Confident home cooking
Breads, Breakfast/Brunch, Economical, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Granny Leona’s Cornbread

by Nick

I do not have a granny named Leona, but I do have a very good friend who has a granny named Leona.

Last weekend I was at a wedding with said friend (Hi Daniel and Lauren!) and he was talking about a delicious cornbread recipe. My ears perked up and I asked him if he would be willing to part with the family recipe.

I think he had to call Granny Leona and get it officially released, but eventually he emailed it to me and I’m very happy he did.

The cornbread is savory and rich. It has ZERO sugar in it which is pretty rare for a cornbread recipe.

That doesn’t mean that it isn’t delicious drizzled with honey though.

Serves 8-10.
Prep Time
Total Time
Print Recipe

Granny Leona's Cast Iron Cornbread

Granny Leona's Cast Iron Cornbread


  • 3 cups cornmeal, fine works best
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ (opt.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups buttermilk, might need a bit more
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Helpful Equipment


1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together well. Whisk together buttermilk and eggs in a smaller bowl.

2) Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir together.

3) In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil until almost smoking. Pour oil into cornbread batter and stir together.

4) If batter is really stiff, add a bit more buttermilk until it is like a thick pancake batter. Pour batter into oiled and hot cast iron skillet.

5) Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

6) Let cool for a minute, cut, and serve!

The Wet and the Dry

Reading is a skill that I thought I had down. After all, I went to college and majored in philosophy. That requires some serious critical reading skills.

That said, I frequently read recipes incorrectly.

For example, in this cornbread recipe, which is a family tradition, I used wheat bran instead of wheat germ.

Granny Leona, I apologize!

I didn’t even notice until I re-read the recipe later.

The good news is that the wheat germ in the recipe is optional and it turns out that wheat bran was also delicious in it. I have no doubt that the original is probably better but my version turned out just fine so no harm done!


Not wheat germ!

I always think it is a good idea to mix the dry and wet ingredients separately just to make sure they are mixed really well.

So stir together the dry stuff and then whisk together the buttermilk and eggs.


Just the basics.

Then you can pour the wet into the dry mixture and stir them together.

The original recipe said that you might need up to 2.5 cups of buttermilk. I used 2 1/4 cups and found that to be pretty good. Don’t be afraid to use a bit more though if your cornbread batter is very dry after mixing.


Mix it up!

What about the Oil?

There is 1/4 cup of oil in the recipe, but don’t mix it in with your wet ingredients.

Instead, pour it into your cast iron skillet. I think you could bake this in a baking dish, but you won’t get a really good crust on it that way. The crispy crust is my favorite part and I imagine it is Granny Leona’s favorite part as well.

So pour your oil into the skillet and heat it on high heat over the stove until it’s really hot and almost smoking.

Swirl it around to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.

It’s hard to see but that oil is hot!

heating oil

Hot stuff.

Then pour the hot oil into the batter.

This kind of sounds like a crazy step, but it totally works. Just stir it right in there!


This surprisingly works.

Then pour your batter back into the cast iron skillet which will still have a good amount of oil in it.

This works great because the oil basically fries the bread as it bakes and creates a really wonderful crust on the outside of the bread.

batter in

In the pan!

Baking and Serving

Bake the bread at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Make sure you preheat your oven since it’s really important to retain the heat in the pan from the stovetop. Putting the pan in a cold oven would be a big no-no.

After 25 minutes you’ll have a really wonderful bread.


After some oven time.

Serving options are plentiful.

If you like it sweeter, drizzle a piece of the bread with a bit of honey.


The honey drizzle.

If you like it savory, spread some butter on it and serve it with almost any soup you can imagine.

On this specific day, I did something I rarely do which is cook a frozen soup. A few months ago, a company I had never heard of called Kettle Cuisine sent me a bunch of frozen soups and I stuck them in my freezer and promptly forgot about them.

Over the last month or two though, I have tried almost all of their flavors and they are good. My favorite thing about them though is that the soups have zero preservatives or additives. They are just water or stock, vegetables, and spices. The ingredient list looks the exact same as if I were to make the soup from scratch.

I get a lot of food for free and rarely mention stuff in posts, but I liked this soup quite a bit. Not as good as homemade, no doubt, but still good in a pinch.


Or a savory version…

Savory or sweet, this is a basic cornbread recipe that clearly has held up to the test of time.

Thanks Granny Leona for the delicious recipe!