The best recipe for cornbread in a cast-iron skillet Southern style has self-rising cornmeal, eggs, buttermilk, and fat.
Cornbread like grandmother used to make.
How many of you still want to make food just like your grandmother? I certainly do! In my opinion, most grandmothers did cooking right. Their basic, simple recipes were comforting then and are still comforting today. This cornbread is no exception. I watched my grandmother make this cornbread many times, and I love making it today. It is simple, easy, and truly Southern.
What makes a cornbread “Southern?”
There are a few things that separate Southern cornbread from other versions. First is that Southern cornbread is savory and not sweet like some versions. Second, Southern cornbread is typically made with all cornmeal and has a crumbly texture as opposed to some that have cornmeal +flour which yields a less crumbly texture. Finally, Southern cornbread is made in a cast-iron skillet that is heated with oil, butter, lard, or bacon grease to help form the buttery crispy crust that is so fabulous.
A cast-iron skillet is essential to Southern cornbread.
As I mentioned above, Southern cornbread gets its characteristic crispy crust by the combination of a sizzling hot cast iron skillet + melted fat. Our grandmothers often used lard and bacon grease. I use bacon grease if I have it on hand; otherwise, I use butter. Either way, the magic happens when you use the hot skillet and the melted fat. It is worth buying a cast-iron skillet if for nothing else than to make true Southern cornbread. If you are unsure about cast-iron, you might enjoy my blog post, Why a Cast-Iron Skillet is the Best Thing You’ll Ever Buy.
What is the best cornmeal for Southern cornbread?
I buy self-rising cornmeal mix for making Southern cornbread. If using plain cornmeal, you have to measure and add baking powder and salt. It is worth the time and trouble to buy self-rising and skip those extra steps. One of my favorite brands of self-rising cornmeal is McEwen and Sons, a product made at a gristmill in Wilsonville, Alabama. If I had to recommend one that is most easily found in stores, I would recommend White Lily. Many Southern cooks declare there is nothing that rivals White Lily.
What is the best fat for Southern cornbread?
Although I use oil for my cornbread and butter for heating my skillet, there are other options. For the richest look and taste, it is hard to rival bacon fat. One of my grandmothers would lay a few strips of bacon in the skillet while it preheated in the oven. When the skillet was piping hot, she would pour the cornbread batter over the bacon, which would bake into the top crust. The bacon laced crust was as crispy and flavorful as anything you could get with any other fat.
Baking tip: Do not overmix cornbread
Do not beat cornbread batter until smooth. Over-mixing will result in cornbread that is peaked on top with a tough, heavy texture. This being said, you can use a hand mixer or simply stir with a spoon/spatula, as long as you avoid overmixing.
How to eat Southern cornbread.
Maybe it is my age….but when I was younger, both my grandfathers would crumble cornbread into a glass of buttermilk! I never tried this, so I have no idea what it tastes like. My favorite way to eat cornbread is slathered with butter. I ALWAYS serve cornbread with this Brunswick stew, these Instant Pot collard greens or my perfect black-eyed peas. I can’t eat any of these without cornbread!!!
Watch how easy it is to make cornbread.
In the short video below, I make cornbread from start to finish. It is so easy. I encourage you to give it a try!
Try my pimento cheese cornbread recipe.
For those of you who love cornbread and want an easy recipe that is a twist on tradition, you will definitely want to try one of my most popular recipes, Southern Style Pimento Cheese Cornbread (From a Mix). It is absolutely delicious! It has a slightly sweet note with rich, hot pimento cheese. I’ve had more requests for this recipe than almost anything else on the blog. Delicious!!!
I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you make it, I’d love to hear what you think! As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!
- 2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix*
- 1 ¾ cups buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons butter (or 1/4 cup oil) for skillet
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Place 2 tablespoons butter (or 1/4 cup oil) bottom of the cast-iron skillet; put in the oven during preheating.**
- Pour the cornmeal into a bowl.
- Whisk together oil, egg, and buttermilk until egg is lightly beaten.
- Add wet ingredients to cornmeal; mix until combined.
- Remove skillet from oven or stovetop. Immediately pour batter into hot skillet.
- Place skillet in oven for 25-30 minutes or until cornbread is lightly golden.
*I recommend McEwen & Sons or White Lily
** You may also heat the skillet stovetop until butter melts and skillet is hot. A drop of water will sizzle when skillet is hot enough.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 171Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 49mgSodium 500mgCarbohydrates 24gFiber 2gSugar 3gProtein 6g