Sweet Cornbread made in a cast iron skillet is the perfect accompaniment to any meal. This cornbread is sweet, crumbly, buttery, and has a perfect crisp to the edges.

My husband likes to think of himself as a cornbread aficionado. We have tried so many cornbread recipes over the years – I have a notebook full of recipes with notes all over them. After lots of trial and error, we finally got this sweet cornbread recipe just right. It is the perfect amount of crumbly, buttery, and moist cornbread goodness with just a little hint of sweetness. 

This sweet cornbread recipe cooks perfectly in a cast iron skillet, and it is a family favorite. Top it with some whipped honey butter or a drizzle of honeyand you have a heavenly side dish that always has a place on our dinner table.

I hope this post will help you troubleshoot any past cornbread failures to make the perfect sweet cornbread for your family to enjoy! (If you don’t like sweet cornbread, don’t worry, I have a Southern cornbread recipe as well!)

A cast iron skillet with slices of cornbread in it.

🥘 Ingredients Needed

A picture of the ingredients in skillet cornbread, labeled.
  • Cornmeal – I use plain old yellow cornmeal, so I add baking powder to my cornbread. If you buy self-rising cornmeal, you can leave out the baking powder and reduce the salt.
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Eggs
  • Buttermilk – or as a substitute, Regular Milk and Distilled White Vinegar or Lemon juice. (More about that below.)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Sugar
  • Melted Butter – I like to use salted butter.
  • Butter or Bacon Grease – To coat your skillet or baking dish. You can also use vegetable oil.

Now, before you yell at me about adding sugar to cornbread, hear me out – adding sugar to cornbread brings out the natural sweetness in the cornmeal and gives the bread another layer of flavor. It isn’t too sweet – I think it is just the right amount of sweetness.

This cornbread has so much flavor that it can stand alone with just a little butter, or you can serve it with chili, Collard GreensHoppin’ John, or Creamy Southern Butter Beans.

Besides tasting so good, the other awesome thing about this cornbread is that it is quick to prepare and requires very little effort. It’s great cornbread for people who might not be a fan of cornbread – it’s a little on the sweet side, and it is such an easy recipe.

🍽 Equipment Needed

🥣 How to Make Sweet Cornbread

Making sweet cornbread in a skillet is really easy.

First, preheat your oven to 375°F and place your skillet or baking dish in the oven to get nice and hot. I like to use either a 10-inch or 12-inch cast-iron skillet. (Adding the cold batter to the hot buttered pan will help you get crispy edges and a nice crust on your cornbread. )

Next, melt your butter, and if you do not have buttermilk, prepare your “faux buttermilk” now by combining just shy of one cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice. (I like to pour the vinegar into the measuring cup, then pour whole milk into the measuring cup until it reaches the 1 cup line.) Let this sit for about 5 minutes – the milk will start to curdle – looking just like buttermilk.

A spoon scooping curdled milk out of a measuring cup to make faux buttermilk.

The next step is to combine all of your dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (I like to use ½ a cup of sugar, but if you like your cornbread REALLY sweet, you can use up to 2/3 of a cup – I wouldn’t use more than that. If you like it less sweet, you can use 1/4 of a cup.) (Picture 1) 

Mix everything around to ensure an even distribution of ingredients. (Picture 2)

The next step is to whisk the eggs into your buttermilk or “faux buttermilk” using a fork. Make sure the wet ingredients are combined well, and the eggs are whisked and broken up nicely. (Picture 3)

A process collage of images for making skillet cornbread, steps 1 - 5.

Next, add the egg and buttermilk mixture and your melted butter to the dry ingredients. (Pictures 4-5) (Make sure that the butter has cooled off enough so that your eggs don’t scramble or curdle.)

Fold everything together gently until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined. If you over-mix, your batter won’t be able to rise, and your cornbread will be flat. (Pictures 6-7)

Once mixed, carefully remove your hot skillet from the oven. Coat the skillet with butter, bacon grease, a light-tasting oil, or a nonstick spray. (But don’t use spray on a cast iron pan – use the non-stick spray only if you are using muffin tins or a glass dish.) Then pour your batter into the hot skillet. It’s okay if it makes sizzling sounds – that’s what we want. (Picture 8-9)

Pictures 9-10 show what the edges should do when you add batter to a hot pan. This will keep the cornbread from sticking to the pan and will give you nice crispy edges.

A process collage of images for making skillet cornbread, steps 6 - 10.

Finally, place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes at 375°F until the cornbread is golden brown. To bake sweet cornbread muffins, check on them around 15-20 minutes – cornbread muffins will not take as long to bake. (They took 17 minutes in our gas oven but 20 minutes in the electric oven at our old house.) 

Remove your cornbread from the oven once the edges start to pull away from the pan and the top makes a knocking sound when you tap it. If you poke the cornbread, it should not sink in. 

Perfect skillet cornbread is pretty stiff on the outside with a crispy crust when it is done, but it has a slight spring when you touch it. If you preheat your skillet or pan, your cornbread will have these nice crispy edges.

A zoomed in picture of the crispy edges of cornbread.

🙋‍♀️ Frequently Asked Questions

How to Prevent Common Cornbread Mistakes

Why did my cornbread rise and then collapse?

Cornbread that rises quickly when you put it in the oven, then collapses and gets really dense as it cools, is most likely overmixed. If you overmix your batter, the baking powder will start to rise too early and will cause the cornbread to puff up, then collapse. Leaving your dough a little lumpy will help the cornbread to rise slowly. This is an example of overmixed cornbread:The side view of a plate of cornbread that did not rise.

Why won’t my cornbread rise at all?

Another common mistake with cornbread is using plain cornmeal without adding baking powder. Brands like Martha White have a self-rising cornmeal mix, but if you are just using plain old cornmeal, you need to add enough baking powder to help it rise.
Did you leave out the buttermilk and just use plain milk? If you do not use buttermilk (or a substitute with vinegar added), you will need to swap out some of the baking powder for baking soda. Baking powder requires an acid to be activated – if you do not use buttermilk, the cornbread won’t rise.

Why does cornbread get stuck to the pan?

Coating a pan in butter or spraying it with a non-stick spray is somewhat helpful, but adding cold batter to a preheated pan will really help crisp the edges of cornbread up right away so that it won’t get stuck.

Can I make cornbread with a mixer?

I highly recommend mixing cornbread batter by hand. Using a mixer will cause overmixing and can prevent your cornbread from rising.

How mixed does cornbread batter need to be?

You want your batter to be lumpy but not dry. Basically, combine the wet and dry ingredients by folding everything together a few times, then leave it alone.

Can You Use Milk in Place of Buttermilk in Sweet Cornbread?

If you do not use buttermilk, you will need to swap out some of the baking powder in the recipe for baking soda. Baking powder requires an acid to be activated – if you do not use buttermilk, the cornbread won’t rise. 

You can make a buttermilk substitute by combining just shy of one cup of milk with 1 or 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice. (I like to pour the vinegar into the measuring cup, then pour whole milk into the measuring cup until it reaches the 1 cup line.) Let this sit for about 5 minutes – the milk will start to curdle – just like buttermilk.

✏️ Helpful Tips

  • Don’t use a mixer when making cornbread – you want to be gentle with this batter to help it bake.
  • Do not overmix cornbread – you want to leave the dough nice and lumpy.
  • To adjust the sweetness in this cornbread, you can use less sugar (1/4 cup) or more sugar (2/3 cup.)
  • To make this recipe without a skillet, you can use a pie pan, square baking dish, or muffin tins. Whatever pan you use, be sure to preheat it while you are preparing the recipe. This gives the cornbread those nice crispy edges that are so yummy.
  • When storing leftover cornbread, add a slice of another type of bread (such as a sandwich bread) or a sugar bear to the container to absorb excess moisture.

🥫 How to Store Sweet Cornbread

Cornbread is best served the day it is baked, but once cooled, leftover cornbread can be stored in an air-tight container. It should keep for 5-7 days, but it is best when it is fresh and warm and is best eaten within two or three days. 

Because cornbread is such a moist bread, it can grow mold really easily, so we have found that adding a slice of another bread to the container with it or using a sugar bear helps the bread stay fresh longer.

Toast or microwave your cornbread for easy reheating and top it with honey butter.

Slices of cornbread on a white plate.

🌽 More Recipes Using Cornmeal

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A cast iron skillet with slices of cornbread in it.

Sweet Skillet Cornbread Recipe

4.85 from 32 votes
Sweet Cornbread made in a cast iron skillet is the perfect accompaniment to any meal. This cornbread is sweet, crumbly, buttery, and has a perfect crisp to the edges.
Author: Kari
Servings: 8 slices
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 40 minutes

Ingredients  

  • ½ cup salted butter, melted one stick, plus a little extra for coating your skillet. you can also use bacon grease, non-stick spray, or a light tasting oil.
  • 1 cup cornmeal if you use self-rising cornmeal, leave out the baking powder.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar if you want your cornbread to be really sweet, use up to 2/3 cup sugar.
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt I use kosher salt so I like to do an overflowing 1/2 tsp.
  • 1 cup buttermilk if you do not have buttermilk, use 1 cup milk + 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar.
  • 2 eggs

Instructions 

  • First, preheat your oven to 375°F and place your skillet or baking dish in the oven to get nice and hot. I like to use a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. (Adding the cold batter to the hot pan will help you get crispy edges and a nice crust on your cornbread. )
  • Next, melt your butter and if you do not have buttermilk, prepare your “faux buttermilk” by combining just shy of one cup of milk with 1 or 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice. (I like to pour the vinegar into the measuring cup, then pour whole milk into the measuring cup until it reaches the 1 cup line.) Let this sit for about 5 minutes – the milk will start to curdle – just like buttermilk.
    ½ cup salted butter, melted
  • Combine all of your dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix until everything is evenly distributed – flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
    1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup granulated sugar, ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp kosher salt
  • The next step is to whisk the eggs into your buttermilk or “faux buttermilk” using a fork. Make sure the wet ingredients are combined well, and the eggs are whisked and broken up nicely.
    1 cup buttermilk, 2 eggs
  • Next, add the egg and buttermilk mixture and your melted butter to the dry ingredients. (Make sure that the butter has cooled off enough so that your eggs don't scramble or curdle.)
  • Fold everything together gently until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined. If you overmix, your batter won’t be able to rise, and your cornbread will be flat.
  • Once mixed, carefully remove your hot skillet from the oven. Coat the skillet with butter, bacon grease, or a nonstick spray. (Don't use spray on cast iron!)
  • Pour your batter into the hot skillet. It's okay if it makes sizzling sounds – that's what we want – and place the skillet back in the oven.
  • Bake for about 30-35 minutes at 375°F until the cornbread is golden brown. Bake sweet cornbread muffins for 15-20 minutes.
  • Cornbread is done once the edges pull away from the pan and the top makes a knocking sound when you tap it. If you poke the cornbread, it should not sink in. Cornbread is pretty stiff when it is done, but it has a slight spring when you touch it.
  • Serve your cornbread immediately or store in an airtight container once cooled.

Notes

A 10-inch skillet or 8×8 pan might take longer to bake fully in the middle, so be sure to test it by poking it with a toothpick or butter knife.

Recipe Tips

  • Don’t use a mixer when making cornbread – you want to be gentle with this batter to help it bake.
  • Do not overmix cornbread – you want to leave the dough nice and lumpy.
  • To adjust the sweetness in this cornbread, you can use less sugar (1/4 cup) or more sugar (2/3 cup.)
  • To make this recipe without a skillet, you can use a pie pan, square baking dish, or muffin tins. Whatever pan you use, be sure to preheat it while you are preparing the recipe. This gives the cornbread those nice crispy edges that are so yummy.
  • When storing leftover cornbread, add a slice of another type of bread (such as a sandwich bread) or a sugar bear to the container to absorb excess moisture.

How to Store Sweet Cornbread

Cornbread is best served the day it is baked, but once cooled, leftover cornbread can be stored in an air-tight container. It should keep for 5-7 days, but it is best when it is fresh and warm and is best eaten within two or three days. 
Because cornbread is such a moist bread, it can grow mold really easily, so we have found that adding a slice of another bread to the container with it or using a sugar bear helps the bread stay fresh longer.
Toast or microwave your cornbread for easy reheating and top it with honey butter.

Special Equipment Needeed

Nutrition

Serving: 1sliceCalories: 318kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 6gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 374mgPotassium: 136mgFiber: 2gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 463IUCalcium: 46mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is approximate and is automatically calculated, so should only be used as a guide.

Course: Bread, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: bread, cornbread, skillet, southern
Did you make this recipe?Mention @southernbytes or tag #southernbytes!

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Hi, I'm Kari!

I am a newlywed, food blogger, health coach, and mama to a hot mess of a border collie. I love to put a new spin on old family recipes and I try to make as many meals as possible with an Instant Pot.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Got my first ever cast iron skillet as a Christmas gift and this was the first recipe I followed. Used milk/vinegar instead of buttermilk but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Absolutely delicious and perfectly crispy on the outside. Taking it to my son’s birthday party along with smoked ribs. Might have to make another batch tomorrow it’s so good!

    1. A 13-inch skillet will work, it will just be thinner, so you won’t need to bake it as long. If you do 1.5x the recipe, that will work as well – you will get a nice, thick cornbread – you might need to bake it a little longer! Hope you enjoy it!

  2. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I didn’t have buttermilk, but I did have Saco buttermilk powder, turned out delicious.

    1. I’ve never tried with a sugar substitute, but I would be sure to use granulated sugar if you do – not a liquid sugar!

  3. 5 stars
    Omg! I am so glad I found you! Lol…and so is my family. I made this cornbread, your southern style collard greens and your hoppin John black eyed peas. Heaven!! This will be a new new years tradition in addition to our pork and sauerkraut. Thank you for sharing!

    1. I am so happy to hear this – food blogging can be stressful sometimes – it is nice to hear about people enjoying your recipes 🙂 Happy New Year!

    2. I’m so glad you all enjoyed the recipes! Pork and sauerkraut sounds awesome as well 🙂 Your family is lucky to have you cooking all that great food for them!

    1. Thanks, Jim! I have screwed up many a cornbread over the years so I figured I would spare others of the pain and suffering 😉