Gluten Free Southern Cornbread

Cornbread is one of John’s favorite foods. He has been known to eat an entire pan all by himself, and yet somehow he is still a slim, trim hunk (I’m waiting to see how long it takes him to edit this!). We make when we’re having soups, stews, and any food that has yummy juices that we want to soak up. It is also the main ingredient in the Cornbread Dressing recipe that I’ll be posting in the lead-up to Thanksgiving.

For more ideas on how to make your favorite foods gluten free, so you can enjoy them this holiday season (or anytime!), make sure to check out my ebook, The Gluten Free Survival Guide. I packed it full of practical strategies to help you enjoy the holidays and still stay gluten free, plus it’s got all of my favorite recipes included too.

If you’re wondering why this recipe is titled “Southern” cornbread, it is because it does not contain any sugar. Cornbread should not have any sugar! It is blasphemous! I know Jiffy puts sugar in their mix, but they are just wrong. This may offend some people who were raised on sweet cornbread, but please don’t hurt your cornbread by adding sugar. Now that I’ve finished that rant, on to the cornbread.

Gluten Free Casein Free Southern Cornbread

I used to think that cornbread was the best bread recipe ever for a gluten free diet because you don’t need any special ingredients. (I do add some brown rice flour to mine, but you can just as easily use 1 3/4 c. cornmeal, if you want.) However, I’ve been having trouble finding a non-contaminated cornmeal at our grocery store, so I’ll probably order fromKinnikinnick next time. We’ve never noticed a problem with the cornmeal we’ve purchased at the local grocery, but we’re not as sensitive as some of you, so I don’t want to recommend it. Update John found gluten free cornmeal by Arrowhead Mills at Whole Foods so that’s what we will be using in the future.

If you do look for cornmeal at your grocery store be careful because most grocery stores carry cornmeal and cornmeal mix. The cornmeal mix contains cornmeal and wheat flour along with leavening agents. Read your labels and make sure you’re just getting cornmeal. I’ve also had friends tell me that their cornbread was gluten free only to find out that they didn’t realize that cornbread mix had flour in it (or they didn’t realize that “flour” is made of wheat!).

Gluten Free, Casein Free Southern Cornbread
(Yield: 8 slices)

Cornbread should really be made in a cast-iron skillet, but you can use a glass casserole dish in a pinch. The crust won’t be as crispy, but that’s the only difference.

1 Tbsp shortening or oil

1 1/4 c. white cornmeal
1/2 c. brown rice flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbsp cider vinegar AND enough soy milk to equal two cups
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the shortening or oil to a 10″ cast iron skillet and put the skillet in the oven to heat up.

2. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Measure out 2 Tbsp. of cider vinegar into a 2 c. measure, and then add soy milk until you get to the 2 c. mark. The vinegar will curdle the soy milk, and give you a casein free buttermilk. Pour the milk and vinegar into a mixing bowl. Add the eggs to the milk and vinegar and whisk thoroughly.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well-mixed.

5. Check the skillet and see if the oil/shortening has started to smoke a bit. Once it has, pull the oven rack out (with the skillet on it) and pour the cornbread batter into the skillet. It will sizzle and some of the oil will come up around the sides and onto the top of the batter. This is supposed to happen and is what makes the crispy crust. Here’s what it will look like.

Cornbread after being poured into the pan

6. Cook the cornbread for 20 – 25 minutes. When it is done the top will be golden and the middle will be firm but slightly springy to the touch. If you like, rub some butter over the top of the crust at this point. After the bread has cooled for a few minutes, you can cut it into 8 wedges and then remove it from the skillet.


  1. That looks positively light and fluffy!

  2. Oh it was! We covered it in “butter” and it was so yummy.

  3. i tried the cornbread, which was mar-vel-ous except that somehow a lot of the egg sunk to the bottom for me…so the top half was perfect but the bottom half had most of the egg in it. Any idea what I did wrong? I’d love to make this again.

    I could blame my 2 1/2 yr old sous chief’s stirring technique, but that would be unfair of me.

  4. Hi Cris! This must have been the week for cornbread goofs. I made some Wednesday night and added corn starch instead of brown rice flour. The results were. . .lets just say interesting =)

    If you think the egg was the problem then I would suggest whisking the eggs really well and then adding the rest of the liquid ingredients. From observation of other cooks I realize that there a range of egg-beating methods. You’re going to really need to go to town on these eggs. They should be frothy! If you’re using a whisk this shouldn’t be too hard. If you’re using a fork, beat the stew out of the eggs and buy a whisk soon =)

    Just to be on the safe side you can always use a full 1 3/4 c. of corn meal since the brown rice tends to make the crumb finer and might lend itself towards cakiness.

    That’s all that I can think of at this point. I’ll be making two batches of corn bread tomorrow so I’ll double check the recipe again too =) Have a great weekend!

  5. thanks! it must not have been too terrible because we’ve eaten it all. Usually we don’t quite make it through leftover cornbread, as much as we love it.

  6. I love this cornbread. Unfortunately I’ve made it twice now and have had a soggy bottom both times. The middle is perfect, but the closer you get to the outer edges, the higher the sogginess goes. On the outside rim, it’s a good half an inch high. The top is devine. I made it with all cornbread, adding extra to make up for the missing rice flour, regular milk instead of soy and canola oil instead of shortening. Any suggestions?

  7. Hi Kelly,
    Given the pattern of the sogginess, I’m wondering if your pan got hot enough before you added the batter. Did the oil sizzle and rise up around the sides of the batter when you poured it in?

  8. Thanks for an easy, quick & tasty cornbread recipe! My family prefers a sweet cornbread so next time I will add some honey…but for me…I like it with molasses & tea for a late night snack. Thanks for sharing your knowledge…and keep it coming.
    Sue Mac

  9. Sue Mac, the recipe that I adapted this from called for an optional tablespoon of sugar. So if you’d like it sweet, that’s how much sweet to put in =)

  10. Mama Grimtribe says:

    This is almost exactly the same recipe we use for our cornbread here for my lil GF boy. We use maseca (corn flour) instead of the brown rice flour. It gives a nice springy texture.
    We’ve also been known to make “tamale pie” with this recipe.
    Once you have poured in the batter and given it a good stir, I pour a mix of one egg, browned ground beef, GF Salsa and chopped onions/tomatoes into the center and give a couple stirs to the middle.
    Cook until set in the center and top with cheese as soon as it comes out. The cheese will be melty and great by the time it’s cool enough to eat.
    We have a large family and the non-gf kids dig this one.
    I love this site. Thanks for being here.

  11. Peggy and Jack says:

    Hi Mary Frances:
    We had your cornbread last night and IT WAS FABULOUS! It was light, moist, not gritty and not greasy at all. I was a little concerned about it either sticking and/or burning, but it didn’t! I added one diced onion to the oil first and 1 C of frozen corn (still frozen) to the batter. We like sweet corn bread, but in deference to Mary Frances, left it out. It turned out so well that it is going in the favourites file. For those of you living as Weight Watchers, 1/8 slice is worth 4 points- and worth every one!

  12. Peggy, I’m so glad your family like the cornbread even without sugar. I’ll have to try adding the onion and corn to my next batch since my son will only eat cornbread if its available at supper.

  13. I just made your Southern Cornbread recipe and I want you to know it’s wonderful. It’s everything a cornbread should be but without the gluten. Thank you. Has anyone tried adding corn kernels to the batter?

  14. Thanks so much for this recipe! I followed the suggestion of Mama Grimtribe above and used corn flour in place of the brown rice flour. It turned out perfectly!

  15. Thanks for this recipe *and* for providing this whole site. Wow. Just found it this past week & will be learning from you for a while, I bet.

    Jumped right in to comment on this recipe bc although I am a bluestocking yankee from outer space ;-) , I was raised on cornbread done according to the Boone Tavern (Berea, KY) official recipe. YUM. Savory goodness! Thankfully, since I’m off sugar for medical reasons, my only associations w/the sweet stuff are with dismal cafeteria food. This recipe is worth working on w/my mom (who’s not afraid of a hot skillet).

    Thanks again for making these recipes and guidelines available. Especially appreciated bc “garfava” flour is not recognized by my body as food, so it’s great to see carefully worked-out recipes for alternative GF options.

  16. GF Domestic Engineer says:

    Hi, this cornbread recipe sounds delish! I need some advice on keeping a cast-iron skillet in good condition. I have one that I put a little veggie oil in after I washed it and now the oil has turned into a glue like substance that will not wash out. Also, I have another skillet that has rusted a little. I remember my grandmother always had the prettiest cast-iron skillets. I really don’t know how to take care of this type of metal, can someone please help?

  17. re: 17 GF Domestic Engineer…

    I don’t know exactly what to do to get the gummy stuff off, but rust will wash off. The trick w/cast-iron pans is that you need to heat them dry, and yes put a little oil in & smear it around. Once that oil is hot, let the pan cool off and wipe it out with a paper towel to remove any excess. If they get food stuck on, just boil some water in the pan until you can scrape off the egg or whatever with a metal spatula, then get the boiled water outta there & dry and oil a little again… all set. (No soap needed, much of the time.)

  18. GF Domestic Engineer says:

    Thanks Ninufar! That explains a lot.

    I’ve been making the cornbread recipe in a glass dish. I wish I could post a picture to show you guys what happened. Although I thorougly mixed the ingredients and did not let batter sit, the majority of the egg and cornmeal settled to the bottom and the brown rice rose to the top. The cornbread was delicious beside the two layer appearance. I will have to use cast-iron next time.

    Thanks for the recipe Mary Frances!


  19. Patty Bacon says:

    This looks so great and I’ve been searching for a cornbread recipe for ages!

    What can I do in place of the vinegar and egg white?

    Thanks for a great site and teaching skills,


    • @Patty: Can you eat lemon? Lemon juice would curdle the milk just like the vinegar does. As for the eggs, I believe I’ve used flax eggs (1 Tbsp. ground flax seed plus 3 Tbsp. water) in this recipe with success.

  20. This recipe sounds delicious. My wife has concerns about soy and I’m trying to avoid any dairy. Can this be made with rice milk instead?

  21. My favorite cornbread recipe of all time (before I went GF) calls for not only a cup of corn but a cup of shredded zucchini. Do I need to make any other adjustments to your recipe to balance the high water content?

    Thanks for sharing the results of all your research and experiments!

  22. I absolutely miss cornbread. I do not have celiac but since i cut out most things gluten my tummy digestive system has been much happier with me. (AND NO MORE DOCTOR VISITS!!)YAY!

    Well I have been looking around for a good recipe and hope this one works. My family scoffs at the term “gluten free” until they tried some home made cookies. I volunteered to make
    the cornbread for Thanksgiving.

    I will come back and let you know how it goes. I just found your site. Thank you so much for being here!

  23. Can I just use buttermilk instead of the soy milk and vinegar?

  24. WOW!!! This cornbread is wonderful. I could not find white corn meal so i used yellow. I can’t stop snacking on it. Thank you so much for this recipe!! I know I will be making it all of the time!! By the way, This is my first scratch gf recipe and I am not encouraged to try more.

  25. I love this! tho I used buttermilk, it turned out delicious baked in a glass dish with celery, onions, and believe it or not, daikon radish added in small bits. It’s so nice to wake up and have fresh cornbread to eat. I heat it in the toaster over by the slice I slather it with Ghee which is casein and lactose free, for all you Lacose and casein intolerants out there. and since the recipe is rather low in any fats, I feel really balanced about it in my diet.

  26. A buddy recommended me to read this site, brill post, interesting read… keep up the good work!

  27. this was awesome to use in my gfree stuffing. thank you so much. oh and ur right about puttin sugar in cornbread,yuck!

  28. We loved this recipe but my husband is used to a sweeter version. Do you know how much sugar should I add to make it more tastier?

  29. Made this cornbread over the weekend with a big pot of chili. The best cornbread ever and I’ve tried many. My husband raved about how good it was. It was very moist even without added oil and most are crumbly even with added oil! We don’t eat sugar in our house either, so this was perfect.

  30. Renee Pirozzi says:

    I didn’t realize how much my child loved bread until we took it away. He loves this corn bread and he knows his breads!! Easy to do,even for breadiots like me!

  31. Kate luke says:

    Oooh I have never posted a question before so here goes. : – ) I think in the uk we can get different textures of corn, from very fine corn flour used for thickening sauces to course polenta. I dont think either of these are the right thing, is there something in between? It looks so yummy I would like to have a go.

  32. Kate,
    I recently bought some stone ground polenta grits from a local farmer’s market and it is actually more fine than regular cornmeal we get from the grocery in the US. So maybe your course polenta is similar to our cornmeal. I say give it a try and see what happens. Before going GF I’ve made corn bread with varying ratios of corn flour and cornmeal without any trouble. I’m going to attempt to make GF hush pupplie from this polenta stuff and see how it turns out.

  33. Grandma says:

    One of the best I have tried. I have a grandson that is allergic, wheat, soy, dairy and nuts, can be quite challenging at times. I use corn flour instead of rice flour WoW, it is like my grandma’s, the entime family enjoys it.

  34. Dear Mary Frances,
    I just learned I have Celiac disease last week. Thank you so much for all the information, it is really helping with the transition. I can’t wait to feel better. I’m on day four of gluten free and am feeling pretty terrible, I’m assuming it is from the detox. Any Thoughts?



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