Sweet and Moist Cornbread Recipe
This is my favorite homemade cornbread recipe! It is very moist thanks to a little oil added to the batter, and extra sweet thanks to some sugar and honey. No more dry cornbread! This skillet cornbread is baked in a hot cast iron skillet for that extra crispy edge, perfect for dunking in a bowlful of chili. Originally posted October 23, 2019.
Eric has hidden all the Halloween candy from me. I really can’t find it anywhere. I made the mistake of buying it too early and have been snacking on it a bit too much while the kids are at school.
Truman came in from the kitchen the other day and was like, “Mom, did you start eating the Halloween candy already??”
“How did you know??”
“I saw all the wrappers in the trash!!”
The days of putting one over on my kids are long gone you guys.
The same EXACT conversation happened not even an hour later when Charlotte found all the Reese’s wrappers in the trash. “Mom, stop eating all the Halloween candy!”
I remember a few years ago when my kids were much smaller and easier to deceive, I was over at my friend Amy’s house. Her husband came into the kitchen and asked where their daughter’s Halloween stash was. Amy told him that their daughter COUNTS it, so don’t even try sneaking some when she’s not around. I knew right then that this is what my children would have to resort to in the future. I either need to stop candy thieving or get better at hiding the evidence. (I’m thinking the latter is going to win out.)
The Best Cornbread Recipe
Who’s heading to a chili cook-off this weekend? Did you sign up to bring a side of cornbread? Tis the season for this classic chili side dish.
I have always been extremely ho-hum about cornbread. Offer me dinner rolls or cornbread, and I will take the dinner rolls every time. Most of the time sweet cornbread is dry and sad and not worth the carbs.
So I set out to create a recipe that would be worth it!
There is a lot of debate surrounding cornbread. Southern cornbread? Northern cornbread? Sugar, no sugar? Skillet or cake pan? I’m from California. I claim no grandmotherly secrets. I did’t know the first thing about cornbread or why people have strong opinions about it. But I wanted to get the dirt on all the controversy, so the answer?
Make a million batches of cornbread (or 8. The last one was still in the oven when I snapped this.) I tried Southern cornbread, Northern cornbread, and a bunch of in-between cornbreads. My final recipe is my personal favorite, but it’s clear that there are lots of opinions about this! My recipe is fluffy and sweet, with crispy edges.
What is Southern cornbread?
Southern cornbread is not sweet. The recipe I tried had only 2 teaspoons of sugar in the whole pan, and I thought it was awful. I made everyone who passed through my house try it, and my friend Jen literally took it out of her mouth and threw it in the garbage. (Right next to all the Reese’s wrappers). Stuff was dry as a bone.
Southern cornbread is baked in a preheated skillet with hot bacon grease, so that the edges get super crispy. It’s also thin: only about 1 inch tall. If you are from the South and you love this type of cornbread, please tell me what I am missing.
(photo: better than southern cornbread ;)
What is Northern Corn Bread?
Northern cornbread looks just like the cornbread most of us are used to, but the recipe I tried (Cook’s Illustrated for Northern and Southern) only had 4 teaspoons of sugar for the whole pan. It is taller and fluffier, but in my opinion still dry and bland. It is baked in a normal 8×8 inch pan (as opposed to the skillet). It does not have crispy edges.
(embrace the crispy edggge)
I took the crispy edges from Southern cornbread and the fluffy texture of Northern cornbread to make my own hybrid version of the best homemade sweet cornbread. Plus a whole lot more sugar. Because, guys, let’s be real, we are topping it with butter and honey, let’s just accept the fact that it is basically a cake with some cornmeal in it. And it is DELICIOUS. This is not an apology.
(why would I apologize for this)
Sweet Cornbread Recipe Ingredients
- Flour, spooned and leveled
- Yellow cornmeal
- Kosher salt
- Baking soda
- Baking powder, SEE NOTE
- Vegetable oil
- Granulated sugar
- Buttermilk. You can use cheater buttermilk for this recipe. For 1 cup of cheater buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup, then add milk until you reach 1 cup. Stir and let sit 5 minutes before using. (For the 1 and 1/4 cups that the recipe calls for, use 4 teaspoons vinegar and fill to the 1 and 1/4 cup mark.)
What type of cornmeal is recommended for sweet cornbread?
A goodly number of people say white cornmeal is best for Southern (less sweet) cornbread and yellow cornmeal is best for Northern (sweeter) varieties. A goodly number of people say either color is fine for either recipe. A hopefully small number of people will argue until breathless over the “right” answer. You can join any category. I personally stay out of the last one! For this recipe, we are using yellow cornmeal.
How to make the Best Cornbread Recipe
Oil is the answer to all of your dry cornbread woes. It is also the ingredient that makes for a supremely moist cake, so you know it’s going to help out a humble cornbread! We are also using plenty of butter to get that perfect honey butter flavor. Oh and don’t forget the buttermilk. It adds that perfect tang. (You can use cheater buttermilk if you want. See notes)
You need two bowls for this recipe, and one of them only has dry ingredients, so when you are done you can wipe it clean and put it away. (Can you tell I hate dishes?) The batter is slightly lumpy, and that’s okay.
Preheat your cast iron skillet in the oven, then grease with a bit of butter. The cornbread batter going into a hot skillet is part of what makes the edges crispy.
You can see it bubbling and cooking on the edges of the pan before you even put it in the oven! Yesssss
Why Sweet Cornbread should be made in a skillet
There is a reason that seasoned cooks swear by cast iron skillets. They give you the BEST crispy edges for baked goods like homemade cornbread. You will never get the crispy edges if you bake in a square or 9×13 pan, and that might be totally okay with you. (See notes for the changes you will have to make, one of them is significant!) But I love the combination of a super moist and tender center, right next to a crispy crackly edge that you can dunk in your chili.
If I don’t have a skillet, what other type of pan can be used to make corn bread?
You can use a 8×8 inch, 9×9 inch, or 9×13 inch pan but first you have to do two things:
- You have to put “cast iron skillet” on your wishlist.
- You have to look at the notes on the recipe before you start because you need to change the amount of ingredients you use in the batter. I’ve got all the notes you need in the recipe itself.
Ways to top homemade cornbread (topping ideas!)
What did I put on top of my cornbread? Let’s see. Butter, check. Honey, check. More butter, check. More honey, check. Listen, there might be other options but why would you ever use them? Okay fine here are some ideas:
- This would be so good topped with Lemon Curd!
- Even better: this Cinnamon Honey Butter. Heaven!
- Turn it into cornbread shortcake and drizzle with Fresh Strawberry Topping. Oh my gosh, I think I’m onto something here!! With some honey whipped cream? Who’s here for it??
What to eat with Corn Bread
Try this cornbread with The Best Chili Recipe I’ve Ever Made! It’s a match made in heaven! Try these other chili recipes too:
- Chili Mac and Cheese << I bring regular chili to the parties, but this Chili Mac is what we make for the family on actual Halloween every year.
- Easy White Chicken Chili << 30 minutes and done! Who can say no to this classic?
- Cream Cheese Chicken Chili << this one is made in the crock pot and is SO easy.
- Quick and Easy Chili Recipe << Don’t forget the secret ingredient!
You could also try cornbread with:
- Pulled pork like this recipe from Hey Grill Hey
- Any kind of BBQ like this Tri tip
- Dunk it in this Beef Barley Soup
- Fried chicken, I mean right? Try this recipe from Recipe Tin Eats.
- Jam. Listen, if you put on enough jam, and eat enough cornbread, who says it’s not a meal? (I know. I know. I said I only ate cornbread with honey and butter but…sometimes I eat it with jam too, okay?)
And that’s it! Cornbread is one of the easiest side dishes ever. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to mix up the ingredients and get it in the oven. Make it! Love it! Happy Halloween everyone!
Best Cornbread Recipe (Sweet & Moist)
- 1 cup flour, spooned and leveled
- 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon for 8×8 pan, SEE NOTE
- 1/2 cup butter, (1 stick)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1 & 1/4 cups buttermilk*
- In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 2 teaspoons baking powder. (Use 1 teaspoon baking powder if using a square pan.)
- Slice off about 1/2 tablespoon from your 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter and set aside (you will grease the pan with it soon).
- Melt the remaining butter in a large bowl in the microwave.
- Add 1/4 cup oil, 1 cup of sugar, and 1/3 cup honey to the large bowl with the melted butter. Stir well until combined.
- Add 2 eggs and 1 and 1/4 cups buttermilk.* Whisk until fully incorporated.
- Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients (then wipe out the dry bowl and put it back in your cupboard!) DO NOT over mix! Make sure the dry ingredients are fully incorporated but don’t worry if there are a few lumps.
- Remove the cast iron skillet from the oven and shut the door. Grease the bottom and sides (all the way to the top) with the remaining half tablespoon butter. I use a butter knife. If it melts too fast, use a pastry brush to spread it around.
- Pour the batter into the hot pan and smooth out the top.
- Use hot pads to place the skillet back in the oven. Bake at 375 for 28-32 minutes. The cornbread is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no wet batter on it. You can also shake the skillet a little, and if is at all wobbly, leave it in a couple more minutes. The top should be golden brown and the edges should pull away from the edges of the pan.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. This is best served right away so the edges are nice and crispy! Top with butter and honey, and/or serve with The Best Chili Recipe I've Ever Made!
- Store the cornbread tightly covered on the counter for up to 3 days. If you made it in a cast iron pan, remove the cornbread from the cast iron once cool, and store in a sealed container (otherwise it will start to taste all iron-y. no thanks.)
- Only use 1 teaspoon baking powder. (Your cake will overflow the pan if you use 2 teaspoons.)
- Do not put the pan in the oven while it is preheating. Spray the pan with nonstick spray. There is no need to set aside the 1/2 tablespoon of butter from the stick of butter called for in the recipe.
- 2 cups flour, spooned and leveled
- 1 and 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup honey
- 4 large eggs
- 2 and 1/2 cups buttermilk*
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