Golden Skillet Cornbread

This skillet cornbread is crispy, buttery, made with buttermilk and no sugar. This classic cornbread is simple to make and bakes up golden brown.  

Cornbread is a staple in the south and one of the easiest breads to make. This recipe is a for an old-fashioned skillet cornbread that I adapted from the back of the Martha White cornbread bag and perfect served with red beans and rice, gumbo, chili, pinto beans, soup or any southern meal. It's a trusted recipe that has been around for a long time and has never failed me. 

The changes I made to this recipe are slight, but make a big difference. I use bacon drippings to coat my cast iron skillet instead of shortening, because that's what my Ma Maw did. Bacon drippings add a slight smoky flavor and yield a crispy outer crust. I also use buttermilk and melted butter instead of milk and oil. Buttermilk adds a tangy flavor and both the buttermilk and melted butter help keep the cornbread moist.    

This cornbread recipe bakes in a sizzling-hot cast iron skillet. You don't have to use a cast iron skillet, but I highly recommend it. Cast iron gets really hot, is non-stick, and distributes heat evenly, which ensures a crispy cornbread. To make this recipe you only need few simple ingredients. 

  • BACON GREASE: to coat the skillet and to produces a crispy crust.  

  • YELLOW SELF RISING CORN MEAL MIX (HOT RIZE): yellow self-rising cornmeal mix works well in the recipe, but white can also be substituted. Self rising cornmeal mix has been pre-mixed with the leavening agent already added.

  • ALL PURPOSE FLOUR: adds structure and lightness.

  • TWO LARGE EGGS: eggs add moisture to cornbread and prevent it from becoming too dry. 

  • BUTTERMILK:  adds a slight tangy flavor, helps keep the cornbread moist. Regular whole milk can be substituted for buttermilk. 

  • BUTTER: Melted butter gives the cornbread a buttery flavor, but oil can be also used. 
Start by pre-heating the oven to 425 degrees. Add 1 tablespoon bacon grease or shortening to a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Place skillet in hot oven and heat up for 5-8 minutes. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs and stir in the buttermilk or milk.   

Add the melted butter and blend. 

Add the cornmeal mix and flour. Blend until smooth, but don't over mix the batter. Batter should be creamy and pourable. If the batter is too thick add 1-2 tablespoons additional buttermilk or milk.

The skillet needs to be really hot when you pour the batter in. That is why you heat up the skillet first in the oven. Remove the skillet from the oven and tilt the skillet around and distribute the grease evenly around the skillet and up the sides.

The grease should be melted and sizzling hot (not smoking) sprinkle a bit of dry cornmeal over the bottom of the skillet. If the dry cornmeal sizzles when added then you then you know the grease is hot enough to add the batter. My mother in law taught me this trick and it works like a charm for a crispy bottom.  

Pour the cornbread batter into the hot pan. You will see the hot grease sizzle around the edges of the batter this is what you want for a crispy edges.   

Put the pan in a 425 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and cool slightly  

Cornbread is best when freshly baked and warm from the oven. Cut into wedges and serve with softened butter, honey or both. 

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