Enjoy homemade cornbread sweetened only with honey with this easy recipe! Made with buttermilk, this honey cornbread is fairly moist and not too sweet or crumbly, making it a perfect pairing for chili or for enjoying by itself.
I'm not going to wade into any Southern vs. Northern, drier vs. moister, unsweetened vs. sweetened cornbread debates here. You can see a rather lively discussion of the appropriate sugar, vinegar, and seasoning meat people believe belong in Instant Pot collard greens in the comments of that post, and I'm willing to bet people hold similar strong convictions regarding cornbread.
Instead, let me tell you why I love this particular honey cornbread recipe. That way you'll know if it's a good fit to your preferences from the get-go.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- It's sweetened with honey and ALL honey. Many "honey cornbreads" actually call for granulated sugar with a token little bit of honey. Here you get a present honey flavor. Same deal with honey banana bread.
- There's a sufficient amount of leavening agents added so this cornbread still rises as expected even with the extra moisture and weight of honey.
- It's on the sweeter side (in comparison to traditional Southern cornbread styles) but isn't overly sweet.
- With a strategic ratio of cornmeal to flour and select ingredients such as buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter, it strikes a good balance between too moist and crumbly. You can easily slice and lift a piece without it falling apart, but it's not so moist that you feel like you're dunking a piece of yellow cake into a bowl of Instant Pot turkey chili.
- Leftover pieces don't dry out quickly.
- Yellow Cornmeal: Cornmeal is gluten-free. Do not use coarse grind cornmeal as its larger-sized bits won't soften as quickly and can lead to cornbread with an unappealing, gritty texture.
- Flour: Finer than cornmeal, adding flour to cornbread is necessary in order to achieve a less crumbly consistency. This happens from its gluten development, which helps bind everything together.
- Leavening: Baking powder and baking soda are both used here to counter the added weight of honey and ensure a perfect rise.
- Buttermilk: Thicker than regular milk, its acidic nature activates the baking soda to help give this honey cornbread a lift. There's a note in the recipe card on how to make a homemade substitute using white vinegar and regular milk.
- Melted Butter: For moisture and flavor.
- Eggs: These also help hold cornbread together and prevent too many crumbs.
- Honey: One-third cup adds just enough sweetness and helps cornbread not be so dry.
If you're making homemade buttermilk substitute, start that first so it has time to sit and thicken.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients until well combined: cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Separately, whisk together the wet ingredients: buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, and honey.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and slowly stir by hand.
- Mix until the two are just combined and all dry streaks of flour are gone. Do not overmix.
- Pour batter into a parchment-lined or greased 9-inch square baking pan. Even out the surface with a spatula.
- Bake at 400°F for 20-23 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean and the edges are golden-brown. Let it cool down a bit before slicing and serving.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Lumps are OK: This honey cornbread batter won't become perfectly smooth. Focus on stirring just until all dry streaks of flour have been worked in.
- Mix by hand: Electric hand or stand mixers aren't necessary here as overmixing can lead to a tougher and less tender "crumb" in baked goods.
- DIY buttermilk: If you don't have a carton of store-bought on hand, add four teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup, then pour in regular milk up to the 1 ¼ cup line. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then pour into the recipe.
- Don't prep ahead: The baking soda will immediately activate and bubble once the dry ingredients meet the wet ingredients. If the batter is left to sit for awhile, the baking soda will lose its effectiveness in helping baked goods rise. Bake this honey cornbread right after assembling.
What to Make With Leftover Cornbread
- If you have just a piece or two left over, make cornbread croutons! They crisp up so well and add a distinct, toasty flavor to salads, chilis, and soups.
- If you've eaten a few pieces but have a good amount left, chop it up and use in baked cornbread french toast. Easier than individually flipping thin slices, this basic recipe puts a new spin on cornbread for breakfast.
- On the savory breakfast front, that same idea is in motion in this Gruyere cornbread strata. This recipe also uses up ingredients you may have on hand if preparing this after Thanksgiving: celery, sage, etc.
Related Side Dish Recipes
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
- 1 ¼ cups (165g) yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) buttermilk (see note for homemade substitute)
- 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter melted
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup (112g) honey
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking dish with butter or cooking spray, or cut a square of parchment paper to fit the bottom and lightly grease the sides.
- Whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl until combined.
- In a separate mixing bowl, add the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, and honey and mix very well until smooth.
- Add the mixed dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and stir until just combined and the dry flour streaks have disappeared. The batter will have some lumps remaining.
- Pour out the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 18-23 minutes, or until the edges are golden-brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan until just-warm for slicing and serving.
- The batter will be a bit lumpy and won't become perfectly smooth.
- As baking soda will lose its effectiveness the longer it sits once combined with liquid, this batter isn't a good option to prep ahead of time. Bake this honey cornbread right after assembling.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer
Recipe heavily adapted from the basic quick bread recipe in Ratio by Michael Ruhlman.