Sweet Cornbread Recipe from Scratch

Sweet cornbread is great with just about anything, but especially in Thanksgiving dressing and with soups, chili, and the like. To be honest, most Southerners do NOT put sugar EVER in their savory foods.

A cast iron skillet yields crispy edges.

The first time I learned that people around the country use sugar often in their savory dishes was on a trip to the Grand Canyon. One of my favorite breakfast foods was sausage and biscuits from Hardee’s. I’ve never forgotten my impression of that sugar laden gravy…it was NOT GOOD, and I was devastated. I’m serious.

Dressing Cornbread: A Sweet Exception

Well, I feel differently about this recipe. My grandmother always used Martha White Yellow Cornbread Packets and followed the instructions on the back of the packet for her “cornbread dressing cornbread.” This packet has sugar! “Dressing cornbread is made very differently” she would remind me.

Sweet Cornbread fresh from the skillet with butter on top
Cooking in an Iron Skillet gives a nice color and crunchy crust.

For years, I used the packets, while for all other cornbread needs I’d make it from scratch. Well, I decided that I would test varying ingredients to find just the right recipe to create the same taste and texture of that of the cornbread packets, so I could make every cornbread recipe from scratch.

Sweet Cornbread with melted butter on wood
Butter and Cornbread – the perfect marriage.

Homemade Sweet Cornbread Perfection

By mixing yellow all-purpose cornmeal, flour, sugar (I know, I can’t believe it), baking powder, and a little salt, I had the right homemade mixture! Voila! I had indeed prepared the most excellent sweet cornbread mixture. I found it to be excellent with chili and PERFECT for cornbread dressing!

Note: If you are having a large crowd, you can double the recipe. You may have to leave it in the oven a little longer than the recipe calls for. To check for doneness, stick a toothpick into the center of the cornbread. If it comes out clean and the top is golden brown, it is ready.

Cornbread in Black Skillet with Towel on White Background
I cannot wait to make this  to go with my chili

Watch me make this skillet cornbread on the Outdoor Channel:

Iron skillet with corn made bread pretty towel.

Sweet Milk Cornbread

Sweet Cornbread from scratch is super easy and is delicious with just about anything, but especially with soups, chili, and the like.
5 from 1 vote
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Southern


  • 1/4 cup bacon drippings (or the same amount of a vegetable oil)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In oven, heat drippings in 9” skillet until sizzling hot.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk eggs and milk until incorporated.
  • In a large bowl, add cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until blended.
  • Pour drippings from skillet into cornbread mixture and mix well. The drippings should sizzle when they hit the batter. Pour batter into skillet.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
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  1. Can not wait to try cornbread.

  2. I haven’t tried this recipe yet but I have a question, can you use buttermilk instead of regular milk? You probably don’t remember me but I reached out to personally thank you a couple years back for the THANKS THAT YOU SHOWED FOR VETERANS. I informed you that I was a veteran and told you “THANK YOU FOR BEING SOMEONE WORTH FIGHTING FOR” I was living in Orange Beach, AL. at the time.

    1. I do remember you!! I love love love our veterans. Thank you for fighting for us. Thank you for saying I’m worth fighting for!! That means everything to me. My dad fought in Vietnam, and I think he remembers it like yesterday. Y’all go through so much for us. Yes, you can use buttermilk instead of milk. It won’t end up being as sweet as it is intended, but will be amazing. I hope you enjoy the recipe. I’ll be putting up a jalapeño cornbread recipe with buttermilk in the next few weeks. Have a wonderful day!

  3. Kathy A Schroeder says:

    I was raised in the South by a Mother from the North. When I was little I was confused about savory cornbread and sweet cornbread. My mom told me this: “Cornbread does not have sugar in it. But Johnny Cake does. Also, there is a type of cornbread called hoecakes. It is made in a skillet and fried like a pancake.”

    1. That’s interesting Kathy! I love hearing things passed down through the generations. My grandmother did both sweet and savory cornbread in the skillet and never put sugar in her hoe cakes. I guess it all depends on where you are from. I love studying regional foods. Thanks for this information.

  4. Can you substitute honey for the sugar, and how much would equal the sugar?

    1. Hey Jeff! Well, I haven’t tried it, but if I did, I would use 2/3 cup of honey and maybe add an egg. Let me know if you try this and how it turns out.

  5. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! My second batch I used buttermilk, increased the sugar a little and added spinach. Can’t tell you how good it was! If you don’t like spinach you can add broccoli. So good!

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