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This is the best Southern Cornbread Recipe! It is soft, tender and moist without being sweet! It is delicious hot from the oven, topped with maple butter or used as the base for yours favorite cornbread stuffing.

sliced southern cornbread in black cast iron skillet golden top.

A perfect Southern cornbread is not sweet but is still flavorful and moist. If you prefer your cornbread on the indulgent side (hi, friend!) then you should make this sweet cornbread recipe. I wrote this recipe using pantry cornmeal, but if you use stone-ground artisan cornmeal then you can omit the sugar completely, which will be more in keeping with traditional Southern cornbread.

This easy cornbread recipe can be baked in a cast iron skillet, baking dish or even a rimmed baking dish. It is just as easy as using a bagged mix and tastes better! It is perfect as a side dish for baked BBQ chicken breast, slow cooker pulled bbq chicken, spicy peach pork chops, turkey chili, any of these soup and stew recipes! It is an ultimate comfort food.

Why This is the Best Southern Cornbread Recipe

  • Moist, not sweet but flavorful. This easy cornbread recipe is savory and keeps true to Southern tradition like these buttermilk biscuits.
  • Versatile and adaptable. Multiply this recipe to feed a crowd or add shredded cheese, jalapeños, bacon or herbs.
  • Makes amazing stuffing! Not every cornbread recipe is good for stuffing, but this one will hold its shape (not dissolve into mush), absorbs liquids readily and has a nice flavorful base. Try it in this mushroom cornbread stuffing or with cubed bread in apple sausage stuffing.
  • Developed in restaurant kitchens and perfected by a pastry chef. This is an adaptation of the recipe they asked me to bake my first Thanksgiving at Restaurant Marc Forgione. It made great stuffing but not a great solo side dish. I made it more moist, flavorful and delicious on its own!
sliced southern cornbread in black cast iron skillet in background.
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Professional Tips for Making Moist Cornbread

  • Watch carefully to avoid overbaking. The bake-time will vary widely depending on the dish you choose. Baking it in a sheet pan or a cast iron skillet will bake faster than a glass dish, for example.
  • For crispy edges pre-heat the pan. If you want those buttery, crispy edges, preheat a cast iron skillet with the oven, add butter or bacon drippings, then add your batter to the hot pan.
  • Finding crème fraiche is worth it! Crème fraîche has more fat, is thicker, and less tangy than sour cream, which makes a more moist and flavorful cornbread. This is a deviation from the traditional but it is really wonderful.

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • All Purpose Flour
  • Granulated Sugar: You can omit the sugar, if desired.  
  • Cornmeal: In the restaurants we used finely ground, mass-produced yellow cornmeal not self-rising cornmeal mix! That is what is most readily available and affordable, so that is what I used here. You can substitute artisanal, stone-ground cornmeal such as Bob’s Red Mill and omit the granulated sugar. It will be fabulous. Medium or finely ground will be best. White cornmeal will also be fine.
  • Baking Powder: I use baking powder rather than baking soda for a more even rise and tender crumb.
  • Kosher Salt
    Large Eggs
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Milk: I use whole milk for this recipe, but any cow’s milk or almond milk will work. The resulting cornbread will be less moist.
  • Crème Fraîche or Sour Cream: Crème fraiche makes the best cornbread because it has a higher fat content and lower moisture than sour cream. It is also less tangy. That being said, sour cream or even full-fat Greek yogurt will also work well in this recipe. If that is what you have on hand, you can feel good about substituting them.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

Possible Variations

  • Use coarse cornmeal: If you want to use coarse cornmeal in this recipe, add about 2 tablespoons extra cornmeal. The consistency should be like a thick pancake batter. Every single brand of cornmeal is different, so don’t stress.
  • Make it crispy Southern cornbread: Preheat a cast iron skillet, melt a tablespoon (or 2!) butter or bacon grease in the bottom, add the batter to the hot skillet. This will improve rise and make those nice buttery crispy edges.
  • Mix-up the flavors with additions. You can add up to 2 cups of add-ins to the batter and it will be awesome. I’ve made bacon cheddar, corn (canned corn and frozen), cheesy jalapeño, all the chopped herbs, and I’ve even added this BBQ chicken recipe shredded. Oh, and one time the line cooks made me use hot dogs. They thought it was awesome.
  • Bake it into muffins: Divide batter between 12 buttered standard muffin tins and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. It will only be 8-10 minutes.
slices of southern cornbread inside and around black cast iron skillet.

What to serve with Southern cornbread

How to Make Southern Cornbread

Use these instructions to make moist, savory cornbread every time! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter an 8-inch baking dish or cast iron skillet. If you are making crispy cornbread, pop that pan in the oven.

Step 2: In a small saucepan or in the microwave, melt the milk with cubed butter. I find this easiest to do on the stovetop. Be sure it is just melted and not too hot, or you’ll need to let it cool before combining with the eggs.

Step 3: In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder and salt). Set aside.  

Step 4: In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until no streaks remain, then whisk in the crème fraiche.

This is not typical but I find whisking the crème fraiche or sour cream in with the eggs ensures a smooth, lump-free batter without over mixing.

Step 5: Slowly pour the melted butter mixture into the egg mixture. Do this slowly while whisking constantly, because it’s a little warm and you don’t want to cook your eggs.

Step 6: Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Adding it slowly in the beginning will keep the dry ingredients from clumping.

Try to find the balance between adding the dry ingredients slowly and over-mixing. Add the next bit of flour mixture just before the last addition is incorporated. Over mixing leads to tough and dryer cornbread.  

Step 7: Pour the cornbread batter into the buttered pan and spread it out so it bakes evenly..

Step 8: Bake at  350°F for 15-20 minutes until the top provides a little resistance when pressed lightly or until a cake tester comes out clean. The top will be a nice golden brown.

You can brush the hot cornbread with honey or hot honey for a sweet finish!

Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip

Cornbread is easy but needs the right balance of fat and moisture to be tender and moist. We’ve all had more than our fair share of dry, sad cornbread. Take heart because those days are over!

Frequently Asked Questions

How to store Southern cornbread?

Southern cornbread will dry out faster than a sweet cornbread recipe because sugar is hygroscopic (fancy terminology meaning it absorbs water). I prefer to serve cornbread the day it is made, but it will be delicious if stored at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days.
For longer storage, I recommend freezing the cornbread sliced in an airtight container for up to a month.

How do you reheat cornbread?

Reheat tightly wrapped in foil in the oven. Pretty much any temperature will work as long as it is sealed and you pull the bread out when it is warm. You can also reheat it in the microwave in an airtight, microwave-safe container.

Will the recipe multiply?

I have made this recipe in batches large enough to make 8 full restaurant sheet pans, so yes! Go as big as your mixer or bowls will allow. In large batches, an immersion blender will be your best friend.

What ingredients keep cornbread from being dry?

The ingredients that keep cornbread from being dry are those that add a combination of fat, sugar and moisture like eggs; Sour cream, crème fraiche or buttermilk; and whole milk add fat and moisture. Sugar also helps cornbread stay moist because it is hygroscopic.

What is the difference between cornbread and Southern cornbread?

The main difference is that Southern cornbread does not have added sugar but Northern (or Yankee) cornbread does. Stone-milled cornmeal is sweeter and more flavorful than the mass-produced cornmeal and will make a naturally sweet cornbread.

blue surface with two slices of cornbread and butter and honey drizzle.

If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!

sliced southern cornbread in black cast iron skillet.
5 from 2 ratings

Moist Southern Cornbread

This is the best Southern Cornbread Recipe! It is soft, tender and moist without being sweet! It is delicious hot from the oven, topped with maple butter or used as the base for yours favorite cornbread.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 12 people

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter an 8-inch baking dish or cast iron skillet. If you are making crispy cornbread, pop that pan in the oven.
  • In a small saucepan or in the microwave, melt the milk with cubed butter. I find this easiest to do on the stovetop. Be sure it is just melted and not too hot, or you’ll need to let it cool before combining with the eggs.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder and salt). Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until no streaks remain, then whisk in the crème fraiche.
  • Slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture. Do this slowly while whisking constantly, because it’s a little warm and you don’t want to cook your eggs.
  • Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Adding it slowly in the beginning will keep the dry ingredients from clumping. Try not to over mix by adding the next addition when the last one is almost incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the buttered pan and spread it out so it bakes evenly..
  • Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes until the top provides a little resistance when pressed lightly or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Video

Notes

Yield – 8-inch baking dish or cast iron pan
For crispy edges – Preheat a cast iron skillet, melt a tablespoon (or 2!) butter or bacon drippings in the bottom, add the batter to the hot skillet. This will improve rise and make those nice buttery crispy edges.
Storage – I prefer to serve cornbread the day it is made, but it will be delicious if stored at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days. For longer storage, I recommend freezing the cornbread sliced in an airtight container for up to a month.

Nutrition

Calories: 213kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 485mg | Potassium: 77mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 453IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Bread, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Calories: 213
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Before You Go!

Check out these other chef-developed Quick Bread Recipes, or make a batch of my Chili Recipe with Ground Beef to serve with your cornbread!

The Ultimate Cornbread Recipe
The Ultimate Cornbread Recipe

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

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