Hot Water Cornbread

published Jan 26, 2022
Hot Water Cornbread Recipe

This recipe takes under 30 minutes to make.

Serves6

Prep12 minutes

Cook6 minutes to 10 minutes

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four individual round pieces of hot water cornbread on a rectangular white plater  with butter on the side
Credit: Renae Wilson

Largely familiar only to Southerners, hot water cornbread is an alternative to the more commonly known oven-baked version. I’ve always enjoyed hot water cornbread more, largely, I think, because of the texture; I like grit, and I like crunch. My grandmother made it often for Sunday dinners and I was always so impressed that she whipped it together with a bowl and a metal fork. 

Hot water cornbread only has a few ingredients — the main two being boiling hot water and cornmeal. The batter mixes up very easily (I use a fork, just like my grandma) and is fried in hot oil on the stovetop for just a few minutes. What you’re left with is a dense, gritty bite that’s crunchy on the outside. I like to have it with a little butter and hot sauce, but you can also lean sweet and drizzle yours with honey.

Credit: Renae Wilson

What to Serve with Hot Water Cornbread

Serve hot water cornbread alongside anything you’d eat with traditional cornbread (think: chili, a bowl of your favorite beans & collard greens, pot roast, or a BBQ plate).  

Can You Make Hot Water Cornbread Ahead of Time?

Yep! Place formed, uncooked patties on an oiled plate in the freezer until solid. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container or zip-top bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.

Hot Water Cornbread Recipe

This recipe takes under 30 minutes to make.

Prep time 12 minutes

Cook time 6 minutes to 10 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter, plus more for serving

  • 3/4 cup

    plus 3 tablespoons finely-ground cornmeal, plus more as needed

  • 1 tablespoon

    baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1 cup

    boiling water, divided

  • 1 cup

    neutral oil, such as vegetable

Instructions

  1. Let 1 tablespoon unsalted butter sit at room temperature until softened.

  2. Place 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons finely-ground cornmeal, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the butter to the well.

  3. Gradually pour about 1/2 cup boiling hot water, 1/4 cup at a time, over the butter to melt it. Stir with a fork, incorporating the cornmeal mixture, until the cornmeal is moistened enough to stick together to form a moist patty. It should be the texture of wet sand. Gradually mix in up to 1/2 cup more hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. If the mixture is too wet, stir in up to 1 tablespoon more cornmeal.

  4. Heat 1 cup neutral oil in a high-sided, heavy-bottomed 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmering or abou 365ºF. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a small pinch of batter into the oil; if it bubbles furiously, the oil is hot enough. Meanwhile, use damp hands to divide the cornmeal mixture into 6 portions. Shape each portion into a patty about 2 inches wide and 1 inch thick.

  5. Add half the patties to the skillet and pan-fry until until golden-brown, flipping halfway through, 2 to 3 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat frying the remaining patties. Serve hot with butter or alongside your favorite Southern meal.

Recipe Notes

Frying: Make ahead: Form patties and place on an oiled plate in the freezer until solid. Transfer to an airtight container or zip-top bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight then cook according to directions.

Storage: Store leftovers at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To reheat, rewarm in a 375℉ oven, wrapped in foil, for 15 to 20 minutes.