This sweet potato cornbread may upend all your notions about what cornbread ought to be. It’s easy, stealthily healthy, and turning heads and drawing raves wherever it’s made.
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.–David Leite
What’s the difference between Northern and Southern Cornbread?
This particular cornbread recipe is neither a Northern or a true Southern recipe but it happens to straddle both. We know, we know—the only true cornbread is the one passed down through your family. But in very generalized terms, Northern cornbread is generally sweeter and more cake-like. A Southern-style cornbread isn’t sweet at all (some say there should be absolutely no sugar in the batter) and has a denser, more crumbly texture.
Sweet Potato Cornbread
- 2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix*
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
- 5 large eggs
- 2 cups (1 1/2 lbs) mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
- 8 ounces sour cream
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter melted
- Unsalted butter or mild vegetable oil for the skillet
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Slide a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven to warm for 5 minutes.
- 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.
- 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 or slick it with oil, tilting the skillet to coat the sides, and then spoon the batter into it.
- 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.
- 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.
HOMEMADE SELF-RISING WHITE CORNMEALTo make your own self-rising white cornmeal, mix 1 1/2 cups plus 6 tablespoons white cornmeal, 2 tablespoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon table salt.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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 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. 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.
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 wasn’t too cakey or 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 or a Moroccan Lentil Soup.
This sweet potato cornbread recipe was amazing! The sweet potato provided the perfect amount of sweetness and plenty of moisture. It was perfectly sweet and super moist and dense. Just how I feel cornbread should be. Altogether a great recipe.
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.
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. I love it when leftovers can become an entirely new meal.
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. I needn’t have worried. This recipe bakes up very nicely.
It’s a different texture than a traditional Southern cornbread, it’s 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’ve 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 chillier, 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 couldn’t 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 iron (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 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.
maybe this has been addressed already, but does this recipe call for yams (orange inside) or sweet potatoes?(starchier and yellow inside)
Erin Z, it’s a terrific question, and the answer is it works with either. We tested it both ways because so often the two are wrongly labeled at the store. Hope you enjoy!
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.
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.
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.
Thank you so much! I will be making your recipe on Thanksgiving. I’ll let you know how it turned out!
You are most welcome,happy Thanksgiving!
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.
I am SO thrilled, Terry. Happy, happy holidays!
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.
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!