Whether you prefer it tall and fluffy, custardy and pudding like, or crisp and snappy, we hold cornbread in all its forms in a place of reverence in the South. Cornbread recipes are much like tomato sauce: Everyone does it a little differently, and everyone’s mom makes the best. Northern variations of cornbread tend to be dry and crumbly. Southern cornbread recipes use more eggs and dairy to make a fluffy, almost cake-like cornbread with a subtle sweetness. The moisture and rise are key in the Southern style. Cornbread recipes might call for eggs to provide airiness to the bread, buttermilk for a slight tang, and occasionally mayonnaise to lend richness and help develop a beautifully browned crust (especially if the bread bakes in a trusty cast-iron skillet).
Many cooks use cornbread as a canvas for mix-ins that amp up the flavor and texture, from chiles to pork cracklings to cheese to herbs. And it’s not just a savory side. Cornbread appears in pies, cobblers, and other dessert to offset the sweetness with a touch of toasty nuttiness.
So whip up some honey butter and get your skillet hot—these buttery, crackling cornbread recipes showcase Southern baking at its best.
7 Cornbread Recipes for Anytime of Year
Chef Sara Bradley created her bacon fat cornbread inspired by the golden-brown, porky batches her grandmother made for family gatherings. Although Bradley’s grandmother never followed a cornbread recipe, pouring the batter into a ripping hot skillet caramelizes the edges before it even begins baking.
This cornbread recipe, from the lavish Loutrel in downtown Charleston, is made using Altman Farm’s cornbread mix, a runner up in Garden & Gun’s Made in the South food awards. Adding cream cheese, buttermilk, butter, and two eggs makes this bread fabulously moist and tender.
Chef and cookbook author Vishwesh Bhatt dresses up cornbread with cumin seed, parmesan, jalapeño bits, and corn kernels for a bread that packs flavor and texture in every bite. For extra crunch, sprinkle sesame seeds at the bottom of the skillet before pouring in the batter.
Atlanta-based chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis tweaks traditional cornbread recipes by adding fresh vegetables to a foundation of nutty cornmeal and tangy buttermilk. A blend of okra, corn kernels, red onion, and four types of peppers vary the texture and stud this bread with pops of color.
Isaac Toups is the king of combining sweet and savory, so this cornbread includes a little sugar. That might ruffle some feathers, but bear with us: You’ll judge it differently once you try it as part of Toups’ crawfish dressing.
Speaking of dressing, cornbread makes a luscious, almost creamy blanket to fold around oysters and bits of bacon. From the nutty, earthy cornbread to the smoky, briny oysters, this is Southern Thanksgiving cooking at its finest.
Apple slices simmered in cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar and beneath a biscuit crust hit next-level fall flavors when you swap the biscuits for savory buttermilk cornbread pudding. We include the recipe for the homemade cornbread that Cured in San Antonio uses for the cornbread pudding, but feel free to swap in store-bought cornbread to save time.