Southern-Style Skillet Cornbread

Southern-Style Skillet Cornbread

Depending on how you like your cornbread is all about where you live in the United States. Southern cornbread recipes contain neither sugar nor flour, making them savory and made mostly with cornmeal. Northern Cornbreads tend to be more cake-like, on the sweet side (thanks to the sugar) and with a finer crumb due to more flour in the mixture. Being born and raised in Columbus, Ohio I grew up eating the latter cornbread. I like a piece of cornbread that holds its shape and doesn’t crumble in your hands. A piece of cornbread that’s sturdy enough to serve warm slathered with butter, or dipped in a bowl chili. :)

Southern-Style Skillet Cornbread

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this is the first time that I’ve made Southern style cornbread. The first difference that I noticed was that Southern Style cornbread was baked in a scorching hot, greased cast-iron skillet as opposed to a cake pan. The second difference is that the Southern Style contains no flour or sugar. The cornmeal is also toasted to really let the corn flavor shine through. After trying this recipe I have to say despite the differences I am a fan of both types. I loved the potent corn flavor and tangy buttermilk of the Southern Style cornbread. I served this cornbread with Vegetarian Chili and it was perfect. I crumbled it right into the chili and it tasted incredible.

Southern-Style Skillet Cornbread

You begin this cornbread by preheating the skillet in a 450-degree oven until hot, about 10 minutes. This is a very important step that should not be overlooked, if the skillet is not hot the crust of the bread will be soft and pale rather than brown and crunchy. While the skillet is heating up, cornmeal is toasted in the oven until lightly golden. Toasting the cornmeal deepens its corn flavor dramatically. The toasted cornmeal is then combined with the buttermilk and allowed to rest for a few minutes while the oil is heated. Allowing the cornmeal and buttermilk to rest will soften the cornmeal. If you skip this step, the cornbread will retain its hard, crunchy texture in the finished bread. After the oil is heated, all but one tablespoon of hot oil is added to the cornmeal mixture, along with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and eggs. The batter is then poured into a hot skillet and baked until the top begins to crack and the sides are golden brown. Allow the bread to cool in the skillet for 5 minutes before flipping out onto a wire rack and serving.

How do you like your cornbread? Are you a fan of the Southern Style or Northern Style Cornbread? I’d love to know in the comments below! :)

Southern-Style Skillet Cornbread

Yield: Serves 12


2 1/4 cups cornmeal
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs


1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat 10-inch ovensafe skillet on middle rack for 10 minutes. Place cornmeal on rimmed baking sheet and bake set on lower-middle rack) until fragrant and color begins to deepen, about 5 minutes. Transfer hot cornmeal to large bowl and whisk in buttermilk; set aside.

2. Add oil to hot skillet and continue to bake until oil is just smoking, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and add butter, carefully swirl the pan until butter is melted. Pour all but 1 tablespoon oil mixture into cornmeal mixture, leaving remaining fat in pan. Whisk baking powder, baking soda, salt, and eggs into cornmeal mixture.

3. Pour cornmeal mixture into hot skillet and bake until top begins to crack and sides are golden brown, 12 to 16 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack. Serve.

Source: Cook's Country, February/March 2008

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21 Responses to “Southern-Style Skillet Cornbread”

  1. #
    T.Dashfield — January 17, 2014 @ 7:06 am

    Oh how this brings back childhood memories of mom and that heavy as all get out black cast iron skillet that was used for everything just about including making cornbread :)

  2. #
    Layla @ Brunch Time Baker — January 17, 2014 @ 7:56 am

    Is it weird that I’ve never heard of or tried Skillet Cornbread? It sounds like a wonderful idea though! Will be trying soon. Pinned!

  3. #
    Gloria // Simply Gloria — January 17, 2014 @ 10:18 am

    Christina, isn’t that so funny how depending on where you are located is really how the cornbread is? I’m all over cornbread. No matter where it’s from. I’m going to have to make this one when we have chili this week!

  4. #
    Beth — January 17, 2014 @ 11:07 am

    That is the fluffiest southern cornbread I have ever seen! It looks good, tho…

    The way I have always had it is much flatter with a crunchy edge and bottom. Very crumbly, as well. My (Ohio) dad always put jelly on his, which horrified my (Tennessee) mom. Of course, the first time she made him grits he asked if serving mashed potatoes at breakfast was traditional in her family…LOL

    • Christina replied: — January 19th, 2014 @ 3:26 pm

      That’s hilarious about your dad had no idea what grits were on the breakfast table, I’m pretty sure my husband thought the same thing the first time I served them! I grew up eating grits at least once a week and I absolutely love them (and my husband is a fan now too)! :)
      My mom was born and Alabama and my dad Ohio so we always had some of the delicious Southern cooking thrown in, but for some reason southern cornbread never made an appearance in our house growing up. We always had the northern style (maybe my mom liked that one better).

  5. #
    wanda — January 17, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

    Can’t stand sweet cornbread and that is mostly what you find when you eat out. I never learned to make skillet cornbread, but remember my dad makint it. Since I can’t make it, I always do the fried cornbread (like making pancakes). I think the batter is probably about the same, only thinner to fry. Not sure about that. But, I would love to make skillet cornbread like dad used to make. Brown and crunchy on the bottom and brown on the top too. So, I will definitely give this receipe a try. Thanks,

    • Christina replied: — January 19th, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

      I’ve have also found that many restaurants serve the northern style cornbread too, but since that is the one I like the most-I love it! :) I hope you give this recipe a try…it’s delicious! :)

  6. #
    Becky — January 17, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

    It’s funny when you say southern cornbread because where I live in Texas my mom has always used flour and cornmeal together in her “southern” cornbread. Her recipe is more like 1/2 cup of flour and 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal. It’s very similar to the one you posted with that exception and less buttermilk. It makes a nice compromise to both sides of the U.S. She uses cast iron muffin pans with a few teaspoons of bacon grease in each cup and gets the pan smokin hot before adding the batter. When you pour it in you should hear a sizzle. In our house the difference between a nice piece of cornbread and a terrific piece is a great crispy crust!

    • Christina replied: — January 19th, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

      That’s funny to see that even Southern style cornbread differs wherever you go in the south. :)

  7. #
    Laura Dembowski — January 17, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

    It has been way too long since I’ve had cornbread. The idea of toasting the cornmeal is great. Also, I didn’t know soaking it helped combat the crunchy texture. I made something other than cornbread once with cornmeal and the texture was soooo off putting.

  8. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — January 17, 2014 @ 2:39 pm

    Ahhh I wish i had this recipe yesterday! i made corn bread for a friend of mine who just had a baby. It makes a great side dish to chicken pot pie! Love this idea!

  9. #
    Ashley | Spoonful of Flavor — January 17, 2014 @ 5:24 pm

    There is nothing like a big slice of cornbread with a heaping bowl of chili!

  10. #
    Rachel — January 17, 2014 @ 5:50 pm

    Oh this looks just amazing! I have to say I’m such a fan of the southern style, I always chuck in some rosemary as well and it just brings out all the flavours. Now I’ve got such craving for cornbread but it’s just too damn hot in Australia for anything right now!

    • Christina replied: — January 19th, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

      Oh I wish we were warmer here…it’s been so cold (negative 45 degrees fahrenheit with the wind chill!) I love adding fresh herbs to my breads too…gives it such a nice flavor! :)

  11. #
    Amanda — January 17, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

    I’m a big fan of the sweet cornbread. But I still haven’t been able to find that magic recipe to make my own…is there any that you would recommend or maybe you could do a sweet cornbread post in future??

  12. #
    Kris - Sugar Cookies to Peterbilts — January 20, 2014 @ 9:53 pm

    I’ve always lived in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, so not a huge variance in what I know cornbread to be. But, I have never been satisfied in the cornbread I make, I’m always looking for something else. Maybe this is it! Definitely trying your recipe soon :)

  13. #
    Amy (Savory Moments) — January 21, 2014 @ 5:57 am

    This cornbread looks so light and thick! I love all kinds of cornbread!

  14. #
    Cynthia — January 21, 2014 @ 12:02 pm

    I’d love to try this recipe using a pampered chef stone. Any suggestions? Also, I’ve noticed there are two iron skillet sizes. Which size are you using? I just might have to buy one!

    • Christina replied: — January 22nd, 2014 @ 11:07 am

      Hi Cynthia,
      For this recipe to work you really need to use a skillet. For this recipe I used a 10 inch skillet. I do own a 12 inch one as well. I find that for most of my cooking I use the 12 inch skillet. You can definitely make this in a 12 inch one, you might have to adjust the baking time though. :)

  15. #
    Stephanie — August 26, 2014 @ 11:13 am

    This was the best cornbread I have ever made or tasted. I hated southern cornbread until this. A little more involved than any other recipes I have tried but totally worth it. thanks a bunch

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