Sweet Potato Cornbread

This sweet potato cornbread may upend all your notions about what cornbread ought to be. It’s easy, stealthy healthy, and turning heads and drawing raves wherever it’s made.

A cast iron skillet filled with cooked sweet potato cornbread topped with two pats of butter, resting on a old blue wooden chair with a dish of butter beside it.

How do we love this sweet potato cornbread? What we find far more telling and compelling than us gushing about it are the words that came straight from the mouths of those who’ve tasted this tender, barely sweet, almost cake-like, not-at-all-dry-or-crumbly cornbread. Most are raving it’s the best cornbread they’ve ever experienced. If you want to delay your gratification, by all means, read their comments, which you’ll find beneath the recipe. Otherwise, stop dallying and do what you already know you want to do.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Sweet Potato Cornbread

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 50 M
  • Serves 8 to 12
4.6/5 - 7 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Southern Living: No Taste Like Home cookbook

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Ingredients

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  • 2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix (or substitute 1 1/2 cups plus 6 tablespoons white cornmeal, 2 tablespoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 cups mashed, cooked sweet potatoes (1 1/2 lbs)
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (4 oz), melted, plus more for the skillet

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Slide a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven to warm for 5 minutes.
  • 2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal mix, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice, if using. Using a spoon, make a well in the center of the mixture.
  • 3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, mashed sweet potatoes, sour cream, and butter. Add the sweet potato mixture to the cornmeal mixture, stirring just until moistened. Carefully butter the hot skillet and spoon the batter into it.
  • 4. Bake the cornbread for 20 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick or tester inserted in the center comes out clean or darn near almost clean with no crumbs clinging to it.
  • 5. Serve warm or at room temperature, slicing the cornbread into wedges or squares. (You can bake the cornbread early in the day and either serve it at room temperature or loosely cover it with aluminum foil and slide the skillet back in the oven until it’s warmed through.) Originally published November 6, 2013.

Recipe Testers Reviews

I love this sweet potato cornbread recipe! It came to my rescue after the first truly cold day of the season in NYC. Hungry for something substantial and comforting, I made this sweet potato cornbread to serve alongside some hearty chili. The result was a soft, luscious, rich cornbread with a slightly crunchy crust. It has a tinge of sweetness and would be divine with butter and honey. But it’s also the perfect backdrop for savory dishes, like my chili.

Something I really appreciated about this recipe was the unfussiness of it all. The ingredients were straightforward, and the prep—with the exception of the sweet potato, which could be done in advance—took less than 10 minutes. Bonus: I only had to wash a couple of mixing bowls and a spatula. Any recipe that requires so few pieces of equipment is adored by me given my dishwasher-less kitchen.

I didn't use the pumpkin pie spice, just for the record.

The batter fit perfectly in my 10-inch cast iron skillet—even if you think it’s going to overflow, it won’t. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been oft-disappointed by cornbread recipes. Usually, the result is too grainy and dry, only to be remedied by lots of butter. I’m convinced that sweet potato is the panacea for all dull cornbread recipes. This recipe is truly lovely on its own.

This sweet potato cornbread was a winner! We liked it for two reasons: good flavor and texture. It had just the right amount of sweetness from the sweet potatoes, and though the subtle aroma of the pumpkin pie spice was wonderful, it still tasted like the familiar cornbread. The texture was not too caky and not too dry. Even at room temperature, it wasn’t crumbly at all and cut very clean and neatly.

I cut my sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and steam-baked them for 1 hour. In fact, I cooked as many as I could fit in the oven and mashed them all so that I can freeze some for next time or for an impromptu sweet potato pie. When making my own self-rising white cornmeal, I used yellow cornmeal (that’s what I had in the pantry).

It looked absolutely gorgeous in the cast-iron skillet after 35 minutes of baking. A wonderful accompaniment to Senate Bean Soup and a Moroccan Lentil Soup.

This sweet potato cornbread recipe was amazing! The sweet potato provided the perfect amount of sweetness and plenty of moisture.

Prepping the ingredients wasn't complicated. I cubed the sweet potato and then microwaved it until it was semi-soft and puréed it in the food processor. (I had waited too long to start my cooking and was trying to speed up the process. This worked perfectly.)

I baked the cornbread in a Dutch oven on coals. The batter filled the oven higher than I thought it would and I was concerned that the cornbread would never cook through. However, it baked amazingly well! It puffed perfectly, cooked evenly, and cut like a dream. The cornbread came out of the Dutch oven easily and had a beautiful hue. It was perfectly sweet and super moist and dense. Just how I feel cornbread should be!

I made a double recipe as I was serving it to a large crowd. I question the serving size. I fed 8 adults plus 2 kids and we still had plenty of cornbread left over. No one had a small piece and some had seconds. I think 1 recipe serves more than 6 very easily. We have had it for 2 more dinners since. The leftovers will be made into cornbread and kale stuffing. Yum! Love it when leftovers can become an entirely new meal!

Altogether a great recipe! Wondering now if I could substitute sweet potatoes for butternut squash….hmm.

So good! Moist, not too sweet, wonderful hot out of the oven or toasted with a smidgen of butter. One of my tasters is still trying to figure out the secret ingredient!

I hesitated before making this because I’m typically a traditionalist about Southern cornbread and I feared this would be too sweet. Plus I’ve had a bad version of sweet potato cornbread. I needn’t have worried. This recipe bakes up very nicely.

It’s a different texture than a traditional Southern cornbread—more cake-like. But it’s not sweet like a Northern version. With the amount of butter and eggs involved, one might suspect that it would be buttery or overly rich. Not so. This made a cornbread with a less crumbly texture than the traditional all-cornmeal stuff, yet it was still firmly on the savory, rather than sweet, side of the spectrum. It might make a nice gateway drug for Northerners to wean them off the sweet stuff. This would be great with Appalachian Cider Beans.

This cornbread was fabulous. I was concerned that the sweet potato flavor wouldn’t come through, but it totally did. The cornbread was moist and flavorful and tasted great just on its own even though I served it with chili. It made a huge pan and was also great left over.

I’ll be keeping this recipe for sure. My cornbread was completely cooked through at 20 minutes. I was glad I had checked it because it would have been dried out and overbaked by 35 minutes. I know my oven was correct, too, since I just purchased an oven thermometer.

This was the best cornbread I have ever eaten! Served warm, it was super moist, yummy sweet and savory, crunchy crust, and highly addictive. The addition of the highly healthy sweet potatoes was brilliant. My family totally agrees with me. This recipe for cornbread will be the only one I will use from now on.

I used freshly baked and peeled sweet potatoes and made my own self-rising yellow cornmeal. (I had yellow cornmeal in the house.) I omitted the pumpkin pie spice.

As a father of kids who both despise sweet potatoes and adore cornbread, I thought this recipe would end up being an interesting experiment, and potentially a way to prompt my kids to rethink their stand on sweet spuds. In the end, this is very much a cornbread and not a sweet potato bread and was LOVED by all at my table, even the sweet spud haters.

I made the recipe exactly as written, making my own self-rising cornmeal flour and omitting the pumpkin pie spice. For me, most cornbreads come off as too sweet. Using just 3 tablespoons sugar and the sweet potatoes as sweeteners, I was very pleased with the savory taste profile of this bread. It’s mildly sweet, but not overly so.

The moisture from the sweet potatoes along with the fat imparted by the butter and sour cream make this a superbly moist cornbread with a lovely, dense crumb. I roughly mashed the spuds with a potato masher, so there was no hiding the fact that they were in the bread, but had I pureed the potato flesh with a food processor, my guess is that the kids wouldn’t have even known they were there.

In my oven, the cornbread was perfectly done at 25 minutes.

All day I anticipated making this sweet potato cornbread. It’s getting chiller, and I used testing this recipe as an excuse to make chili. If the recipe was a dud, so be it, the chili would save the day. Let me tell you, folks, this cornbread recipe is super terrific. The potatoes transform the texture to somewhere between cake-like moist and cornbread toothsome. I will now hold all other cornbreads to this standard. Let's just say this cornbread is too good to become dressing.

I used real sweet potatoes, the very pale yellow ones. I make the distinction because in the northeast, at holidays, most people serve yams and call them sweet potatoes. (There seems to be a general air of confusion about the difference of these totally unrelated tubers. Using the yam as a substitute could perhaps be a misstep here, as there are long fibers throughout it’s length will not incorporate well into the finished bread.) I omitted the pumpkin pie spice so the bread would be a better match with my chili. I only have a 12-inch cast iron skillet, but the batter yield was such that the finished bread had a perfectly fine thickness. At about 30 minutes and golden brown, the skewer came out clean.

This cornbread comes out tasting like, well, cornbread. However, the texture of this cornbread is dense and moist but not heavy. The sweet potato colors the batter a lovely orange, which makes for a stunning presentation. This is truly a unique cornbread. It was a hit!

I began putting this cornbread together by mixing up self-rising cornmeal mix in my kitchen as I couldn't find self-rising cornmeal mix at the store. The eggs, mashed cooked sweet potatoes, sour cream, and butter all blended speedily and without a hitch. After a few stirs to combine the wet and dry ingredients, the batter was ready for baking.

I do not have a cast iron skillet or a 10-inch skillet, so I used a 9-inch cake pan and 2 one-cup ramekins. This dramatically reduced my baking time. The ramekins (each filled about 3/4 full) took 20 minutes while the 9-inch round cake pan took 25. I used 1/2 tablespoon butter to coat the ramekins and a whole tablespoon for the cake pan. I swirled the pan while the butter melted and coated the bottom and sides. This seemed a good amount as the cornbread easily slid out of both the ramekins and the cake pan (I inverted the cake pan 10 minutes after removing it from the oven).

I would like to make this again and replace the white sugar with brown sugar. I could not find white cornmeal, so I used the traditional yellow cornmeal found in most supermarkets.

This sweet potato cornbread is indeed lush, and serving it with honey butter increased the lusciousness factor. It reminded me almost of a crustless pumpkin pie, but slightly more cake-like. It had a beautiful crumb. Oh, wow. This was good. It does not produce crumbly cornbread, however, if that’s what you are expecting. I served it with pork chops stuffed with collard greens, bacon, and pecans.

I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix, as that seemed to meet the cornmeal requirement. I didn’t realize until I had already whisked everything together that I had used all of the 1 1/2 pounds of sweet potatoes I cooked and had not measured out 2 cups mashed. Regardless, it came out fantastic.

I’m not sure I’d be able to identify the “secret ingredient” in this cornbread, but the sweet potato lent a delicious sweetness and a slight, but necessary, touch of moistness I find is often lacking in standard cornbread recipes. This is only 6 servings if you have extreme cornbread lovers. For us, it was more like 10.

The recipe was quick and easy to follow. I used yellow cornmeal because that’s what I had on hand and what I prefer. I don’t believe that made any difference in the execution of the recipe. I roasted the sweet potato for mashing the night before while cooking dinner. I mashed it and just took it out of the refrigerator when I took out the eggs.

I’m sure the leftovers would have gotten eaten, rewarmed or made into croutons, but I left the cornbread in the pan and, I guess because it was so moist, it took on a bit of an irony (rusty?) tinge even though the pan, in fact, is well-seasoned and not rusted. Well, maybe I will need to re-season it some. So just as a precaution, I suggest leftovers be removed and stored, well-wrapped, in another container.

My daughter and I love sweet potato biscuits so I knew I was going to have to try this cornbread. We enjoyed ours by slicing into wedges and cutting them open and putting pats of butter inside. Very good.

I’m normally not a lover of sugar in my cornbread, but it works with the sweet potatoes in this recipe.

I used White Lily Self-rising cornmeal mix since that’s what I had in my pantry anyway. I did omit the pumpkin pie spice.

This sweet potato cornbread was moist and had just the right amount of sweetness for us. Everything comes together nicely and quickly, assuming the sweet potatoes were already cooked. This was a hit with our toddler, too.

I used the pumpkin pie spice and liked the addition. I served it with chili. I think it could have used about 1/2 teaspoon more salt, but otherwise it’s a great recipe as written.

I’ve tried all types of cornbread, and this one is a standout—not only because of it’s luscious texture but because the sweetness is super with really spicy chili.

I would use or omit the pumpkin pie spice depending on what you’re serving the bread with. I added about 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and may add more if I make it again with Cincinnati chili as the flavor would complement the cinnamon and allspice in the chili.

Otherwise, I followed the directions precisely.

This is one of the richest, most flavorful cornbreads I've had in a long time. The sweet potato flavor was subtle, but it added a depth of flavor that contrasted nicely with the slight tang from the sour cream and the richness of the eggs and butter.

I didn’t have self-rising cornmeal so I made my own. I really hesitated to use the large amount of baking powder suggested in the substitution note. I decided to substitute 1 1/2 cups stoneground cornmeal, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. The cornbread rose high and was light and airy (or as airy as cornbread with stoneground cornmeal can be).

I loved the cornbread, but if I’m going to invest in the calories of five eggs, a stick of butter and a cup of sour cream, it is going to be in a cake instead of cornbread. I might take the idea and incorporate sweet potatoes into my usual, much leaner, cornbread recipe. I might also take the concept and run with it, using a can of pumpkin instead of sweet potatoes. I did use the spice, but I substituted cinnamon for the pumpkin pie spice. We could hardly taste it. If I had to do it over again, I would increase the cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to a full teaspoon.

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Comments

  1. Seven months ago I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Being a cook, this was no great challenge. I could adapt most everything. I love corn bread and I wondered if I could use a GF corn bread mix in place of your 2 cups of dry ingredients? I might just try it. I like the look of our recipe. I see you put butter on top of the finished corn bread…..I mix butter and honey in a custard cup, put it in the microwave to heat it then using a pastry brush paint the entire top with honey butter as soon as it comes out of the oven. it glazes the corn bread and makes a great visual first impression. I also use a 10″ cast iron skillet in which I melt and almost brown butter then sprinkle the bottom with yellow corn meal and spoon the batter on that. When you cut the slices of the baked corn bread and bite into a wedge, you get a little crunch and a buttery flavor from the bottom which hits your tongue first. stu borken

    1. Hi Stu, you can certainly use white cornmeal, baking powder and salt. All gluten free. And there is nothing better on a slab of cornbread than some honey butter!

  2. This is a winner in my book. I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate sweet potato in my diet since it is one of my favorite foods. I saw this and my heart stopped. I thought, this is brilliant! The sweet potato makes for a great moist cornbread, and the bread does look just as stunning as in the picture when it comes out of the oven. This cornbread is also great because it is not overly sweet!

    1. (Laughs) Lovely how this sweet potato cornbread just sorta works an all levels for you, Johnisha! I know that feeling of needing to sneak in good things whatever it takes. Glad that this recipe makes it easy for you to do so! Many thanks for taking the time to let us know…

  3. Ahh this looks amazing. Any ideas of what to use as a dairy substitute for the sour cream? Of course it would taste better as written but alas it is not to be for me. Thanks

    1. Hi Carli, though we haven’t tested it, you might try using a non-dairy soy or coconut based yogurt. Let us know if you give it a try.

  4. Good taste, but very crumbly. I’m glad I tested it before making it for company. I’m sticking with Fannie Farmer’s Rich Cornbread Recipe — my standard recipe.

    1. Hi Anita, I am so sorry that you had issues with the cornbread. It is so surprising as out testers loved the moistness and texture. There are several possibilities why your cornbread turned out crumbly. The first culprit is over mixing the batter. Additionally, if the cornbread was overcooked, or the oven temperature was off, it can cause a drier crumbly texture. Several testers noted in their reviews that their cook time was closer to 20 minutes. How long did you bake yours? Did you use a wooden tester to test the doneness?

  5. I cannot count the number of times I’ve made this. I have 2 cup measures of the sweet potato bagged and in the freezer for just this recipe. I pick up some sour cream and I’m good to go.

    I cook and many times serve this right from the cast iron pan. For a casual dinner, it looks pretty cool. Enough flavour to forgo the butter … but really, don’t hold back. Over the top with a slather of creamy butter.

  6. Call me fanatical, but I love taking a good cornbread, layering it at the bottom of a ramekin dish, layering a well savored chili in the middle, and smothering it with an old Cheddar and havarti cheese blend melted at 425°F for about 20 minutes. This sweet potato cornbread may be the perfect combination for tonight! I am super glad I found this recipe from Pinterest. :)

    1. We’re super glad you found this recipe, too, Wayne! And what you describe sounds fantastic. If that makes you fanatical, then we’re fanatics right along with you! Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know your ingenious cornbread trick!

    1. It doesn’t, Mike, unless you wrap it several times in layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil, which I have actually done many times with great success. That said, I wouldn’t recommend it because the heat will dry out the wood and potentially cause it to crack down the road. The food stylist for the cookbook from which this recipe was taken took some liberties when styling the shoot.

    1. Sue, we didn’t try it that way so I can’t say for certain, but it seems like it should work just fine! Be sure to use the plain canned pumpkin without any added spice. And kindly let us know how it goes!

  7. Hello!! So I am extremely interested in making this for my family dinner on Saturday but my skillet is 12 inches instead of the 10 you used. Do you think that I will have to adjust the amount of ingredients I use or just adjust the cooking time?

    1. Gennifer, I usually don’t advise tweaking a recipe especially when making it the first time for guests, but with this recipe, I really think you can simply adjust the cooking time and you’ll be fine. Just be prepared for a slightly squatter cornbread! The oven is pretty hot so I would start checking the conrbread for doneness at 12 and 15 minutes and take it from there. Kindly let us know how it goes!

      1. Okay great! Thank you so much for your timely response! I definitely agree that experimenting on the first try can be a little tricky. I’ve been wanting to buy a smaller skillet so this just might be the perfect time! =) thank you again!

        1. Ah, well, you should have said, Gennifer! I am always available to help rationalize or justify the purchase of additional cast iron cookware! I really think you’re going to love this as much as we do.

          1. RIght?! lol I should have started with that!! You can never have enough cookware! But yes, I think I will LOVE this recipe! I look forward to trying it!

  8. maybe this has been addressed already, but does this recipe call for yams (orange inside) or sweet potatoes?(starchier and yellow inside)

    thanks

    1. I run across that question with recipes all the time. I don’t think the stores mis-mark the potatoes, I think that most people think that a “yam” is a sweet potato and have no idea of the difference and buy the darker ones thinking they are sweet potatoes. A perfect example of that is when yams are used for “sweet potato pie.” You can tell right away by the color of the pie.

  9. Hi, quick question. I can’t find white cornmeal mix. I will use the information you have on making your own. My question is, does this recipe not contain flour? Does the cornmeal mix you use contain flour? Thanks for any info you can give me.

    1. Hi Terry, depending on where you live, self rising cornbread can be tricky to find but it’s easy enough to make your own following our guide. Although flour is used is some recipes, the basic recipe is just cornmeal, salt and a leavening agent.

      1. Thank you so much! I will be making your recipe on Thanksgiving. I’ll let you know how it turned out!

          1. Wow! Turned out great! It’s on the menu for Christmas too! Thank you for the recipe. I made my own self rising cornmeal mix and it turned out wonderful.

  10. This sweet potato cornbread will definitly be on my table for the coming holidays. The pumpkin spice I would have never thought to put in or that it would ever work with this bread.

    1. The pumpkin pie spice is sorta a surprise ingredient, isn’t it, Linda? Of course, you could make the recipe without it if you like, although we’ve been hearing quite lovely things about it with the spice…love to know what you think when the time comes!

  11. I’m curious whether one can simply substitute stone ground cornmeal for the white cornmeal… for various reasons. I’m in Germany where white cornmeal can”t be found, and I have a lot of what some call bramata in my cupboard. Or will that make the bread too coarse and crumbly? One of the commenters said she had used stone ground when she made it but said person also frowned on the large amount of eggs, sour cream and butter.

  12. I am getting a bit of a bitter aftertaste from my recipe, and we all agreed it wasn’t very corny (ha!). I did omit the sugar and the pumpkin pie spice, I was going for savory. Any thoughts on the bitter taste? The kids didn’t pick up on it, they loved it, and it was a gorgeous outcome!

    1. Hi Ashley, did you use self-rising cornmeal or did you make your own? Some baking powders that contain aluminum will leave a bitter, metallic aftertaste. I always recommend using an aluminum free baking powder such as Rumford or Bob’s Red Mill.

  13. I tried this last night and really enjoyed it with a chicken mole stew from the slow cooker. It wasn’t like a traditional cornbread at all. It was super rich, almost like a custard or bread pudding. We really enjoyed it!

  14. Looking forward to making this recipe this weekend to have with chili! It will be the perfect fall day dinner with friends. Judging by the reviews, I can not wait to try this.

      1. I made this recipe this weekend, just changed it up to muffins, and it was incredible. Definitely a keeper. Moist, lightly sweet, perfect. And paired like a charm with some chili verde!

        1. Love it, Lynell! Nothing’s better than tweaking a recipe to suit your needs and desires. Many thanks for taking the time to let us know. Do you happen to recall about how long you left the muffins in the oven? If so, I’d love to know. And I can’t wait to hear what recipe from the site you try next…

  15. As if a Leite’s referral wasn’t enough, once I read the other comments, this cornbread was all but in the oven. Coincidentally, my husband brought home a back of sweet potatoes grown in a co-worker’s garden just a few days before this recipe was posted.

    My husband is usually a bit fussy about texture, so I was apprehensive of the inclusion of sweet potatoes and sour cream, which would no doubt lend a softer crumb. Not only did he eat a piece, but he raved, and requested more. His comment? “Excellent!” There you have it. Once he gives that kind of rating, nothing more need be said. However, I can’t help but to sing it’s praises just a little more.

    The color, flavor and texture of this cornbread is absolutely wonderful. Indeed, it pairs well with a spicy chili or soup. I will definitely make this cornbread again, though I wonder if maybe I should have pureed the potato, maybe with the sour cream, to help cool it off before combining it with the rest of the ingredients. I did not go out of my way to finely mash the potato, so there were wonderful chunks of beautifully colored sweet potato in a few of the cornbread squares.

    For those who may not care for the softer texture, let the bread cool a bit, slice it in half and place it in a toaster oven for just a few minutes. No need for extra butter, as the flavor is simply wonderful!

    Thank you, LC! Another one well worth printing!

    1. LOL. I just realized I’d typed ‘back’ of potatoes. Not sure what I was thinking, but either pack or bag must have been the target. I missed!

  16. David, every time I vow that I *will not* add one more recipe to my “must make” list, someone comes along and posts something my heart of hearts knows will be spectacular (or I’d be a fool for not trying.) This is one of those recipes.

    1. Kim, no one can accuse you of having a foolish heart. Go unto the kitchen, my child, and bake knowing that everyone will plotz (|pläts| verb
      collapse or be beside oneself with strong emotion
      ) when they taste this.

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