Minnie Utsey's No-Fail Cornbread

February 25, 2018
7 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

Minnie Utsey's cornbread follows a classic soul food formula, particularly with the use of yellow cornmeal and sugar. Unfortunately, Minnie Utsey died in 2010, so never got to see my book. I honor her loving memory with this cornbread that lives up to its title. —soulfoodscholar

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe was featured in the story The No-Fail Cornbread That's Slightly Sweet & Very Divine —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, melted and cooled
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk in the cornmeal.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and shortening until smooth. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
  4. Bake until firm and the top is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Takako
  • Martin
  • Myriam Gabriel-Pollock
    Myriam Gabriel-Pollock
  • soulfoodscholar
  • amanda russell
    amanda russell
Adrian Miller is a food writer, attorney and certified barbecue judge who lives in Denver, CO. He is currently the executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches and, as such, is the first African American and the first layperson to hold that position. Miller previously served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton and a senior policy analyst for Colorado governor Bill Ritter Jr. He has also been a board member of the Southern Foodways Alliance. Miller’s Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time won the James Beard Foundation Award for Scholarship and Reference in 2014. His next book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, From the Washingtons to the Obamas will be published on President's Day, 2017.

19 Reviews

Takako May 30, 2020
I had been looking for cornbread recipe without buttermilk, and found one here. Thank you!

I had all ingredients but vegetable shortening, so I used salted butter instead and it was delicious. Unlike some of the reviewers', mine was not crumbly at all. It's rather nice and moist. I'm saving this recipe for more in the future.
Heidi R. May 28, 2020
Made this for breakfast this morning, and although it is pretty tasty (and super quick), mine came out so crumbly that I can't put butter on it and I have to eat it with a fork. I'm wondering what that is? I thought it might be because I immediately cut a piece upon taking it out of the oven, but the second piece fell apart, too.

I used canola oil instead of shortening . . . perhaps that's to blame?
debdeb April 29, 2020
Hi. The recipe looks delicious! Can I make the cornbread in a 9" pan, and if so how long should I bake it? THANKS!
rlsalvati April 29, 2020
I've made it in a pan that is probably 8 1/2 ", you should be fine although obviously you'll have flatter pieces. I would start checking at 15 minutes and keep an eye out for the "firm and golden brown" specified in the recipe.
debdeb April 29, 2020
Thanks so much for your advice!
[email protected] August 17, 2018
Though mine tasted of baking powder and was super crumbly, I did truly appreciate the lightness of it.
SweetiePetitti June 28, 2018
My first job out of college was selling the number one grocery item sold...Crisco. Crazy, but back when everyone cooked from scratch and used it, the population was pretty slim. I’m buying a can for this recipe!
judy October 29, 2021
Back then there was no internet and very little to grab one on television. We were not a sedentary society then, I guess that would contribute more to the slimness of the population than using Crisco....
Martin May 15, 2018
Sorry for double posting, but there is a silent brilliance in this cornbread. I feel it invites you to make it your own. I could see a savoury version of it with no sugar, some herbs (rosemary?), lemon rind and some flakes of salt on top.
soulfoodscholar May 15, 2018
Martin May 15, 2018
My son and I ate half of this, and he is only 3. I tasted the baking powder, though, and it was a new can so I don't think it was old. I will try with 3 tsp next, but I like it a lot. Thanks for sharing!
soulfoodscholar May 15, 2018
Thanks for leaving a comment, and please let me know how it turns out!
[email protected] August 17, 2018
I tasted the baking powder, too! And mine turned out super crumbly.
rlsalvati March 10, 2018
My family loved this, I think it is my new go-to cornbread recipe. I did use sunflower oil because I hate measuring shortening, no problem with the substitution. My grandmother would have used Crisco and we would have gobbled it right down. All the ingredients are pantry staples, easy to put together as the oven preheated; served with stew that reheated on the stovetop as the cornbread baked in the oven. My skinny picky eater had 3 pieces.
soulfoodscholar March 10, 2018
Wonderful! So glad that your family had a good experience. Happy eating!
Myriam G. February 28, 2018
I never use shortening. Would this still work if I substituted unsalted butter?
soulfoodscholar March 4, 2018
Sorry for the delay in answering. I've never tried that as a substitute, but I think that should work. Would you let us know?
anita May 17, 2018
Did anyone ever try this with butter?
amanda R. October 22, 2019
I tried this with salted butter in place of the shortening -- it turned out pretty delicious! I also used slightly less baking powder based on the other comments here about being able to taste it.