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classic southern cornbread

Danielle Atkins

Anne Byrn's classic Southern cornbread

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From classic to bacon- and cheese-filled, here's a full baker's dozen of Southern cornbread recipes

There is no shortage of opinions in the South about the proper way to make cornbread. Some decline to even acknowledge the existence of cornbread with sugar and flour, while others are more agnostic. Whatever your stance, though, it is safe to say that this quick and easy side dish is a true Southern specialty.

And we've got the diverse lineup of recipes to prove it. From austere cornmeal-and-buttermilk-only takes to recipes loaded down with all the mix-ins, here are 13 recipes for just about any cornbread you can dream up.

Anne Byrn's True Southern Cornbread
With this simple, flour- and sugar-less recipe, you can make true Southern cornbread with the best. You'll be preserving one of the South's treasured recipes, back before Jiffy, back before sugar was added to cornbread along with cheese, sour cream and green chilies. Back when cornbread was the Southern daily bread.
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Classic Southern Cornbread
This richer, creamed corn-added cornbread recipe is for those who want just a little more oomph in their cornbread. It does have all-purpose flour in the mix for a bit more structure, as well as optional jalapenos. Bake it in a cast iron skillet and serve while hot and fluffy.
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Savory Corn Light Bread
Corn light bread is an old Southern specialty made more like traditional sandwich bread — with yeast, flour, and, often, commercial leaveners — than what you'd expect from cornbread. This version is is fairly light, with a spongy crumb and a subtle sweetness from the corn. And with its fat coming from only a couple eggs and a cup of milk, it is actually fairly "light" from a health perspective. Of course, we found the bread far more delicious once sliced, toasted and slathered with butter, but to each her own.
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Loaded Cornbread with Bacon
This recipe is not for cornbread purists. Quite literally loaded down with cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapenos and corn kernels, it's got enough mix-ins to justify eating for a meal on its own. But seriously, don't knock this one 'til you try it — it may be bombastic, but it's still well-balanced in texture and 100 percent delicious.
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Anne Byrn's Spoonbread
For a fluffier, souffle-like take on cornbread, look no further than Anne Byrn's spoonbread recipe. In it, white cornmeal is cooked in milk until very thick, egg yolks are added for richness, and then egg whites are beaten until nearly stiff peaks and folded in carefully. No other leavening is needed. Yes, you have to have the entire meal ready once the spoonbread is in the oven, and yes, you have to spoon into it while steaming hot lest it sink like a souffle. But that is part of the drill. It's part of the fun of making and serving spoonbread.
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Sweet Corn Light Bread
Unlike the savory corn light bread above, this recipe calls for a fair amount of sugar, along with yellow cornbread mix and a hefty scoop of all-purpose flour. But, it really isn't too-too sweet. Further, some of this sugar gets balanced out from the tang of the buttermilk, resulting in a bread that will pair perfectly with a bowl of chili or a half-rack of ribs.
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Corn Muffins
The great Colonnade, an Atlanta institution since 1927, knows Southern cooking, and these white cornmeal-based muffins are a perfect example. Serve warm with a dollop of butter.
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Coconut Cornbread
This cornbread recipe from Hidemi Walsh won first place at the 2017 National Cornbread Festival. Between the coconut milk and coconut flakes, this isn't your grandma's recipe — but we definitely recommend trying it out, especially when you top it with chile-laced shrimp.
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Need something to do with leftovers? Try these recipes:
Anne Bryn's Favorite Turkey Dressing
Bacon Cornbread Dressing
Cornbread Dressing with Pecans and Apples
Leftover Turkey Sandwich on Dressing Waffles
Shrimp and Oyster Stuffing

Photo (classic Southern cornbread): Ramona King
Photo (savory corn light bread): Kate Williams
Photo (Anne Byrn's spoonbread): Danielle Atkins
Photo (sweet corn light bread): Kate Williams


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Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She's worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.

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