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Can You Pass the Southern Cornbread Test?

My grandmother did something that most southerners would say made about as much sense as tits on a bull. ;0 She made her cornbread in an aluminum cake pan. Horrors!!! Although, she may have never made her cornbread in a cast iron skillet, my nanny definitely passed the southern cornbread test. We could smell it cooking from way back on the “back 40” and most of us kids would race to the kitchen to be sure we got one of the corner pieces out of the cake pan. They were the crunchiest!

Can You Pass the Southern Cornbread Test?

So what exactly helps you pass the southern cornbread test?

Here are a few recipes and tips to help you master the art of southern cornbread.

  • The secret to crunchy cornbread is in heating the skillet/pan before pouring the batter in the pan. Preheat the oven and the skillet together.
  • Use a good quality cornmeal. I like Martha White’s Self-Rising Cornmeal.
  • Substituting milk for buttermilk is ok in a pinch, but buttermilk produces the best rise and texture.

Here are a few of my favorite cornbread recipes. You can also follow my Southern Cornbread Board on Pinterest for other ideas. Feel free to join in the fun and pin your own recipes, too. If you leave a comment, let me know you want to pin to the board and I’ll add you to the group.

Sour Cream Corn Muffins


  • 1 c. self-rising corn meal 
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream
  • 1 (8 1/2 oz.) can cream style corn


Preheat oven and lightly greased muffin pan to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients. Bake in an 8 x 8 x 2 inch pan or in a muffin pan at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Makes 12 muffins or serves 6-8 when baked in a square pan. For a crunchier crust, use a small cast-iron skillet.

Southwest Cornbread

(This is my family’s favorite recipe to serve with Chili.)

Preparing cornmeal


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • About 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) cooled melted butter
  • 1 can (4 oz.) chopped green chiles
  • 3/4 cup (3 oz.) coarsely shredded jack cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder


  1. In a bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, 1/3 cup sugar, the baking powder, and the salt. In another bowl, beat eggs to blend with buttermilk and 1/4 cup butter. Stir in chiles and cheese. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir just until evenly moistened.mixing cornbread
  2. Scrape batter into a buttered 8- or 9-inch square pan; spread level. In a bowl, mix remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and the chili powder. Sprinkle evenly over batter.southwest cornbread batter
  3. Bake in a 400° oven until bread springs back when lightly pressed in the center and begins to pull from pan sides, 20 to 25 minutes.cornbread with sugar and chili powder
  4. Cut into pieces. Serve hot or at room temperature.

southwest cornbread

Piece of Southwest Cornbread

Everyday Cornbread

(This is my nanny’s recipe and I apologize for not knowing the exact amount of buttermilk to tell you to add. She said “add the buttermilk until it’s the consistency of a slightly thick pancake batter,” and that’s what I’ve always done.)


  • 1 cup self rising cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon oil for skillet


Preheat the oven and a small cast iron skillet or 8 inch aluminum pan coated with oil to 425 degrees. Greasing a Cast Iron SkilletMix the cornmeal and flour together. Add one beaten egg and begin pouring buttermilk a little at a time. Add buttermilk and mix until you have the consistency of a slightly thick pancake batter.

Bake at 425 for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 4 people.

Cornbread with Butter

Whether you bake your cornbread in an aluminum pan or a cast iron skillet, using the best cornmeal, preheating the pan and using buttermilk can help you pass the southern cornbread test. What are your favorite cornbread recipes?

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Kim Burdette

Kim Burdette


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