Best Cornbread Recipe for Any Meal or Holiday Side Dish

This recipe is so easy, you’ll never buy boxed again.

The holidays are approaching and its time to think about the menu. Here in the south, cornbread dressing is prefered. Boxed cornbread mixes are usually sweet and make the dressing sweet, too. That is definitely undesirable.

Luckily, making cornbread is so quick and easy to do that you don’t need to use a boxed mix. This cornbread is crisp and crunchy on the outside and buttery on the inside. It’s great with a pot of beans or used in cornbread dressing at Thanksgiving.

It becomes its own meal with the addition of whole-kernel corn, crumbled crispy bacon, chopped green chilis, diced onions with shredded cheese, or diced roasted jalapenos. If you like sweet cornbread, you can add more sugar, too.

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Pat’s Foolproof Cornbread Recipe

This recipe serves 8 generous slices.

Dry Ingredients

1 ½ cup (216 g.) corn meal
½ c (71 g.) all-purpose flour
2 t. (10 g.) baking powder
½ t. (2 g.) baking soda
1 t. (5 g.) granulated sugar
1 t. (5 g.) kosher salt

Wet Ingredients

¼ c. (56 g.) unsalted butter*
1 ½ c. (360 g.) buttermilk
2 eggs

3–4 T. all-vegetable shortening (for the pan)

* You can substitute bacon fat for the butter. If using bacon fat or salted butter, reduce the salt to ½ teaspoon (3 g.)

Step 1

Preheat your oven to 425F. Place 2 T. shortening in a 9-inch round stainless-steel cake pan or cast iron skillet.

Step 2

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Make a well in the middle.

Step 3

Melt the butter in a 4-cup measuring cup. Add the buttermilk. Then whisk in the eggs one at a time until they are just combined. Do not froth the eggs as this will create a cake-like result.

Step 4

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together until they are just combined. It is okay if there appears to be small pockets of dry cornmeal. Let the mixture rest on your counter for 5–10 minutes while the pan heats up.

Step 5

Once the oven is preheated, place your pan in the oven to preheat until the shortening is melted and very hot. This will take about 10 minutes for a stainless-steel pan and 15 for a cast iron skillet. When the shortening is melted and slightly smoking, remove the pan. Swirl the shortening around to coat the entire bottom of the pan.

Step 6

Very carefully, pour the batter into your hot pan. It will sizzle and fry the outer layer of the cornbread. This is what you want because it creates a satisfying crunchy exterior. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 20–25 minutes. The top should look lightly toasted with crispy browned edges.

When your cornbread is finished cooking, you should be able to immediately shake the pan to release the cornbread from the bottom of the pan. Then, place the pan on a wire cooling rack for about 10 minutes before slicing into serving-sized pieces. Makes 8 servings.

Cornbread Recipe Variations

This recipe is great if you add 4 slices of crumbled crispy bacon. You can also add a can of chopped green chilis (well-drained) or a can of whole-kernel corn (drained). Diced onion and cheese are great additions, too. For jalapeno cornbread, dice up one roasted jalapeno and add it to the mixture before baking. Be sure to remove the seeds first.

If you wish to make muffins, place about ⅓ c. of batter in each muffin cup and bake for about 15–20 minutes.

Bon appétit!

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Pat is a closet feminist and progressive conservative who loves to travel, garden, read, and bake. She writes about food, sustainability, and living simply. Her goal is to leave the world in better shape than it was in when she arrived. She’s a retired middle school teacher who lives in Texas with her husband and a neurotic cat named Neko.

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