This hot water cornbread recipe is as old as the Tennessee Hills. Using only two ingredients, this is the definition of a simple and delicious Southern side dish.
Crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, this hot water cornbread recipe is an old-fashioned Southern staple. Back in the day, it was invented out of necessity in order to survive and based on what folks had on hand or could easily acquire. For me, that inspires 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 their wisdom.
So, this recipe is as simple as it comes, as all you need is self-rising cornmeal and hot water. But I wanted to start with the basics so you can work from there and have fun with it. The result is perfectly crispy, crunchy, and irresistible cornbread!
- Self-rising cornmeal
- Hot water
Helpful Kitchen Tools
How to Make Hot Water Cornbread Recipe Step by Step
Add self-rising cornmeal to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Add hot 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 cornmeal, you can do that too.
Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large cast-iron 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 golden brown on the other.
Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, basket, or bowl, and serve warm. It’s that easy!
These little beauties with their crispy exterior are great on their own or with butter, maple syrup, molasses, etc.
- Once cooled completely, store your cornbread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days or in the fridge for up to one week. Reheat them either in the microwave or oven.
- You can also freeze them in foil or a freezer bag for up to three months. Once thawed, wrap them in foil and reheat in the oven.
- 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 so to get it hot you can use your coffee maker, boil it on the stovetop, or heat it up in your tea kettle. Just make sure it’s boiling!
- Vegetable and canola oil is best for frying.
- If you want to add a little something extra, stir in one or more of these add-ins after you’ve stirred together the cornmeal and water: chopped onions, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, 1/2 cup of drained corn kernels, 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, finely diced jalapeños, or 1 teaspoon of parsley or basil.
What do you serve with hot water cornbread?
Hot water cornbread can be served as a sweet or savory dish. To make it savory, serve it alongside chili, beef stew, or pork chops to soak up all the delicious sauce. Otherwise, as a sweet treat, top your cornbread with butter, maple syrup, molasses, or honey.
Do you put sugar in your cornbread?
I don’t add sugar to my hot water cornbread, but if you really want to you can add a teaspoon of sugar.
- 2 cups self-rising cornmeal
- 1 cup hot water
- Stir together cornmeal and water until completely smooth. Heat 1/4 inch of 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 cups self-rising cornmeal, 1 cup hot water
- Cook until browned on the bottom, then flip and cook until browned on the other side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve hot.
Makes about 15.
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