After testing 10 different variations of cornbread, I've come up with the BEST Homemade Cornbread recipe! It's easy to make, sweet, buttery and perfectly moist!Jump to Recipe
Growing up, I wasn't a huge fan of cornbread. I remember it being dry, crumbly and lacking flavor...unless it was lathered in butter. Since then, I've become a bit of a cornbread aficionado on the search for the perfect sweet cornbread recipe!
With my background in sensory food science, I enjoy testing different recipes to determine how different ingredients, amounts and temperatures change the recipe outcome. A few of my favorite tests were coming up with my favorite scotcheroo recipe (a midwest staple) and my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.
When I started playing around with different cornbread recipes, I looked at close to 20 recipes with decent ratings online. I noticed there were some key differences between recipes that I wanted to test.
What I Tested
- Butter vs. oil in the batter
- Cornmeal to flour ratio
- Adding creamed corn to the batter
- How the cornbread compared to two popular store-bought cornbread mixes
- Increased butter for increased moisture
Testing Cornbread: Butter Vs. Oil
The first thing I noticed when researching cornbread was the difference in fats used. Though there were a couple times I saw shortening, butter and vegetable oil were the most common.
My Conclusion: Butter is truly better! The texture of the cornbread as well as the flavor were much preferred in the version with melted butter. It was a little more cake-like and less crumbly than the coarser, less flavorful oil version.
Testing Cornbread: Cornmeal to Flour Ratio
Most recipes I looked at use a one to one ratio of cornmeal and flour. Though it was most common, there were a couple very highly rated cornbread recipes (including the winner of the Pancake Princess cornbread bake-off) that used more flour than cornmeal.
My Conclusion: I actually preferred using equal parts cornmeal and flour. Though the version with more flour than cornmeal was light and fluffy, it was a little more dry and lacked the corn flavor. Therefore, I decided I'd maybe like to try a ratio in between, like 2:3.
Testing Cornbread: Adding Creamed Corn to the Batter
The number one complaint about most cornbread recipes is that they're "dry and crumbly." So I thought maybe I could add some creamed corn to add some moisture. I did decrease the buttermilk just a bit to get the batter the same consistency.
My Conclusion: This was a very moist, yet almost gummy cornbread. Though it had great flavor, the texture wasn't what I want in a good cornbread. It seemed more like a wanna-be Cornbread Pudding. Therefore, I scratched the idea of the creamed corn.
Testing Cornbread: Popular Packaged Cornbread Mixes
I decided to grab a couple boxes of cornbread mix off the grocery store shelves. Jiffy is a very popular cornbread mix so that seemed important to test out! And Krusteaz has always been my favorite cornbread mix brand as it's light, fluffy, moist and sweet (though I will note that it's a "honey cornbread mix.")
My Conclusion: I was very unimpressed with the Jiffy mix...sorry Jiffy! It was very crumbly, slightly dry and overall underwhelming. The Krusteaz mix was delicious, though I did have to cover the pan with foil halfway through as the top of the cornbread got dark before the inside was cooked.
Testing Cornbread: Increased Butter for Increased Moisture
For this version, I increased the butter (to ⅔ cup instead of ½ cup). My goal was to make the cornbread more moist.
My Conclusion: The cornbread looked beautiful after baking, but sunk quickly in the center. It made for a very moist, yet slightly coarse crumb. Though I was glad to give it a try, I decided this was not something I'd do in the final recipe.
The Winning Recipe
Ingredients Needed (Amounts in Recipe Card)
- All Purpose Flour
- Cornmeal - Yellow cornmeal is the way to go as it gives a nice color and flavor to the cornbread. White cornmeal is just not the same!
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Butter - You'll use most of the butter in the batter and save a little for the glaze on top of the cornbread.
- Sugar - I use white sugar in cornbread, but brown sugar would work great too.
- Honey - You'll use some in the batter and some in the glaze.
- Egg - I use "large" eggs when baking.
- Buttermilk - If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, you can make your own (see notes in recipe card)
How to make the Best Homemade Cornbread
This cornbread recipe is really simple!! First, you'll mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl and the wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl.
The wet ingredients will be poured into the dry ingredients and mixed until combined.
Then it'll be poured into a greased baking dish and baked until a toothpick pressed into the center of the cornbread comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
Lastly, you'll melt together butter and honey and brush it over the warm cornbread!! YUM!
Why This Recipe is THE Best!
Well if you've been around here awhile, you know I love science. And going through lots of testing brought me to the conclusion that this truly is the best recipe for homemade cornbread.
Here are the reasons this is the BEST cornbread recipe.....
- Butter. Using butter vs oil in cornmeal results in a more flavorful, moist cornbread.
- The perfect cornmeal to flour ratio. There's slightly more flour than cornmeal, which keeps the great flavor from the cornmeal but a little extra flour keeps it a soft and tender crumb.
- The optimal amount of butter, sugar and honey. Add too much of either and it'll create a dense, coarse cornbread. This recipe has just the right amount of each.
- Simple ingredients. You probably have all of the necessary ingredients already in your home except the yellow cornmeal. Grab a container and you'll be set!
- A great side dish! Cornbread is such a great side dish for many meals - casseroles, soups, stews, etc!
Easy Cornbread Variations
- Add sweet corn! Stir in one cup of well-drained sweet corn into the batter before baking.
- Add bacon! Stir in ⅓ cup cooked and crumbed bacon to the batter before baking.
- Add jalapeño and cheese! Add 2 tablespoons diced fresh jalapeños and ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese to the batter.
Frequently Asked Questions
I love serving cornbread warm with a little butter and a drizzle of honey! Others prefer it with a drizzle of maple syrup, a spoonful of jam or even crumbed into their favorite soups!
Leftover cornbread should be stored in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature. If stored properly, it'll last 3-5 days.
Yes!! You can absolutely freeze cornbread that has already been baked. Place it in a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible and seal tightly. Freeze for up to 2-3 months.
Make this recipe gluten free by using an all-purpose gluten free flour blend in place of the wheat flour.
Make it a skillet cornbread!! See the recipe notes for details on how to do this.
Yes!! Simply scoop the batter into lined muffin cups and bake. It'll make 12-14 muffins. Baking time will be shorter.
Place a few slices on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 15-20 seconds. Add more time if needed.