Southern Spoon Bread is an old-fashioned recipe for souffle-like cornbread with a custardy texture that you scoop with a spoon instead of slicing. This delicious bread can stand in for traditional cornbread with any meal and you will fall in love with the texture and flavor!
A meal isn't complete in the South without a pan of cornbread or buttermilk biscuits on the side. Spoon bread is one of my favorite variations of cornbread and its buttery, sweet corn flavor and light, souffle-like texture will soon have you hooked too!
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What Is Spoon Bread?
Spoon bread (also spelled spoonbread) is a type of cornbread made with cornmeal cooked with hot milk or water to soften it, then combined with butter and eggs and baked until set. The texture is softer and moister than traditional cornbread.
Spoonbread is said to be of Native American origin and was introduced to early settlers in South Carolina. Spoon bread became popular throughout the South, particularly in Virginia, The Carolinas, and Mississippi (where I'm from!).
Important Ingredient Notes
A complete list of ingredients with measurements along with detailed recipe instructions can be found in the recipe card located at the bottom of this post.
- Milk. I recommend regular whole milk but you can also use 2%, evaporated milk diluted with water, or a combination of buttermilk and whole or 2% milk. I do not recommend plant-based milk such as almond or soy milk for this recipe.
- Cornmeal. I recommend using good-quality, fine stone ground cornmeal for the best flavor and texture! Yellow or white cornmeal is fine. Do not use cornmeal mix as it has leavening agents and other ingredients added.
- Sugar. Whether or not sugar belongs in traditional spoon bread can be left up to debate. If you ask me, cornmeal and sugar go together like peanut butter and jelly but if you disagree, just leave it out. No hard feelings either way!
How To Make Southern Spoon Bread
- Prepare your baking dish. Baking spoon bread in a hot dish is a must for the best texture and delicious, crispy edges. Turn your oven to 350°F, place 2 tablespoons of butter in an 8-inch square baking dish, and place the baking dish in the oven while it preheats.
- Heat cornmeal with milk. Heat the milk in a saucepan on the stovetop and add the cornmeal and salt. Heat the mixture until hot and thick.
- Add the eggs. Add a small amount of the cornmeal mixture to the beaten eggs to temper them so they don't scramble, then mix the tempered egg mixture into the cornmeal mixture.
- Bake. Stir in the melted butter, sugar, and baking powder then pour the spoon bread batter into the hot baking dish. Bake for 35-45 minutes until puffed and set.
Variations and Substitutions
One of the most popular variations of spoon bread is made by adding corn kernels or creamed corn to the batter. Also called corn pudding, this variation is super tasty and packed with even more sweet corn flavor.
Just like cornbread, you can add a number of mix-ins to spoon bread to create more fun, flavor-packed variations. Try adding some of these tasty ingredients to your next batch:
- shredded cheese
- chopped jalapenos
- bell peppers
- chopped bacon
- fresh or dried herbs like chives or basil
- maple syrup
Frequently Asked Questions
Spoon bread has a lighter, softer, moister texture than cornbread thanks to the cornmeal being softened with hot milk before it is baked and more eggs in its batter than classic cornbread.
Spoon bread got its name because its soft, pudding-like texture makes it perfect for scooping up with a spoon rather than being sliced with a knife.
You will know spoonbread is done when it is light golden brown on top and the center is set. Insert a toothpick into the center to check for doneness. If it comes out clean, your spoon bread is done.
What To Serve With Spoon Bread
Southern spoon bread can be served with any dish you would serve traditional cornbread with. Try serving spoon bread with some of these dishes for a delicious, comforting meal!
- Hot Honey Chicken Thighs
- New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
- Southern Fried Catfish
- Best Oven Baked BBQ Chicken
- Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
- Whole Baked Cajun Chicken
- Soul Food Candied Yams
- Southern Baked Mac and Cheese
- Southern Squash Casserole
- Southern Baked Beans
- Southern Collard Greens
- Cajun Crawfish Etouffee
Make-Ahead and Storing Instructions
While spoonbread tastes best fresh from the oven, it can be made a day or two in advance and reheated in the oven, covered with foil, when ready to serve. The batter can also be prepared ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
Leftover spoon bread can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
More Classic Southern Recipes You Will Love!
- Southern Chocolate Gravy
- Southern Homemade Chicken and Dumplings
- Southern Chicken Salad
- Cajun Shrimp and Grits
- Southern Salmon Croquettes
- Southern Smothered Chicken
- Southern Deviled Eggs
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Southern Coleslaw
- Southern Hush Puppies
- Skillet Peach Cobbler
- Moist Lemon Bundt Cake
- Fresh Strawberry Cobbler
- Sock It To Me Cake
- Hummingbird Cupcakes
- Old Fashioned Banana Pudding
- Southern Sweet Potato Pie
Southern Spoon Bread Recipe
- Turn your oven to 350°F. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in an 8-inch square baking dish and place it in the oven while it preheats.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the cornmeal and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the milk to a medium saucepan and heat it on the stovetop over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges, but it is not boiling.
- Slowly pour in the cornmeal while stirring with a wooden spoon so lumps do not form. Cook the cornmeal mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the warm cornmeal mixture to the beaten eggs and whisk the ingredients together. Repeat with 2 more tablespoons of the cornmeal mixture. This step is called "tempering" or warming the eggs so they do not scramble when added to the batter.
- Now, pour the tempered egg mixture into the pan with the remaining cornmeal mixture and whisk until combined. Whisk in the sugar, baking powder, and melted butter. Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the batter into the hot dish.
- Place the dish back in the oven and bake the spoon bread for 35 to 45 minutes or until light golden brown on top, set in the center, and a toothpick comes out clean. Serve spoon bread warm with pats of butter and a drizzle of honey!
- I recommend using good-quality, fine stone ground cornmeal for the best flavor and texture! Yellow or white cornmeal is fine. Do not use cornmeal mix as it has leavening agents and other ingredients added.
- While spoonbread tastes best fresh from the oven, it can be made a day or two in advance and reheated in the oven, covered with foil, when ready to serve. The batter can also be prepared ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
- Leftover spoon bread can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.