Fancy cornbread is fashionable now, but this cornbread is the real deal. It’s the kind of staple, everyday cornbread that working-class Southerners used to make.

Cornbread – Southern-Style Basic

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  • 1 cup cornmeal (preferably white)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBS butter, margarine, or bacon drippings
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Put butter, margarine, or bacon drippings in a well-seasoned 10-inch iron skillet. Put skillet and grease in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes. You want the skillet to be hot and the grease to be melted (but not burning).
  3. While the skillet is heating up in the oven, whisk the cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  4. Just before removing the hot skillet and grease from the oven, add the egg and buttermilk to the dry mixture and stir just until the batter has an even consistency.
  5. Remove skillet from oven. Gently swirl the grease around in the skillet to coat the sides of the skillet, then pour the grease into the batter and stir just until mixed.
  6. Pour batter into skillet and shake skillet slightly to distribute the batter evenly.
  7. Return skillet to oven and bake for 17-18 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and slice cornbread into wedges while still in the skillet. Serve hot, with butter.


  1. The thickness of the cornbread can be varied by using skillets of different sizes. A given amount of batter will obviously spread out more in a larger skillet than a smaller one, resulting in a thinner, crustier bread. Adjust the baking time according to the depth of the batter in a particular skillet, slightly longer times being needed to bake thicker cornbread. In my oven and with my skillets, 16 minutes for the 12-inch skillet, 18 minutes for the 10-inch skillet, and 20 minutes for the 8-inch skillet are the right times. Square baking pans, cornstick griddles, etc. can also be used.
  2. Ronni Lundy recommends using kosher salt — it does make excellent cornbread.


  1. There are fancier cornbreads than this, but this one is the real deal. This is the kind of staple, everyday cornbread that working-class Southerners used to eat all the time.
  2. A cast iron skillet makes the best cornbread, but many people still prefer to use an old 9-inch square baking pan. The advantage of square cornbread is that it has four corner pieces. The crust of cornbread being the most delicious part, a corner piece with crust on two sides is a thing to be coveted!
  3. The real test of any cornbread is how good it tastes the next day or two. Good cornbread just gets better when it’s a day or two old. In fact, if you like cornbread crumbled up in buttermilk (the proverbial “Southern Smoothie”), day-old cornbread is far better than fresh.
  4. Cornbread fans fall into two distinct categories: those who like some sugar in their cornbread and those who don’t. There’s no accounting for personal taste, of course, and this argument will probably never be settled; it’s just one of those things Southerners enjoy debating. Even so, the faithful know the truth: real, authentic Southern cornbread simply can’t have sugar in it. As Ronni Lundy said, “If God had meant for cornbread to have sugar in it, he’d have called it cake.”

See also: Pinto Beans and Turnip Greens

Gary Henry –

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