How to Make Cornbread in a Cast-Iron Skillet Without Butter

Cornbread is a staple of Southern and Southwestern cooking.
Cornbread is a staple of Southern and Southwestern cooking. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Cornbread is the first truly American bread, originating with the native people and adopted by European settlers over 400 years ago. Although it is typically associated with Southern cooking, cornbread occurs in a variety of regional cuisines across the U.S. and is almost universally baked in a well-seasoned, cast-iron skillet. Many cornbread recipes feature an abundance of butter to impart moisture and texture, however, this contributes a high caloric content to the dish. Making cornbread without butter is easy and requires only minor adjustment of the ingredients to achieve an authentic cornbread taste with less fat.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 bowls
  • Mixing spoon
  • Pot holder

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Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the inside of the cast iron skillet with oil and place it in the oven to heat. Preheating the skillet creates a nice crust on the bottom of the bread and helps it to cook faster.

Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt a bowl until combined. Combine the milk, vegetable oil and egg in another bowl, whisking it to a uniform consistency. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Do not overwork the batter or it will become gluey.

Remove the cast-iron skillet from the oven using a pot holder and place it on a trivet. Pour the batter into the skillet slowly, allowing it to settle evenly within the pan.

Turn the oven down to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place the skillet in the oven. Bake it for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into it comes out clean. Serve it warm, with honey or plain.

Tips & Warnings

  • Olive oil can be substituted for vegetable oil in this recipe.
  • Be careful when handling the hot skillet.


  • "Low-Fat Soul"; Jonell Nash; 1997
  • "The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes"; Beth Hensperger; 2004
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