Sweet Southern Cornbread
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Sweet Southern Cornbread is the epitome of soul food in a skillet! Moist and tender, it has a scrumptiously sweet, tangy flavor from buttermilk, and a smooth and buttery texture! Best of all, this quick cornbread recipe can be whipped up and on the table in less than 30 minutes!
Personally, I just can’t eat a bowl of chili without some cornbread on the side.
But honestly, sometimes I crave that sweet taste all on its own. I just slather on some honey butter and I’m good to go!
Sweet Southern Cornbread
Soft, sweet, and simply Southern – a dish doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious! It’s the golden puzzle piece that will complete the perfect meal.
Savory, saucy, or soupy – almost any main course can use a litting sweetening with a slice of fabulous buttermilk cornbread
Buttermilk has a way of making everything soft, subtly tangy, and mouthwatering down to the last crumb.
A regular cake, a creamy pie, and even waffles at breakfast time!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Buttermilk – Where there’s buttermilk there’s tenderness – and a tantalizing tanginess that matches sweet and cake-like dishes just beautifully.
Don’t have any at home? Make a quick buttermilk substitute.
- Vegetable Oil – Olive and avocado oil are generally your best substitutes. Don’t substitute with butter – it doesn’t contribute the same moisture.
- Yellow Cornmeal – A Southern cornbread recipe can be made with either yellow or white cornmeal.
I like yellow because it’s sweeter, but you can absolutely go with either!
Southern Cornbread Recipe Tips
- Don’t Overmix the Batter – Overmixing is a surefire way to end up with a crumbling mess of dry, tough bread.
Gently fold until the batter is moist. It’ll be lumpy, and that’s okay! It’ll come out totally tender, no grittiness in sight.
- A Spoonful of Honey – If our sweet skillet cornbread isn’t sugary enough for you, stir a spoonful of honey into the batter!
Alternatively, you can wait and drizzle it on top during the last few minutes of baking for more of a glaze.
- A Subtle Spice – It’s not traditionally Southern, but it is totally delicious to add just a handful of diced jalapenos and a sprinkling of Mexican cheeses to your batter!
It’s a good compromise for anyone who isn’t sold on such a sweet side dish.
- Crisped Around the Edges – Preheat the skillet, either on the stovetop or in the oven for a short spell, to allow the exterior to crisp up just a tad.
Talk about texture and crunch!
Serving and Storing Sweet Southern Cornbread
Serve sweet skillet cornbread as soon as it’s ready. It’s most delicious warm!
If you’re making it for a later meal, remove it from the skillet and wrap it up in some plastic wrap or store in an airtight container.
Leftovers are good for up to 4 days in the fridge, or up to 1 month in the freezer!
You definitely don’t want to keep in the skillet after it’s done. The cast iron retains heat for a good while after it’s off the stove and could dry out the bread.
Regular, or “Northern,” cornbread isn’t nearly as sugary as your traditional Southern cornbread recipe. It tends to be crumbly and less buttery.
A lot of the difference comes from the amount of eggs used – Southern recipes use more, making the bread more cakey and fluffy.
Yes, you can – no cast iron necessary! A regular, butter-greased 8” square baking dish will do. Bake for 25 minutes.
Generally speaking, it’s best to use granulated. However, you can follow the general rule of thumb for this sweet skillet cornbread recipe: substitute 1 cup of granulated sugar with 1 ¾ cups powdered.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
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Sweet Southern Buttermilk Cornbread
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place two tablespoons of the butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet and set aside.
- Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter in a microwave safe bowl and set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and the two tablespoons of melted butter.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir, just to moisten the dry ingredients – the batter will be lumpy.
- Place the cast iron skillet with butter over medium-high heat on the stovetop. When butter is melted, pour the cornbread batter into the skillet. As the melted butter comes up the sides of the batter, gently use a spoon or spatula to spread it over the top of the batter.
- Place the skillet in the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out with a few moist crumbs. The center should be just set.
- Remove skillet cornbread from the oven, slice, and serve warm.
For tender, soft cornbread, do not overmix the batter. Lumps in the batter are fine. This is a soft, thick, cake-like cornbread. It is sweet and delicious, without any grittiness. Batter can also be baked in an 8-inch square baking dish for about 25 minutes. Use the two tablespoons of butter to grease the baking dish and put the remaining butter into the batter along with the rest of the melted butter. Skillet cornbread is fun to serve straight out of the skillet. If you are not cutting and serving it right away, I recommend removing it from the cast iron skillet. Cast iron holds heat for a long time and the cornbread will continue cooking (may dry out) if you leave it to sit in the skillet after it comes out of the oven.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published November 2012, updated and republished October 2022
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Yum! Love cornbread and can't wait to try this one!
buttermilk takes cornbread to a whole new level! YUM!
My search is over for the perfect cornbread thank you!!!
I LOVE Cornbread but if I do not have a cast iron skillet can any other type of pan be used? I definitely want to try this recipe.
Absolutely a regular, butter-greased 8” square baking dish will do. Bake for 25 minutes. Hope that helps, enjoy and let us know how it goes!
TSRI Team Member,
I sometimes use a glass 9×13 dish.
Just pulled this out of the oven, cut it and had to have a nice warm piece. It was delightful! SO GOOD, not dry and everyone around came running when I opened the oven. Thank you for an amazing recipe that I will use over and over again!
We are so happy to hear that! Have a great day!
TSRI Team Member,
I LOVE buttermilk in cornbread, and I love SO many of your recipes; however, I have lived in the south all my life, southerners do NOT like ANY sweetness to their cornbread. People in the north like sweet cornbread.
Lee Moore, I agree! Being a 7th generation Georgian, I must say, no one in my large family has ever baked sweet cornbread! Or at least they don’t admit it!
The print recipe button is not working properly. It’s just taking me to the same recipe in a new tab.
When you click on it yes it will open in a new tab and at the top there are options to print with photo, nutrition, servings, etc. After you choose what you want it to print click the print button. Hope this helps!
TSRI Team Member,
Hi, I just received a 12inch cast iron skillet for Christmas. Is there anyway I can use this skillet?
Just make certain your skillet is seasoned correctly! If you don’t season your skillet, you’ll end up with you cornbread hopelessly stuck it the sides and bottom.
I like cornbread with kernels of corn in it. How do I need to change the recipe to do this?