This is probably the first recipe I ever memorized and made on my own. Of course, I was taught to just mix it “until it looks right,” which is a Southern cook’s favorite thing to say. All the women in my family make great cornbread and I remember eating it multiple times each week as a side for our meal (Or, for me, it was often the basis of my meal. Especially if black-eyed or purple hull peas were around).
Since it’s hard to show you how to make it “look right” via the world wide web, I figured out some measurements for you. And now, without further ado, I present to you the best cornbread recipe on the planet (yes, I am biased, but I am also right).
Southern Skillet Cornbread
- Spray a cast iron skillet with cooking spray, then put the tablespoon of butter in the skillet and stick it in the oven while it preheats to 450 degrees.
- Mix together the cornmeal, egg, and buttermilk. Start with one cup of buttermilk and add more if needed to get to a pourable, but not runny consistency.
- When the oven is preheated and the butter is melted, pour the batter into the skillet on top of the melted butter (this makes your cornbread have a perfect crunchy, buttery crust).
- Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
- Let cool in the skillet for about 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate and slicing.
- I like to use yellow cornmeal, because that’s what my Mamaw Hopper used and it was the secret to her oven fried okra (that recipe is on the blog, too!). However, my mama and Mamaw Gibson use white cornmeal and that works, too. Just MAKE SURE to buy self-rising cornmeal, or you will end up with a corn pancake (I know this from experience – the first time I tried to make cornbread for Jeff when we were dating, I just grabbed the bag of cornmeal in his kitchen and started cooking. I didn’t notice that his was NOT self-rising and I was super upset when I went to pull it out of the oven. Don’t make the same mistake I made.)
- If you don’t have buttermilk, you can google how to make your own with vinegar or lemon juice, but what my mama always did when she was making this with “sweet milk” (what we call regular milk in the South) was add about a tablespoon of mayonaise to the mixture. Sounds crazy, I know, but it works and really helps your cornbread’s texture.
When I was a freshman at the University of Alabama, a guy in my class was complaining that the one thing he missed most about being at home was his mom’s cornbread and that he couldn’t find a restaurant anywhere that made it like her. I told him that I could teach him how to make it and made him a grocery list and told him exactly what cast iron skillet to buy (this one, in case you’re wondering), and he eagerly took my advice. I figured he would probably never actually cook the cornbread, but apparently he did over the next weekend, and when he came back to class the next week he found me and thanked me and said that he had to call his mom to tell her that he learned to make cornbread even better than hers. So I really am telling you the truth when I say this is the best cornbread you’ve ever eaten.