foods and cuisines

Cornbread | The food that will make you feel like you’re at a Southern hoedown

It’s one of the pillars of Southern cooking, but cornbread is the soul food of many a culture – black, white, and Native American – and not just south of the Mason-Dixon. Grind corn coarsely and you’ve got grits; soak kernels in alkali, and you’ve got hominy (which we encourage you to cook up into posole). Leaven finely ground cornmeal with baking powder, and you’ve got cornbread.

Southern hushpuppies and corn pone, New England johnnycakes; cooked in a skillet or in muffin tins; flavored with cheese, herbs, or jalapenos – cornbread in any incarnation remains the quick and easy go-to bread that historically made it a favorite of Native American and pioneer mothers and keeps it on tables across the country today.

What does cornbread do for your body?

Cornbread is a good source of phosphorus, an important mineral that your body needs for bone health, energy production, and DNA synthesis. It’s also relatively high in sodium, a nutrient involved in regulating fluid balance and blood pressure levels.

Types of cornbread

Baked cornbread

Cornbread is a common bread in United States cuisine, particularly associated with the South and Southwest, as well as being a traditional staple for populations where wheat flour was more expensive. Cornbread, especially leftovers, can be eaten as a breakfast. It is also widely eaten with barbecue and chili con carne. In parts of the Southern and Southwestern United States, cornbread, accompanied by pinto beans, has been a common lunch for many people. It is still a common side dish for many suppers, often served with butter. Cornbread crumbs are also used in some poultry stuffings or dressing as it is called; cornbread stuffing is particularly associated with Thanksgiving turkeys.

Skillet-fried or skillet-baked cornbread (often simplified to cornbread or skillet bread) is a traditional staple in the rural United States, especially in the South. This involves heating bacon drippings, lard or other oil in a heavy, well-seasoned cast iron skillet in an oven, and then pouring a batter made from cornmeal, egg, and milk directly into the hot grease. The mixture is returned to the oven to bake into a large, crumbly and sometimes very moist cake with a crunchy crust. This bread tends to be dense and is usually served as an accompaniment rather than as a bread served as a regular course. In addition to the skillet method, such cornbread also may be made in sticks, muffins, loaves or baking pans.

Crackling bread

A primarily Southern dish consisting of cornbread with pork cracklings inside. It can be prepared with any method, but a skillet is most common as it allows for making the cornbread crispier.

Corn pone

Corn pone (sometimes referred to as “Indian pone”) is a type of cornbread made from a thick, malleable cornmeal dough (which is usually egg-less and milk-less) and cooked in a specific type of iron pan over an open fire (such as a frontiersman would use), using mostly bacon grease, but later, butter, margarine, shortening, or cooking oil. Corn pones are a staple of Southern U.S. cuisine and have been discussed or referenced by many American writers, including Mark Twain.[14]

In the Appalachian Mountains, cornbread baked in a round iron skillet, or in a cake pan of any shape, is still referred to as a “pone” of cornbread (as opposed to “hoe cakes”, the term for cornbread fried in pancake style); and when biscuit dough (i.e., “biscuits” in the American sense of the word) is occasionally baked in one large cake rather than as separate biscuits, this is called a “biscuit pone”.

The term “corn pone” is sometimes used derogatorily to refer to one who possesses certain rural, unsophisticated peculiarities (“he’s a corn pone”), or as an adjective to describe particular rural, folksy or “hick” characteristics (e.g., “corn pone” humor). This pejorative term often is directed at persons from rural areas of the Southern and Midwestern United States. A character in the Li’l Abner comic strip, General Jubilation T Cornpone, was a mythical Civil War general from Dogpatch known for his retreats and imputed cowardice. President John F. Kennedy’s staffers, who were mostly Northeastern Ivy League elites, openly mocked Texan Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson’s rural speech patterns, referring to Johnson behind his back as “Uncle Cornpone” or “Rufus Cornpone”.

Hot water cornbread

Cooked on a rangetop, one frying method involves pouring a small amount of liquid batter made with boiling water and self-rising cornmeal (cornmeal with soda or some other chemical leavener added) into a skillet of hot oil and allowing the crust to turn golden and crunchy while the center of the batter cooks into a crumbly, mushy bread. These fried breads are typically 3–4 inches (8–10 cm) in diameter and soft and very rich. Sometimes, to ensure the consistency of the bread, a small amount of wheat flour is added to the batter. This type of cornbread is often known as “hot water” or “scald meal” cornbread and is unique to the American South.


Pouring a batter similar to that of skillet-fried cornbread, but slightly thinner, into hot grease atop a griddle or a skillet produces a pancake-like bread called a johnnycake. While johnnycake often denotes this pancake-like cornbread, it is also used in a scattered sense as a more general term for cornbread, chiefly in the North.


A thicker buttermilk-based batter that is deep-fried rather than pan-fried forms the hushpuppy, a common accompaniment to fried fish and other seafood in the South. Hushpuppy recipes vary from state to state, some including onion seasoning, chopped onions, beer, or jalapeños. Fried properly, the hushpuppy will be moist and yellow or white on the inside, while crunchy and light to medium-dark golden brown on the outside. Although Native people ushered corn and cornmeal into African people’s diets, African cooks are generally credited with introducing the frying of foods in fats. The combination of Native cornmeal and the African technique of frying, therefore, led to the creation of hushpuppies.

Fried cornbread

Alongside other iterations of Native cornbread, the Lumbee people in southeastern North Carolina have a unique method of cooking their cornbread. The “fried cornbread” or “frybread” that most Lumbee families serve with meals differs from both hushpuppies and johnnycakes. Prepared with yellow cornmeal, egg, buttermilk, and salt, the cornbread batter is thinly poured into a cast-iron skillet to fry.  As Eric Locklear, a member of the Lumbee tribe and owner of Fuller’s Old-Fashioned BBQ, notes, “It’s got a crunch around it. I mean, it ain’t thick; it don’t look like pancakes. It’s real thin and crunchy”.  After the fried cornbread is made, it is typically served with slices of cheese or collard greens. Glen Hunt, owner of Lumbee Homemade Ice-Cream in North Carolina, states, “You know how the old folks like to eat collards? They like to get a piece of cornbread and dip it in those collards and eat it with their fingers”.

How to Make Cornbread


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted (or bacon drippings)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal (or polenta)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (optional: yields a fluffier cornbread)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk shake before measuring
  • 2 large eggs


  • Preheat the oven to 200C | 400F and position a rack in the middle. Lightly grease a 9-inch cast iron skillet or 9-inch square baking dish with butter and place skillet/dish into the oven to heat up.

    (Alternatively for cast iron skillets: heat 1/2 cup of unmelted butter in your cast iron over stove top on medium heat until melted, turn heat off then allow the butter to cool slightly before adding to the batter.)

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder (If using), baking soda and salt.
  • Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk and eggs. Mix together well to combine, then add in the slightly cooled melted butter. Mix again until ‘just’ combined (don’t over mix).
  • Carefully remove your ‘hot’ pan or dish from the oven with oven mitts, and pour the batter into the hot skillet or dish. Listen to that sizzle! That’s what you want.
  • Bake until the cornbread begins to brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (about 20-23 minutes). Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own! Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar (or fresh squeezed lemon juice) to 1 cup of room temperature milk (full cream, 2% or skim can be use). Mix together and let sit for 5 minutes. Done! Prepare your ‘buttermilk’ as step one of this recipe to ensure it has soured enough before adding to your mixture.

Is cornbread a cake or bread?

Cornbread is a type of quick bread, meaning it rises quickly in the oven and making it doesn’t take long. While it’s not made with yeast, it’s considered bread, not a type of cake.

What does corn bread taste like?

Preferences in styles aside, great cornbread always has rich corn flavor that shines. It can be a bit crumbly, but it needs to hold together and to have sweet, salty notes that play with the flavor of the corn, but don’t dominate.

Is corn bread healthier than bread?

White bread is rich in calories, whereas cornbread is 60% lower in calories — white bread has 238 calories per 100 grams, while cornbread has 96 calories. Therefore, cornbread has more nutrients than white bread. Consequently, you can consider it to be healthier.

Is cornbread from Africa?

With roots in Mesoamerican, Native American, and African cultures; history and people have shaped this iconic American bread into what it is today. Corn, also called maize, is the most widely planted staple crop on Earth.

What do you eat cornbread with?

  • Homemade Ground Beef Chili
  • Easy Classic Meatloaf Without Bread Crumbs (Low Carb)
  • Slow Cooker Beans and Ham
  • Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Classic Baked Dutch Oven Pot Roast Recipe
  • Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Gravy
  • Slow Cooker BBQ Beef
  • Hamburger Vegetable Soup

Do you eat cornbread with milk?

How Cornbread And Milk Became A Beloved Southern Snack
In the Southern Appalachian Mountains, people are crazy for their Cornbread and Milk, a concoction made by crumbling leftover cornbread into a tall drinking glass and topping it with milk. It’s usually buttermilk, although some people prefer “sweet milk”, a vernacular term for regular fresh milk.

What are 2 facts about cornbread?

Because corn lacks elastic gluten, it cannot be raised with yeast; consequently, most cornbreads are leavened with baking powder or are baked unleavened, even when made partly of wheat flour. Cornbreads tend to be crumbly in texture and do not keep well. There are numerous regional variations of cornbread.

Is cornbread a starch or a grain?

Corn that is harvested when fully mature and dry is considered a grain. It can be milled into cornmeal and used in such foods as corn tortillas and cornbread. Popcorn is also harvested when it matures and is considered to be a whole grain.