Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread

What You'll Need

  • 1 1/4 cups coarsely ground cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

It seems a simple enough concoction, cornbread. A few basic ingredients, a fairly standard quick bread. But dig a little deeper, as with so many things, and a shifting landscape reveals itself. Cornbread, like other cultural touchstones, stands for more than a simple snack. Depending on the region, it is either sweet or savory, may or may not contain white flour, and is to be eaten with or without additions such as fresh or creamed corn, jalapeños or other diced vegetables and cheese.

Though cornmeal originated in South America, like the corn plant itself, it spread through trade and commerce throughout the land, and has become an iconic food of the South and West, particularly. In the Southern regions of the country, cornbread is made without the addition of sugar or white flour, whereas in the west, it often contains these ingredients. Westerners, too, are also more likely to add a little diced jalapeño or other additions, as noted above.

We like to cook ours in a cast iron skillet, in true cowboy style. Aside from harkening back to a shared cultural affinity for wide open spaces, smoky campfires, and a restless spirit of adventure, a cast iron pan also makes a darn fine culinary tool. The heavy bottom retains heat and distributes it evenly, making for a fine, crisp crust. It adds a little bit of old western flair to the dinner table. And a cast-iron pan, properly seasoned, rivals even the most high-tech of non-stick skillets in the non-sticking department.

The cornmeal in this recipe is ground coarsely, and can be quite toothsome. Soaking the cornmeal in buttermilk for a few hours, or even overnight, tenderizes the large grains of cornmeal, making the bread more moist and tender. This step is optional, however, and the bread is still delicious without the soaking step.

Cornbread ingredients

This recipe is for a 9" Cast Iron Skillet
Serves 6-8


1) Soak the cornmeal

Cover the cornmeal in buttermilk and soak for anywhere from 2 hours before baking to overnight.


Soaking Cornmeal

2) Prepare your Cast Iron Pan and Melt your Butter

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the butter inside a 9” cast iron skillet and put into the oven to preheat.  This will melt the butter for your recipe and season the pan, all at once. 

3) Mix your dry ingredients

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

4) Mix wet ingredients

Add the milk and eggs to the soaked cornmeal and buttermilk mixture. Remove the cast iron pan from the oven and pour the melted butter into the wet ingredients. Whisk to incorporate. 

5) Combine the wet and dry ingredients 

Mix both your dry ingredients and your wet ingredients together into a batter. The batter will be a pourable consistency, not dry or stiff and not runny.
mix dry ingredients

6) Pour batter into skillet and bake

Pour the cornbread mixture into the hot skillet, and reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

Cast Iron Cornbread

Careful of that hot skillet! 

Put the skillet in the center of the oven and bake until the center is firm, or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

7) Cool and serve

Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Cornbread Strawberry Shortcake
This cornbread is awesome served with chili, or with fresh butter and jam. It also makes excellent down-home strawberry shortcake; cover with sliced berries and drizzle the whole thing over with honeyed creme fraíche. You may want seconds.