Honey Cornbread is made in a cast-iron skillet for crispy, caramelized edges and a sweet, tender crumb bread with a bit of bite from coarse cornmeal and real corn pieces (use fresh or frozen!). It’s topped off with an indulgent dose of honey butter, leaving it irresistibly sweet. Pair it with homemade chili, a cozy soup, or some saucy ribs.
May I present to you, the cornbread of all cornbreads. This honey skillet cornbread is a nod to Northern cornbread with its sweetness from the honey, and to Southern cornbread, made in a cast-iron skillet.
You’ll love the texture and bite this cornbread has, with real corn pieces throughout for a totally unique texture and vibe. As shown here, I used coarse cornmeal for more texture, however, you can use more medium or fine cornmeal if you’d prefer a more tender crumb. But more on that in a minute.
You’ll love this cornbread for so many reasons. Not only is it super easy to make, but it’s fairly quick – right around 30 minutes from start to finish, depending on how fast you stir and your oven. Even better is that making it in a cast-iron skillet keeps the bread warm longer, ensuring you’ve got a delicious slice of warm cornbread ready when you need it. And we know there’s nothing better than a slice of warm cornbread, topped with a dollop of honey butter, paired with a bowl of spicy chili. Ya feel me?
The Ingredients and Substitutions
You’ll need a few basic ingredients for this recipe, like all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, and butter, but here are a few specifics and substitutions if needed.
- Milk + Vinegar: here at FITK, if we can avoid buying extra ingredients, then we usually do. You know, it saves money for things like that fancy cheese I’ve been eyeing. So that means, when I need something like buttermilk, I tend to just use the substitution to make my own by letting milk and vinegar sit together for a minute before using. Of course, if you have or prefer real buttermilk – use it here!
- Cornmeal: If you’re interested in learning the difference between cornmeals, Bon Appetit has a great article explaining which type of cornmeal you should use, when. For this recipe, I will admit I gravitate towards what’s already in my cupboard. As pictured, I generally prefer using a coarse cornmeal because it gives a hearty bite to the bread, and lends itself to a more traditional Southern cornbread. However, if you’re not into the coarse texture, use a medium cornmeal which will provide a little bit of texture but a more smooth final result.
- Honey: ahem, you can’t have honey cornbread without the honey! It’s sweet, and a more “natural” sugar to use. It’s subtly throughout the cornbread, then drizzled on top, too, for extra sweetness.
- Butter + Shortening: adding shortening as one of the fats in this breads helps keep it moist and adds to a lighter, fluffier texture. You can use all butter or sub the shortening for oil, if needed!
- Corn Kernels: this cornbread is filled with corn kernels for even more corn texture and flavor! You an use fresh or frozen kernels in this recipe.
How to Make Cornbread in a Cast Iron Skillet
Alright, if you haven’t made cornbread in a cast-iron skillet yet, this is your sign! It’s time! If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, we’ll cover that too, but they’re so versatile, easy to clean, and an all-natural pan that I highly suggest picking one up.
I have an 8-inch cast-iron skillet – it’s perfect for small-batch brownies and frying an egg in the morning. I have a 10-inch skillet for skillet cookies, vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, and dinner rolls. Then there’s the workhorse of my 12-inch skillet that’s great for skillet chicken, roasting veggies, and cooking flatbreads. Honestly, they’re so great to have for so many reasons.
This recipe uses a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. This is the size I had for ages, and honestly, it’s perfect for just about every need. If you’re going to get one to start with, I love this size.
The cast-iron skillet in itself gives a beautiful crust to the cornbread. It becomes crisp and slightly caramelized. Then we’re taking it up a notch by adding oil.
Place a coating of vegetable oil in the skillet as it preheats, which also heats the oil. Once the batter is mixed up, it goes directly into the hot oil, which immediately begins creating the crust of the cornbread. It’s a glorious thing. It might seem like there’s a lot of oil, but never fear, the cornbread will rise up with caramelized edges and a moist interior.
Ok, so let the oil and pan preheat with the oven and begin mixing the batter. Start by whisking together the wet ingredients, then gently fold in the dry ingredients just until combined.
Stir in the corn kernels – again, being careful to not overmix.
Use fresh kernels, cut off of the cob (no need to cook), or frozen kernels that have thawed. Make sure if you’re using frozen to drain them completely once thawed, patting them with a towel as needed to remove any excess moisture.
Pour the mixture into the hot oil and pan, quickly spreading it out in an even layer as needed.
Let the cornbread bake until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
Now that it’s baked, it’s time to take it over the top with honey butter. Melt together honey and butter, then drizzle it all over the top of the cornbread. It will soak in and leave this cornbread absolutely scrumptious!
Now, if you have something against added sweetness in your cornbread, you can of course skip this step. I still highly recommend serving it with whipped honey butter either way.
- Jalapenos – make it spicy and add chopped jalapenos to the batter.
- Cheesy – omit the honey and go a totally cheesy savory route by adding shredded cheese to the mix.
- Bacon – smoky and savory!
- Scallions or Chives – a savory, onion addition is delicious!
- Pecans – added texture and a delcious pairing to the sweet honey; you could also substitute brown sugar or maple syrup to play well with the pecans.
All the Ways to Enjoy
There’s really no wrong way. Serve it with salty butter, jam, or whipped honey butter.
Pair it alongside one of these comforting recipes:
- Vegetarian Chili
- Roasted Tomato Carrot Ginger Soup
- Vegetable Lentil Soup
- Tangy and Spicy Chipotle Shrimp Salad
- Cauliflower Kale Curry
You can use an 8×8 or 9×9 inch square pan. I would skip the heating of the oil and instead just grease the pan.
As pictured, I used coarse cornmeal for more texture. You can also use a medium (a little bit of texture) or even a fine course (it will be denser) if needed.
You can omit the corn kernels.
In a pinch, yes, but make sure it is drained and dried well, or it will add too much moisture to the batter.
Honey Skillet Cornbread
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup milk room temperature (or microwaved 20-30 seconds)
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1/2 cup corn kernels fresh or frozen (see note)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- Pour vegetable oil in cast iron skillet. Place in oven and pre-heat to 400°F.
- Meanwhile, combine milk and vinegar in a small bowl. Mix and let sit for a minute.
- Stir together flour, baking soda, cornmeal, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, melt butter and shortening together; microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between until melted. Let cool slightly, then whisk in the milk and vinegar mixture, egg, and honey.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients until almost combined, then add corn kernels, mixing until just fully incorporated.
- Carefully remove cast iron skillet from oven using oven mitts, and pour the cornbread batter in the pan, being sure to spread evenly quickly, as the edge of the cornbread will begin to form from the heated oil.
- Place the skillet back in the oven and bake for 18-24 minutes until the edges are golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.
- In a small bowl, microwave the butter and honey for the drizzle. Stir to combine, then drizzle it evenly on top of cornbread. Slice and serve with whipped honey butter as desired.