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Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread | With Variations

Old Fashioned Gluten Free Cornbread | With Variations

If you’re looking for the perfect side to almost any meal, this naturally gluten free cornbread recipe is just the thing. This adaptable recipe can be made with all cornmeal, cornmeal and corn flour, or corn flour and all purpose gluten free flour.

This old fashioned recipe for gluten free cornbread is the perfect side to any meal, especially warm, comforting chili. Or serve it with salsa and beans!

Baking cornbread in a cast iron skillet

As you can see here, I baked the cornbread* in a cast iron skillet. But only because, well, I love baking in a cast iron skillet.

Nothing heats as evenly or bakes as well as a cast iron skillet. It creates the most distinctive, lovely crust all on its own. But this recipe happens to be incredibly versatile.

Over the years, you have written to me, telling me that you made it with granulated sugar instead of honey, milk instead of buttermilk or yogurt, shortening or coconut oil (or even vegetable oil!) instead of butter. And they’ve all turned out!

*If you’re just getting started on a gluten free diet and you’re wondering if corn is gluten free, for example, it is! Please check out my Ultimate Guide to the Basic Rules of a Gluten Free Diet. Everything you need to know is in that guide, along with plenty of links for a deeper dive into some important information.

This old fashioned recipe for gluten free cornbread is the perfect side to any meal, especially warm, comforting chili. Or serve it with salsa and beans!

The all cornmeal recipe

This recipe has long been a staple of this blog for so many reasons, not the least of which are because it’s so incredibly simple—and strikingly adaptable. The original recipe calls for 2 cups of coarsely ground yellow cornmeal as the only flour—without any added starches or more finely ground flours.

I call it “coarsely ground yellow cornmeal,” but that’s a bit redundant since cornmeal is simply corn that’s been dried, and coarsely ground. All cornmeal is, by definition, coarsely ground.

Made this way, as the recipe was originally written, this classic cornbread recipe is moist and tender, but has a fair amount of “bite” from the cornmeal. The honey in this recipe helps keep the cornbread tender and helps offset any bitterness from the cornmeal (especially in this original, all-cornmeal recipe).

None of these variations contain cornstarch, which is a flavorless powder made from only the starch in the endosperm of the corn grain. You could probably replace a bit of the cornmeal with cornstarch and get a more tender cornbread, but I prefer the other variations listed in this recipe.

Old fashioned gluten free cornbread corn flour variation, being sliced and served.

The cornmeal and corn flour recipe

Cornmeal is coarsely ground corn, and corn flour is finely ground corn. You can buy corn flour, but generally I simply take my coarsely ground yellow cornmeal and grind it again in a blender until it’s lighter in color. That’s how I know it’s more finely ground.

Replacing half of the coarsely ground cornmeal in this recipe with more finely ground corn flour makes for a less crumbly, more cohesive cornbread. It also has a smoother mouth feel, and tends to stay fresh another day longer when stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly.

Since I’ve started experimenting with changing up the flours in this recipe, this variation has become my favorite. I do sometimes buy corn flour if I’m placing an order for other things from nuts.com (where I buy gluten free corn flour), but more often grind my own.

Old fashioned gluten free cornbread corn flour variation, slice on plate with forkful.

U.K. terminology

To confuse things a bit, I’m afraid that these terms are used differently in the U.K. I believe that “corn flour” in the U.K. is actually what we call cornstarch in the U.S. (the starch only).

I assume you can find “coarsely ground cornmeal” in the U.K. though. Can any readers help us understand?

Old Fashioned gluten free cornbread all purpose flour variation, being sliced and served.

The cornmeal and all purpose gluten free flour recipe

I learned that this recipe could be made with half all purpose gluten free flour (I’ve only used Better Batter, but I’m sure any of my recommended blends would work) when I ran out of cornmeal after I had already prepared all of the ingredients to make cornbread.

Since it was only for my family, and my husband will eat anything, especially if it’s warm when I serve it, I decided to try it with half all purpose gluten free flour. The recipe worked (although it took about another 5 minutes to bake fully)!

The all purpose gluten free flour version makes for a cornbread that has a much smaller crumb, and a lighter crumb color overall (although the top is just as yellow). The crust itself is also less crispy.

As you’d expect, it has little bite and is much less chewy than the other two versions. I would not recommend making the cornbread with a combination of all purpose gluten free flour and and corn flour, though, as it would not have the right texture.

You’ll also notice that this cornbread tends to dome more in the center during baking. That’s likely because the combination of flours leads to less even baking, but of course it doesn’t affect the flavor or texture any further.

Ingredients and substitutions

This is such a simple recipe, which often makes substitutions more difficult, but somehow this gluten free cornbread recipe is magic ✨ and can take all sorts of modifications in stride. Some of the following suggestions are from personal experience with this recipe, others are just well-educated guesses.

Dairy: I have successfully made this recipe dairy-free by using Earth Balance buttery sticks in place of unsalted butter (just reduce the salt by half) and non-dairy plain yogurt in place of yogurt.

You can also try a mix of half plain dairy-free yogurt and half unsweetened almond milk, as a buttermilk replacement. I do think that’s your best bet.

Egg: As always, whenever there is one egg in a recipe, I recommend trying it with one “chia egg” in its place (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). I haven’t tried this egg-free, though, so you’ll have to experiment but I feel pretty confident that you’ll get good results.

Corn: Well, this is a super tough one, to make cornbread without, well, corn. The only reason I think this might be even remotely possible is because I’ve seen some Paleo recipes floating around the Internet that use ground millet in place of cornmeal to make a corn-free “cornbread.”

Perhaps the all purpose gluten free flour variation, which contains only 1 cup of coarsely ground cornmeal, can be made with ground millet in place of the cornmeal. But replacing the cornmeal entirely is a big risk, so only try it if you’re feeling adventuresome!

 

 

This adaptable recipee for old fashioned gluten free cornbread can be made with all cornmeal, cornmeal and corn flour, or corn flour & all purpose GF flour.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 cornbread

Ingredients

2 cups (264 g) coarsely ground yellow cornmeal*

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups (340 g) plain yogurt, at room temperature (can substitute an equal amount of buttermilk or half sour cream/half whole milk)

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

4 tablespoons (84 g) honey

*Flour variations
Half of the cornmeal, by weight, can be replaced with an equal amount, by weight of corn flour or all purpose gluten free flour. I used Better Batter as an all purpose gluten free flour.

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F. Grease a 12-inch cast iron skillet or an 8-inch square or round pan, and set it aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the cornmeal*, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to combine well. In separate bowl, place the yogurt (or buttermilk or sour cream and milk mixture), butter, and egg, and whisk to combine well.

    For the corn flour or all purpose gluten free flour variations, add the cornmeal and corn flour or cornmeal and all purpose gluten free flour at this stage.

  • Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients and the honey.  Mix until just combined. The mixture will be relatively thin (thinner if you used buttermilk). Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes (closer to 20 minutes if using a cast iron skillet, closer to 25 minutes if you made the all purpose gluten free flour variation), or until lightly golden brown on top, golden brown around the edges, and firm to the touch in the center. Slice and serve immediately.

  • Adapted from Old Fashioned Cornbread in Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap (Hachette/Da Capo 2017). Originally posted in 2013. Post updated with variations.

Love,
Nicole

  • Mary Beth
    May 28, 2020 at 9:42 PM

    So I made your recipe and it was delicious! But it was very crumbly. I’m new to all these gluten free all purpose flour blends so educate me please. I followed the recipe using 1 cup cornmeal and 1 cup cup4cup flour blend. I made buttermilk with almond milk and apple cider vinegar. The cornbread was very light and tasted great but just fell apart. Was that because of the flour blend or the buttermilk?

    • Nicole Hunn
      May 29, 2020 at 10:24 AM

      “Souring” milk with an acid does not create a proper buttermilk substitute, and that could have affected the texture, yes. I discuss proper buttermilk substitutes in the Ingredients and substitutions section.

  • Wen
    February 4, 2020 at 4:31 PM

    I baked this and stuck to the recipe (using Natco fine corn meal which is widely available in UK SUPERMARKETS).
    The only difference was I used Greek style yoghurt, so I worried my mix wasn’t ‘runny’ enough. Those worries were soon dispersed when slicing the cornbread…
    This recipe is a keeper for me. Delicious and so quick to get together (my room temp egg just sat in my bra for 10 mins!) Even the hound begged me for more (and he only gets a bite or two) and sucked it like it was cake. It does have a level of sweetness that works for us. This time with winter soup, but will make with the next chilli. Thank you x x x

    • Nicole Hunn
      February 5, 2020 at 8:10 AM

      Oh my gosh, Wen, your egg 🥚 sat in your bra … and then I fell in love with you. This may be the best comment in 10+ years of writing this blog. Good to know about the fine corn meal you used, for other UK readers. But the egg trick? Legendary.

  • Judith
    January 31, 2020 at 3:38 PM

    I was so pleased to find a gf recipe that needed just straight cornmeal. I made it without the honey as I am avoiding sweeteners, and it was still very good with a nice texture. Thank you so much!

  • Christl
    January 26, 2020 at 4:56 PM

    I make a cornbread almost identical….one day I only had enough cornmeal for half a recipe, so I used maseca (?) flour, which I had from making homemade corn tortillas…wow….best cornbread ever! So I bet your half and half recipe would be the same!

  • Marcia Cox
    January 26, 2020 at 10:56 AM

    From the UK
    Cornflour is one word. The flour is white (Starch) and is used for thickening eg Blancmange, or gravy.
    Sweetcorn flour may be bought in some supermarkets and health food shops. However the best and cheapest way is to go to a Polish shop – if you have one. They have all sorts of what we would call special flour.

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 26, 2020 at 12:16 PM

      Good to know, Marcia! Thank you for chiming in with that info. 🙂

  • Alyssa
    September 10, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    Nicole, 

    I was given your cook book as a birthday present and this is the first recipe I’ve tried. Like the recipe in the book, I used sour cream and although it called for 2 eggs, I used “2 eggs” of Ener-G Egg Replacer, since my boyfriend is allergic. 

    It is AMAZING. This recipe is so moist compared to any GF mix I have tried. Thank you!

    Alyssa

  • Carol Cripps
    April 29, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Mmm..Cronbread. My favourite brekkie, as a teen, was hot cornbread, (especially the corner bits) slathered with butter and honey, and a tall glass of cold milk. Now I can have it again. Thank you!

    • Nicole
      April 29, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      I love this, too, Carol. It’s so useful as a meal component, or all on its own, as you said.
      Enjoy!
      xo
      Nicole

  • Jeff
    December 8, 2009 at 10:38 PM

    Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for the recipe, I am making the apple and leek stuffing 4 my 16yo daughter w/Celiac. Your cornbread will work perfectly for the stuffing! Happy Holidays.

    Jeff

    • Nicole
      December 9, 2009 at 1:16 AM

      Hi, Jeff,
      Yup. That’s the cornbread to use for the stuffing. I hope you both enjoy it!
      Warmly,
      Nicole

  • Keesha
    December 2, 2009 at 2:01 AM

    I am in love with this cornbread!!! I’m new to eating gluten-free and my hubby made a batch of this to go with our vegetable soup at lunch today. I ate three pieces, then had more after dinner tonight, and plan to eat it again in the morning topped with a sunny-side up egg. :-) Hubby was a little skeptical about an all-cornmeal cornbread but after one bite he agreed that it was just as good, if not better, than our “pre-GF” recipe. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

    • Nicole
      December 3, 2009 at 12:18 AM

      Hi, Keesha,
      Thank you so much for posting. I’m so glad you’re off to such a good start. Cornmeal is a celiac’s ace in the hole!
      Warmly,
      Nicole

  • Nicole
    November 28, 2009 at 6:16 PM

    Hi, Amy,
    I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you in time! I was knee deep in Thanksgiving, and didn’t come up for air until, well, now…. I know nothing about using egg replacer. Did you figure anything out??

    Hi, Kristen,
    I’m glad it was a hit! I actually have a recipe on the blog for Apple & Leek Cornbread Stuffing, using this cornbread recipe. Enjoy!

    Warmly,
    Nicole

  • Kristen V
    November 28, 2009 at 4:01 PM

    I made this for a Thanksgiving celebration yesterday, and everyone loved it. I specifically told everyone that it was gluten-free cornbread, hoping that most of the guests would think, “Ew, gluten-free? Don’t want any of that!” and that I’d have some leftovers. No such luck! I will definitely be making this again–maybe I’ll use it to make some stuffing for Christmas. Thanks!

  • Amy K
    November 24, 2009 at 2:30 PM

    ps I’m figuring on a soy based yogurt/sour cream in my health food store (in place of buttermilk), not sure if it exists, but will try… ;)

  • Amy K
    November 24, 2009 at 2:27 PM

    Holiday emergency — have blue-haired vegan niece coming over.

    What’s your best ballpark guesstimate about using egg replacer in this cornbread recipe?

    many thanks!

  • Nicole
    October 17, 2009 at 7:51 PM

    Hi, Amy,
    My pleasure. And feel free to take credit for the flatbread. I don’t mind, and you made it!
    Warmly,
    Nicole

  • Amy K
    October 17, 2009 at 4:42 PM

    Nicole, thanks for the great idea of leeks, apples, etc for the stuffing. That’ll be on our table this year. Right now, I’m making flatbread again for family coming over. I’ve made it so often I feel like it’s “my” recipe! ;)

  • Amy K
    October 12, 2009 at 6:06 PM

    Can this be made into a Thanksgiving stuffing? Just wondering…

  • Amy K
    October 12, 2009 at 5:10 PM

    Making your cornbread today with chili, can’t wait! Still loving and appreciating your blog!

    • Nicole
      October 17, 2009 at 2:53 AM

      Hi, Amy,
      You could definitely make this into stuffing. Some onions, some stock, maybe some leeks and apples….
      Warmly,
      Nicole

  • October 11, 2009 at 8:04 PM

    Oh yummy, we loved this! Thanks for a great (and budget conscious) recipe! GF kids and a houseful of guests all loved it!

    • Nicole
      October 17, 2009 at 2:56 AM

      Hi, Sharon,
      Thank you for posting. I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe. I really prefer a cornbread recipe that only uses cornmeal. Cheaper, and more authentic tasting.
      Warmly,
      Nicole

  • Nicole
    September 30, 2009 at 3:36 PM

    Hi, Becky,
    I love this cornbread. I’m so glad you do, too.
    Warmly,
    Nicole

  • Becky
    September 30, 2009 at 12:56 AM

    Awesome recipe!! You were dead on about the consistency, and the finished product was fabulous! Went great with fresh chili!

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