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Grandma’s Cornbread

Grandma’s Cornbread. Slightly sweet with a tender, moist crumb. A 1951 original from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, passed down through generations. Read on for my tips and tricks to get it right or scroll right to the recipe to get baking!

Close up of a single slice of cornbread with the end broken off.

As a food blogger and recipe developer I love trying new foods in new ways, but there is something so warm and familiar about using a tried and true recipe that has been passed down through generations. In my family, grandma’s cornbread has always been one of those recipes.

It’s light and tender, yet crumbly and chewy at the same time. It goes great with soup, stew, chili, and is a staple for a barbecue. It is a sweeter version of cornbread, but it’s just the way I like it.

Almost every time I make this for friends someone asks for the recipe. Since my family has never been one to keep recipes to ourselves, I would happily share grandma’s secret recipe. Little did I know, that the secret of this recipe was its origin.

Overhead shot of cornbread in a cast iron skillet with a single slice cut out.

Grandma’s Not So Secret Recipe

When I decided to use it for this post, I called my mom to try and learn where the original recipe came from. Luckily, I caught her while visiting my grandma and the two of them let me in on what was the only secret behind this recipe – the source.

With no warning or explanation, my mom sent me a photo of the original recipe. While I was hoping for a photo of a hand scrawled first edition, what I got was from my grandmother’s well worn, well loved 1951 copy of Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. She had received it as a wedding present in December of 1952, and what is left has survived for over 60 years.

Original recipes from a 1951 (est) copy of Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Adapting an Old Recipe for a New Audience

You can see from the included instructions that the intended baker was someone who didn’t need a lot of instruction. Thankfully, recipe writing sure has changed a lot over the years.

Like most good cooks, my grandmother has made her own notes on additions and subtractions in her lovely cursive scrawl. If you look closely above the recipe for Corn Muffins you can see where she wrote “best for cornbread.” I have no idea how long ago she wrote that, but it’s still true to this day.

While the basic instructions included can result in a decent cornbread, the more precise instructions I’ve learned over the years give me more consistent results.

The four main components of the grandma's cornbread: creamed butter and sugar, milk and egg, flour mixture, and cornmeal.

Mixing the Batter

Don’t skip this part. Mix the main components of this recipe in 3 seperate bowls, before you combine them together. The butter should be very soft and needs to be creamed together with the sugar. Thoroughly whisk together the egg and milk. Combine the baking powder and salt thoroughly with the flour.

Once you’ve combined the other ingredients, it’s very important not to overmix the batter with the cornmeal. The result will be tough and dense instead of chewy and light. Mix the batter until the cornmeal is just incorporated then pour it into the pan. To get the best lift, get the batter into the oven immediately.

Grandma's Cornmeal batter mixed and poured into a buttered cast iron skillet, ready to go into the oven.

Cooking Cornbread in a Cast Iron Skillet

While the cast iron skillet isn’t mentioned in the original, it’s how my mom always made it. When I started making it for myself, I didn’t yet own cast iron so tried an 8″ square cake pan. The results just weren’t right. While the bread still smelled the same, the texture was all wrong. The crust was not as thick and it didn’t have the same chewiness.

The cast iron skillet, on the other hand, conveys the heat more intensely and for the final results it made all the difference in the world. A 10.25″ skillet is the perfect size.

Even when using a very well seasoned pan, I add a layer of butter before pouring in the cornbread batter. You’ll know it’s done when the top turns golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. If it pulls out any gooey batter, continue to bake, checking every 3 – 5 minutes.

Two slices of cornbread stacked on top of each other.

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Grandma’s Cornbread Recipe

Grandma’s cornbread is a slightly sweet southern style cornbread with a thick chewy crust and a tender crumb. The original recipe appeared in the 1951 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. As my family passed it down through for generations, it’s been adapted with additional instructions for more consistently delicious results every time.

From summertime BBQs to warm winter soups, cornbread makes a great side for year round meals. Try it with my One Pan Garlic Herb Chicken and Winter VegetablesCarolina BBQ Chicken Salad, or Parsnip Potato Soup. For more tasty bread ideas, see my bread recipe collection.

If you like this recipe, please give it a FIVE STAR rating and share with your friends!

Close up of a single slice of cornbread with the end broken off.

Grandma's Cornbread

Yield: 8 slices
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Grandma's Cornbread. Slightly sweet with a tender, moist crumb. A 1951 original from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, passed down through generations. 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup cornmeal

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and liberally butter your pan.
  2. In a small mixing bowl measure out sugar, and softened butter then cream together.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, measure out flour, salt, and baking powder. Whisk to combine.
  4. In a 4 cup measuring cup beat one egg, add 1 1/4 cups of milk and mix together.
  5. Whisk the milk and egg mixture into the butter mixture.
  6. Mix the liquid mixture into the flour mixture. Do not over mix.
  7. Add in cornmeal and stir until just combined.
  8. Pour into your buttered pan and bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 241Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 484mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 2gSugar: 8gProtein: 5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

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