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Cornbread in cast iron skillet with linen in background.
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Cast Iron Cornbread

This version of cast iron cornbread is incredibly simple to make from scratch. It's savory, not sweet! And it's the perfect texture to use in cornbread dressing or for dipping in some pot liquor.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 188kcal
Author Gary White

Ingredients

  • 3 cups finely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 Tbsp bacon fat divided

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 F. Add 2 tablespoons of bacon fat to a 12" cast iron skillet and place skillet in oven while preheating.
  • Add dry ingredients to large mixing bowl - cornmeal, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, add buttermilk and eggs and whisk together.
  • Pour buttermilk mixture into bowl with cornmeal and mix well.
  • Pour bacon fat into cornbread batter and mix well.
  • Add 3 more tablespoons of bacon fat to skillet and return to oven until very hot (about 5 minutes).
  • Pour cornbread batter into hot skillet. Place skillet in oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, until set and lightly golden.

Notes

Expert Tips

  1. Be sure that your skillet is very hot before adding the batter. You don't want to gently bake this like a cake, but rather almost fry it in the oven. Well, at least when the batter hits the oil.
  2. To achieve that beautiful golden color, you really want to stay away from white cornmeal. While it will still work, the color will be more pale.

FAQs

Can I use butter instead of bacon fat? Yes, really any oil will work here. But I prefer to use one with animal fat like bacon fat, lard, or butter. If you're using butter, you'll want to heat the pan first, then add butter or it will burn. Once the butter is melted, immediately add the batter. If you're using bacon fat or lard, you want to be sure to make sure it's screaming hot before pouring in the batter. 
Can I make this sweet like I'm used to having cornbread? Of course! If I were to make this a sweet version, I would add 1 tablespoon of sugar for every cup of cornmeal - so, in this recipe, 3 tablespoons of sugar (or even honey!)
What if I don't have a cast iron skillet? This recipe will work baked in a 13x9 casserole dish. However, I would cook it a little differently. Preheat the oven to 400F rather than 450F. Spray your dish with nonstick cooking spray. And this is an instance where I would add 4 tablespoons of melted butter to the batter rather than bacon fat.

Nutrition

Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 533mg | Potassium: 226mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 106IU | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 1mg