August 11, 2021
19 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis. Food stylist: Oliva Mack McCool.
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Makes 1 (10-inch) round loaf
Author Notes

Should cornbread have flour? What about sugar? And eggs? When it comes to Southern cornbread, many home cooks would say no, no, and no. But when it comes to Northeastern cornbread, it’s yeses all around. For our Test Kitchen’s go-to cornbread, we set out to perfect that Northeastern style. Here’s how we did it:

This loaf is buttery, fluffy, just sweet enough, and so quick to come together. Using half cornmeal and half all-purpose flour, our recipe ensures corny flavor with a light, tender crumb. A mix of brown and white sugars adds a malty depth. Shake the buttermilk before pouring and measuring—and make sure it’s at room temperature. If it’s cold, the melted butter will seize up and won’t incorporate into the batter properly. (To temp up the buttermilk, you can let it hang out on the counter for awhile or microwave it in short bursts.) Preheating the cast-iron skillet before adding the cornbread creates a crackly crust. And letting the butter begin to brown before pouring in the batter dials up the loaf’s flavor, big time.

Like all cornbread, this is dreamy still warm from the oven, but it also holds up for a couple of days (wrap well, no need to refrigerate), and it freezes great, too. We love it as much with butter and honey for breakfast as we do plopped next to a bowl of chili for dinner. And if any hangs around long enough to get stale, you can and should turn it into stuffing. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
  • 1 cup (140 grams) finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 cup (128 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups well-shaken buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (71 grams) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Stick a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron pan in the oven.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt until combined.
  3. In a small pot or in the microwave, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. In a small bowl, using a fork or whisk, combine the egg, buttermilk, egg, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth. While stirring, pour the melted butter into the buttermilk mixture and stir until smooth.
  4. Pour the buttermilk mixture on top of the dry ingredients and stir just until smooth.
  5. Using oven mitts, pull the cast-iron pan from the oven and set on the stovetop. Heat over medium heat and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter. Continue to cook until it just starts to brown. Pour in the batter and shake gently to smooth out.
  6. Bake the cornbread for 20 to 25 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the sides are beginning to pull away from the edges of the pan. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

29 Reviews

apnuyen January 18, 2023
solid, easy cornbread recipe. I made some tweaks, including browning the full quantity of butter (I didn't use a cast iron pan, so didn't need that step) and omitted the 1/4 cup white sugar as I don't like my cornbread to be too sweet. will definitely come back to this recipe any time I want a tender cornbread that's not at all crumbly.
NXL September 28, 2022
I'm not a fan of traditional cornbread, which is what I grew up on. Too dense. Too grainy. This lightened up, sweetened version is delicious and just right to my palate. I added chopped chives for brightness.
pjcamp August 21, 2021
No sugar in cornbread and no flour. Corn is plenty sweet on its own. Substitute one more cup of cornmeal for the flour and omit the sugar altogether. This is cornBREAD not cornCAKE.
Amy R. August 11, 2021
As a multigenerational southerner, I can be very particular about cornbread. My recipe is my mother’s, which came from her mother, which came from her mother, and so on. But I decided to give this a try, even though the brown sugar and the granulated sugar gave me the heebies. I’m not sure what kind of northern concoction this is, but it isn’t cornbread. It wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t cornbread.
jackie June 27, 2021
Finely ground cornmeal? Really? It gives cornbread an awful texture and with that much sugar you could just serve it for desert.
Emily June 10, 2021
Really delicious and I am a bit of a cornbread fanatic. I added some fresh corn kernels which I think are a great add.
Lisa B. December 9, 2020
Simple to make and so delicious! Used milk and vinegar instead of buttermilk and it came out great. Will definitely make again.
aclincol November 28, 2020
Loved this recipe... will make it again. I was away from my kitchen and made to make a few changes: 8x8 Pyrex instead of the cast iron. And instead of buttermilk I used sour cream and whole milk. Cheers!
Garth May 10, 2020
Worthy of its' title. As a Marie Callendar corn bread fan - judge me if you must, that sh!t is tasty - it was tough to breakaway from the ridiculous ease to tastiness ratio...but I guess the pandemic shook me out of that tree. As I read the recipe, I was thinking, "Well duh....That much sugar, butter, and flour can ONLY be delicious!" and that was very true, BUT

This recipe is soooooo easy - a smidge more work than bagged MC - and the browned butter is SUCH an amazing addition. Dry? Yes. All the more reason to keep piling butter, maple syrup, or jam (heck, all three) onto the finished product.
Olivia N. April 11, 2020
I made this with some 100% sourdough discard and it turned out lovely! I used 200g of discard, so removed 100g of flour and 100mL of buttermilk. Next time, I might also replace the buttermilk with whole milk if using discard because I would like a bit less tang – but, otherwise, it was great!
Emma L. April 11, 2020
Wow, such an awesome way to use sourdough discard! Can't wait to try that.
Lisa A. April 6, 2020
Yep, best corn bread recipe ever. Crispy crust, delicious brown butter flavor. I didn't have buttermilk so I supplemented milk with vinegar. Worked perfectly.
pjcamp January 11, 2020
That's not cornbread. It's a giant corn flavored biscuit.
Brooke O. December 18, 2019
We ended up with a weird custard layer with a nice cornmeal loaf on the bottom. Not sure what we did wrong...
Emma L. December 18, 2019
Oh no, sorry to hear that! I'm not sure how or why that happened...but I'll do some digging and let you know if I land on anything.
Garth May 10, 2020
My guess is that the egg and buttermilk weren't mixed into the batter adequately enough. I whisked the heck out of the egg/milk/butter before combining with the sugars and then whisked some more. By the time the 'liquids' met the dry, everything was easily combined and excellent results achieved
Martin December 1, 2019
So I tried again with 6 tablespoons butter and 60% of both sugars. Much better. My wife said it was her favorite. I'm not as sure, but will keep the recipe nonetheless. The crust is delicious and worth fighting over.
Martin November 23, 2019
I really dislike the clickbait title.

As for the recipe, it was nice, but it there was way too much butter; this coming from someone who loves butter. I felt like it was overkill when I was finished eating and all I felt in and around my mouth was oil; sorta like eating at a fast food place. Also, the cornbread was too sweet for my liking. I might try it again, but there are other cornbread recipes around here that I prefer.
Baguette &. November 23, 2020
Please tell us your recommendations and why!
cpc November 20, 2019
I made this tonight and was a bit concerned about the amount of sugar but I'm happy to say this isn't too sweet. It's easy and tasty!
alywit October 31, 2019
I made this recipe tonight with our Halloween beef chili and I changed two things. First I used 2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp baking soda to give it an extra lift. Also, after the ingredients were mixed I added 3/4 cup of corn kernels to the batter for a better corn flavor and a little texture. The recipe is a winner. I will definitely make it again. I pre-measured all the ingredients earlier in the day so I could make it for dinner without much fuss. I would recommend this to anyone that likes cornbread with little sweetness.
Carla Z. October 20, 2019
Can this cornbread be baked in a regular Round 9 inch pan?
I am making several and would like to use other pans as well. Thank you.
Emma L. October 28, 2019
Hi! Yes, just heat it in the oven (as you would with the cast-iron skillet).
Darian October 13, 2019
This was excellent! I loved that the very day I went looking for a new cornbread recipe, this popped up. The texture was great and it had the right hint of sweetness without being too sweet. The wedges were moist and needed no additional spread of butter. My cornmeal was more medium- than finely-ground, but it worked fine.
Emma L. October 13, 2019
Yay, so happy you enjoyed!
Doug S. October 9, 2019
You have to try Iroquois roasted corn flour in any cornbread recipe. This rare heirloom corn flour is in a league above others. Get it online from the Ganondagan site in New York. Your purchase helps to keep an rare seed and cultural legacy alive.
Emma L. October 10, 2019
Thanks for sharing this!