2 Ingredient Hot Water Cornbread


Hot Water Cornbread is a recipe as old as the Tennessee Hills.

Speaking of which, do you know how you can tell if a cow is from Tennessee? The legs on one side ae shorter than the other..hehe. That’s an old one, referencing how hilly the state is. So if cows are grazing, it is most likely on the side of a hill...ok explaining jokes takes the wind out of their sails, doesn’t it?


This is a basic recipe that can be gussied up any number of ways. I’m gonna go plain and straightforward with you today so you have the basic recipe and can work from there.

I wanted to show you the plain version to let you know that you don’t HAVE To gussy it up, it will still be delicious, while at the same time encouraging you to really have fun with it. The simpler versions are what were most often made in the old days when ingredients were scarce and we had to make do in order to put food in our bellies.

You know, these days, a lot of people are too far removed from hunger to be able to appreciate food. I’m not talking about enjoying a meal at a fancy restaurant or being able to sniff a glass of rotted grape juice and tell someone where it came from or what kind it is, I’m talking about appreciating the fact that you have food to eat. Appreciating being able to sit down to a meal and truly feel grateful that your stomach will be full when you get up.

I’m talking about having an attitude where, if the pot of stew is a little salty, you eat it anyway and be glad to have it regardless.

So many people don’t have that gratutude, instead there is a snooty, almost callous, attitude towards food. This concerns me because if a body can’t sit down to something made by any random grandmother and express real and sincere gratitude for the meal, regardless of whether or not it tastes good to them or is cooked as they would like it to be, something is just flat out off.

I think a lot of people forget that, when looking at these simple recipes, they were invented out of necessity in order to survive and based on what folks had on hand or could easily acquire. For me, that inspires a reverence for them, and a respect for the wisdom of the old ways. It also makes me want to make them just like they did, if only to feel a little closer to the wisdom and life of my ancestors.

So…lets get started.

For the basic recipe for this, you’ll need: Self rising corn meal and hot water.

You can use your favorite self rising cornmeal mix. Martha White has all sorts of different ones and I like the white best but that is because it’s what my great grandmother used.

 The recipe calls for boiling water to get it hot but I’m just going to use my coffee pot to dispense me some. Because that is what it does…I’m still respecting the old ways with the recipe but there is no sense in adding unnecessary work. Back in the day folks were plum tired and had far too much common sense to go around the block to get to the mailbox. 

Y’all remember that cute little photo of the new addition to my kitchen in my Confessions of A Pyrex Hoarder post?

This is what that area looks like on a daily basis – it’s my coffee station. I have it set up like this so folks can go make a cup of coffee and grab a snack without having to intrude into my cooking domain area while I’m working :)

And sometimes I step over there to get hot water when working on a post…

 Add your corn meal into the water.

Stir that together until there are no lumps left and it’s formed a good old batter. If you need to add a tablespoon or so of water you can. If you need to add a little more corn meal, you can do that too. 

Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

 Once that is hot, carefully drop your batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil and lightly press it flat with the back of a spoon.

Cook until browned on that side, then flip it and cook it until it is browned on the other.

Remove to paper towel lined plate, basket, or bowl. Serve warm :)

It’s that easy!

 These are great on their own or with butter, maple syrup, molasses, etc.

2 Ingredient Hot Water Cornbread

2 Ingredient Hot Water Cornbread


  • 2 Cups Self Rising Cornmeal
  • 1 Cup HOT Water


  1. Stir together cornmeal and water until completely smooth. Heat 1/4 inch vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot, carefully drop batter from a spoon into the oil and lightly press flat with back of spoon.
  2. Cook until browned on the bottom, then flip and cook until browned on the other side. Remove to paper towel lined plate. Serve hot.
  3. Makes about 15.


The following add ins are excellent in this. Stir them in after the corn meal and water have been stirred together: Chopped onions, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 cup drained corn kernels, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, finely diced jalapeños, 1 tsp parsley or basil, etc.

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I’m really looking forward to the National Cornbread Festival this weekend in South Pittsburg, Tennessee and I hope to see some of y’all there! If you’re going to be around and have time for me to give you a hug, just drop by the Judges tent at the cornbread cookoff stage anytime between 12:30-3:00. I’ll be inside the tent judging, but if you tell someonee working around there that you’re there to see me, they’ll give me a holler so I can come out. Don’t you dare think you’re being a bother, either! I’d be offended if you didn’t give me a chance to say hi! If I’m in the middle of judging, it may take me a minute or two but I’ll hop right on out there as soon as I can because I don’t wanna miss seeing you!

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  1. Susan Kramer says

    My family is from south AL and I learned to make cornbread with water ground white cornmeal and water. Sometimes we add just a little self rising flour and a wee bit of salt and a tad of sugar. Then fry it up. Mmmmm! Mmmmm! MUST have some to go with peas or greens!! THE BEST!

  2. Carol Faver says

    Hey Y’all…I’ve been making these for about 45 years. Don’t bother with boiling water – I throw some cornmeal mix in a bowl, put enough tap water in to mix to the consistency you want and proceed from there with the frying. Makes exactly the same little cornmeal puffs and they are the best with homemade soup (I put a dot of butter on each one) an there’s nothing better.

  3. Shyanna Waters says

    Christy this is a bit off topic but do you like that Keurig coffee maker? My husband and I are thinking about splurging on one for our 30th anniversary and I would love to have your honest thoughts on it. Thanks!!

    • says

      Hey Shyanna! I’m happy to tell you my opinion on it.
      First of all, I was against it to begin with. I thought it was incredibly overpriced. But my husband got me one for my birthday and wow – he still says it is the best thing that has ever happened in our marriage! lol. There are three coffee drinkers in our house and we all rise at different times. Also, I am here working all day long and occasionally want some coffee at an odd time. The Keurig is perfect for that. Everyone can have a cup of coffee whenever they want with no guilt of a pot going to waste.
      I think it is perfect for a household with one or two coffee drinkers or folks who just like a cup or two at a time. If you have a house where y’all drink a whole pot in the mornings, it might be a better decision to stick with traditional but it sounds like y’all are like us.
      I DEARLY love my keurig. I will tell you, though, that they tend to die after about two years but some other southern plate readers have given me a great hint on that: Only buy it from Bed Bath and Beyond because they will replace it free of charge when it kicks the bucket :)
      Also, I have found Sam’s club to be the best prices on coffee. My husband and son like Donut Shop from there. It is a mild coffee. I like a bolder coffee and I love the Sam’s club brand called Columbia Supremo.
      All in all, I gotta tell you that if it was up to me, I’d say get one. I think you’ll dearly love it.

  4. Lisa says

    I love southern food, but I live in the West. I know… Anyway I could not find self-rising cornmeal mix, so I made my own self-rising cornmeal mix from a recipe I found on the internet and the made the recipe.

    I have two questions- 1. what should the consistency of the batter be? Mine was like sand, like the moonsand kids play with and it would not stick together. I added more water just until it stuck a little better but it still fell apart a bit. I used a small scoop to mold it before I dropped into the oil- that helped, but what consistency am I look for?

    2. They turned out tasty, the family loved them, but did not look like your photos above. Is it really tender in the middle with a crunchy exterior? Mine was just a little tender in the middle, but mostly just crunchy. I see that your self-rising mix has buttermilk in it and the mix I made just had cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Does that make the difference?

    Never having made these before and not having access to the self rising mix…I just want to make sure I am doing it right. Any help you can give me would be appreciated. Thanks!

  5. Tina says

    Hello Everyone – My grandmother and great-aunt made these when I was a little girl. I made these today for lunch with a serving of pinto beans they were in the freezer. Wow, they were great! I can’t wait to try with onions, etc.

  6. kELLY says

    Grandma always made this only used white corn meal and ice water. She made it to go with purple hulls she got at the farmers market (that she & I shelled on the back porch that morning) for dinner. Oh how great it was and I often find myself making it just as a meal for me!


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