An easy-to-make, crumbly southern-style buttermilk cornbread recipe cooked in a cast-iron skillet. Serve this cornbread with a slather of butter alongside a heaping bowl of collard greens!
Here in the south, we love our cornbread and it is often the bread of choice at dinnertime. Southern-style cornbread is a thing of beauty and is not cakey or overly sweet.
While southerners may have differences of opinion on things like full-fat versus low-fat buttermilk and whether or not to add sugar, there is one thing we will all most likely agree upon. Southern cornbread must be cooked in a cast-iron skillet!
This cornbread is crumbly with a high ratio of cornmeal to flour and has a delicious crispy crust from cooking in cast iron. This will be your go-to cornbread recipe for holidays and Sunday dinner from here on out!
Table of Contents
- Ingredients You Need To Make This Recipe
- How To Make This Recipe
- Variations and Substitutions
- What Makes Southern Cornbread Different?
- What To Serve With Southern Buttermilk Cornbread
- Make-Ahead and Storing Instructions
- A Few Tips For Making This Cornbread
- Recommended Tools For This Recipe
- More Southern Recipes You Will Love!
- 📖 Recipe
Ingredients You Need To Make This Recipe
- Unsalted butter. Melted butter is mixed into the batter and butter is also melted in the cast-iron skillet in the oven. This helps create an extra-crispy crust on the cornbread!
- Cornmeal. Cornmeal is the base for cornbread and gives it its signature corn flavor and crumbly texture. You can use either yellow or white cornmeal, but I used yellow for this recipe. I recommend using good-quality cornmeal such as Anson Mill's Coarse Yellow Cornmeal.
- All-purpose flour. A small amount of all-purpose flour is combined with the cornmeal to lighten the texture of the cornbread a bit. I recommend using good-quality flour such as Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Flour.
- Baking powder and baking soda. These are the leavening agents used to make the cornbread rise. Make sure your baking powder and baking soda are no more than six months old. Old leavening agents can cause your cornbread to turn out hard and dense.
- Salt. A small amount of salt brings out the other flavors in the cornbread.
- Buttermilk. Buttermilk is a must in southern cornbread if you ask me! I was born and raised in Mississippi and rarely ever had cornbread made with any other kind of milk. Buttermilk gives the cornbread an irresistible subtle tanginess and also helps the cornbread bake up tender. You can use low-fat or whole buttermilk for this recipe.
- Honey (optional). Traditional southern cornbread does not feature honey as an ingredient. However, a small amount of honey adds the most subtle floral note and a hint of sweetness without taking this recipe too far away from traditional southern cornbread.
- Eggs. Eggs act as the binder for the cornbread and help it holds its shape when sliced.
How To Make This Recipe
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place two tablespoons of butter in the cast-iron skillet and place the skillet in the oven for about five minutes while you mix the cornbread batter.
- To a medium mixing bowl, add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Use a whisk to mix the dry ingredients together.
- To a small mixing bowl, add the buttermilk, honey (if using), and eggs. Use a whisk to beat the wet ingredients together until combined.
- Make a well in the center of the cornmeal mixture and pour the buttermilk mixture into the well. Use a rubber spatula to mix the batter until no more dry cornmeal is visible. Pour the melted butter into the batter and mix with the rubber spatula until combined. Remove the skillet from the oven and carefully pour the batter into the hot skillet.
- Bake the cornbread in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow the cornbread to cool for 10 minutes, slice, and enjoy! Serve slices with butter slathered on them if desired.
Variations and Substitutions
You can adjust the ratio of cornmeal to flour in this recipe to suit your tastes. Some people prefer more flour, which gives the cornbread a more cake-like texture.
You can add two tablespoons of granulated sugar to the cornbread instead of the honey if you like. You may also omit the honey and sugar altogether for classic unsweetened southern cornbread.
What Makes Southern Cornbread Different?
Growing up, I was unaware that most of the country knew cornbread as a sweet and fluffy cake-like bread. While I did have my fair share of Jiffy cornbread growing up, homemade cornbread was always unsweetened, crumbly, and cooked in a cast-iron skillet.
Those three things set southern cornbread apart. While this recipe features a small amount of all-purpose flour, many traditional southern cornbread recipes are made without it. Some southerners would even argue that cornbread isn't southern if it's made with any wheat flour at all.
My grandmother made her cornbread with white cornmeal and without a trace of flour. She also used bacon grease or lard as the fat in her cornbread, which is common for many true old-school southern cornbread recipes.
Finally, when you're cooking southern cornbread, it better be in a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet! There is no substitution or variation for this step if you ask any southerner. This Lodge 10-inch Cast Iron Skillet is my favorite for cornbread!
What To Serve With Southern Buttermilk Cornbread
Now, this is the fun part! Here are some of my suggestions to serve alongside your cornbread for a true southern-style meal!
- Southern fried chicken
- Chicken spaghetti
- Fried pork chops
- Fried fish
- Smothered pork chops
- Smothered chicken
- Shrimp or fish and grits
- Southern macaroni and cheese
- Pinto beans
- Black-eye peas
- Collard greens
- Turnip Greens
Make-Ahead and Storing Instructions
This cornbread can be prepared a day in advance. Allow the cornbread to cool completely, wrap the skillet tightly in plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Reheat the skillet of cornbread in the oven.
Leftover buttermilk cornbread can be wrapped in plastic wrap or foil and stored at room temperature for up to three days and in the refrigerator for up to a week.
A Few Tips For Making This Cornbread
- Measure your cornmeal and flour properly by weighing the ingredients with a kitchen scale, or by spooning them into a measuring cup and leveling off with a knife. Too much cornmeal or flour can cause your cornbread to turn out dry and dense.
- Heat the skillet in the oven before adding the batter for the crispiest crust. If you skip the step, the cornbread will still be delicious, but you would be missing out on an added texture element that takes this cornbread over the top!
- Use good quality cornmeal! Coarse, stone-ground cornmeal is the way to go for the best southern cornbread!
Recommended Tools For This Recipe
More Southern Recipes You Will Love!
- New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
- Sour Cream Biscuits
- Southern Cheese Grits
- Cajun Dirty Rice with Smoked Sausage
- Southern Coleslaw
- Southern Hushpuppies
Classic Southern Buttermilk Cornbread
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place two tablespoons of butter in the cast-iron skillet and transfer the skillet in the oven for five minutes while you mix the cornbread batter.
- Add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a medium mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
- Add the buttermilk, honey (if using), and eggs to a separate small mixing bowl and whisk until combined.
- Place the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a glass bowl and melt it in the microwave. Make a well in the center of the cornmeal mixture and pour the buttermilk mixture into the well. Use a rubber spatula to mix the batter until no more dry cornmeal is visible. Stir in the melted butter.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and carefully pour the batter into the hot skillet. Smooth the cornbread batter out into an even layer and bake it in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cornbread to cool for 10 minutes, slice, and enjoy!
- Measure your cornmeal and flour properly by weighing them with a kitchen scale or using the spoon and level method.
- Leftover buttermilk cornbread can be wrapped in plastic wrap or foil and stored at room temperature for up to three days and in the refrigerator for up to a week.