This skillet cornbread is always moist and tender, and it’s perfect as a side dish for a hearty home-cooked dinner.
The best part of cornbread is the crispy golden brown edges, which can be achieved by baking it in a hot cast iron skillet.
This cast iron skillet cornbread recipe is make-ahead friendly and reheats well, so it’s a great option for the holidays!
This is my favorite way of baking cornbread. This cast iron skillet cornbread is incredibly delicious, moist, and tender, especially when served with whipped butter and honey. So good!
The secret here is using a cast iron skillet, which is excellent at retaining heat. If you want a beautiful golden brown and crispy exterior, this is the way to go! More in this below.
The other thing I want to highlight here is the brown butter! If you’ve never tried brown butter before, let me tell you…it’s life changing. Browned butter has a nutty, toffee-like taste, and adds depth to baked goods. Seriously, it will take your skillet cornbread to another level!
Why we love this cast iron skillet cornbread recipe:
- I mean…who doesn’t love cornbread?!
- Crispy golden brown crust. That’s really the best part.
- Tender, moist, and rich thanks to the buttermilk.
- This recipe uses brown butter (super easy to make!), which adds incredible toffee-like and nutty flavors. It’s a great way to elevate cornbread.
- Balanced flavors: This skillet cornbread has the right amount of sweetness. It’s lightly sweet with the perfect touch of savory.
- Make-ahead friendly. It stores and reheats really well.
Why Bake Cornbread in a Cast Iron Skillet
Cast iron gets really hot and retains heat super well. Cast iron also distributes heat evenly, ensuring that your cornbread cooks uniformly.
Here’s how this cast iron skillet cornbread technique works: Preheat the skillet in the oven first. Once it is very hot, grease it and immediately pour in the batter. The initial contact of the batter with the hot skillet is what creates the crispy golden brown edges.
This recipe calls for a traditional 9-inch cast iron skillet. Do NOT use enameled cast iron because it is NOT non-stick.
No Cast Iron Skillet?
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet but are eager to make this delicious cornbread recipe, I totally get it. Here are some workarounds, although it won’t be exactly the same:
- Oven-proof 9 inch non-stick deep skillet
- 8×8 inch baking pan, preferably aluminum. Avoid ceramic, as they don’t conduct heat as well.
- Jumbo muffin pans
I highly recommend getting a cast iron skillet for your kitchen. It is an extremely versatile and affordable piece of cookware that can be found online or at most stores. This is your sign to buy one now! Once you start cooking with one, you will be amazed at how well it performs.
Below are a few helpful ingredient notes from recipe testing. As always, the ingredient quantities for this cast iron skillet cornbread recipe can be found in the recipe card down below.
- Unsalted butter: We’ll use it to make brown butter, which is very easy. It adds a rich, buttery, and nutty aroma.
- All-purpose flour and cornmeal: When measuring, spoon and level for accuracy.
- Granulated sugar: Adds the perfect amount of sweetness. Don’t use brown sugar here, as it can change the texture.
- Baking powder and baking soda: These leavening agents work together with the buttermilk to help the cornbread rise and be tender.
- Buttermilk and whole milk: Buttermilk makes it extra tender and slightly tangy, and whole milk lightens the texture a bit.
- Eggs: provide structure and moisture.
- Kosher salt: Balances the sweetness and enhances the overall flavor.
In this step-by-step tutorial, you’ll see how easy it is to make cornbread in a cast iron skillet at home!
Step 1 | Make browned butter
Melt butter in a small stainless steel skillet, whisking constantly. As it simmers, it will start to form bubbles and pop. After a few minutes, golden brown specks will form at the bottom and it will smell like toffee and a little nutty. This means it’s ready – don’t let it burn. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for 20 minutes.
Tip: Use a stainless steel or white ceramic pan. This will allow you to see through the butter and check when the milk solids start to turn golden brown.
Note: This recipe can also be made with just melted butter, but brown butter adds a richer flavor and aroma, which is why I like it.
Step 2 | Preheat skillet
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, and place the skillet inside. The goal is to get it really hot before we pour the batter in.
Step 3 | Mix ingredients
Dry ingredients: In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, yellow cornmeal, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until evenly combined.
Wet ingredients: In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, whole milk, and eggs. Then, whisk in the cooled down browned butter.
Combine: Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix until the batter is fully incorporated and no pockets of flour remain. Do not overmix.
Step 4 | Bake
Remove the skillet from the oven (use oven mitts – it’s hot!). Coat it with about a tablespoon of butter, and wipe off any excess butter with paper towel. Then, immediately pour the prepared batter into the hot skillet.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 23 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes. Serve with whipped butter and a drizzle of honey.
Make Ahead and Freezing
Of course, this cast iron skillet cornbread is always best enjoyed fresh out of the oven so you can taste those crispy edges, but you can definitely make it ahead of time.
If you’re planning to make it ahead, I’d recommend doing so 1 or 2 days in advance. Simply let it cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F until warm, or in the microwave oven for like 45 seconds. It can also be enjoyed at room temperature.
Freeze for up to 3 months, wrapped tightly in foil and in a freezer-friendly bag to prevent freezer burn. Thaw in the fridge overnight.
Pairing and Serving Ideas
This cast iron skillet cornbread also goes really well with a good Sunday pot roast, beef stew, or whole roast chicken. Or go with a classic combination and make a big pot of beef and beer chili or my favorite one pot jambalaya!
My favorite main dishes to serve with cornbread:
A classic 9-inch black cast iron skillet is the ideal pan for this dish. Do not use enameled pans because they aren’t non-stick.
Yes, that’s totally fine.
Yes, although I’d highly recommend cast iron for best results. Use an oven-proof skillet or an 8×8 inch baking pan. Avoid ceramic – it doesn’t retain heat well.
I would not recommend substituting this ingredient. Buttermilk activates the baking soda and powder, which are essential for helping the cornbread rise.
This recipe was originally published in 2018 and updated in October 2023 to include new photos and information, plus a few recipe modifications.
Tips for Success
- Getting the cast iron skillet really hot is essential to get those golden brown edges. Pour the batter in while it’s still very hot.
- Wipe off any extra melted butter from the skillet before pouring in the batter, otherwise it can pool around the edges. You only need a thin layer to prevent sticking.
- Don’t overmix the batter: Stir until just combined. Overmixing can result in a tougher texture.
- Don’t overbake: The top should be golden brown, and a tester should come out clean when inserted.
- Don’t have a cast iron skillet? Use an oven-proof skillet or an 8×8 inch square pan. Remember to get it really hot before adding the batter.
Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour - spooned and leveled
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal - spooned and leveled
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs - at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter - to grease the skillet
- Make the brown butter: Melt butter in a small stainless steel skillet, whisking constantly. As it simmers, it will start to form bubbles and pop, and golden brown specks will form. It should smell like toffee and a little nutty. This means it’s ready – be careful not to let it burn. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for 20 minutes. Note 1: A stainless steel or white ceramic skillet will help you see the golden specks better. Note 2: If you prefer not to use brown butter, you can simply use melted butter.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a 9-inch cast iron skillet in the oven to get it really hot.
- Mix dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and Kosher salt. Set aside.
- Mix wet ingredients: In a separate large bowl, whisk the buttermilk, whole milk, and eggs until combined. Then, drizzle in brown butter (or the simple melted butter) and whisk until evenly combined. The butter may solidify a bit, don’t worry, but try to break it up a little with the whisk.
- Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix until evenly combined and no pockets of flour remain. Do not overmix.
- Remove the hot skillet from oven. Grease with 1 tablespoon of butter and wipe off any excess with paper towel so it doesn't pool over the batter. Immediately, pour the batter into the hot greased skillet.
- Bake for about 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top is golden brown.
- Let rest for 15 minutes before serving. If desired, serve with butter and a drizzle of honey. Enjoy!
- Use a traditional 9-inch black cast iron skillet (pre-seasoned). Do not use enameled cast iron because it is NOT non-stick.
- Don’t have a cast iron skillet? Use an oven-proof skillet or an 8×8 inch square pan.
- Use yellow cornmeal for this recipe. Don’t use white cornmeal.
- Make ahead: 1 or 2 days in advance. Reheat in the oven (350 degrees F) or microwave oven for a few seconds.
- Freezing: Wrap tightly in foil and freeze in a resealable bag for up to 3 months.
- Buttermilk: Do not substitute the buttermilk. It’s needed for the baking soda and power to activate.
- Milk: Whole milk is best to keep this bread moist and rich. Don’t use skim.