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Dense and moist with just a touch sweetness, this Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread is an old-fashioned recipe that’s the best of the best! Serve it alongside your favorite BBQ pulled pork or by itself with pats of softened butter and a drizzle of honey.
This simple recipe for homemade cornbread comes together in one bowl. It gets baked in a cast iron pan to create a cornbread that has golden brown edges and a soft, tender interior. It’s easy as can be and the recipe I’ve been making for years!
Ingredients for this recipe
- Cornmeal (I prefer yellow, but if all you have is white, that will do just fine!)
- Baking Powder and Soda
A handful of ingredients is all you need to make the best homemade southern-style cornbread you ever did taste. Less is definitely more when it comes to this recipe!
Baking Cornbread in a Cast Iron Skillet
- Whisk together the dry ingredients. The cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.
- Add the egg and buttermilk. Mixing until the batter is the consistency of pancake batter.
- Let the batter rest. Don’t question it.
- Melt the butter in the skillet. This not only adds fat to the corn bread, but helps to coat the pan, too!
- Bake the cornbread. Until the edges are beautifully golden brown.
Why bake in a cast iron pan?
Baking the cornbread in a cast iron pan is a very old-fashioned, traditional way of doing it. By using a cast iron pan you’re sure to get a cornbread that is tender on the inside and has that deeply golden and crunchy crust on the outside. It’s divine!
Can I use another baking dish?
If you don’t have a skillet, you can absolutely use another baking dish! It may lack the same golden brown and crunchy exterior, but it will still be delicious.
If you don’t have a cast iron pan, a 9x9 baking dish works too! Simply melt the butter in the microwave and stir into the batter before it rests. Lightly coat the baking dish with spray before pouring in the rested batter and bake as directed in the recipe.
Can I use another fat besides butter?
Feel free to substitute bacon fat, lard, or even canola oil in place of the butter if you’d prefer or if you’re out of butter. Be sure to warm up whatever fat you’re using in the skillet, though!
A quick buttermilk substitute
Out of buttermilk but craving cornbread? No worries! Make a substitute for the buttermilk by adding 1 ½ tsp. of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice to 2 cups of whole milk. Stir and let stand for five minutes before using as directed in the recipe.
Why does cornbread batter need to rest?
By letting the batter rest you’re doing two big things: 1) the cornmeal is absorbing the moisture of the egg and buttermilk. This helps it become tender!
And 2) It gives the baking powder and soda a bit of time to work. This produces a lighter and fluffier cornbread because it has had time to incorporate more air into the batter.
How thick should the batter be?
The batter of cornbread should be roughly the same consistency of pancakes. Pourable, but not runny. Sturdy, but not chunky.
It should be thick enough that it can be poured into the pan but isn’t so liquid that it wouldn’t hold its shape if poured onto a flattop griddle.
To achieve the perfect consistency in your cornbread batter start by adding 1 ½ cups of the buttermilk and mixing well. Then slowly add the remaining ½ cup a few tablespoons at a time until it appears to be the right consistency.
Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread
- 9-inch cast iron skillet
- 2 cups fine ground cornmeal
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 cups buttermilk, divided
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk together the cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and soda. Whisk in egg (mixture will be lumpy). While mixing, begin pouring in 1 ½ cups of the buttermilk, stirring well to combine. Slowly pour in the remaining ½ cup, a few tablespoons at time, adding just enough to create a mixture that’s the consistency of pancake batter. Allow batter to rest for at least 10 minutes, up to 30 minutes.
- Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Cook until completely melted, swirling pan so the butter doesn’t burn. When butter has melted, pour most of it into the batter (do not scrape the pan, you want some of the butter left behind to coat it). Stir gently to combine and immediately pour the batter into the hot skillet.
- Bake cornbread in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown and the center is set. You may see a few cracks along the top, that’s ok!
- Serve warm with softened butter and honey.
- Store leftover cornbread wrapped tightly in foil for up to three days.
- Refer to post for notes on baking in a non-cast iron pan, using different fats, or using a buttermilk substitute.