This recipe for old fashioned Hot Water Cornbread is one that can serve as a side dish at any meal. It's a Southern classic and inexpensive to make guaranteed to keep your budget on track.
What is Hot Water Cornbread?
Hot water cornbread is a country classic that's been served in the South for eons. It's made using ground cornmeal that's mixed with boiling water and then fried like a crispy corn cake. It's simple flavor profile made it accessible to all and while it isn't typically served sweet, it can be. Cornmeal is closely associated with Native American cuisine and to date, it's remained a staple for most families in some form. It's delicious and guaranteed to help to maintain your grocery budget.
How to Make Easy Hot Water Cornbread Recipe
- Is hot water cornbread flat? This simple style of fried cornbread is a cross between pancake-like Southern hoe cakes and corn muffins. Rest assured, it comes in many shapes and thickness due to each cook's preference and none of them are wrong. That said, I make these just as demonstrated in the pictures keeping them around ½ - ¾ inch thick.
- If I make the cakes in a different shape will they take the same amount of time to fry? No, they likely won't. Should you change the thickness or shape of the corn cakes adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- Do you use self rising or plain yellow cornmeal to make this cornbread recipe? You can use self rising or plain yellow cornmeal for this recipe. Please note, self rising is recommended as it already has salt and leavening included and using it will lend a fluffier texture to the fried cornbread.
- Is there a way to lighten the texture? When using plain cornmeal, you can replace 3-4 tablespoons of cornmeal with self rising flour for a lighter texture.
- Do I have to fry these in shortening? Vegetable shortening is the classic way hot water cornbread is made. You can fry these cornbread cakes not only in vegetable shortening, but you can also use vegetable oil, or go old school and use bacon drippings. You could also use a mixture of oil and butter but do note that butter alone tends to burn due to the milk solids it contains. You can also fry them in ghee or clarified butter to prevent from burning.
- Are there eggs in hot water cornbread? No, there are typically no eggs.
- Can I add anything to the cornbread mix? While this recipe is keeping it classic, just like cornbread you can also add mix-ins and various seasonings to the cornmeal. Ingredients such as granulated garlic, onion powder, chopped green onions, crumbled bacon, green chiles or even shredded cheese, if desired.
- Can I bake it? This particular kind of bread is meant to be fried. See how to make cornbread muffins here.
- How do I serve hot water cornbread? It can be served for breakfast piled high with eggs and bacon or smothered with sausage gravy. You can also serve it drizzled with honey or maple syrup. At other meals, it can be served with or without butter as a side dish with pinto beans, meatloaf, chili, soup, stew,fried chicken, shrimp or any of your favorite Southern comfort foods. There's no time of wrong time of day.
Can I use Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix to Make Hot Water Cornbread?
You can make a variation of this fried cornbread using Jiffy Muffin Mix but it won't be an exact substitution as it won't require the same amount of boiling water. In fact, it will use much less than called for in the recipe. The preparation would be the same and it can be fried using the same technique. If you want to try it, add less boiling water than the liquid that's called for on the package adding in small increments until it reaches a stiff texture and will hold together, then proceed.
Other Southern Cornbread Recipes to Add to the Menu
More country cornbread recipes to try:
- Chili Chorizo Cornbread
- Skillet Honey Cornbread
- Skillet Ham and Cheddar Cornbread
- Okra Cornbread
- Fully Loaded Cornbread
- Cornbread Supreme with Shrimp from My Recipes
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Hot Water Cornbread
- 2 cups self rising yellow cornmeal (you may use plain plus 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon baking powder)
- 2 teaspoon granulated sugar may adjust to taste
- ¼ cup vegetable shortening or butter melted (may use vegetable oil)
- 1 ½ cups boiling water
- solid vegetable shortening, vegetable oil or bacon drippings for frying
- Place cornmeal and sugar into a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together.
- Pour over boiling water and shortening or melted butter. Mix until fully moistened. The mixture should be stiff. (If needed, you can add small amounts of additional cornmeal to achieve this texture)
- Let stand and cool slightly just until easy to handle. Shape into 8 rounds ½ - ¾ inch thick. (Use a measuring cup or ice cream scoop to divide into even potions)
- Heat about ¼ inch or so of vegetable shortening or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. (You may also use bacon drippings.) Fry cornbread for about 3 minutes per side, lowering heat to medium to prevent burning. Turn, as needed for even browning. If frying in batches, use a paper towel to wipe out the skillet between each batch and add additional shortening, oil or bacon drippings to the pan as needed.
- Remove to a platter lined with paper towels to drain. Keep warm.
- Serve warm as a side dish at any meal. You may also butter and drizzle with maple syrup or honey, if desired.