Skillet Buttermilk Cornbread

A simple recipe for classic Southern cornbread made with plain cornmeal and buttermilk in a cast iron skillet sizzling with hot bacon grease.

There are a few things that go into making great cornbread. These are not laws and you can certainly still make good cornbread without them.

But if you want great cornbread, you need three things: buttermilk, a hot cast iron skillet and bacon grease. I think most folks who've cooked their share of cornbread will agree on these points.

But after that's where folks start to disagree. Some like it sweet and some don’t. I tend to like mine without (much) sugar. I do put a little in mine and, before you start fussing at me, trust me when I tell you, this is not a sweet cornbread recipe. The small amount of sugar in this just brightens it up a little. You can leave it out if you prefer or you can add more to suit your taste.

Skillet Cornbread! A simple recipe for classic Southern cornbread made with plain cornmeal and buttermilk in a cast iron skillet sizzling with hot bacon grease.

To get that crispy “rind” on your cornbread, you have to heat your skillet until it’s scorching hot, add bacon grease and return the skillet to the oven until the bacon grease is sizzling. Then you pull it out just long enough to pour the batter in and immediately return it to the oven to bake. The magic happens when the batter hits the hot grease.

Using bacon grease just gives it another layer of flavor. You get a hint of smokiness in there that just can’t be beat. I've used vegetable oil or lard in a pinch, but if you've got it, definitely use bacon grease.

For a quick cornbread recipe, try my favorite Jiffy hack! Better-Than-Homemade Cornbread

Keep up with my latest shenanigans by following South Your Mouth!

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  • 2-3 tablespoons bacon grease (see note)
  • 1 cup plain cornmeal (not self-rising)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg, well-beaten
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  1. Preheat oven AND skillet to 450 degrees. Remove skillet from oven and add enough bacon grease to coat the bottom and sides of an 8-10 inch cast iron skillet (or equivalent sized pan). Place the skillet with bacon grease in the hot oven while you make your batter.
  2. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl; stir to combine.
  3. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, vegetable oil and sugar (if using) and mix well by hand. Stir in dry ingredients and mix until just combined – don’t overmix the batter, some small lumps are OK. Batter will be thin.
  4. Remove skillet from oven and immediately pour batter into pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-14 minutes or until cornbread is browned around the edges. Remove from oven then serve.


  1. Bacon grease is the key! But isn't it always? Haha! This looks delicious! I'm anxious to make it with both milks...can't wait to try it!

  2. Crumbled bacon is the one of the ingredients in our skillet corn bread. We are always looking for new ingredients to put in ours (cream corn, jalapenos, cheese!). We love to experiment with ingredients in the bread.
    Thanks for the recipe will put that into the cornbread file after we make it !

  3. KikilovestocookinSC3/17/14, 1:10 PM

    Mandy, you're such a hoot and wise to boot! (And I'm a poet apparently!) You are 100% correct on the bacon grease and the buttermilk. The combo is a big part of big taste and texture in cornbread. I made a (cast iron) skillet of it last night and also added a couple of good dashes of Cholula hot sauce before baking it. Miss Lula added flavor as opposed to heat and the whole skilletful got gobbled up faster than usual by my discerning cuisine critics. That's how we'll be doing our cornbread in Beaufort, SC!

  4. Growing up in a Southern home I often helped my mother make dinner. These are basically the same items I used to make cornbread for the family. There's no other way to make good cornbread except using these ingredients & the old iron skillet, imo.

  5. Does anyone know if you can use the powdered buttermilk.

  6. I just made this and God Bless America, this is good! My hubby likes it sweet, so I put in 2/3 cup white sugar. Also, medical necessity required a diet change so I didn't have bacon grease (sadly), so I used vegetable oil.Those were the only changes.

    1. I think the sugar is worse for you medically than the bacon grease...........especially at 2/3 cups sugar as opposed to 2-3 tablespoons of the grease. just my opinion of course

  7. For a different and excellent flavor profile, try adding a smidgen of crushed/ground rosemary before baking. :)

  8. janine willingham5/15/16, 8:10 PM

    great recipe....first time had to swap flour and cornmeal measurements but turned out great...this time I followed to the tee but did add frz corn and fresh crispy bacon...had to cook a little longer but looks good...

  9. This is basicly mine recipe my mama taught me! I do use all buttermilk with my bacon grease or if I don't have any I use melted crisco! Still yummy especially with beans or bean soup! My grandson's favorite meal!

  10. A true person from the South does not put any sugar in their cornbread. I have the secret ingredient to put in it and my husband was from Alabama.

    1. Well... What is the secret ingredient???

  11. I learned how to make cornbread the old-fashioned way.But I made cornbread my way.I use
    Bob's Red Mill(gluten free)cornbread mix
    It is so good.My parents were from the South.I'm so glad that I learned my taught me how to make cornbread .Thank you for the cornbread bacon recipe!

  12. Best cornbread ever! I actually chop up bacon and add diced green chili’s and it’s out of this world good! Great recipe!

  13. Excellent cornbread recipe! My grandma from Kentucky always used a cast iron, and bacon grease but hers was way too salty. I was raised in the north and my mom always made hers very sweet. This recipe is absolute perfection! Lots of corn flavor, crispy crust, and balanced flavor. I use bacon grease for all my pan frying so I was excited to see it included. I followed recipe exactly as written, including the Tbs of sugar, and it will be my go to from now on. My family and I recently moved to TN and I will be proud to serve this to my southern friends when I host dinners. Thank you!


Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy