Classic Cornbread From 'Savory Baking'

October 11, 2022
5 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • makes 1 (8x8-inch) pan
Author Notes

There are a lot of ways to make a delicious cornbread. As a sincere corn lover, I simply cannot provide just one, because I love them all. I usually bake it in a square baking pan, but baking it in a skillet produces a crisper outer crust. Sometimes I leave it plain—other times I baste it with butter towards the end of baking or before serving (see below). I’m going to start this multi-page ode to cornbread with my classic iteration, the tried and true original, that allows you to really enjoy the flavors of the cornmeal itself. (Note that I still list a bit of sugar as optional, as it prevents it from drying out once sliced. My sweetened version is lighter, fluffier, and more moist—as great for snacking as it is alongside a meal. Traditional cornbread was made with only cornmeal (no flour), and I quite like that version, too—it has a wonderful, crumbly texture. If you’re like me, there’s a cornbread for every mood. If you’re not—find your favorite version below, and never let it go! Excerpted from Savory Baking: Recipes for Breakfast, Dinner, and Everything in Between 2022 by Erin Jeanne McDowell. Photography © 2022 Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Note: To make a cornmeal-only, gluten-free version of this recipe, omit the all-purpose flour and increase the cornmeal to 276 g (2 cups) and increase the buttermilk to 287 g (1 ¼) cup. To make skillet cornbread, use a greased 9-inch (23cm) cast iron skillet and bake for the same amount of time. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

What You'll Need
  • 113 grams (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 30 grams (2 tablespoons) neutral oil (like canola or vegetable)
  • 27 grams (2 tablespoons) brown sugar
  • 56 grams (1 large) egg, at room temperature
  • 138 grams (1 cup) yellow cornmeal
  • 120 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 6 grams (1 ½ teaspoons) baking powder
  • 4 grams (1 teaspoon) fine sea salt
  • 230 grams (1 cup) buttermilk, at room temperature
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F/205°C with the oven rack in the center. Lightly grease an 8x8-inch pan with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and oil together to combine. Add the egg and brown sugar (if using), and whisk well to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
  4. Add half of this mixture to the bowl with the butter/oil and mix with a silicone spatula to combine. Add half of the buttermilk, mixing with the spatula to incorporate. Repeat this process, adding the remaining flour and buttermilk and mixing just until the ingredients are uniformly combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs.
  6. Cool at least 15 minutes before slicing to serve warm, or cool completely and serve at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • EmiBee
  • Melsm16
  • Sigita
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!

4 Reviews

Smaug March 8, 2023
I'd think that with all that buttermilk you could use all or part baking soda rather than baking powder. The text says that the sugar is optional (always a divisive choice), should probably be listed as such in the ingredients.
EmiBee December 5, 2022
A lovely classic cornbread indeed and a lovely neutral backdrop to any dish that's actually moist. I used King Arthur Baking GF Measure for Measure and it worked just fine. Next time I'll play around with additions like sweet corn, or jalapenos and cheese.
Melsm16 November 12, 2022
Deliciously buttery and not overly sweet. Perfect texture - not too crumbly but still has the cornbread crumb.
My family/toddler loves it!
Try swapping honey for the brown sugar and brushing with honey and butter mixture after baking for an easy yet delicious variation!
Sigita October 23, 2022
Delicious classic cornbread. I particularly liked the addition of the 2tbsp of brown sugar. Was just the perfect amount. And I happened to have Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Corn Flour on hand and I actually like the smoother texture than with a courser grind. Easy to make with ingredients you have on hand. Mine was finished baking and still was quite pale on top- just really the pale color of the corn flour. I did not want to over bake.