These diminutive buttermilk cornbread muffins strike the perfect balance between heartiness and tenderness. They're great on their own, and we especially love them with chili, soups, and BBQ.
Why we love this recipe
This recipe has been a staple in our household for decades. It:
- Always reads as a special treat
- Even though it's so quick and easy to make
- Is a fabulous accompaniment to so many of our favorite healthy comfort food meals (see the section below for suggestions)
- Makes a great snack on its own, or toasted with butter and honey or jelly
- Often gets picked up for breakfast on the go if there are leftovers
A quick lesson on varieties of cornbread
Cornbread divides into two basic varieties.
Southern cornbread is completely unsweetened and made from cornmeal with no flour added. It’s often cooked in cast iron greased with bacon fat, and it’s great straight out of the oven but doesn’t stay fresh for long.
Northern cornbread (also called Yankee cornbread sometimes) is made from a mix of cornmeal and flour and often has a few tablespoons of sugar to sweeten it up just a touch. It’s more tender and will last a day or two wrapped up on the counter.
This recipe is Northern-style but has a lovely, convincing heft to it as well.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe.
- The type of cornmeal you use will determine exactly how these muffins turn out. The recipe is calibrated for the good old cornmeal you buy at the supermarket, but I've used all kinds over the years. See the FAQ section for more info.
- If you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute 1 ⅓ cups whole milk and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice.
How to make it
It's delightfully easy to make these buttermilk cornbread muffins. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post.
- Mix up the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Mix up the wet ingredients. I like to measure the buttermilk into a 2-cup glass measure and mix everything together right in there.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones and stir until combined.
- Divide the batter into a greased standard muffin tin. Using a ¼-cup measure works well for evenly sized muffins. Bake at 425°F for 10 to 12 minutes. That's it!
Expert tips and FAQs
You can use any kind of cornmeal in this recipe, but the type you use will affect the result a bit. The coarser the grind, the more the muffins will be moist to the point of absurdity. If you're using a fancy, super-coarsely ground cornmeal, let the batter sit for 10 minutes after mixing so that the cornmeal has a chance to absorb the liquid.
Buttermilk's acidity contributes to both the flavor and the tenderness of these muffins. If you don't have it, you can substitue 1 ⅓ cups regular whole milk and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice.
You sure can. Try adding ½ cup of any of the following (alone or in combination): shredded extra-sharp cheddar, diced green chilis, crumbled cooked bacon, crumbled cooked sausage, chopped scallions.
These are great as-is on the day they're baked. Once cooled, you can store them covered a room temperature for a day or two. On subsequent days I like to toast them.
How to serve them
These guys are great on their own. On baking day, serve them straight up. On subsequent days, you can toast them and serve with butter and honey if you like.
They also make a fabulous accompaniment to chili. Our favorite chili recipes are:
- Vegan chili with pinto beans
- Chicken and white bean chili
- Instant pot vegan chili with black beans and sweet potato
- Or try them with chicken poblano soup, black bean soup, or BBQ pulled chicken
- 1 ¼ cups (140 grams) stone-ground cornmeal
- ¾ cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ⅓ cups (315 ml) well-shaken buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons (42 grams) butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center. Grease a standard 12-muffin tin or line with paper liners. (See note 5.)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Measure the buttermilk into a 2-cup liquid measure, then crack in the eggs and beat to combine.
- Pour the buttermilk mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir gently until there are no dry pockets.
- Pour in the melted butter and stir until combined.
- Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. I like to fill my ¼-cup measure generously with batter and use it as a scoop. Bake 10-12 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Remove to a rack to cool slightly before serving, or cool completely and keep for up to a day or two.
- The type of cornmeal you use will have an effect on the final product. This recipe is calibrated for good old yellow cornmeal from the supermarket, but we frequently use fancier varieties too. The coarser the grind, the more moist the final result. If your cornmeal is very coarse, let the batter sit for 10 minutes before baking to give it a chance to absorb the liquid.
- If you don't have buttermilk, you can substitute 1 ⅓ cups whole milk and 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon apple cider vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Make these muffins anytime during the day you wan to serve them and leave them uncovered at room temperature.
- Once cooled, you can store these covered at room temperature for a day or two. On subsequent days I like to toast them and slather with butter and honey or jelly.
- If you'd rather make a single pan of cornbread instead of muffins, you can bake this recipe in a greased 8-inch square pan at 425°F for 20-25 minutes.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 146Total Fat: 4.7gCarbohydrates: 22.7gFiber: 1.2gProtein: 3.8g