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Recipe: Southern Buttermilk Cornbread, GF

Recipe: Southern Buttermilk Cornbread, GF
gluten free cornbread

Cornbread is a southern staple made from cornmeal. Corn (maize) was an integral part of the diet of Native Americans thousands of years before Europeans learned of the plant.

My daddy would crumble cornbread into a glass of buttermilk and eat it with a spoon; I never acquired the taste. (To this child, buttermilk = sour = yuck!)

My favorite cornbread while growing up was a fried hoecake, with crispy edges, followed neck-to-neck by hush puppies. I associated regular cornbread — like this recipe — with holiday dressing. It would be after I moved to “the north” that I discovered how yummy it is when warm and topped with butter and honey. Blackstrap molasses is divine, too.

Authentic southern cornbread Is Not Sweet! This is a savory bread, despite the fact in today’s south sugar has made its way into the cornbread served at many restaurants. Damn those yankees!

I confess to being seduced by the Tex-Mex influence: I now regularly add canned corn to my cornbread, often add bacon, and sometimes add sharp cheddar cheese. It all depends on the purpose of the dish.

This combination of gluten-free (GF) flours came about through experimentation. Using just a rice-based flour produced a cornbread that was too cake-like for my tastebuds. Using just a bean-based flour yielded a very gritty cornbread, but it browned nicely. The 50-50 mixture mimics my traditional cornbread to a “t”. The gluten-free flours require more liquid than a traditional wheat-based flour. Recommended: Bob’s RedMill and Nameste.

Essentials: large cast-iron frying pan. Buy buttermilk powder if you can’t find fresh buttermilk (increasingly difficult) or if you think you might want to use it in other dishes. For this recipe, you’ll need to reconstitute it; I use water and half-and-half to give it a little more heft.

Substitution: if you’re not making a gluten-free cornbread, just use one cup of all purpose flour (NOT self-rising!). Recommend White Lily. And cut the buttermilk in half.

Organic note: Bob’s Red Mill organic cornmeal is available in major chain stores and is GMO-free. I have developed a sensitivity to both corn and wheat; non-GMO corn seems less abusive to my digestive tract.

Southern Buttermilk Cornbread, Gluten-Free

gluten free cornbread

A savory quick bread, southern cornbread has a buttermilk base and no sugar. It is delicious as a side or as an ingredient in southern cornbread dressing. Recipe modified to be gluten-free.



  1. In a medium-sized bowl, pour 2/3 to 3/4 (approximate) of the buttermilk over the cornbread and let soak for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees while the cornbread is soaking. Put your cast iron frying pan in the oven to warm.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda) into a large bowl, sufficient to hold the dry and wet ingredients
  4. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs; add the vegetable oil and mix.
  5. Remove the cast iron frying pan from the oven.
  6. Add corn to the wet ingredients. If you are using bacon and/or cheese, add now. Stir.
  7. Butter or grease the (large) cast iron frying pan (make sure you coat the sides) and add about a T of oil to the bottom of the pan. I use bacon grease.
  8. Pour the cornmeal (wet) mixture over the flour mixture. Combine, being careful not to over stir; you’ll see bubbling from the baking soda. Add enough of the remaining buttermilk to make the mixture pourable.
  9. Pour the mixture into the frying pan.
  10. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe Notes

Cornbread is a variation on my mother’s as well as Alton Brown’s recipe in I’m Just Here for More Food. Also, see SpoonForkBacon for savory butters.


Known for gnawing at complex questions like a terrier with a bone. Nutrition researcher by necessity: life-long migraineur, complete hysterectomy, colon resection, glucose intolerance. (I have become my mother.) Former food industry communicator. Digital maven; motorcyclist; educator.


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