Classic Southern Cornbread

Buttermilk Cornbread cut into bite-size pieces, on a wooden chopping board
Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Cornbread is a tradition in the South, and is served with many different meals. It is considered a must to accompany any bean dish, greens, or other vegetables, and is a classic along with country ham, sorghum molasses, black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, and so many more wonderful foods.

Since Southern cornbread doesn't usually contain sugar, there is no sugar in this recipe. But if you like a slightly sweet cornbread, feel free to add a few tablespoons of sugar or honey to the mixture. If you like it very sweet, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sugar.

  • 1/4 cup melted shortening (divided)

  • 2 cups white or yellow cornmeal

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

  1. Heat the oven to 425 F (220 C). Place 2 tablespoons of the melted shortening in an 8- to 10-inch skillet or 8- or 9- inch baking pan and place it in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until hot.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg with the buttermilk.

  4. Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted shortening, and stir until blended.

  5. Pour the batter into the hot pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the pan. (The smaller pans will take slightly longer than a 10-inch skillet or 9-inch baking pan.)

  6. Cut the cornbread into wedges or squares and serve hot.

Tips and Variations

If you have any leftover cornbread, you make cornbread croutons; cut into cubes, toast until crunchy, and add to any salad for something unexpected and delicious. You can also freeze the leftovers and save to use for stuffing during the holidays. 

There are two ways to make cornbread, with or without self-rising cornmeal mix. You can buy self-rising cornmeal mix or make it yourself.