A Tale of Two Cornbreads

When it comes to cornbread, we live in a house divided. Carolyn is a fan of Northern style and I like Southern style. Northern style is made with a mixture of cornmeal and flour and a bit of sugar. It rises up high and is nice and light. Southern style is dense and has a much stronger corn taste.


The other big difference is that Southern style gets baked in a cast iron pan with a bunch of butter. It gives it a nice crust and that buttery taste that is oh so hard to hate.


In my own opinion, Southern style is great for putting in the bottom of bowl of chili and Northern is great on the side of a pat with a pat of butter on top. Cook up a batch of both and decide for yourself.


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Golden Northern Cornbread

Cook’s Illustrated Best Recipes


  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup milk


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 9×9-inch baking pan with butter.
  2. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Push the dry ingredients up the sides of the bowl to make a well.
  3. Crack the eggs into the well and stir lightly with a wooden spoon, then add the buttermilk and milk. Stir the wet and dry ingredients quickly until almost combined. Add the melted butter and stir until the ingredients are just combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the greased pan. Bake until the top of the cornbread is golden brown and lightly cracked and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes.
  5. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Cut the cornbread into squares and serve warm. Pan can be wrapped in foil and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day. Reheat cornbread in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

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Southern Corn Bread

Joy of Cooking


  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat, lard, butter, or vegetable shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups stone-ground cornmeal, preferably white
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt (3/4 teaspoon if using buttermilk with salt)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk


  • 9 to 12


  1. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a heavy 9-inch skillet, preferably cast-iron, or less desirably, an 8 x 8 inch glass baking pan into the oven.
  2. Whisk the cornmeal, sugar (if adding), baking powder, baking soda, and salt together thoroughly in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl until foamy.
  4. Whisk the buttermilk into the eggs.
  5. Once the oven has finished preheating, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk just until blended.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and add the fat of choice. Move it around until it has melted, swirl around to coat.
  7. Pour in the batter all at once. Bake until the top is browned and the center feels firm when pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately from the pan, cut in wedges or squares.
  8. Leftovers, though dry, are nice enough if wrapped in foil and rewarmed in a low oven.

4 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cornbreads

  1. My mom would make the Northern cornbread, almost cake like, very delicious. My dad’s mom made it southern style, which is the one I make most often. One difference is that when I make it I use oil in the skillet, about 3-4 T and put that in the oven to preheat. Then when you add the batter there is this sizzle, and when you release it from the skillet it is extra crispy and so good. You could probably use a butter oil combo to keep the smoking point down. I do know that butter alone would smoke and would likely get burnt.

  2. There is a third way to make cornbread. That is Texas,Arizona, New Mexico kind. It’s made without the soda, and chopped green or red chilies put into it.

    There is also another Southern way and that is putting pig skins into the cornbread and using stone ground corn meal.

  3. We are a house divided too. I tend to make both when the whole family is home. If just my husband and me I make the cornbread without the sugar, although I like sweet cornbread. I also mix white and yellow cornmeal. And of course I have to have unsweetened yellow cornbread to make cornbread stuffing. ;)

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