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These moist and tender Sweet Cornbread Muffins are a perfect side dish with hearty chili, zesty barbecue, or a juicy roast chicken. Whip up the batter in just 10 minutes for homemade buttermilk cornbread muffins that taste better than a box of Jiffy mix!

Hands serving a bowl of the best cornbread muffins

Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins

Most nights of the week, you’ll find a bread basket on our dinner table full of either buttermilk biscuitsskillet cornbreadpumpkin bread, garlic breadno-knead breadblueberry muffins, or these sweet cornbread muffins. We rotate through our favorites, and one thing is certain: my moist and tender buttermilk cornbread muffins always disappear fast!

They’re one of those great sides that only requires about 10 minutes of effort, but everyone loves them. Served warm and slathered in honey butter, a dollop of apple butter, or a drizzle of honey, they are entirely irresistible! Skip the boxed mix of Jiffy cornbread muffins from here on out, because nothing compares to the classic, made-from-scratch sweet, buttermilk variety.

Whisking together dry ingredients in a white mixing bowl

The Difference Between Cornbread and Corn Muffins

A classic Southern Skillet Cornbread will always have my heart; however, sometimes the convenience of individual muffins wins out! Plus, the kids go crazy for these moist, soft, sweet cornbread muffins that taste like a treat from the bakery.

There isn’t much of a difference between cornbread and corn muffins, beyond the type of pan that they’re baked in. Muffins are obviously baked in individual portions in a muffin tin, while cornbread is typically baked in a square dish or in a round cast iron skillet.

These particular sweet cornbread muffins differ from my classic skillet cornbread in a few ways, though.

  1. They’re lighter and fluffier. Instead of a more traditional 1:1 ratio of cornmeal to flour, this muffin recipe calls for slightly more all-purpose flour than cornmeal — giving them a softer, lighter texture.
  2. The muffins use butter rather than oil (for rich flavor), and have more sugar for a sweeter, bakery-style muffin.
  3. The soft muffins don’t have those crisp edges that you get from baking cornbread in a preheated cast iron skillet.
Pouring buttermilk into a white bowl

How to Keep the Muffins Moist and Avoid Crumbly, Fall-Apart Cornbread

Unlike some cornbread muffins that can be crumbly and dry, these muffins stay moist thanks to a couple of key ingredients.

  1. The butter adds fat, flavor and moisture, while the buttermilk also keeps the muffins incredibly moist and tender.
  2. Another trick for moist cornbread muffins? Don’t over-mix the batter. Fold together the ingredients just until everything is combined, and then stop stirring. Over-mixing will yield dry, tough baked goods.
  3. Finally, cool the muffins on a wire rack (not in the pan). If they’re left in the pan, they can continue to cook and therefore become dry.
Mixing a bowl of cornbread muffin batter with a wooden spoon

Ingredients

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

  • All-purpose flour: gives the muffins a lighter texture.
  • Plain yellow cornmeal: I prefer finely-ground yellow cornmeal in these muffins, since it yields a softer texture.
  • Baking powder: the leavening agent that helps the muffins rise.
  • Kosher salt: to balance the sweetness.
  • Whole buttermilk: the acid in the buttermilk helps the muffins rise, gives the muffins a slightly tangy flavor, and yields a moist, tender crumb.
  • Light brown sugar: for that sweet flavor, a touch of moisture, and a subtle hint of molasses flavor in the background.
  • Salted butter: melted butter adds fat, flavor and moisture to the batter.
  • Egg: gives the muffins structure.
Scoop putting batter in a muffin tin

How to Make Sweet Cornbread Muffins

While a classic Southern cornbread is typically not very sweet (and may not contain any sugar at all), my kids always love the bakery-style sweet cornbread muffins that you find in restaurants and in a box of Jiffy cornbread muffin mix. As a result, I decided to create my own made-from-scratch version, which utilizes a good amount of brown sugar for that sweet taste and hint of molasses flavor. They’re a fun twist on the classic, and they pair beautifully with savory dishes.

  1. Whisk together dry ingredients.
  2. Whisk together buttermilk, brown sugar, melted butter and egg.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; stir just until combined.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between 12 muffin cups.
  5. Bake in a 400°F oven for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Close up side shot of southern cornbread muffins with apple butter and honey in the background

What to Serve with Sweet Cornbread Muffins

The sweet muffins pair nicely with savory dishes like soups, stews, chili and meat. Here are a few ideas to add to your table:

Square shot of hands serving a bowl of sweet cornbread muffins with a blue cloth

Storage

Cornbread muffins are best when freshly baked and warm from the oven, but you can prepare them up to 8 hours in advance and leave them on your countertop until ready to serve. To extend the life of your corn muffins, store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Drizzling honey on sweet cornbread muffin

How to Freeze

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

How to Reheat

Warm individual muffins in the microwave for 15-30 seconds, or until heated through. To reheat multiple muffins at once, wrap the muffins in foil and heat in a 350°F oven until warmed through (about 5-10 minutes).

Square shot of a table of the best cornbread muffins with a side of apple butter and honey

Recipe Variations for Sweet Cornbread Muffins

  • Jumbo Cornbread Muffins: double the ingredients and bake the muffins in a Jumbo muffin tin at 350°F for at least 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cornbread Muffins with Corn: stir in 2 cups of fresh corn or canned corn kernels (drained).
  • Jalapeño and Cheese: add 1-2 chopped jalapeño peppers to the batter, along with 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese. Cut the sugar back to just ⅓ cup.
  • Green Chiles: stir 1 small can of diced green chilies into the batter. Add some cheese, too! To make the muffin more savory, cut the sugar to ⅓ cup.
  • Blueberry: fold 1 ½ cups of fresh or frozen blueberries into the batter.
  • Cranberry: add 1 cup of dried sweetened cranberries or 1 ½ cups of chopped fresh cranberries into the batter. For a hint of orange, try adding the zest from 1 orange, too!
Four buttermilk cornbread muffins stacked on a plate

Tips for the Best Sweet Cornbread Muffin Recipe

  • Use a finely-ground yellow cornmeal. Coarse cornmeal will give the muffins a more grainy (rather than soft) texture.
  • 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 tough and dense, and you’ll end up with dry muffins.
  • To check if the muffins are done, insert a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean. Don’t cook them for too long, or they can dry out.
  • Use full-fat buttermilk rather than regular milk or a lower-fat alternative. It adds a subtle tangy flavor, it keeps the muffins moist, and it yields a tender crumb.
Side shot of a basket of homemade cornbread muffins on a dinner table

More Homemade Muffins to Try

Hands serving a bowl of the best cornbread muffins

Sweet Cornbread Muffins with Brown Sugar

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings 12 muffins
Calories 199 kcal
These moist and tender Sweet Cornbread Muffins are a perfect side dish with hearty chili, zesty barbecue, or a juicy roast chicken.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • cup plain yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ⅓ cups whole buttermilk, at room temperature
  • cup packed light brown sugar
  • cup salted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, brown sugar, melted butter and egg.
  • Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture; stir just until combined (do not over-mix). The batter will still be slightly lumpy, which is fine.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups.
  • Bake until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Notes

  • Use a finely-ground yellow cornmeal. Coarse cornmeal will give the muffins a more grainy (rather than soft) texture.
  • 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 tough and dense, and you’ll end up with dry muffins.
  • To check if the muffins are done, insert a toothpick into the center and make sure it comes out clean. Don’t cook them for too long, or they can dry out.
  • Use full-fat buttermilk rather than regular milk or a lower-fat alternative. It adds a subtle tangy flavor, it keeps the muffins moist, and it yields a tender crumb.

Nutrition

Serving: 1muffinCalories: 199kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 4gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 180mgPotassium: 169mgFiber: 1gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 221IUCalcium: 76mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: buttermilk cornbread muffins, cornbread muffins, sweet cornbread muffins
Course: 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!

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