One-Bowl Baking

Hot Water Cornbread From Todd Richards

October 24, 2018
11 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

The “hot water” in the name is important—it’s the key to the handiest parts of the recipe. Unlike in skillet-baked styles of cornbread that can often take 45 minutes or more to bake through, here the hot water acts as a fast-forward button, hydrating the cornmeal and speeding its cooking along, so that the mini cornbreads can finish cooking as they crisp up in the pan, without having to get the oven involved. You can eat the cornbread as-is for breakfast, maybe with just a little maple or honey (or, best of all, according to Richards, cane syrup). Stir in herbs or chopped, cooked shrimp or bacon. Serve it as a side at dinner, along with greens or saucy meats like pot roast. And, Richards says, he might like them even better reheated in a skillet the next day, with a little ground coffee and spices or sliced jalapeño sizzling in the butter first.
Adapted slightly from Soul: A Chef's Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes (Southern Living, 2018). —Genius Recipes

Watch This Recipe
Hot Water Cornbread From Todd Richards
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 10
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups (20 ounces) water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups (about 8 1/2 ounces) plain yellow cornmeal (finely ground, not medium or coarse)
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less if you’d like it less spicy)
  • 1 tablespoon popcorn kernels, popped
  • 2/3 cup (about 6 ounces) buttermilk, preferably whole
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (about 2 1/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Bring the water and salt to a boil in a saucepan over high heat.
  2. Stir together the cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper in a medium-size heatproof bowl. Add the boiling water, and stir until combined. Let stand 5 minutes.
  3. Fold the popped corn kernels and buttermilk into the cornmeal mixture. Let stand 5 minutes.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium. With floured hands, shape 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cornmeal mixture into a 2 1/2-inch round, and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining cornmeal mixture to make about 20 pieces. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Diari
    Diari
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
  • Rhonda35
    Rhonda35
  • Cathy Moore
    Cathy Moore
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

40 Reviews

SC-ATX January 1, 2021
Solved! I had a loose batter the first time I made these. I even put the 1/2 cup flour into the mixture and it was still super runny. This time I used half store brand fine corn meal and half maseca (for making corn tortillas). Worked like a charm, will be making them again for sure.
 
williegg August 27, 2020
I have never seen pop corn kernel in hot water corn bread, as well as nutmeg.
 
kDH August 27, 2020
Didn't work for me..Sticky and messy and bland.

 
kDH August 27, 2020
Didn't work for me..Sticky and messy and bland.
 
tenmiler June 7, 2020
I can't help but laugh at the so-called "purists" complaining here about this recipe. It's food, and changing things up is not heresy.

These came out great, but the dough was so wet I literally went through a huge pile of flour because I had to dredge the handful of dough and toss it back and forth between my hands very gently with a ton of flour. I'd love to make this a bit drier.

I used the store-brand corn meal, not sure if it was medium or fine or what, but definitely not coarse.

While it was just a mess to make, people LOVED these. I served with a 1/4 cup honey, with a lot of cracked pepper and a whole squeezed lemon.
 
jmarty407 May 11, 2020
I am hooked on the Food 52 channel on my Roku tv and kept seeing this recipe. I gave it a try with Dixie Lily cornmeal. the batter was not as stiff as video , I used an ice cream scoop to put in pan also I added green chile and cheddar as I had no cayenne. they turned out great.I froze some for later as well
 
Emily June 26, 2019
I'm so surprised by all the negative reviews here! I've never reviewed a recipe before in my life and I came here specifically to say that this is some of the best cornbread I've ever had. I'm from Georgia and I'm pretty set in my ways when it comes to cornbread, so I made this mostly out of curiosity, without any expectations. Imagine my surprise and delight at how delicious it turned out! It's true that it's very different from the kind of hot water cornbread I know and love, but it's wonderful in its own right. The popcorn really is genius; the nutty flavor and the crunch were so good that I'm going to want to put popcorn in every cornbread recipe I make now. I used Quaker yellow cornmeal in the cardboard canister and the batter was the perfect consistency. Will definitely be making this odd and brilliant recipe again!
 
Janet B. April 4, 2019
In what world is this Hot Water Cornbread? Certainly not here in the southern U.S. Sugar? Nutmeg? Popcorn? There are southern grandmas turning over in their graves at this travesty. Some things aren't meant to be turned into "chef" dishes.
 
tenmiler June 7, 2020
Recipes forcing people to turn over in their graves? Skip the drama here--recipes over time have evolved from the horrendously bad recipes many grandmas would love to see improved upon. Maybe this one wasn't for you, but it's not a crime to change things up. Let's get over it.
 
Lisa C. December 11, 2018
I wish I'd read the comments before making this. It wasn't like any hot water cornbread I've ever made. The batter was soupy like pancake batter. I used fine corn meal, but NOT corn flour, which might have worked. I don't know. I added 2/3 cup extra of the meal to try to thicken it, and then basically cooked it like pancakes, but in a little oil. Even with the popcorn, there was very little corn flavor to it. (I didn't use nutmeg, because, just, NO.) Wound up tossing it out. Y'all should adjust the instructions to specify a brand, because I don't think any of the premium brands (like Bob's Red Mill) make anything fine enough to save this recipe.
 
Diari November 17, 2018
This is not hot water cornbread. Any Mississippian will agree. Hell, any southerner may agree. This is the first time I have ever commented on what a recipe is/isn’t. This nutmeg and cayenne business is a big fat no-no. At least where I’m from. Save the nutmeg for sweet potato pone lol
 
Beth100 November 10, 2018
Is it correct that the half a cup of oil is used only for frying, and that there is no fat added to the batter itself?
 
Chris November 10, 2018
I only used the oil for frying and didn’t put any in the batter, if that is what you’re asking. Hope that helps.
 
Beth100 November 10, 2018
That’s it, thank you. I’m surprised there’s no fat in the batter, but if it works, great!
 
Chris November 10, 2018
Good luck and enjoy!
 
Chris November 6, 2018
I made these exactly the way the recipe said, using fine cornmeal. I was a little skeptical at first, but they turned out great. They were a little bit difficult to form into patties (sticky), but with enough flour on my hands I was able to muddle through. The popcorn and a bit of cayenne made for a great taste. Also loved the crisp outer crust from the frying.
 
Richard B. November 1, 2018
This recipe yielded a batter like I use for corncakes, impossible to shape by hand. I poured 1 1/2 Tbsp measures of the batter into the oil and fried them. It worked OK, but I could have made corncakes on a griddle much easier. Maybe the recipe should call for corn flour, which might have yielded something more like a dough.
 
Kristen M. November 4, 2018
Hi Richard, I'm sorry to hear it. Do you mind sharing what brand/grind of cornmeal you used? In my experience, this makes a huge difference, which is why I recommend a fine-ground brand (for example, in the video above I remember we used Indian Head).
 
williegg October 31, 2018
I'm from the south also. This is not Hot water corn bread. Nutmeg naw!
 
Diari November 17, 2018
Thank you! This is NOT HOT WATER CORNBREAD
 
Deb P. October 28, 2018
Worst cornbread I have ever had. I grew up on cornbread - this has to be the worst I have eaten/made. Used Bob's Red Mill cornmeal - might has well have been cake batter. Too much liquid, yes followed the recipe to the T. Flavor was bland, cayenne overpowered the corn flavor. As it was too soupy, actually put it in a skillet and attempted to bake - ended up mushy. Can't seem to find any redeeming quality for this one - don't waste your time and money.
 
Kristen M. October 29, 2018
Deb, I'm sorry this was such a disappointment. My guess is that you had Bob's Red Mill Medium-Grind, which I've used before and it's come out like a thin pancake batter (which I cooked like pancakes and my husband loved anyway). But if you used a BRM fine grind, please let me know!
 
Deb P. October 29, 2018
Yes, used med grind as that is all I could find. Regardless of the grind - that shouldn't alter the flavor profile - which was seriously lacking. My husband's comment was not complimentary to say the least, and my 23 year old son wouldn't even taste it - and he's a foodie. Sorry I wasted my $ on ingredients and time on the recipe.
 
Kristen M. October 29, 2018
I have to disagree, Deb—you baked the recipe instead of pan-frying, and all the browning from pan-frying develops a lot of flavor. The medium grind cornmeal also wasn't able to absorb as much of the water, which probably contributed to it tasting washed out. Regardless, I'm sorry you had a disappointing experience, but if you were able to find finely ground cornmeal (or at least fry the medium-grind like pancakes), it would be a very different outcome!
 
Chris G. October 28, 2018
As to the gluten free, I would use finely ground white rice flour. (or brown if you like it).
The residual flour will make the cornbread crispier! I will admit that I got this idea from
recipes for Vietnamese Pancakes! (Stuffed Vietnamese Pancakes, filled with all kinds of veggies and shrimp and chicken!) Should anyone attempt these, and there are "lots" of recipes on the internet, my advice is, make sure your batter is thin, and you do not add the
stuff ingredients until the pancake has set and firm. Also there was one recipe I saw, that
used egg only for the batter...I think I would forget that one! I tried making these Viet. Pancakes before with disastrous results. After My wife ordered one at a local "Pho 36" in Lynnwood, WA, I AM GOING TO MASTER THE TECHNIQUE! The one they served was one giant Pancake for the 3 of us, the veggies were raw, the shrimp and chicken of course cooked, the pancake was crispy, thin and delicious! (There was not a crumb left) I would go the extra mile, and make individual pancakes The technique is to use lettuce leaves to wrap the pancakes and filling and eat out of hand, it is street food, and well here obviously, so far, restaurant food!
*
Back to the cornbread recipe, which is some ways reminds me of the fried corn meal
mush my father used to make us for breakfast. Cured in a glass loaf pan overnight, cut in about 3/8" slices and fried in a cast iron pan or on a griddle in the morning for breakfast and served with butter and maple syrup. Yum!
:-) Chris
 
Rhonda35 October 29, 2018
I love fried mush! Thanks for reminding me of a favorite from my childhood. :-)
 
Manuel M. October 27, 2018
I cant figure out what I did wrong here. I cut everything in half since I was making it for less people, but the batter was extremely soupy. Are you supposed to add the flour into the batter? Even if I did, it still wouldn't be enough to dry it out like the video
 
Kristen M. October 27, 2018
Hi Manuel—the flour is just for shaping, but I'm wondering if you might have used medium or coarse cornmeal instead of fine? I did that once and my pancakes were very thin and crispy (though still very good—my husband was pretty obsessed with them). I just updated the recipe to clarify that—I'm sorry for the confusion and I hope they were tasty anyway!
 
Manuel M. October 27, 2018
Hi Kristen. I appreciate you making that change. Although I'm pretty sure I used fine cornmeal. It doesn't say on the label, but it says yellow cornmeal for baking and breading, enriched and degerminated. The brand is Quaker. It was the consistency of soup so I added a few more ingredients and baked it. I must have made a mistake with the amount of liquid...I'll try again and let you know. Thanks again!
 
Paul October 28, 2018
I wonder if the age of the cornmeal matters? I must admit I dragged mine out of the back of the pantry where who knows how long it sat. I had the same problem with thin batter. But it tasted great. The popcorn really makes a difference.
 
Catherine G. October 26, 2018
We all liked this recipe, although the claim that the hot water makes it faster than cornbread leaves out the fact that you have to stand there and fry all the fritters. But good stuff-- the popped popcorn was ok, but probably not worth the extra time.

The dough is very sticky to handle, so I made a ball of dough and dropped it in the flour and rolled it around like a sugar cookie, then patted it flat. That worked well.

I fried the fritters in an electric frying pan at 350 degrees for 2 minutes on a side and they were lovely. Thanks for the neat idea!
 
Kristen M. October 27, 2018
Great tip on the flour rolling—probably makes an even-more-excellent crust, too. And I hear you on the timing. There are trade-offs if you're not in the mood to fry, but I figured "(almost) no wait" wasn't too misleading in the headline, since the batter is so quick and the frying only takes a couple minutes per side (and in a big enough skillet, I'm usually done in 2 batches).
 
elly October 24, 2018
Went straight to the kitchen and made them for our lunch! Genius! Once I flipped them I put a couple of slices of brie on top so they could melt a bit. delish with tomato chutney and sour cream :)
 
Kristen M. October 27, 2018
Woo-hoo! Love your additions.
 
Tasha October 24, 2018
assuming amount of popcorn (1 TBSP) is unpopped?
 
BR95510 October 24, 2018
Good question. The long version says "a handful" of popped popcorn. I'd like to know if I can add some vinegar to a plant-based milk for this recipe as well. It sounds very interesting!
 
okaykate October 24, 2018
Also curious about making this dairy-free. If you try it, kindly share the results!
 
Rich October 24, 2018
Yes, 1 TBSP unpopped. Heard it in the video!
 
Kristen M. October 27, 2018
You should be able to use a plant-based milk + vinegar to mimic buttermilk—let us know how it goes!
 
Cathy M. October 28, 2018
In the recipe above, it says “one tablespoon popcorn kernels, popped”