Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread

A couple nights ago I had a sudden and overwhelming desire to stuff my face full of my Grandma’s cornbread. It’s hard to explain if you didn’t grow up on cornbread, but the drive to consume it can be a powerful force. So powerful, in fact, that I actually made two pans full at ten thirty at night just so I could eat a huge wedge warm from the oven and have an untouched pan to take to a friend’s house the next day.

The smell of toasty corn bread baking up in a coal-black cast-iron pan is pretty close to one of the best things on earth. I have a Pavlovian response to the aroma of cornbread. By that, I don’t mean I bark and run around in circles, but I may have been caught panting and drooling and maybe even wagging my tail a time or two.

I’ll get it out of the way right now and say that cornbread is not sweet. That’s cake. Corn cake, if you want, but it’s cake. And I’m not saying that’s nasty, I’m just saying it’s not cornbread.

The cornbread I’m sharing with you today is the be all and end all of cornbreads to me. It is most definitely not sweet.

My Arkansan grandma made this cornbread for me probably less often than I have in my memory, but often enough for it to define Grandma’s cooking in my mind. I know it was always at our Thanksgiving table, often in the stuffing, but just as often in a bread basket in gloriously big yellow squares. I remember getting a wedge from the cast-iron pan right after it was pulled from the stove; a sinfully large pat of cold butter melting and sliding right off of the top of the steaming bread.


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.