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?Renee Schettler Rossi

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

Buttermilk Cornbread

4.95 / 17 votes
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.
David Leite
Servings16 squares
Calories222 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, somewhere between cold and room temperature
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour, (or substitute all-purpose flour)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup full-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup mild olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey


  • 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.


Buttermilk Cornbread Variation

Cheddar And Jalapeño Cornbread
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
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.)
Huckleberry Cookbook

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 squareCalories: 222 kcalCarbohydrates: 21 gProtein: 4 gFat: 14 gSaturated Fat: 5 gMonounsaturated Fat: 7 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 61 mgSodium: 293 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 8 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2014 Zoe Nathan. Photo © 2014 Matt Armendariz. All rights reserved.

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.

This cornbread is so good that it could be dessert. It’s super moist, surprisingly quick and simple to put together, and bursting with corn kernels and flavor. We ate it without butter.

I adhered to the recipe exactly, and my baking time was 50 minutes. The top of the cake, I mean bread, was a deep golden brown, but the inside was moist and dense.

Cornbread is typically one of my least favorite quick breads because it’s usually dry and mealy. This one is neither. I’m looking forward to trying the jalapeño Cheddar variation.

Winner. I made this cornbread with olive oil and it was heavenly. It is definitely not your light Southern cornbread. It has a very thick consistency that is surprisingly pleasant but very filling. We had it with spaghetti and they went well together.  While it sounds like a long time, the 50-minute timing is spot on.

I can’t decide. Is this cake or bread? Whatever it is, it’s pretty darn delicious. I made it plain (I didn’t add the corn) and cannot wait to try the variations. This cornbread is pretty sweet and has a lovely tender crumb, but it’s slightly greasy for my taste. I’m not sure it needs quite so much oil, but definitely don’t decrease the butter, as it gives the bread such a lovely flavor.

Start checking the doneness of the cornbread after about 35 minutes. Due to all that sugar and honey, the bread will brown quickly and deeply, so keep an eye on it. Mine baked to perfection in 45 minutes. Serve it warm. It doesn’t even need butter.

This could be the best cornbread we’ve ever had. Cornbread is usually a disappointment with its uninspired dryness. But this recipe completely goes in the opposite direction—moist, flavorful, and savory, especially if you go the jalapeño and Cheddar route. Seed and rib the jalapeños and use a couple, even if they are huge.

I made a couple of batches. I used fresh corn in each (go for the best in-season corn or leave it out), a really nice Cheddar (I used a Somerdale), and a generous 1/3 to 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro. It was best when I extended the cooking time to just over an hour, checking with a thermometer, getting the center to about 190℉ (88°C) and the top an even golden brown with small cracks across the entire surface, resembling a dry lake crackle. Anything less and you will not have a pudding-like interior but an uncooked soupiness instead.

This is a very wet batter, and the fresh corn adds even more moisture. I found the baking to be more even in a metal pan than a glass pan. I used a stone-ground cornmeal from Bob’s Red Mill. In the third batch, my prep took a little longer, and the butter was getting too soft, so I popped the mixer bowl in the fridge. I think that batch actually creamed fluffier, with the butter being a bit firmer than room temp. In version 4.0, I used a smoked Cheddar, chopped cilantro, and 2 chopped red Fresno chiles (which are slightly milder than jalapeños). It had a beautiful crumb and was finished at 50 minutes, registering ~197°F (92°C) in the center. And it was festive!

I think the best version of this recipe is without the fresh corn. If using the fresh corn, I’d leave out the whole milk and just use the 1 cup buttermilk, but the overall result is better without the fresh corn. We are converts—cornbread could be a regular thing here. Stop me before I make another!

I love cornbread, and this recipe was definitely excellent. I tested it both with fresh corn and then with jalapeño and Cheddar. I felt as though the fresh corn kernels made it almost too wet, but the sweetness was very nice.

The jalapeño Cheddar, in contrast, was not as sweet (I chose not to add fresh corn), and it was perfectly moist and easily cut into squares.

I certainly had my doubts when I looked at the very loose batter in the bowl, but those doubts are now completely gone! Wow! This is a fine cornbread recipe, especially for anyone who’s ever had dry crumbly cornbread and wished for a moist one instead. Here it is! Pudding-like is an apt description—rich and pudding-like is perfect! It was “almost like eating cake,” according to one of my happy testers.

And mine was this rich despite using homemade buttermilk made with 1% milk and using 1% milk instead of the whole milk specified. I had a couple of the 16 squares on their own before I thought to slather one with butter, which was delicious but completely unnecessary. Then I drizzled a piece with a bit of honey just as a test, and that, too, was completely unnecessary. I used the full 3 ears corn, which amounted to a bit more than 1 1/2 cups.

A little confession: I skipped the stand mixer and hand mixer and mixed straight by hand instead, from start to finish, and it worked perfectly. I did pre-mix the dry ingredients, but even that doesn’t seem necessary at this point. I had no troubles with lumps of butter or flour. As previously noted, the batter was very loose, almost like pancake batter, and there was no scraping of batter into the pan, as it was pourable. I feared the volume would be too great and anticipated seeing a rising tower of cornbread in the oven, but this didn’t occur. Instead, it rose perfectly, baked for the full 50 minutes, and could perhaps have even gone another 5 minutes beyond that. I’m eager to try the jalapeño Cheddar version next.

I baked this in a Pyrex pan, and I’ll also be trying it in a cast-iron pan. I cooled the cornbread for 10 minutes, my idea of ever so slightly. In my house, we’ll never know if it keeps for up to 2 days, since I think it’ll be gone within the first hour of being set out for tasting. Warm cornbread on a cool evening…unbeatable!

This buttermilk cornbread worked well and came out nice and moist. The recipe didn’t specify the grind of cornmeal to use, so I went with an extra fine, which gave the cornbread a light, cake-like texture that worked really well. Using fresh corn brightened up the flavor.

I found that in my oven, it only took about 40 minutes to cook fully. I’m looking forward to trying other variations.

This cornbread is a winner. Gathering the ingredients took the most time. Aside from that, the cornbread came together in about the time it took to heat my oven. After 40 minutes in the oven, the edges were very brown but not burned.

This is definitely a moist, sweet cornbread and does not need butter or honey in my opinion. If my husband would eat spicy, I would try the jalapeño version, but alas, he is not spicy sort. Sigh.

This cornbread results in a very sweet, cake-like cornbread. When corn was in season, I froze some fresh corn and I used that in this recipe. I found it to be delicious and, as the author promises, very moist as well. Given the amount of oil, this is certainly a decadent cornbread.

The flavor of this cornbread is good but a little sweet. I would definitely reduce the amount of sugar next time. The combination of buttermilk, whole milk, and oil with so many eggs makes this a very moist cornbread that stayed good and moist for a long time. I liked the added corn kernels, but it took a long time to get the corn off the cob.

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I made the fresh corn variation of this buttermilk cornbread for the Fourth of July, along with LC’s Fall-Off-the-Bone Baby Back Ribs, Classic Coleslaw, and Mashed Potatoes, and it was phenomenal—rich, sweet but not cloying, and with just the right amount of toothsome summer corn.

I only added the kernels from 2 ears of corn because I was nervous that the cornbread would turn out mushy. I used 1/3 cup sugar, substituted all-purpose flour for the whole-wheat, and grapeseed oil instead of olive oil. I also used low-fat buttermilk because that was the only kind available at the market, and I don’t think the flavor or texture was any worse for the wear. I baked the cornbread in a 9-by-13-inch glass pan for about 45 minutes, so it was probably a bit thinner than the author intended, but it was still incredibly moist. The leftovers made a great breakfast, toasted and slathered with some salted butter. I can’t wait to try the Cheddar and jalapeño version!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. I love cornbread and it sounds so delish! What is your suggestion please, since I am new to being gluten-free, regarding which gluten-free flour to use in place of the all-purpose flour? I am also diabetic, do you have the carb amt per serving and what is considered a serving? Thanks so much 🙂

    1. Chris, each gluten-free flour blend is slightly different and will work slightly differently in each recipe. I’m sorry, I haven’t tried this with a gluten-free flour, although if we’re talking homemade gluten-free flour blends, I’m partial to this one as we’ve made it in several different recipes with terrific success. As for the carb amount, we don’t do the nutritional analysis on recipes but you can run the numbers for this—or any recipe—using an online nutritional analysis calculator. There are a number of free online calculators that can help you do this. I haven’t used any of these calculators myself so I can’t vouch for any one in particular, but I hear terrific things about the online calculator from Spark People found here.

  2. 5 stars
    I made it tonight and it was excellent. I followed the recipe to the letter and baked it exactly 50 min – it turned out great. I can”t wait to try the other variations.

  3. OK..I’ve re-read this 5 times and I keep reading about the wonderful flavor of the corn kernels…where is the fresh corn in the recipe??? Am I losing it?

    1. Not losing it, boomdog02, just missing it. It’s in the Fresh Corn Cornbread recipe under TUXEDO VARIATIONS.