Have no buttermilk? Have no fear! This skillet cornbread recipe without buttermilk packs the same tangy flavor you love. All while using simple ingredients you may already have on hand.
Buttermilk cornbread is outrageously popular due to its tangy flavor and tender texture. However, buttermilk isn't an ingredient many people keep in their refrigerator for a rainy day. Some people will add in a little sour cream in place of buttermilk, but I have an even better hack that will help you make the best skillet cornbread ever!
- Cornmeal - The more cornmeal added to your homemade cornbread, the drier and more crumbly it is. I use yellow cornmeal, but white cornmeal is fine too.
- All purpose flour - The more flour added makes the cornbread more cake-like.
- Sugar - Adding sugar creates a sweet cornbread that balances the dryness of the cornmeal.
- Baking powder - Baking powder lightens the batter and gives it rise.
- Kosher Salt
- Milk - I recommend using the fattiest milk you have on hand. Whole milk is best, but 1% or 2% will also work fine.
- Lemon juice - Lemon juice is needed to replicate the sour flavor of buttermilk.
- Butter - I strongly recommend using butter rather than vegetable oil. Butter adds incredible flavor and moisture that is noticable in every bite.
What to substitute for buttermilk?
Here is the secret to my southern-style cornbread recipe: Mixing one tablespoon of lemon juice with one cup of milk and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes will give you buttermilk! Or at least a dang close replica!
Note: You will see my easy recipe calls for 1 ⅓ cups of milk, rather than just 1 cup. This is because I am only attempting to replicate one cup of buttermilk, and I would have added ⅓ cup of regular milk regardless.
What should I cook southern cornbread in?
You want to use a 9-10" cast iron skillet for a traditional southern cornbread recipe. A cast iron pan is naturally nonstick, so the cornbread releases easily when finished cooking, and its thick sides ensure even heat distribution and browning.
How to make it
Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees with the cast iron skillet in it. You want that pan screaming hot when you pour the batter in so you get a deliciously crispy golden brown crust underneath.
Next, prepare your buttermilk substitute right away by mixing the milk with lemon juice in a small bowl. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened. Then mix with the remaining wet ingredients - beaten eggs, and seven tablespoons of melted butter. Yes, that is a lot of butter, but it really adds a HUGE amount of flavor and moisture!
In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients. Mix cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together with a whisk. Then combine with the wet mixture and stir together with a wooden spoon just enough to fully incorporate everything. It is ok if there are still lumps showing. For the lightest cornbread possible you want to avoid over-mixing or you will create a very dense cornbread texture.
Remove the cast-iron pan from the preheated oven and add the remaining one tablespoon of butter (or bacon drippings) to the hot skillet and swirl it around to fully coat. Then pour in the cornbread batter mixture and place it back in the oven. Let it bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes then slice and serve.
Note: This is also a great recipe to use with muffin tins instead of a skillet. The baking time will be 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your muffin tin.
My skillet recipe is a traditional southern-style recipe, however, you can use this as a base recipe to create your own cornbread in many different ways. Try any of the following ideas to jazz up the flavor:
- Cheddar cheese
- Corn kernels
- Chopped fruit
How to store cornbread
Leftover cornbread is best stored at room temperature in an airtight container on your counter for up to three days. Alternatively, your cornbread can be frozen. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
What to serve with cornbread
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Skillet Cornbread without Buttermilk
- 9" Cast Iron Skillet
- 1 ¼ cups coarsely ground cornmeal
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher Salt
- 1 ⅓ cups milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 Eggs beaten
- 8 tbsp Butter melted & divided
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and place the empty cast iron skillet inside the oven while it heats.
- Add milk to a small bowl along with lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken and bubble slightly. *
- While the oven is heating mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- In a second medium bowl mix the milk and lemon juice with eggs, and 7 tablespoons of melted butter.
- Combine the wet ingredient mixture with the dry ingredient mixture and stir together just enough for everything to incorporate, without over-mixing.
- Carefully remove cast iron skillet from the oven and swirl remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan to fully coat the interior.**
- Pour cornbread batter into the buttered skillet and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
- The cornbread is done when a toothpick can be inserted in the center and come out clean when pulled out.
- Allow 10 minutes to cool then slice and serve.