Best homemade Southern cornbread recipe without sugar (2024)

Published: · Last Modified: by Anecia Hero

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This old fashioned Southern Skillet Cornbread without sugar produces a light, fluffy classic cornbread that complements any Southern meal!

Takes 5-minutes to mix up the batter... this foolproof cornbread never fails and is much better than the Aunt Jemima Cornbread recipe.

Cook the batter in a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop for a few minutes, then bake in the oven to a beautiful golden brown!

Best homemade Southern cornbread recipe without sugar (1)

This family gem comes from my great grandmother and even though we've never found an actual handwritten recipe, we do have an email from the 80's from my Mom claiming she got this recipe in 1960, when she married my Dad.

The batter is cooked in a skillet on the stovetop for a few minutes, to develop a crisp bottom crust, then baked. This pairs beautifully with purple hull peas or a big bowl of speckled butter beans and a slice of fresh tomato! And don't forget the sweet tea!

Some call this "skillet Cornbread" or "cast-iron" cornbread, but I just call it darn delicious! And it goes great with homemade chili, fried catfish or a big bowl of red beans and rice!

Why you'll love this recipe!

Southern skillet cornbread is easy to make! First, you start it on the stove top to get a crispy crust, then transfer it to the oven and bake to a golden brown!

Nothing goes together better than a bowl of purple hull peas and cornbread- except maybe a bowl of Southern pinto beans and rice or Louisiana red beans and rice.

  • All-natural ingredients - no additives, preservatives or colorants
  • No sugar cornbread recipe...this goes without saying, but cornbread should not contain sugar in my opinion-we like Southern skillet cornbread without sugar!
  • Simple ingredients - you have most of these in your pantry right now!
  • Can be a lifesaver - if all you've got is some dried beans and cornbread, you've got a complete meal!
  • Cheap - homemade cornbread made from scratch costs little to nothing
  • Better than Jiffy™, Martha White™ or Aunt Jemima's™ boxed cornbread mixes

Here's what you'll need

Skillet cornbread doesn't have to be made in a cast iron skillet, but I've tried to make it in other pans and it doesn't turn out right. I highly recommend using a seasoned cast-iron skillet.

Ingredients for skillet cornbread with no sugar

The ingredients for this delicious cornbread recipe are pretty simple and you probably already have them in your pantry.

  • All-purpose yellow cornmeal (not self-rising cornmeal)
  • All-purpose flour (not self-rising flour)
  • One large egg
  • Baking soda - make sure it's fresh
  • Baking powder-make sure it's fresh, too!
  • Milk - 2% or whole milk
  • Buttermilk - 2% or whole
  • Oil - vegetable oil or canola oil (see recipe notes below)
  • Salt-just plain table salt
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How to make cast iron Southern skillet cornbread

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder

In a separate bowl, combine a slightly beaten egg, milk, buttermilk and baking soda in another bowl. Note: The baking soda goes into the wet ingredients!

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Using a large mixing bowl, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, combine well and add a little vegetable oil; stir till well blended

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Heat cast iron skillet with a little oil on medium high heat on the stovetop; add 2 tablespoons of heat-tolerant oil (vegetable or canola oil) into skillet; let it get hot then pour batter into the hot skillet. It should sizzle. Cook on the stovetop for 2-3 minutes then transfer to 375-400ºF oven and bake until the top is golden brown.

Note: this is not pan fried cornbread; we're just cooking it on the stove long enough to get a crispy cornbread crust.

This is, in my opinion, the easiest and safest way to heat the oil without burning yourself.

Another way to heat the oil to ensure a crusty bottom is to put a little oil in the cast iron skillet and put the skillet in the hot oven for a few minutes; use an oven mitt to remove the hot skillet, pour in the cornbread batter and replace in the hot oven.

Whenever I make this no sugar southern skillet cornbread, I heat the oil on the stovetop because I've burned myself before when removing the hot skillet with oil from the oven.

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Use a cast iron skillet for your homemade cornbread

Use all-purpose flour; do not use self-rising flour and do not use self-rising cornmeal or a "cornmeal mix" which contains self-rising meal.

Use canola or vegetable oil, not olive oil; you can use Crisco shortening if you like or use strained bacon grease

Add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet; pre-heat the oil in the skillet before you add the batter

For best results, do NOT overcook the cornbread crust on the stovetop; you want to cook it for 2-3 minutes at the most, then transfer to an already preheated, hot oven.

The amount of oil you use to cook the crispy crust depends upon the size of your skillet. I cook cornbread in a 12"inch skillet and add 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of oil. If you use a smaller skillet, use less oil to cook the cornbread crust on the stove.Make sure your oven is preheated to the recommended heat

Make sure your baking soda is fresh; baking soda is a leavening agent that gives this skillet cornbread a semi-fluffy texture. If the baking soda isn't fresh, the cornmeal won't "fluff."

Put the baking soda in the wet ingredients - not the dry ingredients- it should fizz a little when you add it to the milk and buttermilk mixture

Recipe FAQ

Do I have to use a cast-iron skillet?

For best results, cast-iron is recommended. You can cook Southern skillet cornbread in a stainless steel skillet, but I always use cast iron. Some cooks have a designated cast iron skillet as their "cornbread pan"!

I do not recommend using a non-stick skillet because the non-stick Teflon™ coating seems to give an odd flavor to the cornbread...could be that non-stick skillets aren't designed for such high heat.

What size skillet?

A 10"inch or 12"inch cast iron pan works best for this sugar free cornbread recipe. Both sizes yield about 8 slices of cornbread; the 12"inch skillet yields a thinner cornbread, where the smaller skillet - 10"inch- makes a taller cornbread.

Is it gluten-free?

This skillet cornbread recipe is not gluten-free, as it calls for a ½ cup flour; however, you can use a certified gluten-free cornmeal and apply the same cooking method.

Some cornbread mixes use self-rising cornmeal which typically contain a little flour.

What type of cornmeal?

Use plain, or all-purpose yellow cornmeal - not self-rising cornmeal. The inclusion of the baking soda causes it to rise a little. If you substitute with self-rising cornmeal, do not add the baking soda.

What's the texture and flavor like?

This Southern skillet cornbread recipe provides a semi-fluffy, non-sweet cornbread. Typically, Southern cornbread doesn't contain sugar; however, some folks do add it to their recipe. I prefer cornbread without sugar; if it has sugar, then it's cake in my opinion.

Don't have buttermilk?

Make your own! Pour milk into measuring cup and add the juice of ½ a large lemon. Let it sit for 5-8 minutes, the pour into the batter.


The easiest way to heat this up is to wrap a slice in a damp paper towel and put it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.


Keep this wrapped in plastic or in an airtight container in the fridge if you have any leftover. Note: if you're making Southern cornbread for Cornbread dressing, you'll want to leave it out on the counter, covered for about 2 days so it can dry out.

How to serve cornbread

Some Southern cooks flip their skillet cornbread out onto a plate upside down; I've found the easiest way is to just slice it like you'd slice a pie. Naturally, you'll want to add a pat of butter or two to the top of the warm cornbread!

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I like to serve Southern skillet cornbread with Collard greens, Pinto Beans and Rice, Southwestern Navy Bean Soup and homemade Texas Chili! It's also a good snack when submerged in a glass of plain milk or buttermilk!

This also pairs beautifully with Hoppin' John or purple hull peas for your New Year dinner!

  • Classic Meatloaf
  • Southern Fried Catfish
  • Easy Mashed Rutabagas
  • How to Season and Cook Purple Hull Peas
  • Southern Cornbread Dressing
  • Turnip Green Cornbread Casserole
  • Sauteed Yellow Squash and Onions
  • How to Season and Cook Southern Greens
  • Soups and Stews
  • How to make Pecan Pralines
  • Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
  • Cajun Braised Cabbage Wedges

♥ If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and rating below! Thank you!

📋 Recipe

Best homemade Southern cornbread recipe without sugar (7)

Southern Skillet Cornbread

Old fashioned Southern skillet cornbread recipe made with buttermilk and no sugar

4.97 from 66 votes

Print Rate

Course: Side Dish, Snack

Cuisine: Southern

Prep Time: 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes minutes

Yield: 8 slices

Author: Anecia Hero


  • 1 cup cornmeal yellow, regular-not self-rising
  • ½ cup flour , all-purpose
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt , table
  • 1 whole egg , lightly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk , 2% or whole
  • ½ cup milk ,2% or whole
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda , make sure it's fresh
  • ¼ cup oil , vegetable or canola; NOT olive oil; this is for the batter -
  • 2 tablespoons oil , for the skillet (see recipe notes)


  • Preheat oven to 375º - 400º F

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in cast iron skillet on medium heat on the stovetop (see recipe notes)

    2 tablespoons oil

  • Meanwhile, combine all dry ingredients into one big bowl EXCEPT the Baking Soda

    1 cup cornmeal, ½ cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt

  • In a smaller bowl, combine all the wet ingredients AND THE BAKING SODA

    1 whole egg, 1 cup buttermilk, ½ cup milk, ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • Combine well and pour wet ingredients into the big bowl of dry ingredients

  • Add ¼ cup oil to batter; combine well

    ¼ cup oil

  • Your cast-iron skillet with oil should be hot by now. Pour batter into the skillet and shake it to even out the batter. This step ensures a crusty bottom.

  • Cook on the stove top for 2-3-minutes; then transfer to hot oven; bake uncovered for about 30-45 minutes at 375-400ºF until top is golden brown

  • Remove from oven; slice into quarters; melt butter on top and serve!


Heat a little oil in the cast iron skillet on the stove top.

About the oil in the skillet:

Use enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the skillet; I use a 10" inch skillet and 2 tablespoons of oil is enough.

If your skillet is smaller, use a little less oil in the skillet.

  • Make sure your baking soda is fresh; when you add it to the milk and egg mixture, it should fizz a little
  • Some folks like to add stuff to their cornbread like corn or jalapenos, or even cheese.
    • If you add ingredients (and for God's sake No Sugar), just add it to the final batter. (This is the batter with both dry and wet ingredients).
    • If you add canned corn or jarred jalapenos, be sure to drain them first
    • Might wanna dice those jalapenos up into smaller pieces
  • One final note: true Southern cornbread does NOT have sugar in it. I don't care if it is on the recipe of Aunt Jemima's Corn Meal package. Aunt Jemima's is out of Illinois; consider the source.

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 226kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 4gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 557mgPotassium: 134mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 75IUCalcium: 142mgIron: 1mg

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Reader Interactions


  1. Linda Buchanan says

    Best homemade Southern cornbread recipe without sugar (12)
    Great recipe thanks


  2. Billie says

    Best homemade Southern cornbread recipe without sugar (13)
    My mother passed away and like most recipes, it wasn’t written down. This is the best one I’ve tried so far and the only change I did it use a half a stick of butter melted in the cast iron skillet instead of oil because that’s how my mother did it. This is now my go to recipe. Thank you so much!


  3. Linda Harrison says

    Best homemade Southern cornbread recipe without sugar (14)
    Thank you! Finally a great recipe with out sugar!! Just like grandma! Our house burned down and these treasures were lost!! You got a follower for life now!!


  4. Julia says

    My husband has celiac disease, so I substituted gluten-free flour for the all purpose, flour and added an extra egg to help it. Hold together better. It is wonderful. I will use this recipe exclusively with my small changes.


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Best homemade Southern cornbread recipe without sugar (2024)


Does cornbread need sugar? ›

Sugar Is Optional

Whether to include sugar or not in a southern cornbread recipe is an issue for debate. We've included as an option a tablespoon which just intensifies the flavor of the cornmeal; it doesn't make the cornbread sweet. The choice is yours as to whether or not to include it.

What is a substitute for brown sugar in cornbread? ›

Quite possibly the easiest sub for brown sugar is using granulated white sugar. For every cup of packed brown sugar, swap in 1 cup of white sugar. Just remember: Since brown sugar adds moisture to baked goods, you'll notice a difference in texture (like your cookies being crisper).

Is homemade cornbread good for diabetics? ›

Cornbread is delicious and a great accompaniment to any meal. However, it is not a good idea if you are a diabetic. The high starch and cornmeal contents are carbohydrates which are broken down into sugar in the body. Sugar is extremely dangerous for people with diabetes, so it is best to avoid it.

Did cornbread originally have sugar? ›

Early cornbread consisted of cornmeal, water, and salt and was baked over a fire or in a hearth. Without milk, eggs, or sugar, early versions of the bread were quite different than what we eat today, but they offered a vital source of energy.

Why don't Southerners put sugar in cornbread? ›

The most common theory is a change in cornmeal itself. Until early in the 20th century, Southern cornmeal was made with sweeter white corn and it was water-ground. When industrial milling came along, that changed. The steel-roller mills used yellow corn that was harvested before it was ripe, so it had less sugar.

Does Southern cornbread have sugar in it? ›

It SHOULDN'T have sugar in it. That's Yankee style southern cornbread. It should be made with an egg, buttermilk, baking soda, a dash of salt, a little flour, and finally cornmeal- preferably the yellow.

What is a good non sugar substitute for brown sugar? ›

With a few simple recipe modifications, honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar are all suitable replacements for brown sugar. Because these substitutions are liquid, you'll want to take into account how the extra moisture may affect the outcome of your recipe, especially when it comes to baking.

What can I add if I don't have brown sugar? ›

Combining white sugar with molasses may be a better brown sugar substitute, but if you don't have molasses, other liquid sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar will work as well. You should mix a tablespoon or two of the liquid sweetener into a scant 1 cup of white sugar to replace a cup of brown sugar.

What can you use instead of sugar in baking? ›

As far as liquid sugar substitutes go, the list is long, but some easy pantry staples you probably already have include honey, agave, maple syrup, and molasses. Keep in mind that each has a different flavor profile (or lack thereof—agave is the most neutral), and that it should complement, not clash with your recipe.

Does Jiffy cornbread mix have sugar in it? ›


Does cornbread spike blood sugar? ›

Cornbread is made with whole grain cornmeal, making it an excellent choice for people trying to control their blood sugar levels as eating whole grains has been linked to better blood sugar control.

Can Type 2 diabetics eat cornbread? ›

Yes, you can eat corn if you have diabetes. Corn is a source of energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It's also low in sodium and fat.

What is the difference between cornbread and Southern cornbread? ›

In contrast to the dryer, less-sweet nature of Southern cornbread, Northern cornbread is much more cakey and sweet. Indeed, colonial Americans made their cornbread with molasses to sweeten it. Also, Northern cornbread sometimes uses milk rather than buttermilk.

What is the difference between New York cornbread and southern cornbread? ›

A typical contemporary northern U.S. cornbread recipe contains half wheat flour, half cornmeal, milk or buttermilk, eggs, leavening agent, salt, and usually sugar, resulting in a bread that is somewhat lighter and sweeter than the traditional southern version.

What is cornbread called in the South? ›

It is commonly called "cornbread" in the Southern United States and is not known by a different name in this region. Cornbread is a simple bread that is made by mixing cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and milk to form a batter, which is then baked in the oven.

Can I add sugar to my cornbread mix? ›

My favorite thing to add is sugar—a hot topic for another conversation! Beyond that, sour cream is my favorite thing to add to a package of cornbread mix. Here are a few ways to make any store-bought cornbread mix even better.

Should corn bread be sweet? ›

Sure, there's a Northern version, but where I come from, we call that cake, not cornbread. The distinguishing reason is that North of the Mason-Dixon, cornbread is routinely sweet. Real, traditional, Southern-style cornbread is savory, not sweet, and always has been.

Why does cornbread taste sweet? ›

While it's not as sweet as cake, it does have some sugar and a hint of honey to balance out the savory buttermilk flavor, and enhance the natural sweetness of the cornmeal. Regular white sugar is fine to use here, but I especially love this made with flavorful, moist molasses-spiked brown sugar.

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