Southern Skillet Cornbread

This old fashioned Southern Skillet Cornbread without sugar produces a light, fluffy classic cornbread that complements any Southern meal!

Takes 5-minutes to mix up the batter… this foolproof cornbread never fails and is much better than the Aunt Jemima Cornbread recipe.

Cook the batter in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop for a few minutes, then bake in the oven to a beautiful golden brown!

This family gem comes from my great grandmother and even though we’ve never found an actual handwritten recipe, we do have an email from the 80’s from my Mom claiming she got this recipe in 1960, when she married my Dad. 

The batter is cooked in a skillet on the stovetop for a few minutes, to develop a crisp bottom crust, then baked.  This pairs beautifully with purple hull peas or a big bowl of speckled butter beans and a slice of fresh tomato! And don’t forget the sweet tea!

Some call this “skillet Cornbread” or “cast-iron” cornbread, but I just call it darn delicious! And it goes great with homemade chili, fried catfish or a big bowl of red beans and rice!

Why you’ll love this recipe!

Southern skillet cornbread is easy to make! First, you start it on the stove top to get a crispy crust, then transfer it to the oven and bake to a golden brown!

Nothing goes together better than a bowl of purple hull peas and cornbread- except maybe a bowl of Southern pinto beans and rice or Louisiana red beans and rice.

  • All-natural ingredients – no additives, preservatives or colorants
  • No sugar cornbread recipe…this goes without saying, but cornbread should not contain sugar in my opinion-we like Southern skillet cornbread without sugar!
  • Simple ingredients – you have most of these in your pantry right now!
  • Can be a lifesaver – if all you’ve got is some dried beans and cornbread, you’ve got a complete meal!
  • Cheap – homemade cornbread made from scratch costs little to nothing
  • Better than Jiffy™, Martha White™ or Aunt Jemima’s™ boxed cornbread mixes 

Here’s what you’ll need

Skillet cornbread doesn’t have to be made in a cast iron skillet, but I’ve tried to make it in other pans and it doesn’t turn out right. I highly recommend using a seasoned cast-iron skillet. 

Ingredients for skillet cornbread with no sugar

The ingredients for this delicious cornbread recipe are pretty simple and you probably already have them in your pantry.

  • All-purpose yellow cornmeal (not self-rising cornmeal)
  • All-purpose flour (not self-rising flour)
  • One large egg
  • Baking soda – make sure it’s fresh
  • Baking powder-make sure it’s fresh, too!
  • Milk – 2% or whole milk
  • Buttermilk – 2% or whole
  • Oil – vegetable oil or canola oil (see recipe notes below)
  • Salt-just plain table salt
 Ingredients in cast iron skillet labeled.

How to make cast iron Southern skillet cornbread

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder

In a separate bowl, combine a slightly beaten egg, milk, buttermilk and baking soda in another bowl. Note: The baking soda goes into the wet ingredients!

Two bowls one with wet and one with dry ingredients.
The baking soda goes into the wet ingredient bowl!!! Not the dry ingredients!

Using a large mixing bowl, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, combine well and add a little vegetable oil; stir till well blended

Oil being poured into batter.

Heat cast iron skillet with a little oil on medium high heat on the stovetop; add 2 tablespoons of heat-tolerant oil (vegetable or canola oil) into skillet; let it get hot then pour batter into the hot skillet. It should sizzle. Cook on the stovetop for 2-3 minutes then transfer to 375-400ºF oven and bake until the top is golden brown.

Note: this is not pan fried cornbread; we’re just cooking it on the stove long enough to get a crispy cornbread crust.

This is, in my opinion, the easiest and safest way to heat the oil without burning yourself.

Another way to heat the oil to ensure a crusty bottom is to put a little oil in the cast iron skillet and put the skillet in the hot oven for a few minutes; use an oven mitt to remove the hot skillet, pour in the cornbread batter and replace in the hot oven.

Whenever I make this no sugar southern skillet cornbread, I heat the oil on the stovetop because I’ve burned myself before when removing the hot skillet with oil from the oven.

Oil in cast iron skillet.
Heat a little oil in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop; pour in the batter and let it cook for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to hot oven.

Tips

Use a cast iron skillet for your homemade cornbread

Use all-purpose flour; do not use self-rising flour and do not use self-rising cornmeal or a “cornmeal mix” which contains self-rising meal.

Use canola or vegetable oil, not olive oil; you can use Crisco shortening if you like or use strained bacon grease

Add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet; pre-heat the oil in the skillet before you add the batter

For best results, do NOT overcook the cornbread crust on the stovetop; you want to cook it for 2-3 minutes at the most, then transfer to an already preheated, hot oven.

The amount of oil you use to cook the crispy crust depends upon the size of your skillet.  I cook cornbread in a 12″inch skillet and add 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of oil. If you use a smaller skillet, use less oil to cook the cornbread crust on the stove.Make sure your oven is preheated to the recommended heat

Make sure your baking soda is fresh; baking soda is a leavening agent that gives this skillet cornbread a semi-fluffy texture. If the baking soda isn’t fresh, the cornmeal won’t “fluff.”

Put the baking soda in the wet ingredients – not the dry ingredients- it should fizz a little when you add it to the milk and buttermilk mixture

Recipe FAQ

Do I have to use a cast-iron skillet?

For best results, cast-iron is recommended. You can cook Southern skillet cornbread in a stainless steel skillet, but I always use cast iron. Some cooks have a designated cast iron skillet as their “cornbread pan”!

I do not recommend using a non-stick skillet because the non-stick Teflon™ coating seems to give an odd flavor to the cornbread…could be that non-stick skillets aren’t designed for such high heat. 

What size skillet?

A 10″inch or 12″inch cast iron pan works best for this sugar free cornbread recipe. Both sizes yield about 8 slices of cornbread; the 12″inch skillet yields a thinner cornbread, where the smaller skillet – 10″inch- makes a taller cornbread.

Is it gluten-free?

This skillet cornbread recipe is not gluten-free, as it calls for a 1/2 cup flour; however, you can use a certified gluten-free cornmeal and apply the same cooking method.

Some cornbread mixes use self-rising cornmeal which typically contain a little flour. 

What type of cornmeal?

Use plain, or all-purpose yellow cornmeal – not self-rising cornmeal. The inclusion of the baking soda causes it to rise a little. If you substitute with self-rising cornmeal, do not add the baking soda. 

What’s the texture and flavor like?

This Southern skillet cornbread recipe provides a semi-fluffy, non-sweet cornbread. Typically, Southern cornbread doesn’t contain sugar; however, some folks do add it to their recipe.  I prefer cornbread without sugar; if it has sugar, then it’s cake in my opinion.

Don’t have buttermilk?

Make your own! Pour milk into measuring cup and add the juice of 1/2 a large lemon. Let it sit for 5-8 minutes, the pour into the batter.

Reheating

The easiest way to heat this up is to wrap a slice in a damp paper towel and put it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.

Storage

Keep this wrapped in plastic or in an airtight container in the fridge if you have any leftover. Note: if you’re making Southern cornbread for Cornbread dressing, you’ll want to leave it out on the counter, covered for about 2 days so it can dry out.

How to serve cornbread

Some Southern cooks flip their skillet cornbread out onto a plate upside down; I’ve found the easiest way is to just slice it like you’d slice a pie. Naturally, you’ll want to add a pat of butter or two to the top of the warm cornbread!

Knife slicing cornbread.

I like to serve Southern skillet cornbread with Collard greens, Pinto Beans and Rice, Southwestern Navy Bean Soup and homemade Texas Chili!  It’s also a good snack when submerged in a glass of plain milk or buttermilk!

This also pairs beautifully with Hoppin’ John or purple hull peas for your New Year dinner!

♥ If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and rating below! Thank you!

Cornbread in cast iron skillet.

Southern Skillet Cornbread

Old fashioned Southern skillet cornbread recipe made with buttermilk and no sugar
4.98 from 69 votes
Print Rate
Course: Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yield: 8 slices
Author: Anecia Hero

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup cornmeal yellow, regular-not self-rising
  • ½ cup flour , all-purpose
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt , table
  • 1 whole egg , lightly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk , 2% or whole
  • ½ cup milk ,2% or whole
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda , make sure it's fresh
  • ¼ cup oil , vegetable or canola; NOT olive oil; this is for the batter –
  • 2 tablespoons oil , for the skillet (see recipe notes)

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375º – 400º F
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in cast iron skillet on medium heat on the stovetop (see recipe notes)
    2 tablespoons oil
  • Meanwhile, combine all dry ingredients into one big bowl EXCEPT the Baking Soda
    1 cup cornmeal, ½ cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt
  • In a smaller bowl, combine all the wet ingredients AND THE BAKING SODA
    1 whole egg, 1 cup buttermilk, ½ cup milk, ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • Combine well and pour wet ingredients into the big bowl of dry ingredients
  • Add ¼ cup oil to batter; combine well
    ¼ cup oil
  • Your cast-iron skillet with oil should be hot by now. Pour batter into the skillet and shake it to even out the batter. This step ensures a crusty bottom.
  • Cook on the stove top for 2-3-minutes; then transfer to hot oven; bake uncovered for about 30-45 minutes at 375-400ºF until top is golden brown
  • Remove from oven; slice into quarters; melt butter on top and serve!

Notes

Heat a little oil in the cast iron skillet on the stove top.
About the oil in the skillet:
Use enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the skillet; I use a 10″ inch skillet and 2 tablespoons of oil is enough.
If your skillet is smaller, use a little less oil in the skillet.
  • Make sure your baking soda is fresh; when you add it to the milk and egg mixture, it should fizz a little
  • Some folks like to add stuff to their cornbread like corn or jalapenos, or even cheese.
    • If you add ingredients (and for God’s sake No Sugar), just add it to the final batter. (This is the batter with both dry and wet ingredients). 
    • If you add canned corn or jarred jalapenos, be sure to drain them first
    • Might wanna dice those jalapenos up into smaller pieces
  • One final note: true Southern cornbread does NOT have sugar in it. I don’t care if it is on the recipe of Aunt Jemima’s Corn Meal package. Aunt Jemima’s is out of Illinois; consider the source.

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 226kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 4gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 557mgPotassium: 134mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 75IUCalcium: 142mgIron: 1mg
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58 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is an amazing recipe! The whole family Loooved it! I especially liked frying it on the top of the stove first! Makes an incredible crust on the bottom!
    BUT make sure you don’t use tooo big of a fry pan for the amount of batter you have. If your pan is too big, the bread will be thin, crisp and hard.
    I doubled the recipe because I have a larger cast iron pan and it turned out beautifully!

  2. 5 stars
    My mother passed away and like most recipes, it wasn’t written down. This is the best one I’ve tried so far and the only change I did it use a half a stick of butter melted in the cast iron skillet instead of oil because that’s how my mother did it. This is now my go to recipe. Thank you so much!

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you! Finally a great recipe with out sugar!! Just like grandma! Our house burned down and these treasures were lost!! You got a follower for life now!!

  4. My husband has celiac disease, so I substituted gluten-free flour for the all purpose, flour and added an extra egg to help it. Hold together better. It is wonderful. I will use this recipe exclusively with my small changes.