Buttermilk Cornbread

This buttermilk cornbread isn’t typical. It’s moist and sweet, thanks to buttermilk, butter, olive oil, and honey. Although it’s decidedly not traditional Southern style, we love it. So will you.

A parchment-lined square pan of buttermilk cornbread cut into squares, with one square missing.

This buttermilk cornbread isn’t your typical cornbread. It’s unspeakably better. And it’s prompting folks who’ve tried it to say stuff like, “Wow!” “Heavenly.” “The best cornbread we’ve ever had.” “It is so worth the calories!” “Almost like eating cake.” “Stop me before I make another!”

A large part of the reason why it’s drawing such accolades, we suspect, is because it’s completely the opposite of your typical dry cornbread, explains author Zoe Nathan. So much so that it can stand on its own without needing to be slathered with butter, she continues. A word to the wise: This cornbread is sorta sinfully sweet. As such, it’s definitely not Southern. But it’s wildly versatile and pretty darn irresistible. And most everyone who we’ve shared it with has immediately asked for the recipe. Sorta makes you want to drop everything and run to the kitchen to try it, yeah? Originally published July 2, 2015.Renee Schettler Rossi

Buttermilk Cornbread

  • Quick Glance
  • (13)
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes 16 squares
4.9/5 - 13 reviews
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Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and line an 8-by-8-inch (20-by-20 cm) metal pan with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Incorporate the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well.

Pause the machine and add the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, mix until incorporated. Then pour in the milk, buttermilk, oil, and honey and mix just until combined. This should yield a very loose, runny batter. (Small lumps of butter are no problem, but avoid any lumps of flour. If you see them, mix the batter just a little longer or work them out with your fingertips or the tines of a fork.)

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. You’re going to want to start checking the cornbread after 30 minutes, and if the surface turns perfectly golden brown before the time is up, loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Let the cornbread cool ever so slightly in the pan on a wire rack prior to slicing. This buttermilk cornbread is best served the day it’s made but keeps for up to 2 days if wrapped well.

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    Tuxedo Variations

    • Cheddar and Jalapeño Cornbread
    • Tux variation

      Increase the salt to 2 teaspoons, omit the honey and in its place stir in 1/2 cup grated Cheddar, 2 seeded and finely chopped jalapeños, and 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.

    • Fresh Corn Cornbread
    • Tux variation

      Stir 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 3 ears) into the batter just before scraping it into the pan. (Beware that the added moisture from the corn kernels has the tendency to turn the cornbread quite pudding-like.)

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    The recipe doesn't lie. It truly is insanely moist and delicious, maybe in part to the rather large amount of butter, oil, and sugar. But, hey, who am I to complain—it tastes pretty amazing. And anyways, the fresh corn hints at healthy decisions. This stuff is the end-all recipe for buttermilk cornbread in the sweet category.

    So far it has lent itself to a myriad of uses in my household: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It accompanied red beans and rice one night, and a healthy slice was given a good sear and served with eggs and a healthy dose of Sriracha the next morning.

    I grew a tad bit nervous, as my baking time continued to increase, and the center of the bread just seemed to get soupier and soupier. I assume this was due to the oil and liquid content. After about 50 minutes at 350°F (180°C), the top was pretty browned, and the rest was clearly not done. I decreased the oven temp to 300°F (149°C), hoping to halt the top from burning while the inside caught up, and it took another 15 minutes at that temperature before the cornbread seemed sufficiently set. Mine turned out just fine with the extra time in the oven. It is so worth the calories! Tuck it away as a keeper.

    I've never understood how people can buy boxed mixes or pre-made cornbreads from the bakery department of their local market and be satisfied. Perhaps it's because they've never experienced a truly great hunk of cornbread and so can accept the overly sweet and bone-dry bread that it seems is the norm. Having had a few ethereal cornbreads at great Southern restaurants over the years, I knew there was so much more potential for cornbread than what can be made from the ubiquitous blue box mix. I have been searching for years for a "go-to" cornbread from scratch, and I'm pleased to say that my search is over...this buttermilk cornbread is THE ONE!

    This cornbread has it all. It's dense and moist with a perfect balance in texture and taste between the cornmeal and the fresh corn kernels. I found the sweet-salt balance of the bread to be perfect. In fact, I can't remember the last time I had a piece of cornbread that I didn't slather with an obscene amount of salted butter, both to combat the dryness and also the overly sweet flavor profile. But I enjoyed this au naturel and didn't miss the butter one bit.

    I was a little concerned with the stated baking time of the recipe, as it seemed high for an 8-inch pan at 350°F (180°C), but the batter is so liquid-y when poured into the pan that it took a full 45 minutes to cook to moist perfection. I ended up tenting the pan with foil around the 30-minute mark because the top of the cake was perfectly browned, and I feared it would burn. Aside from that caveat, I found the recipe well-written and the resulting bread to be absolutely ideal.


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    1. I stumbled across this recipe while looking for a way to use leftover buttermilk and what a great find it was! This is absolutely the best cornbread I have ever made. We tried one batch of the original recipe and one batch of the cheddar & jalapeno for a weekend BBQ. Both were moist and delicious, not at all dry and crumbly like most others. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed them and I even had requests for the recipe! Definitely part of my go to recipe collection.

      1. Thanks, Debbie! We’re so glad you (and everyone else) enjoyed it so much and so appreciate you taking the time to let us know.

    2. “It is so worth the calories!” “Almost like eating cake.” “Stop me before I make another!” These comments that I read above from Leite’s Culinaria recipe testers prompted me to stop searching elsewhere for the perfect cornbread recipe and make this immediately. It’s insanely moist and delicious. And why wouldn’t it be with the addition of butter and olive oil? You’ll be forever spoiled and not be able to get this recipe out of your mind. If you need something to eat with your cornbread (but why would you?) I recommend another Leite’s recipe for Short Rib Chile that I made to go along with it. Twas a match made in heaven.

      1. Magnificent, Linda! Thanks so much for taking the time to share how much you love this cornbread. I, too, stopped searching for cornbread recipes the moment I tasted this cornbread. We had a house full of 40 guests for Thanksgiving and more than half of them requested this recipe.

    3. Great reviews from my guests! I made 3 versions of half batches in a 12-cup cupcake/muffin tin, baked for 30 minutes. Used all AP flour as I didn’t have wheat. Texture was cake-like.

      1ST BATCH – Original: Used less oil and sugar. Filled cups 1/2 full. Flavor was fine but seemed a bit boring to me. Also, the olive oil taste was too strong so I’d go for a lighter tasting oil, like corn or vegetable. I made honey butter to go with it and the guests liked it. Said it was like dessert.

      2ND BATCH – Jalapeño & Cheese: This was *very* well received! Made adjustments as suggested, and used less oil and sugar. Didn’t yet substitute olive oil for corn oil since I was already in the process of a second batch before trying the first. Couldn’t taste the olive oil with more salt and added ingredients.

      3RD BATCH – Cheese: No jalapeño on hand so I made the same recipe as last time without the jalapeño and it was also well received! Some guests spread honey butter over this and loved the salty sweet combo.

      Thanks for the recipe! Will try leftovers this morning.

      1. Cynthia, wow! We love your approach to trying a new recipe! Have you ever considered being a recipe tester for us?! Seriously. You’d fit in perfectly. If not, no pressure! But if so, kindly let me know! And regardless, so pleased to hear you love this recipe as much as we do! Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

    4. I made this Buttermilk Cornbread on Thanksgiving morning when I got a panicked call from my brother that there was a Cornbread Emergency—he was afraid we wouldn’t have enough to feed his kids’ insatiable Cornbread Appetites. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand—except for milk. So I substituted a little half-and-half (about 1/4 c) and used the greater amount of olive oil (3/4 c) to make up the liquid. Obviously, this recipe is really forgiving because it came out GREAT. Super moist and a little sweet. Not sure why the top cracked—my friend said it looked like an Angry Bird—ha! Did not affect the taste though. The folks who favored this version loved the sweetness of this recipe and thought that it could almost be served as dessert. But we went ahead and served it right alongside our turkey with our heads held high.

      Square pan with warm buttermilk cornbread inside

      1. Janet, first, your brother is incredibly fortunate that he can call his sis on Thanksgiving morning and know it will be fulfilled! Second, I’m thrilled to hear that you find this recipe to be as trustworthy and crowd-pleasing as we do! I, too, swoon to this recipe. (And I made multiple batches a couple Thanksgivings ago to feed 40 and everyone who tried it went back for seconds (and sometimes thirds) and nearly half requested the recipe. Glad it worked with your modifications. And yeah, it’s certainly rich enough for dessert, yet still perfectly respectable alongside something savory. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. We GREATLY appreciate it! And we look forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

    5. This recipe looks amazing and perfect, and I can’t wait to make it. How would you suggest scaling up the recipe? Do you think I could double it, and if so, what pan size would you suggest?

      1. Alex, so glad this recipe is as compelling for you as it is for us! I would actually recommend that you NOT double the recipe and baking it in a larger pan. This is an exceptionally dense batter that creates an insanely moist cornbread. As such, I worry that in a larger pan, the center wouldn’t get done before the edges got overdone. I actually made this cornbread for 60 guests a couple Thanksgivings ago and I made several different batches of the recipe, each baked in the appropriate size pan. Time-consuming? Sorta. Worth it? You should have seen the cornbread disappear…and heard people raving about it and requesting the recipe for weeks afterwards. I measured out the dry ingredients for each batch of cornbread the weekend before, and then all I had to do the morning of was mix and bake. Sorry to not have an easier solution but I really think you’ll be disappointed with the unevenly baked results if you start playing with the amount of batter and the pan size.

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