Appalachian Food

The Secret to Good Cornbread


In one of my latest videos I share the secret to making good cornbread. I also discuss the importance of corn in Appalachia and even tell a few stories about cornmeal.

I hope you enjoyed the video! Be sure to leave a comment and share any cornbread tips you have.

Ken Roper is still improving. His family asked me to share two needs he has at this time. The first is finding a plumber to install a handicapped shower. They’ve not had any luck finding a plumber, I know they are in high demand in our area. The second is to find someone to board Ken’s dog until he can return home. The gentleman that’s been keeping the dog can no longer keep him. If you can help with either of these situations you can email me at [email protected] for more information.

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  • Reply
    March 24, 2022 at 10:16 am

    Hi Tipper, I recently discovered your Celebrating Appalachia YouTube channel and have been enjoying them so much. I live in Pennsylvania and am Korean-American and have had zero exposure to Appalachian culture or cooking. So I have found your videos so interesting and very comforting. After hearing you describe your love of cornbread, I had to try your recipe. I couldn’t find White Lily cornmeal around me, so I ordered a bag from Kroger’s and bought a cast iron skillet. Since I have always had sweetened cornbread, the taste was surprising! I found it a tad salty even? But I ate it with homemade vegetable soup and it was a wonderful combination! The only thing is the bread came out very crumbly. To the point I couldn’t bite it without the piece kind of falling apart. Is that normal? I wonder if I did something wrong. Any way to make it less crumbly?

    I was also curious to know if your family makes or enjoys any other type of cuisines? Hope you are having a lovely week!

    • Reply
      March 30, 2022 at 1:18 pm

      Carolyn-thank you for watching our videos! So glad you enjoy them. You might try cooking the cornbread a little longer and also you can add a small amount of flour to help it bind together. We have other videos about foodway and I have a food section here on the Blind Pig that you can see here: 🙂

  • Reply
    February 19, 2021 at 11:31 am

    I love your YouTube videos.
    While I can easily re-watch the video and write down the recipe, my elderly mother had trouble.
    Tipper, this is just a suggestion, but maybe you could include the recipe in the drop down section in the video? It would help many people with getting your recipe correct (techno-novices, non-native English speakers, etc.).
    I came to your blog hoping to see your recipes in written form, but no such luck. My mom wants all your recipes, so I’ll be busy! 🙂

  • Reply
    Gary Griffith
    October 27, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    When one of the ladies in our family history was asked to go to the mill after she already had too many tasks to do that day, she replied, ” I can’t do everything and go to mill too.” This has become one of those family sayings used when things get hectic.
    Very good lesson on making cornbread. I will try some of the pointers, but I don’t know if I want to try adding that egg.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou mcKillip
    October 20, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    Tipper I now live in Texas but my roots are still longing for Marble I can’t get Three Tivers or white lily corneal so I haven’t had a pan of good old Miss Julie style of cornmeal since zi let Marble. If you premix a lot of flour with you cornmeal it’s no longer good cornbread to me. My Dad use to say I want cornbread not flour in it. Oh how I wish I could go back to those grist mill ground cornmeal I guess Helen Georgia would have some. Your posts are wonderful and all the writers who respond. I can understand saying I wish I could go back to the good old day’s,not so much hard work as good old country food.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou Mckillip
    October 20, 2020 at 6:45 pm

    Miss Julie my mother had an act for cooking course she had cornmeal ground at the grist meal my uncle Ben Mintz had a big grit meal in Marble near the school house across the road . He had a large water wheel in Hyatt creek which turn the wheel. Oh how we use to go play in uncle Bens big old grist mill. Miss Julie used the same old cast iron skillet I now have would trade it all The non stick pans . She would put a Tad if soda and some butter milk but she use pure lard and greeted the skillet cold and used buttermilk until the old grist meals were a thing of the past she went to crisco and three rivers cornmeal and then she started adding an egg and sweet milk,

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    October 19, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    I have what I think is an 8 or 9 inch iron skillet given to me by a dear old friend who is gone now. There are only three of us and sometimes just two so it makes enough. I take a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup and beat up an egg in it. add milk ( I use sweet milk but Mama used buttermilk) to about one cup mark and then corn meal mix (white lilly, three rivers or martha white) tlll it’s somewhat thick–about to the two ckup mark. Mix good and pour into sizzling hot skillet heated with about two tbsp oil or bacon grease with corn meal sprinkled in it.

    If you have to use a skillet that is not your main cornbread skillet (company coming, etc) I use more grease and quite a bit of sprinkled meal to keep it from sticking.

    We love cornbread with soup or dried beans of any kind. I can make a meal off of cornbread with green onions or a sweet vidalia! Also with the cuke, onion, & tomato salad!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 19, 2020 at 2:56 pm

    If I was closer I would like to help Ken! I ain’t in much better shape than he is though.

    I love cornbread, especially the crust and specifically the bottom crust. If someone could just give me a recipe for a thin cake of cornbread with two bottom crusts I would thank them forever! Mommy used to make cornbread that had a bottom crust that would peel of in a sheet. Now that was good eating I’m telling you. Smear it with a little mustard and roll it up then eat it like a hot dog. I am salivating just thinking about it. Did you catch that? I remembered the fancy word for slobbering!

  • Reply
    Sherry Dobbs
    October 19, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Loving the blogs Tipper! You bring me to people just hearing your voice, it’s wonderful! Nick once used my cornbread cast iron to fry his fist when I was out of town! Let me just tell you we went round and round the mulberry bush on the day I found out about it. My cornbread wasn’t right for a while as I got it seasoned back to pre fish fry! DON’T Touch my Cornbread Skillet! LOL!

  • Reply
    Barbara Parker
    October 19, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    Tipper, I just love hearing about your good food cooking and stories about life in Appalachia. The words you use are the words I grew up hearing my people say and I love that! Your cornbread looks wonderful. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! I’m going to watch your video again and write down your recipe. My cornbread used to be the family favorite before I got married and my husband just liked the version of meal, milk, no egg, no shortening, just a dry cake of cornbread. We’ve been married almost 52 years and I have fixed the cornbread like he likes it all these years. Now it’s my turn to bake cornbread the way I like it sometimes. Haha! Thank you for sharing your memories with us. It means so much. I love you and your dear family. May the good Lord bless you all.

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    October 19, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    My goodness, was mine the only family that liked crackling cornbread? (I wrote about that not long ago.) Mom would buy “cracklin’s” when she could find them. If not, she’d buy a pork shoulder or some other cut and “render” her own cracklings in a frying pan. Added to the batter, the little chunks of pig meat impart both flavor and nutrition to cornbread at country meal time.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      October 19, 2020 at 7:34 pm

      Everybody that likes cornbread likes cracklin cornbread. I make my cracklins by rendering out bacon. Then I use the fat in the skillet and in the batter. I also stir the cracklins into the batter. For some reason there is never enough cracklins though but that might be because I also use them in scrambled eggs, omelets and as bacon bits in salads.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    October 19, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    I make cornbread like you do. My favorite is pinto beans, collard greens, sliced onion and chow chow with the cornbread. I always save one slice of the cornbread to have cornbread and milk at the end. Yummy!

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    October 19, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    My Aunt Jean (Hyatt) taught me to make cornbread. She also taught me to drink buttermilk. Some of the finer things in life came at her tutelage. I always heat up my skillet with bacon grease on the stovetop until it’s “spittin’ hot.” Then I use that grease liquified in my cornbread. My cornbread, cast iron skillet has been used only for cornbread for the past 50 years. I guess I’m going to have to will it to a niece or nephew because I guess I can’t take it with me. (Although surely God loves a good pan of cornbread.)

  • Reply
    celia miles
    October 19, 2020 at 9:50 am

    I just last night made yet another pan of cornbread–still trying to get it “right,” tasting like my mother’s did. Now I know a few “to do’s” and will try again.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2020 at 9:20 am

    The secret to making good cornbread is definitely the cast iron skillet. The best cornmeal I have ever tried is Weisenberger. Their corn is stone ground and water powered in southern KY and is one of the few old-timey mills still in operation. My favorite way to eat cornbread is with homemade vegetable soup.
    I’m so glad Ken is improving!

    • Reply
      Sue McIntyre
      October 19, 2020 at 5:55 pm

      Beautiful pone of bread. I make mine with the same ingredients except I use buttermilk. I don’t preheat my cast iron skillet though, definitely going to give it a try. I am cooking some right now to go with a pot of chili.. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 19, 2020 at 8:59 am

    Your recipe reminds me of how I like to fry eggs; a hot skillet and plenty of oil. The hot skillet lets the edges get crispy before the center is hard.

    The multiple uses of corn is a big reason it was a staple crop; the whole idea of more with less, like triple cropping with the corn, beans, squash “three sisters”. When you don’t have much land and much of it is not good cropland, you have to learn to stretch what you do have. It leads to being conservative in everything because many things are unpredictable.

  • Reply
    October 19, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Your beautiful plate of cornbread looks just like my mother’s. She used the same size cast iron skillet which I now use and mine looks just like your picture. She used a yellow corn meal and I do too. Nothing I like better than corn bread with black eyed peas, pinto beans or any type of greens and a big onion. I also like corn bread crumbled up in a glass of milk. Now a days I make corn bread in a muffin pan, as I can freeze a batch and take one out for supper as I need it.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    October 19, 2020 at 8:21 am

    Your cornbread is very similar to how the wife and I make ours but my Mom almost always used buttermilk and in her words added a pinch of sodee.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      October 19, 2020 at 2:43 pm

      Mom was smart. The acid in the buttermilk is just what the sodey needs activate and make the bread rise better.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    October 19, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Your cornbread turned out beautiful! I use 1 and 1 recipe. (One cup flour, one cup corn meal, 1 cup milk and 1 egg.) Mine was never much to brag about. That being said, I did pick up a few pointers this morning from you so thank you a great deal! I love beans and cornbread with fried potatoes and onions and a side of greens! That’s a hearty meal in my opinion! The very thought of corn meal mush reminds me of porridge. It’s something mommy and Bobby ate a lot of and mommy fried it too which was better. I can’t eat it or grits because of the texture and mealy taste. But to each hillbilly his own I say! God bless Ken! I hope and pray his dog gets a good place to stay. A good plumber is like a desert mirage!

  • Reply
    Stacey L Foran
    October 19, 2020 at 7:51 am

    Hi Tipper! I was a regular reader of your blog many years ago, back when the twins were pre-teens! Life gets crazy and time gets short with less time for reading blogs. But I just heard something about a pig and an acorn, and I was like,’ that blog I used to read, I wonder if she’s still posting’. I googled, and there you were!
    I see you’re doing videos now. That’s great! I just watched the one on cornbread. It reminded me of Granny Miller. I don’t know if you read that one back in the day but it was one of my favorites. She’s long gone, her blog, not her, LOL!
    Anyway, it’s great to see you again! I’m glad you’re still around!

  • Reply
    October 19, 2020 at 7:46 am

    Tipper, you put a smile on my face this fine Monday (what a rare phrase to use, “fine Monday”). I’m in agreement with you about using cast iron – I use one that I continually am trying to smooth out because it was a hand-me-down gift from a former next-door neighbor of mine who means a lot to me, it was her gran’s. (She thinks cast iron is too heavy). I also preheat my cast iron in the oven for the mandatory crispy crust, but I use bacon grease. I have a saved jar of it by the stove. I keep a pint jar, but I remember much larger cans of it that my mom kept (she’s still around, she just no longer keeps a large can of it). I use a 1:1 ratio of cornmeal to flour, we move all over the US so often my cornmeal selection is often limited. I’m now used to Bob’s Red Mill medium grind and I like it just fine. Though I would like to experiment with that one a bit. I am in love with cornmeal with beans and greens. It’s one of my most favorite dinners. I also love to eat it with a white chicken chili I make using a tomatillo salsa. I hope you have a wonderful week.

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