “spoonable.”
I obviously made this Williamsburg spoon bread recipe from scratch (which is really about as easy as it gets), but if you prefer a quick, 4-ingredient option for corn spoon bread made with Jiffy mix, then definitely check out my 4-Ingredient, 4-Minute Corn Pudding. I think it will be exactly what you’re looking for!
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 treat a try!
Oh! And one last tip before I let you go: our family highly recommends that you serve your warm spoon bread with a pat of butter and a hefty drizzle of honey. Just trust us on that one…
Looking for even more delicious side dishes? Try these favorites:
- Fannie’s Easy Cheesy Broccoli Casserole
- Orange Cranberry Corn Muffins
- Southern Cornbread Stuffing
- 3-Ingredient Cranberry Orange Sauce
Virginia Spoon Bread
- 1 cup boiling water*
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup milk, plus 3 tablespoons, divided
- Optional, for serving: extra butter and honey!
- Place a medium baking dish (about 8 inches square) in a cold oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. The dish 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 degrees F for 30 minutes. Serve spoon bread warm from the oven!
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.
Thanks, Mila! It’s SO good!! I’ve never made cream puffs, so I have no idea if they’re similar. 🙂
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.
The green chile sounds like the perfect New Mexico-inspired addition! 🙂
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.
That does sound delicious, John! Thank you! 🙂
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
That’s great, Deborah! Hope you love them!
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.
Just like my Mom did back in the 60’s! Wish I could find her recipe….thanks for the memories.
That’s great, Lisa Joan! I hope that it brought back many good memories! 🙂
yes! that’s how my Mom made this. a egg whites peaked high….unfortunately, I’ve had a hard time getting peaks lately.
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.
Oh my. My mother was from Virginia. I LOVED her spoonbread. This sounds hopefully like the diviness she made! Can’t wait to try.
I hope that you enjoy it, Ann! Recipes like mom’s are always the best! 🙂
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!
So glad that you’ve found it again! I agree — spoonbread is such comfort food!
Hi. What type of cornmeal did you use for this recipe…fine, medium, or course ground?
Hi, Gia! The package that I use just says, “Yellow Cornmeal” and doesn’t specify the ground. It’s definitely not coarse. Here’s a link to the brand: https://www.quakeroats.com/products/more-products-from-quaker/specialty-items/corn-meal/yellow-corn-meal
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!
Totally agree, Barry! I hope that you get to enjoy this soon. 🙂
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
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. 🙂
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 🙂
Thanks, Laura! 🙂
GOOD GRIEF!! There were plantations, you know!
Plantations did exist. Go be woke somewhere else!
I quite like reading an article that will make men and women think. Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!
I’m making this tonight
I’ll comment later
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.
Excellent! I hope it brings back all of the good memories. 🙂
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
Hope you enjoy, Justine! 🙂
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.
Thanks, Jacquelyn! I hope you enjoy this version, too! 🙂
DO YOU TAKE THE THREE TABLESPOONS OF MILK FROM THE ONE CUP
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!
Loved this recipe. I halted the recipe and added cooked veggies I had for more complete meal. Loved how easy it came together.
That’s a great idea, Linda! Thank you for taking the time to come back here and leave a note. 🙂
Can you substitute buttermilk for the whole milk? If so, would it be the same amount?
Hi, Gloria! Yes, I think that should work well. I’d use the same amount. 🙂
Does the recipe say to put the eggs in boiling water? That does not seem to be a good idea.
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!
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.
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! 🙂
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.
Amazing! I’m so glad that you love and appreciate Virginia spoon bread as much as we do! 🙂
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!
Thank you so much for sharing such a lovely memory and trying this recipe. We’re so glad you enjoyed it!