Southern Cornbread Muffins
This family recipe for buttermilk cornbread muffins is the best ever! Cornbread is golden on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Perfect with pinto beans, chili, or Sunday dinner. Recipe uses no flour– it’s made with self-rising cornmeal (not cornbread mix). Vegetarian (contains dairy and egg).
This cornbread muffin recipe has been a family favorite for years and we enjoy them often. Serve these with hot chili or soup, or fix with a pot of pinto beans for a comforting meal.
You’ll need just 4 ingredients and about 30 minutes to make these delicious cornbread muffins. This recipe serves 12 and is perfect for any day of the week.
Self-rising cornmeal (NOT cornbread mix)- We use Virginia’s Best Self-rising cornmeal for our recipes. If you’re looking for something similar, just make sure the mix doesn’t contain flour and is finely ground. You can also make it at home.
Sugar– just a little white sugar adds moisture and helps the corn muffins brown around the edges. Add 3 or 4 Tablespoons.
Buttermilk– whole buttermilk works best, but 1% is fine, too. Buttermilk adds flavor and reacts with the soda in the cornmeal. You’ll need 2 cups (16 ounces).
An egg– adding an egg to cornbread gives it some structure. It helps keep everything together, but there will still be some crumbs.
Baking spray for the pan– this doesn’t go in the cornbread muffins, but the last thing we want is for the cornbread to stick. Generously coat the bottoms and sides of the pan just before pouring in the batter.
Optional– feel free to add a few tablespoons of melted butter in along with the milk.
How To Make Cornbread Muffins
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a dark muffin pan well with baking spray.
Combine self-rising cornmeal and sugar in a large bowl. Lightly beat the egg in a bowl or cup.
Pour the egg and the buttermilk into the bowl and whisk everything together to combine until smooth.
Pour batter into the prepared muffin pans and fill each 3/4 full. Liquid may settle at the top and that’s okay.
Bake until edges are golden and tops spring back, between 15 and 20 minutes. *When you begin smelling the corn muffins, they are getting close to done. Some pans and/or ovens may take a little longer.
Remove pan from oven and loosen the sides of the cornbread muffins right away (this helps keep them from sweating and sticking in the pan– you want crusty edges, not soft, cakey ones). Let sit just a few minutes then serve.
Are these considered gluten-free cornbread muffins?
Yes, because they are made with cornmeal only and contain no flour.
What’s the Best Cornmeal for Cornbread?
Finely ground white cornmeal is the preferred type, but yellow cornmeal is easier to find outside of the southern US.
Fine cornmeal yields a nice crumb and good texture– these cornbread muffins are fluffy, but not cakey, and still hold up to beans, soup, and chili.
What Temp to Cook Cornbread:
A higher temperature, like 450 degrees Fahrenheit, ensures golden edges on the cornbread and a quick rise for the best texture and fluffy interior.
You can bake on 400 or 425 if you prefer, just add a couple minutes to the bake time.
How Long Are Cornbread Muffins good?
Just like other breads, cornbread is best the day it’s made but you can store it in an airtight container on the counter for up to 3 days. Add a paper towel to the container to absorb any moisture and keep them fresh.
Cornbread muffins can also be frozen, once cooled, up to 1 month. Reheat in an oven or microwave.
Tips for making this recipe:
- Cornbread recipes can often be made by ‘feel’ (just like biscuits). Depending on the humidity level of the air, the temperature of the room, etc. you may need more or less buttermilk to get the best consistency.
- Baking time will vary between ovens and the pans used, but start checking for doneness at 15 minutes.
- There’s a debate on whether or not sugar belongs in a southern cornbread recipe. I’m pro adding a couple tablespoons’ worth of sugar because it helps brown the edges and adds just a little contrast to the cornmeal.
- These cornbread muffins are still not sweet– If you’re used to the boxed stuff or sticky, cakey cornbread, these muffins will be very different.
Southern Cornbread Muffins
- Muffin pan (preferably seasoned or cast iron)
- 1¾ cups self-rising white cornmeal (without flour) or a homemade version
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups buttermilk preferably whole
- 1 large egg
- baking spray for pan
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Generously spray muffin pan to coat all sides.
- In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal and sugar. Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl.
- Add the egg and buttermilk into the dry cornmeal. Thoroughly whisk mixture until smooth.
- Pour batter into muffin pans and fill each 3/4 full.
- Bake on middle rack until crust is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and loosen cornbread muffins to tilt them on their side. Let cool 5 minutes then serve as desired.
Storing Leftover Cornbread Muffins:
- Cornbread muffins should be completely cool before storing in an airtight container at room temperature. They are best within 3 days. Or freeze in a zip-top bag for up to 1 month.
- This recipe is made with self-rising cornmeal, NOT cornmeal “mix”– it should not contain flour (so it’s also naturally gluten free).
- Whole buttermilk gives the best results but 1% buttermilk works, too.
- For extra flavor: add a few tablespoons of melted butter in with the milk.
- To make these into vegan cornbread muffins: use vegan buttermilk (mix together a little acid with a neutral plant-based milk) and omit the egg. Texture may be a little less fluffy without the egg but it’s still a delicious and traditional southern cornbread!
On a personal note:
This is my Papa Billy Tuck’s cornbread muffin recipe and it’s near and dear to my heart. I shared the recipe as he guided me through it but I added notes along the way. Hopefully you’ll love this recipe for southern cornbread muffins as much as we do!