My favorite homemade cornbread recipe that’s lightly sweetened with honey, made extra moist with buttermilk, and irresistibly fluffy and delicious. Easy to make in a basic baking dish or cast iron skillet — up to you!
We’re in the heart of soup and chili season right now, which means…
…it’s also homemade cornbread season! ♡
Ok ok, I know that cornbread can be served and enjoyed anytime of year. But for me, this sweet and buttery bread is absolute perfection served up on a chilly winter’s day alongside a steaming bowl of chili. Especially when it’s fresh outta the oven and still warm, maybe served up with a pat of melty butter and a drizzle of honey just for good measure, a cozy batch of homemade cornbread simply can’t be beat!
That said, I’ve learned over the years that people tend to have very strong feelings when it comes to exactly what defines “the best” cornbread recipe. There is the classic Northern/Southern debate about whether or not to add sweetener, strong opinions about which coarseness of cornmeal to use, the question of whether or not to add in chunks of whole kernel corn as well, and of course, deeply-held feelings about baking dish vs skillet cornbreads. I happen to love all cornbreads. But if I had to choose an all-time favorite cornbread, today’s recipe would be it!
First off, I love this homemade cornbread recipe because it’s super easy to make from start to finish in about 30 minutes (with just 10 or so minutes of actual hands-on prep time). I also split the difference between Northern- and Southern-style cornbreads and like to moderately sweeten my cornbread, since I find the cornmeal to already be quite sweet on its own, and prefer to use honey because it adds such great flavor. I’m also a big believer in making cornbread with buttermilk, which adds considerable moisture as well as a subtle tangy flavor to the bread. And I also highly recommend taking the extra time to brown your butter before adding it to the batter, which adds the most irresistible hint of nutty, rich, caramelized flavor.
We usually make skillet cornbread in our house with a cast iron pan, which deepens the layer of golden, caramelized crust around the edges of the bread. But that said, if you don’t own a cast iron skillet (or oven-proof skillet), no prob at all, I’ve also included instructions for how to make cornbread using a traditional baking pan, which will still be delicious.
Let’s make some cornbread together, friends!
Cornbread Recipe | 1-Minute Video
Homemade Cornbread Ingredients:
Before we get to the full buttermilk cornbread recipe below, here are a few important notes about the ingredients you will need to make this recipe:
Cornmeal: I used finely-ground yellow cornmeal for this recipe, but a medium-grind cornmeal will work well too. (Just be careful not to accidentally purchase corn flour, cornstarch or masa harina, which are different products altogether.)
Flour: I used basic all-purpose flour for this recipe, but you could also sub in white whole wheat flour if you would like.
Baking powder and baking soda: We will use both to help this cornbread rise up to be extra fluffy and soft.
Fine sea salt: To bring out all of those delicious flavors. (Although please note that if you only have iodized table salt on hand, you should use about half as much salt.)
Eggs: To serve as our binding agent and help keep the bread nice and moist, as well as prevent it from being too crumbly. (A little bit crumbly is good though!)
Honey: I love the taste of naturally-sweetened honey cornbread, but prefer mine not too sweet. So it’s a bit of a compromise between Northern and Southern-style cornbreads with 1/3 cup of honey added. If you prefer a sweeter cornbread, feel free to increase the amount to 1/2 cup. Or if you prefer a less sweet cornbread, you can reduce the amount to 3 or 4 tablespoons.
Buttermilk: Which makes this bread extra rich and moist! If you don’t happen to have buttermilk on hand, feel free to make a homemade buttermilk substitute with milk and lemon juice. Or if you’re in a hurry, you can also just sub in whole milk instead, which will yield a slightly more dry and crumbly but still delicious bread.
Butter: I adore the nutty taste of lightly-browned butter in cornbread, which you can either brown separately before adding it to the baking dish version or brown directly in the skillet cornbread version, as explained below. Or if you’d like to skip this step, you can just melt your butter like usual on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Personally, I’m partial to that more deeply golden, crispy, caramelized crust that develops in skillet cornbread, thanks to preheating the skillet in the oven beforehand and that magical sizzle when the batter hits the hot pan. But that said, we also love the basic baking dish version in our house, which is also wonderfully delicious and yields much more evenly-baked squares of fluffy bread. So you choose whichever pan sounds best to you!
If you’re using a cast iron skillet, you can also do some multi-tasking and let the butter melt and brown in the skillet as it preheats in the oven. (To save time, let the skillet preheat while you mix the rest of the batter!) Or if you’re using a baking dish, you have the option of either browning the butter in a separate pan on the stove, or you can just skip the step of browning the butter altogether and add plain melted butter to your cornbread. Again, whichever sounds best to you!
See the recipe below for full instructions for both methods.
Cornbread Recipe Variations:
If you’d like to incorporate some fun add-ins to this buttermilk cornbread recipe too, feel free to…
Add whole kernel corn: Add in up to 3/4 cup (drained) whole kernel corn to the batter if you would like some chunky bits of corn mixed in there.
Add jalapeño: Add one or two jalapeños (cored and finely-diced) to the batter to make more of a spicy jalapeño cornbread.
Add cheese: Add up to 1 cup of shredded cheese (I recommend cheddar or pepperjack) if you would like to make more of a cheesy cornbread.
Add bacon: This is a bit of a non-traditional option, but a few finely-crumbled strips of crispy bacon also make a wonderful addition to a pan of cornbread. (Feel free to swap in a tablespoon of bacon grease for a tablespoon of the melted butter too for extra bacon-y flavor.)
Most of the time, we just love serving plain cornbread squares (or wedges) as a side dish in our house. But you could also make…
Cornbread muffins: Instead of baking your bread in a skillet or baking dish, you can make cornbread muffins by filling standard muffin cups 2/3 full with batter and baking the muffins at 375°F for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cornbread dressing: You can also crumble or dice this cornbread to make cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving (or anytime of year).
Cornbread croutons: We also occasionally love dicing up leftover cornbread, brushing it with a bit of extra butter, seasoning it with salt and pepper, and baking a batch of cornbread croutons until crispy. Perfect for salads and more!
Cornbread salad: You can also use this recipe to make Southern-style cornbread salad, which is typically layered in a trifle dish.
Cornbread crumbles: Crumble up leftover cornbread to sprinkle on fruit crumbles, soups, salads, pastas…you name it! Many recipes that call for breadcrumbs would benefit from the extra flavor and texture of crumbled cornbread.
If you make this recipe, let me know in the comments below how it goes. I hope you love it!
My favorite homemade cornbread recipe that’s lightly sweetened with honey, made extra moist with buttermilk, and irresistibly buttery and delicious. Options included below to make this recipe in either a pre-heated cast iron skillet or a basic baking dish.
Brown the butter. While you prepare steps 3 and 4 (below), let the butter melt and simmer in the oven until it is lightly browned and smells toasty, keeping a very close eye on it so that the butter does not accidentally burn. Use an oven mitt to remove the pan from the oven, then carefully swirl the melted butter to coat the edges of the skillet, and pour the browned butter into a separate bowl until ready to use. (Or if you’ve already reached step 5, you can go ahead and just pour the browned butter directly into the batter after the buttermilk mixture.)
Combine the dry ingredients. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and fine sea salt until combined.
Combine the wet ingredients. In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and honey until evenly combined. Add the buttermilk and whisk until combined.
Finish the batter. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredient bowl, and pour the buttermilk mixture into the well. Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Pour the melted butter into the batter and stir until it is just combined, taking care not to over-mix the batter.
Bake. Pour the batter evenly into the cast iron skillet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out clean.
Cool. Carefully transfer the skillet to a wire cooling rack and let the cornbread cool for at least 10 minutes. Then slice, serve, and enjoy!
Fine sea salt: Please note that this recipe uses fine sea salt. If you only have iodized table salt on hand, I recommend using only 1/2 teaspoon.
Basic baking dish instructions: Heat oven to 400°F. Grease an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Brown the butter in a separate sauté pan (or you can just melt the butter in a pan or in the microwave without browning it) while you complete steps 3 and 4. Then pour the butter into the batter and stir until it is just combined, taking care not to over-mix the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out clean.
Storage instructions: Leftover cornbread can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze the cornbread, I recommend wrapping up the individual pieces and then placing them in a sealed freezer-safe food storage container.
Hard NO on the honey. Sweetener has no place in cornbread.
Every Southern Cook
Hard YES on the honey. Sweetener can have a place in cornbread if that’s the way you like it.
I love anything corn-y, esp. cornbread. Thanks fo much for this.
I made this cornbread to go with a pot of chili for dinner tonight, & the cornbread was delicious. Even though I’ve lived in the south for more than 40 years, I’m not a fan of sweetened cornbread. But this, THIS, was just right, with a little honey tipping the balance a tiny bit toward sweet without making the whole thing taste like cake. A little sweetness also is the perfect offset for spicy chili, so it was a perfect accompaniment. Loved the tip about browning the butter in the oven, too. Great recipe; will definitely make again. Thanks!
We did the skillet version and it was amazing! I like that it wasn’t overly sweet too.
This is a delicious cornbread! The browned butter and honey give it an interesting flavor that my husband prefers to the recipe I had used before. Of note, I baked the bread in three mini loaf pans because I like to slice cornbread in small pieces that can be easily toasted and buttered.
WOW, this was really good. I don’t have an oven proof skillet so we just did the baking pan version and it still had a great crust around the edges and tasted delicious. We will definitely be using this recipe from now on!
I have been craving cornbread from Whole Foods for some time and then I came across this recipe! My excitement was doubled when I realized that the end product is even better than the one at WF– it’s definitely less oily and less sweet–so I was encouraged to have more pieces :)
Thank you, Ali–you made our week!
Made this last night to accompany beef chili for my family of 9. WOW! It was gone in less than 12 hours. So cakey and yet corn bready. Will definitely make this again…and again….
This cornbread was fabulous! I doubled the recipe and used a 9×13 pan but it only lasted 2 days. My husband loved it and I will definitely make it again. I added a can of corn.
I love this cornbread! We usually make Chile on Super Bowl Sunday, and this cornbread went amazing with it! It tastes like cornbread you you get at a BBQ restaurant. It is amazing. Not too dry and not too moist = the perfect cornbread. Thank you!
I made this last week. I accidentally bought white cornmeal, so it was not yellow — but all in all, it was very tasty. I did brown the butter and it gave it a nice flavor. I wasn’t sure what my husband would think. The first night he was “just okay” with it — since he’s usually used to the Jiffy boxed cornbread. It was cakey-er than I’m used to, but that actually turned out to be good, because it didn’t crumble and break apart. We had it re-heated for a few more nights until it was all gone. I think it’s growing on him — plus I have the rest of the box of cornmeal to use up. Ha!
This cornbread recipe was delicious. I added cheese and whole kernel corn to my batter. Had it with some chicken corn chili from this site, was a great combo. Thank you for a great recipe.
This was delicious! Fun to make in my cast iron and I think all that butter helped season the pan, too :)
Delicious cornbread, and like most, very simple to make. I love the crispy edges that happen when you cook it in a cast iron pan. Thanks for a great recipe!
Excellent recipe, and easy! It’s delicious, has a beautiful (not dry) texture, and definitely not too sweet….absolutely decadent! Thank you!
The hardest part of this recipe is refraining from eating the whole skillet of cornbread when it comes out of the oven! Yum!
Such a good recipe. Just the perfect amount of sweetness!
I love this recipe. The honey adds a great flavor. I achieved the same crispy edge as from using a cast iron skillet by heating a square pyrex baking pan in the 350 degree oven while preparing the batter. Just before pouring the batter in the pan, I removed the pan from the oven and quickly sprayed it with Baker’s Joy then filled it with the batter whike still piping hot and baked as directed. The edges were perfectly brown and crisp. This recipe is definitely a keeper.
I’m not a huge fan of cornbread but made this for my family. It received rave reviews. I too really enjoyed it and found it to be moister and much tastier than other cornbreads I’ve tasted and also not too sweet. I would certainly make this again.
Great recipe! Used gluten free flour and 1/4 of whipping cream. So good!
Love this recipe! It is super light and moist, and just the right touch of sweetness. I love the browned butter addition in the skillet. Highly recommend the skillet version because you get a nice crispy edge!