Classic Southern Buttermilk Cornbread

Classic Southern buttermilk cornbread in a cast-iron skillet with a slice removed

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 22 mins
Total: 32 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
207 Calories
8g Fat
29g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 207
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 11%
Saturated Fat 3g 16%
Cholesterol 28mg 9%
Sodium 522mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 135mg 10%
Iron 2mg 8%
Potassium 158mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Cornbread differs in flavor and texture depending on what part of the country you are in. Southern cornbread is unsweetened and more crumbly than the sweet cake-like recipes from the North; it's also cooked in a very hot cast-iron skillet, while Northern cornbread is typically made in a baking dish. This cornbread recipe is for the classic buttermilk cornbread you'll find throughout the South. There's generally no sugar added to Southern cornbread, which makes it an ideal side dish for a savory meal. Serve it fresh from the oven, cut into wedges, with beans or collard greens or a big bowl of chili. It can also be used to make a delicious cornbread stuffing. If you want to go "old school," crumble some of this cornbread into a mug and enjoy it with a few splashes of buttermilk.


Watch Now: Traditional Southern Buttermilk Cornbread Recipe

"I usually make cornbread with butter or oil, but this recipe uses shortening and the flavor was great. It’s easy to throw together with a few simple ingredients. I like the recipe variations because I prefer a sweeter cornbread. I added a few tablespoons of sugar and it was slightly sweet." —Carrie Parente

Classic Southern Buttermilk Cornbread in a cast-iron skillet with a pat of butter
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/4 cup melted shortening, divided

  • 2 cups white or yellow cornmeal

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

  • 1 large egg

  • Butter, for serving, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Southern Buttermilk Cornbread Recipe ingredients gathered

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  2. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Position the rack in the center of the oven.

  3. Brush about 1 tablespoon of melted shortening in a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet and put the skillet in the oven.

    Grease a cast-iron skillet

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  4. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to blend thoroughly.

    Cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, and salt combined in a bowl

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  5. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and the remaining 3 tablespoons of melted shortening. 

    Buttermilk, egg, and shortening whisked together in a bowl

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  6. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until blended. Carefully remove the hot cast iron pan from the oven and set it on a metal rack. Pour the batter into the sizzling shortening in the hot skillet.

    Buttermilk mixture added to dry ingredients and spread in cast-iron pan

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  7. Return the skillet to the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 375 F, and bake for 20 to 24 minutes, until golden brown. 

    Classic Southern cornbread baked in a cast-iron pan resting on a wire rack

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  8. Cut the cornbread into wedges and serve hot with a pat of butter, if desired.

    Southern Buttermilk cornbread in a skillet with a wedge removed and on a white plate

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  9. Enjoy.

How to Serve Southern Cornbread

Southern buttermilk cornbread is delicious served alongside soups, stews, chili, beans, or greens. Many people like to crumble their cornbread in a glass and fill it with cold milk. You can also turn a pan of cornbread into a great dressing to go with chicken, pork, or turkey.


  • If you find the cornbread is too crumbly, increase the amount of flour (decreasing the cornmeal proportionally); the additional gluten will help to keep the mixture together.
  • For the optimal cornbread, splurge on a quality stone-ground cornmeal, which will offer more flavor and an interesting, varied texture.

Recipe Variations

  • For a little extra flavor, add some bacon drippings or duck fat to the cast iron skillet. 
  • Although it will break from tradition, if you prefer a sweeter cornbread, add a few tablespoons of sugar or honey to the batter.