This crispy southern cornbread recipe is passed down 5 generations, so it’s tried and tested to say the least! It’s gluten free and simple to make, too. Quick, classic, mouthwatering comfort food you’ll make over and over again – kind of like easy buttermilk biscuits.
The humble skillet of cornbread. For me, it conjures up memories of childhood and my grandma’s house. Every time my sweet mom comes to visit, she whips up a skillet of crispy cornbread goodness.
The women in our family have been making it for 5 generations now, and it’s so special to us that I have it framed in my kitchen. The perfect quick side dish for any meal – you won’t be able to help feeling good after eating this country staple!
But… is cornbread healthy?
The short answer… yes! Here’s why:
Cornbread is a traditional food that has been eaten for centuries.
Cornbread was one of the main parts of the diet of many North American natives and settlers – for good reason. The ingredients (mainly ground corn, milk, and egg) were easy for them to get ahold of. It sustained many of our pioneer and traveling ancestors and it can keep you going strong too!
Cornbread is a nutrient-dense whole grain.
A whole grain is one that has not been separated and stripped of its nutrients. Cornbread contains many great elements like magnesium, calcium, iron, folate… the list goes on.
Corn bread contains all 10 of the essential amino acids, building blocks for proteins that control growth, cellular processes and organ function. A newer field of inquiry concerns antioxidants, chemicals that protect cells against damage by oxidation. (source)
Cornbread is a great complex carbohydrate.
Honestly, I’m convinced cornbread doesn’t get enough attention in the wellness arena. The low-carb trend has caused many to miss out on this simple pleasure.
God created corn, among other complex carbs, with a purpose. Complex carbs are essential for energy, sleep, mood, and metabolism. One Green Planet says,
Without carbs you may become foggy-headed, feel light-headed, have a hard time concentrating, feel sad or depressed, or just not feel like yourself. You may also have a harder time retaining information. Don’t deprive your brain of carbs- it needs them!
Indeed, cornbread has some mighty benefits to boast of for a strong body!
How to Make a Gluten Free Cornbread Recipe Without Flour
Not all types of cornbread are created equal. I wouldn’t recommend buying a box of Jiffy and calling it good. The healthiest cornbread is made from scratch, preferably using simple, non-GMO and organic, stone ground cornmeal. And it’s stinkin’ delicious.
You may not realize this, but the traditional southern method is to make a cornbread recipe with cornmeal only. Cooks didn’t start using flour until later on, when corn grinding methods changed and the cornmeal was lower quality (they added wheat flour to restore the texture).
Also, classic southern cornbread is made WITHOUT sugar! Yes, you heard me right.
This is an age-old debate, but sugar was also added later on to help with the taste and texture of lower quality cornmeal. When you have the good stuff, there’s no need to add anything else. And if you use the recipe below, you won’t want to! Plus, who needs added sugar anyway?
According to Serious Eats,
For all but the wealthiest Southerners, the daily bread was cornbread. “In the interior of the country,” a New York Times correspondent observed in an 1853 article about Texas, “cornbread forms the staple article of diet—anything composed of wheat flour being about as scarce as ice-cream in Sahara.” Biscuits made from wheat flour are very closely associated with the South, but for most Southerners they were rare treats reserved for special occasions like Sunday dinner.
What to Serve with this Crispy Southern Cornbread Recipe
Cornbread is the perfect accompaniment to pretty much any meal! Here are some great recipes to pair with it:
- Chuy’s Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Cheesy Crustless Chicken Pot Pie
- Easy Pan Fried Potatoes
- Cucumber Tomato Onion Salad
How to Make a Moist Cornbread Recipe That’s Full of Flavor
The absolute KEY to the perfect skillet of cornbread is the method. I’m going to share some tricks of the trade to help you achieve an old fashioned cornbread recipe that’s so good, you’ll forsake all others.
- Pour your batter into a HOT (almost smoking) skillet. Getting your skillet extremely hot creates that brown, crispy crust we all know and love. In fact, the crust is so good that my grandparents used to cut all the crusty edges off the cornbread and eat those first.
- Don’t overmix the batter. This is really important to ensure your cornbread is super moist and not dry (the hot skillet helps, too).
- Use real, quality buttermilk. The buttermilk imparts such a delectable flavor to this recipe! But, if you don’t have any, there is a way to make this southern cornbread recipe without buttermilk. Just add a splash of white vinegar to regular milk, let it sit for a few minutes, and it’s almost exactly like the real thing.
- Use quality ingredients and tools. I recommend this cornmeal and either bacon grease (you can strain and save it in the fridge anytime you cook bacon) or this oil for the perfect skillet of cornbread. And of course, a quality cast-iron skillet is a must.
- Substitute wisely. In all honesty, this cornbread tastes best by staying true to the recipe. But if you have food sensitivities or preferences, try these ideas. If you want to try making this cornbread without eggs or milk, do the following: You may substitute the milk with non-dairy milk. You may also make egg free or vegan cornbread by grinding up 2 tablespoons chia seeds, mixing with water, and letting it sit for a few minutes. It will create a gelatinous compound that’s a great egg substitute! Here’s the full run-down from Whole New Mom on how to make a chia egg substitute.
Now I’m going to let you in on the most prized recipe in my family history. Even better, it is SO easy to make (it literally takes 5 minutes to whip up).
Crispy Southern Cornbread Recipe (5th Generation Recipe & Gluten Free!)
The best southern cornbread recipe ever, passed down FIVE generations. This gluten free cornbread is quick, tasty, crispy, and healthy.
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 pinch baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 ¼ cup buttermilk
- 2 tbsp high heat oil (like refined coconut) or bacon grease for extra flavor
Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat a skillet on medium high heat until hot. Add oil to a cast iron skillet and allow to heat. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure the oil doesn't start to smoke.
While the pan/oil is heating, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a large mug or small bowl, whisk egg and buttermilk together. If batter appears too thick, add a little more buttermilk.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
When the oil starts to dance (appears to be moving in the pan), pour batter into the hot skillet and transfer to the oven. You want a super hot skillet with plenty of oil to achieve the best crispy crust. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- No buttermilk on hand? No biggie! Just add a splash of white vinegar to regular milk, let it sit for a few minutes, and it's almost exactly like the real thing.
- You can substitute the milk with non-dairy milk if you like.
- To make this recipe egg-free, you can grind up 2 tablespoons chia seeds, mix with water, and let it sit for a few minutes. It will create a gelatinous compound that's the perfect egg substitute!
Now, print the recipe card (or Pin this post) because you’re going to want to make this at least once a week!
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Are you a cornbread eater? Why or why not?