How To Make Hot Water Cornbread

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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.

hot water cornbread

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!

Serve this yummy cornbread with Easy Baby Back Ribs in Oven, Easy Creamed CornVinegar SlawSouthern-Style Fried Okra Recipe, and Fresh Green Beans and you will have the perfect southern meal.

Martha White Corn Meal Mix

Recipe Ingredients

  • 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 size mixing bowl

Add self-rising cornmeal to a medium-sized mixing bowl.

add hot water

Add hot water.

MIx up the cornbread batter

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. 

adding oil to pan.

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

 add cornbread mix to pan with oil

 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.

hot water cornbread pieces cooking in oil in skillet.

Cook until browned on that side. 

hot water cornbread pieces cooking in oil in skillet.

hot water cornbread pieces cooking in oil in skillet.

Then flip it and cook it until it is golden brown on the other.

 let your finished hot water cornbread pieces cool on paper towels

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate, basket, or bowl, and serve warm. It’s that easy!

hot water cornbread recipe

 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.

Recipe Notes

  • 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.

Recipe FAQs

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.

Hot Water Cornbread Serve in a Bowl

Hot Water Cornbread Recipe (With Only 2 Ingredients)

This basic hot water cornbread recipe is an old-fashioned Southern staple made quickly and easily using only two ingredients. Serve them as a side dish or a sweet treat.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cornbread
Servings: 4
Calories: 95kcal


  • 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.


    The following add-ins are excellent in this. Stir them in after the cornmeal 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.


    Calories: 95kcal
    Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!

    You may also like these cornbread recipes:

    Mexican Cornbread Recipe by Mama

    Keto Cornbread Recipe

    Cornbread Salad Recipe

    *From Scratch* Cornbread Topped Chicken Pot Pie


    Remember the days are long now, but the years are short. unknown


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    1. Hi, I got the corn meal in the pic, the Martha White….why does the batter in the pics look yellow? I saw someone else do this recipe without a recipe and their batter looked yellow too.

      The reason I’m asking is I made this recipe and it taste like hush puppies and the batter was white. I’ve had many different types of southern cornbread and I’m on the hunt for a cornbread that tastes a particular way. Did I get the wrong cornmeal mix? I’m kind of looking for a cornbread similar to lace cornbread or lace hoecakes.

      I love all your recipes btw…I’m just trying to figure out if I did this recipe wrong or if I’m looking for a different type of southern cornbread.

      1. Yes you can bake them, I would pour a good amount of vegetable oil in a jelly roll pan. Tilt the pan so the oil covers the whole thing. Scoop your batter in and back for 10-15 mins or until done in the middle. I haven’t done this in a while but you could start at 425 and bake for 10-15 mins turning half way through. BUT keep an eye on them and use a toothpick to make sure they are done in the middle. These are approximate times and temps from memory as I haven’t baked them in a long while. Let me know how they turned out.

    2. A tip for flattening the patties out. If you brown one side and don’t flatten until you turn them, it is easier to smash with your spatula. This is because the sticky dough will be down in the skillet and the oily fried side up. It won’t stick to your turner now. My mother made these every week for us for supper. These or cornbread in an iron skillet. or made from scratch biscuits.

    3. We live in the county seat here in Mississippi and this weekend was our county fair. There was a little girl there for 4-H ( a lot of 4-H’ers there)
      and she was making fried rolls. They were as delicious as your cornbread looks. Do you have a recipe for fried rolls? That little girl wasn’t sharing her Blue Ribbon recipe, LOL. Thanks for the great cornbread recipe and the memories it brought back.

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