You can make the BEST Southern Cornbread without any buttermilk! This recipe uses simple ingredients and is cooked in a sizzling hot cast-iron skillet. It is moist and flavorful with just the right amount of crumb.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Simple Ingredients - You do not need anything fancy to make an excellent southern cornbread without buttermilk. This uses basic ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen!
- Moist with a Good Crumb - This recipe is formulated to create a moist and tender cornbread that is so tasty! And if you love to crumble your cornbread into chili or soup you will find this still has a great crumb!
- Easy to Make: This is such an easy recipe! It's great for beginning cooks or for anyone who is short on time. It is a perfect side dish to serve up with chili or to enjoy alongside your favorite southern meal.
Substitutions for Buttermilk in Cornbread
Buttermilk is often used in cornbread because it adds moisture, resulting in tender bread. It also adds acidity that helps make the bread light and fluffy. But you can still make the best cornbread recipe without using any buttermilk. Here are a few options:
- Leave it out completely and change up the leavening agent: After lots of testing, this is the route I went with for this recipe. We increased the baking powder instead of using baking soda. This change added the lightness to the cornbread that we were looking for. It was important to use butter and whole milk with this change, to add the moisture that the cornbread needed.
- Use Greek yogurt or sour cream: When I tested the recipe with Greek yogurt it was flavorful but too dry and crumbly.
- Use whole milk and add white vinegar for acidity: This is a great method if you do not want to change other recipe ingredients, as it is a homemade buttermilk substitute. Mix the milk and vinegar together and let them sit for about 5 minutes before mixing in the other ingredients.
See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients, including measurements.
Corn Meal - I prefer to use fine yellow cornmeal, which adds a delicious corn flavor without being gritty. White cornmeal can also be used.
All-Purpose Flour - Flour provides structure and lightens the texture of the bread. Not enough flour will result in cornbread that falls apart easily. For gluten-free cornbread, you can substitute a 1:1 baking flour.
Baking Powder - This helps the cornbread rise and also creates a tender crumb structure.
Granulated Sugar - This cornbread isn't sweet, but it needs just a little bit of sugar to round out the flavors.
Milk - Use whole milk for the best texture. 2% milk can be used but it will be a little drier.
1) Whisk Dry Ingredients
- Before you start mixing your ingredients, put your cast-iron skillet into the oven and preheat to 400°F (200°F).
- Mix all of the dry ingredients, including the sugar, in a large bowl.
2) Blend Wet Ingredients
- Whisk the butter and milk in a separate bowl.
- Once they are mixed well, add the eggs.
- Mixing the butter and milk together first helps the melted butter come up in temperature so that it doesn't cook the eggs.
3) Combine Cornbread Batter
- Push the dry ingredients to the sides of the bowl leaving a hole in the center.
- Add the wet ingredients all at once into the center of the bowl.
- Whisk until it is fully mixed in, with no dry ingredients remaining visible.
- There will be a few small lumps in the batter. That's okay!
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter into the hot cast iron pan and tip the skillet to coat the bottom with butter.
- Pour the batter into your pan. The sides will immediately start to puff up.
- Place the skillet in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
- The edges will pull away from the pan and there will be some cracks in the top when it is ready.
- You can also stick a toothpick into the center of the cornbread. If it comes out clean then the cornbread is finished baking.
What's the difference between Southern Cornbread and Northern Cornbread?
There are a lot of mixed opinions on what constitutes Southern-style Cornbread. But ultimately it comes down to how it is cooked. In order to be considered "southern" it must be made in a hot cast-iron skillet. You will often see Northern-style cornbread baked in a square baking dish.
Another difference is the type of cornmeal. Northern cornbread is made only with yellow cornmeal. But in the south, you will find some recipes that are made with white cornmeal and some with yellow. White cornmeal is milder in flavor and not quite as sweet as yellow, but it can be used interchangeably in this recipe.
Some people on the internet think that southern cornbread is sweet, but most southerners I know make their cornbread more savory. We leave the sweet cornbread to the midwesterners and use just a touch of sugar to balance the recipe.
- Use room-temperature milk and eggs. This will help everything mix together well and keep the butter from hardening into clumps when mixed with the milk and eggs.
- Put your cast iron skillet into the oven before you start mixing your ingredients. You want it sizzling hot! The hot skillet and melted butter give the crust a delightful crispness.
- If you have leftover bacon grease from another recipe, add 2 tablespoons to the pan instead of butter.
- Don't overmix the batter! Once you have added the liquids, stir them just until everything is completely mixed together. There will be lumps so don't worry about that! Overmixing will make your bread dense.
- Serve warm with some butter. Add a drizzle of honey if you like it a little sweeter. We love to enjoy cornbread with black beans and rice or pork green chili!
Wrap the leftover cornbread tightly with aluminum foil and store it at room temperature for 2 days. You can also refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to one week. However, if you plan to keep it for more than a few days I recommend wrapping individual pieces in plastic wrap and then storing them in a freezer-safe container. It will keep for 3 months in the freezer.
Overmixing is one of the biggest contributing factors to dense cornbread. But you will also end up with dense cornbread if you do not use enough of your leavening agent or butter, or if you add too much flour. It's important to measure your ingredients carefully!
It may no longer be considered traditional southern cornbread, but this recipe can certainly be baked in a regular baking dish. I recommend using a 9-inch square baking pan and spraying it with nonstick spray instead of melting butter into the pan.
Yes, we love cornbread muffins because they are pre-portioned and so easy to serve. Fill your greased muffin tins ⅔ full with batter, then bake at 350°F (177°C) for 17-20 minutes. Mini muffins should be cooked for 12-15 minutes.
Let me know how you like this recipe by leaving a review! And follow along on Instagram @stateofdinner for behind-the-scenes and to be among the first to know when new recipes post!
Southern Cornbread Recipe Without ButtermilkRecipe by:
- 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal 120 grams
- 1 cup all-purpose flour 130 grams
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar 13 grams
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly 1 stick, 113 grams
- 1 cup whole milk 237 ml, room temperature
- 1 egg room temperature
- 2 tablespoons butter 28 grams
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place a 9 or 10-inch cast-iron skillet into the oven to heat up while you prepare the batter.
- Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.1 cup fine yellow cornmeal, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Whisk the melted butter and milk in a large measuring cup or a medium bowl. Add the egg and whisk until the egg is fully incorporated into the other liquids.½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly, 1 cup whole milk, 1 egg
- Make a well in the middle of the cornmeal mixture. Pour the dairy mixture into the center of the well and whisk until it becomes a batter. A few small lumps may remain.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and drop 2 tablespoons of butter into the pan. Swirl the melted butter to coat the bottom of the pan.2 tablespoons butter
- Pour the batter into the skillet, and smooth it with a spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- This recipe can also be prepared in a 9-inch square baking dish. It does not need to be preheated, like cast iron. Instead, spray the pan with nonstick spray. You do not need the additional 2 tablespoons of butter.
- Fill your greased muffin tins ⅔ full with batter, then bake at 350°F (177°C) for 17-20 minutes. Mini muffins should be cooked for 12-15 minutes.
- Wrap the leftover cornbread tightly with aluminum foil and store it at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- You can also refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to one week.
- To freeze, wrap individual slices in plastic wrap and then store them in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.