Southern Cornbread

It seems that the difference between Southern cornbread & Northern (Yankee!) cornbread is the sugar. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. Someone correct me if I’m wrong. We don’t usually do sweet cornbread down here, although some do. My mama did not & this is the sort of cornbread I grew up on. Buttery good!
Now, I can’t claim to be an expert on cornbread, since I haven’t made it all that much, but me & the hubby love to have cornbread with soup this time of year, so I did get an iron skillet just for that reason. Iron skillets cook the best cornbread ever. My mama cooks her in an iron skillet, so it must be right.
Recently made some homemade vegetable beef soup in the new crockpot.
With cornbread on the side. Yeah, it was good! On New Year’s Day, I fixed the “New Year’s Luck” dish of greens, black-eyed peas & cornbread. My greens & peas sure weren’t up to my mama’s standards, but hubby liked it fine. Our local Birmingham paper ran a whole article recently on cornbread, so I found a good recipe in there & tried it. It’s definitely a good ‘un, as we say down South! Thought you might like to have a good Southern tried & true cornbread recipe for your files. This recipe called for stone-ground cornmeal, which I am going to look for. I know I sure like my stone-ground grits.

Nora’s Memaw’s Alabama Cornbread (yes, that really is the title)

Vegetable all cooking spray
1 cup white cornmeal (I used yellow, that’s what I had, but prefer white)
1/2 cup white flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar (just a touch, doesn’t make it sweet)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used all 1 1/2 cups buttermilk)
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use canola oil)

Preheat the oven to 450*. Spray a 10×16 baking dish (of course, I used the 8″ iron skillet & put about 2-3 TBS of oil in bottom, heat it in the oven as the oven is preheating, so the batter sizzles when you put it in). Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisking or stirring well to mix. In a small bowl, beat together the milk, egg & oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry, using the absolute minimum number of strokes needed to moisten dry with wet.

Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish (or skillet!) & bake until the top of the cornbread is golden brown & springs back when touched, about 20 min. Serve hot from the pan, with butter (of course!).

You can see the only changes I made are noted in ( ). This cornbread is soft & yummy in the middle & crispy on the outside.

Good Eatin’ Y’all!

- Rhoda


  1. This looks delicious. We all love cornbread in our home – jotting down this recipe :-} Thanks for sharing. The veg soup looks yummy too!

  2. I love cornbread….will have to try this thank you !!

    I saw your crockpot over at Target for 17 dollars. I have not tried a recipe in mine yet…this week-end I think I will give it a whirl. (I told you my crockpot is old but like brand new because I’ve used it 2 x’s) But if she’s not up to snuff I know where I will be spending 17.00 🙂

    Have a nice week-end Rhoda,
    Kathy 🙂

  3. Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe says:

    That is some perfect cornbread. It is a regular at our house as well.
    Y’all bundle up and stay warm this weekend!

  4. I have about the same recipe. It’s not cornbread served right unless its cooked in an iron skillet. I have ll of my grandma’s iron skillets….and proud of it.

  5. It’s nice to see such a welcoming treat! I just love anything corn! In the North we did have both sweet and unsweet versions, but it’s not nearly as popular as here in the South. Italians get their corn fix with polenta, which is also savory, and I love that too! When I lived in the North I worked with a nice gal from the South who fussed because she couldn’t find White Lily flower for her biscuits and cornbread! That was her secret! I am the proud owner of old cast iron skillets passed down from my Mom too- they’re the best!

  6. Dena ~ swaddlecottage says:

    Being that I’m half city have country I have to say that I love and make both kinds…though hubby has to have honey butter for his. Your pictures make me want some right now 🙂


  7. Sandi McBride says:

    No sugar in my cornbread no sugar in my collards, lol…yes ma’am people here in Chesterfield County have been known to put sugar in the collards when all they needed was a good freezing before cooking to sweeten them up! Your cornbread looks mighty good to me! Pass the butter

  8. Rhode – yours was one of the first blogs I started reading a couple of months ago – I went back and read every single entry. You are truly an inspiration. I even started a blog of my own – it’s just a start!! I love your decorating style – your home is just beautiful and looks peaceful and inviting!!
    About the cornbread – there is no other way to make it other than in an iron skillet – my grandmother was famous for her cornbread – the real secret is bacon fat – I know, I know, it’s horrible – but there is no other way to get really good Southern cornbread.
    Thanks again for your wonderful site!!

  9. the feathered nest says:

    Looks delicious! I love cornbread, the rest of my family, not so much. How can that be – I don’t get it LOL!

    We had the pork in the crockpot with the Grillmates and it was soo good! Plus my house smelled good all day. Sunday I’m making your Chicken Caesar Lasagna. You have all the best recipes!



  10. The recipe is pretty close to mine, including the sizzle. I don’t sweeten cornbread and yes indeedy do, an iron skillet is a must have for cornbread.

    The soup looks delish. I’ve been making soups and stews quite a bit. Perfect cold weather comfort food!


  11. BailiwickDesigns says:

    mmmm… sounds great! We love cornbread with stews and soups this time of year, too. I will definitely try your recipe, topped with honey butter. This weekend will be perfect – it’s coooold here.


  12. Ummmm, looks SO good. Soup and cornbread. I’ll have to try your recipe. Thanks!

  13. Sounds delic! Rhoda!!
    Happy Weekend!

  14. Terri and Bob says:

    Rhoda, I have my grandmother’s iron skillet and I never knew what to do with it! I love your recipe!

  15. Thanks Rhoda,
    I always love your recipes. You are going to turn me into a Southern girl yet.

  16. Southern Heart says:

    Yummmm! You browned it just perfectly, too! 🙂 I don’t put sugar in mine, either, and I use my grandmother’s old iron skillet for mine.

    Your blog is making me hungry these days!

  17. cityfarmer says:

    O yeah…we’re from Indiana but we grew up on cornbread and ham and bean soup made from a leftover ham bone…

    Just for moistness and a little richness I always sour cream to my cornbread…..and then right onto my hips it goes.

  18. Hi Rhoda Now that we live in the south, I think I need to learn how to make good cornbread. So far I’ve just used a mix. I’ll have to try your recipe sometime soon. we like toeat soup this time of year too. Hope you have a great weekend.. Rhondi

  19. Just love this post about the cornbread and cast iron pots!!! You are right — it just ain’t right unless it’s cooked in a iron skillet! Thanks for the recipe. Will try it tomorrow with my black-eyed peas! Cora

  20. I loooove corn bread.our sis normally sweet, so I am going to try this. I also make a corn pudding too with onions. I could eat it every day! Thanks!
    Jen R

  21. justabeachkat says:

    Oh Girl! Butter me a wedge and pass it please. I love me some hot buttered cornbread. Yum!

    Have a wonderful weekend.


    (ps…I noticed in your comment to Andrea that you’re trying the Ann George Southern Mysteries. I’ve read them all. Just fun reads. They made me laugh out loud. One takes place here in Destin. I think it’s called Murder Makes Waves. I was so sad when I learned Ann George died. I was looking forward to many, many more of her books.)

  22. Looks yummy!!

  23. Yep Rhoda, ya can’t beat good old Southern cornbread in a black skillet! My friend Judy makes the best cornbread so I use her receipe. It’s basically like yours but I’ve never used the sugar. When it comes out of the oven, my husband wants to stand over it and eat the crispy crust before I can even turn it out on a plate! My mom says her mother used a “pinch” of suger in just about everything. My mom also uses sugar in her spagetti sauce! Your veg. soup and cornbread sounds so good I think I’ll make some Saturday (we are supposed to have snow here and I think ya’ll are too!)
    Have a safe and wonderful weekend- Judy

  24. Classic Charm says:

    Well I came to see if that light fixture was hung yet…and instead you are making me hungry! HA!!!!
    Your cornbread looks fantastic…you know I’ve thought about getting an iron skillet…and I think you just made up my mind. Yum!

  25. Being a Yankee myself, I’ve never made cornbread. I think I’ll have to remedy that with your recipe. It looks delicious!

  26. I’ve never made cornbread in my cast iron pan, but I DO LOVE ME SOME CO’NBREAD!! I love it both ways — with a bacon and egg breakfast, I’ll make sweetened cornbread muffins, but as the accompaniment for an evening meal, I’ll the do unsweetened, cheese-and-jalapeno-laden variety. Either way, we love it! Must try it in a pan though — it looks awesome and I bet it tastes a little different. (haha, its’ probably more authentic tasting!!)

  27. barb michelen says:

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  28. Hi Rhoda,

    Great recipe! I’m vegan and used soy milk in place of the other milks, and it turned out great!


  29. Mmmm…nothing like some good ol’ cornbread. This is almost the exact recipe that I use – except I don’t add an egg to the batter. And I don’t usually add the oil to the batter, although I have. I also use all buttermilk like you did. It keeps it much moister. Oh, and by the way, I grew up in Michigan. My family all grew up in the South, though, so I consider myself a Yankabilly instead of a Yankee. I don’t care for yellow, sweet cornbread. Bleck!

  30. Christy, The ShoppinJunkie says:

    Buttermilk cornbread & butter – a staple of life. I wouldn’t know how to make cornbread in anything other than my 10″ iron skillet. Thanks for making me drool (again) Rhoda. I gotta quit reading your stuff at the office. People are starting to talk. 😛

    FYI – Made 14 (yep, 14) pans of chicken & cornbread dressing this weekend; my family cannot live without it on holidays. The cornbread for the dressing must be extra dense, so I use 2 cups of buttermilk, THREE eggs & 1/2 yellow-1/2 white cornmeal to each pan of cornbread, cooked to crunchy goodness on the outside. Took 2 days, but now my freezer is full of Christmas gifts & To-Die-For party food. Wish you were closer, Rhoda, I’d bring you a pan.


    P.S. Can’t wait to see ALL the Hospitality House pics to come!

  31. Born and raised in the north with southern roots, I want to let my kids experience something other than pizza and Chinese food. I have fondest memories of visiting my great Aunt and going through her kitchen and ALWAYS seeing the iron skillet of white corn bread, the best I have ever tasted. After trying unsuccessfully for a few years to recreate it, yours looks like I might be going in the right direction. Look forward to trying with succotash, fried fish and chili for the winter months.

    Nothing sweet but the TEA!

  32. born and raised in the south my mother and made cornbread every work day. never seen or heard of cornbread with sugar in it or baked in anything other than a cast iron skillet with minimal ingredient , souther cooking was simple and easy, eggs milk and lard or bacon grease

  33. Growing up in East Tennessee with a mom and grandmother who were masters of baking biscuits and cornbread I loved seeing this recipe using regular flour instead of self-rising flour as they both did. They did not add sugar but sometime put a strip of bacon in the skillet and fried it leaving the hot grease and bacon in the skillet. They poured the batter over the sizzling bacon and bacon great and then poured half the batter on one side and half on the other side of the skillet. When the delicious crispy pone came out of the pan one half was folded back on the other and served immediately with a lot of butter. Then my dad’s favorite “desert” was a cornbread crumbled in a dish of buttermilk. Thanks for jogging some great memories!

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