To some people, the Southern cornbread recipe is not only a side dish, it is American heritage. The golden-brown exterior combines with buttery moist fruity interior making the Southern cornbread recipe a perfect dessert or even a side dish for almost any meal. You can serve it with butter for breakfast, crumbled into soup for lunch, or serve as a side with pork chops for National Homemade Bread Day (November 17).
What Is Cornbread
Cornbread has been made for hundreds of years and is considered a staple of Native American cuisine. Corn originated in the Americas and has been grown and been a part of Native American’s diets for thousands of years.
Original cornbread seems to be a mix of ground corn, water and salt but later when European settlers arrived and brought with them different recipes from their own cultures more ingredients got added. The popularity of cornbread spread in the Southern and Mid-Atlantic region of America.
Cornbread is a quick bread made from cornmeal and there are many different variations depending on where you live and what you have available. Some include:
Hoecakes: this is one of the simplest cornbreads which is made from only 3 ingredients: cornmeal, water, and salt. It’s originally baked in an iron pan called a hoe; now, people cook it in a skillet.
Jonhnycakes: Johnnycakes have a thicker texture than hoecakes because they have added ingredients like wheat flour. The modern version can include milk and salt, and can also be sweetened. As for the topping, this cake can be served like pancakes with honey, maple syrup, or fruits.
Hushpuppies: hushpuppies are small, deep-fried balls that are made from cornmeal batter. Some recipes contain chopped onions and jalapeno peppers. Since they are a deep-fried savory dish, people often serve them as a side dish with seafood.
Baked cornbread: this type of cornbread is a common dish in America. Baked cornbread batter contains cornmeal, wheat flour, eggs, and milk or buttermilk. This dish can accompany chili, barbecue, meats and soups, or be a breakfast option.
Baked cornbread recipes differ between the Northern and Southern parts of the US in terms of ingredients and their quantities in the batter.
Northern and Southern Cornbread
Native Americans were the first to make cornbread long before the Europeans set foot on the Americas. Corn pone – the earliest version – was made from a simple batter of cornmeal, water, and salt, and cooked in an iron skillet directly on heat.
Over time, people enhanced basic pone by adding buttermilk and baking soda. Then, eggs, butter, and baking powder made their way into the cornbread mixture.
Cornbread is considered a staple in many American homes. Each person has a different opinion about what their favorite type is. Is it sweet or savory? Do you need to add sugar or cheese and bacon? It can be confusing when it comes to the original cornbread recipe.
This iconic Southern cornbread uses a significant amount of sugar and butter while the Northern version sometimes uses none at all.
Aside from being sweeter than Northern cornbread, the Southern bread calls for more eggs, which produces a more buttery finish and a cakier texture. The Northern style, on the other hand, is dense, has a much stronger corn taste, and is usually flavored with bacon grease, making it a perfect side for barbecues.
Is Southern Cornbread Healthy?
Containing flour, sugar, and dairy products, cornbread is full of carbohydrates, added sugar, and saturated fats. However, there are several ways to make the bread healthier than it sounds.
Reduce the amount of added sugar: Apart from sweetening the baked goods, sugar also helps to form the structure of the cake. We limit the sugar in the recipe as much as we can, so that the cornbread is still delicious while not exceeding the recommended added sugar intake guidelines.
Pay attention to the sodium: Salt in the recipe acts as a flavor enhancer which builds layers of flavor in the cornbread. We try to keep the level of sodium to a minimum by using only ¼ teaspoon of salt.
Nutritious add-ins: To improve the nutritional profile of the dish, you can include some healthy additions of your choice . Nuts are a great source of protein while dried fruits can help to add more fiber.
A serving of our cornbread recipe contains 455 calories. This number may sound a lot, but for a nutritious breakfast, you need about 600 calories.
We recommend having cornbread with milk or juice to reach that number.
There are 66 grams of carbohydrates, which is 22 percent of the average daily intake in each serving of this cornbread recipe.
Southern Cornbread Ingredients
A typical cornbread recipe contains half cornmeal, half wheat flour, milk or buttermilk, eggs, leavening agents, sugar, and salt. Depending on the regional cuisine, cornbread can be sweet or savory.
What Goes with Southern Cornbread
It isn’t an exaggeration to say that cornbread and blueberries are a perfect flavor combo. Fresh blueberries give a burst of tart sweetness, which balances out the creaminess of the cake. They also create little pockets of juice that keep the cornbread tender and moist.
Cheese is an essential ingredient in both sweet or savory cornbread recipes. We love cheddar, but smoked mozzarella or even cream cheese works beautifully too. So feel free to swap in your favorite cheese!
In this classic Texas-style pairing, we have beans to eat along with cornbread. Crispy, creamy cornbread, and starchy seasoned beans come together to ensure this combination brings tons of flavor and health benefits.
Try to add pumpkin puree into the cornbread batter, you won’t regret it! The pumpkin adds extra moisture and complements the corn flavor.
This delicious twist on the classic cornbread recipe is perfect for autumn soups or stews.
Everything tastes better with bacon, especially in baking. You can combine bacon in the batter or sprinkle chopped pieces over the top.
You can also bake cornbread in a muffin pan, making it a light snack or side to soup.
Cornbread pudding or spoonbread is a favorite southern side dish. A minimal recipe can be made using only cornbread mix, baking powder, milk, and butter.
Moister than an average cornbread but not custardy like a normal pudding, cornbread pudding is a dream for any weeknight dinner!
How to Store Southern Cornbread
Depending on the way you store it, you can extend the lifespan and maintain its freshness. You can keep it one of two ways for shorter term storageThere are some possible methods to store cornbread:
At room temperature: wrap your cornbread in plastic wrap and place it in a cool place, which helps prevent it from drying out. If your cornbread develops mold or a sour smell, don’t try to eat them. We recommend using cornbread within 2 days after baking.
In the fridge: after letting your cornbread cool off, wrap it in a plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. This method can keep your bread fresh and tasty for up to 1 week. After a week, your bread begins to lose its flavor, and either dry out or get some excess moisture, so it’s time to throw it out.
How Long Does Cornbread Last?
A freshly baked cornbread can last up to 2 days at room temperature without any preserving agents. We don’t recommend leaving your cornbread out, but if it is the only option you have, go for it.
During this time, you should keep it in an airtight container, so that your bread can conserve its moisture and freshness.
Can You Freeze Cornbread?
Yes, cornbread can be stored in a freezer to extend its lifespan for up to 3 months. You should let it cool down completely at room temperature before storing it.
You should wrap it in foil, zip bags, or a container that can keep its shape intact so that you have delicious pieces ready anytime you fancy some.
How to Reheat Cornbread
Oftentimes, you can’t finish your cornbread in one sitting and may have some leftover slices. Warming them up is easy if you have the know-how:
In the oven: the oven is always our best choice for any type of bread. All you need to remember is to bake them at a suitable temperature, usually at the same baking temperature as when you made it.
In the microwave: using a microwave can shorten the time it takes to reheat your food. Therefore, you should go with 1-2 minutes first and pay attention during the heating time.
What Can Be Served With Southern Cornbread?
To be honest, cornbread tastes amazing with a myriad of options. You can use the basic recipe and try to expand your culinary experience with new combinations. Here we’ve come up with some of our favorite accompaniments that go with cornbread.
Chili: chili is the most common side to eat with cornbread for good reason. The spicy flavor of chili goes perfectly with the sweet taste of cornbread, creating a combination that is sure to please.
If chili isn’t your cup of tea, other dishes such as beans or stews work just as well.
Milk: if you want a healthy start to the day, a glass of warm milk with cornbread is a great combination for breakfast. You can try dipping your cornbread in the milk. The crisp exterior of the bread and creamy milk are truly delightful together.
BBQ: instead of roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes, you can try some cornbread as a side dish. There’s a wonderful contrast between the sweet yet savory taste of the bread and the smoky and spicy flavors of BBQ sauce.
This combination assures you of a hearty meal and gives you all the energy you need for a hard day’s work (or after a hard day’s work).
Ice cream: in some cuisines like Mexican, people serve cornbread as dessert. Our top flavors are vanilla, corn, and mango. But it’s really up to you. Go wild and enjoy cornbread with any of your favorite ice cream flavors!
Cornbread is a wonderfully versatile dish. You can bake it and then serve as either a breakfast, side or dessert. To meet the recommended daily intake of calories for breakfast, we serve our cornbread with a cup of milk.
If you are looking for a healthy cake recipe, our banana bread is a great option.
1. What is cornmeal?
Many beginners may have this question in mind: “Is cornmeal and cornflour the same?” The answer is no. Cornmeal is dried and ground corn and the texture is a medium to fine grind, while corn flour is more finely ground.
2. How can we make a moist cornbread?
A perfect cornbread has an interesting texture: spongy and moist on the inside and just crumbly enough on the exterior. The right balance of cornmeal and flour (1:1) gives the bread the sponge structure while also allowing it to crumble.
If you have never combined eggs in cornbread, now’s a fine time to try. Eggs add texture and will help the other ingredients stay together.
3. Do I need to use cast iron?
The cornbread recipe works best when you use a cast-iron skillet coated with fat. This helps to brown the crust, and since the pan is already hot, the cornbread is quickly cooked.
Whether served with butter or honey, this healthy cornbread recipe is tender, moist, and buttery with a well-balanced corn flavor. You can convert it into sweet or savory depending on what you mix into the batter. This one-pan recipe is so versatile; an ideal base to create endless variations!
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.
Perfect side dish for your next meal! The addition of buttermilk adds flavor and texture to this classic recipe.