Home » Side Dishes » Classic Fried Cornbread Cakes

Classic Fried Cornbread Cakes

Classic fried cornbread cakes are golden and crispy on the edges with a tender inside. Make yours sweet or savory and as big or little as you need them. Slathered in butter and jam makes these classic cakes even better.

Jump to Recipe
A stack of cornbread cakes with a pad of butter on top.

There are times when you just don’t need or have time for a whole pan (or pone as we call it) of cornbread. To help remedy that, make fried cornbread cakes on the stove top in just a few minutes.

This is a new take on my classic southern cornbread recipe.

The Northern/Southern style cornbread debate

Cornbread can be a hot debate between Northern and Southern purists. Many will tell you that southern-style cornbread is unsweetened and more crumbly while cornbread from the north is cakey and sweeter.

I’ve seen both renditions and everything in between in both Northern and Southern cuisine and there’s no right or wrong.

This recipe happens to be unsweetened and crumbly. If you would like to add some sweetness to it, you are more than welcome to add ¼ cup of sugar to the batter before frying it. 

Should I use yellow or white cornmeal or mix?

It’s up to you. You will end up with the same flavor and texture. Just the color of the cornbread will be a little bit different.

I like to use a pre-made mix that contains the perfect combination of cornmeal, flour, and baking powder. If you’re gluten intolerant or just trying to avoid flour you can try hot water cornbread! The next section goes into more detail.

If you can’t find self rising cornmeal mix

It’s widely available on Amazon but you’re welcome to make your own. You’ll need finely ground cornmeal, all purpose flour, baking powder and salt. My self rising cornmeal mix recipe will get you there if you need it.

What you’ll need for these cornbread cakes

If you don’t want flour in your cornbread

You can make fried cornbread without flour. In fact, purists would praise you for it. Just add oil, eggs, and either hot water or buttermilk to cornmeal, and you’re ready to go.

This recipe for hot water cornbread does it beautifully. 

Do eggs need to be at room temperature for cornbread?

Cold eggs won’t totally ruin your fried cornbread but using warm eggs will end you with a more pleasing finished product.

As a general rule in baking, warm eggs mix more smoothly and easily into batter. Using warm eggs will produce a smoother batter and will help to keep you from overmixing.

Stirring too long can cause the glutens in the flour to overdevelop, which will likely end you with a tough, overly dense cornbread.

Forgot to leave your eggs out before starting? You can warm cold eggs by letting them soak in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes or so. 

A plate full of fried cornbread cakes.

What’s the best fat for frying cornbread?

There are a few ways to go here. If you want to keep things neutral, reach for avocado oil. It won’t add any extra flavor to the cornbread. 

If you’re looking for a little extra savory kick, I love using bacon grease with a little oil to thin it out. Lard is also a wonderful option. Just be sure to select a high-quality lard without bleach and preservatives. 

What if I can’t get buttermilk?

You can thin some plain sour cream or yogurt half and half with some water and use that or regular milk will work as well.

Some people make buttermilk substitutes with milk and either lemon juice or a little vinegar. You can try it but it’s just not the same to me.

How to cook fried cornbread cakes

In to either the cornbread mix or a homemade version, add the eggs but don’t stir just yet. You don’t want to make them tough!

Adding self-rising cornmeal mix, eggs, and oil to a mixing bowl.

Add the oil and buttermilk and stir to combine.

Adding the buttermilk to eggs, oil, and sefl-rising cornmeal mix to make cornbread cakes.
Cornbread cake batter in a mixing bowl.

Heat a large 10-12 inch heavy skillet or griddle and grease with bacon grease, lard or a butter and oil blend and fry the cornbread cakes in batches. This recipe makes about 16.

Frying cornbread cakes in a cast iron skillet.

Why is my fried cornbread, not crispy?

One of the most common complaints I get from people attempting to make fried cornbread for the first time is that it didn’t get crispy enough. There are several common errors that can cause this. Here they are along with their solutions.  

  • A crowded pan. Trying to fry patties too close together will cause the oil to cool down. Leave an inch of space between each cornbread cake as they fry.
  • The oil isn’t hot enough. You want to get the oil nice and hot. Oil that is too cool won’t fry the patties properly. Instead, it will seep into them, creating a soggy, greasy and heavy fried cornbread.
  • You used a non-stick pan. Non-stick pans are great for easy cleanup but they will not give the cornbread patties the sear they deserve. Cast iron is really best for this or you can use your stove top griddle if you have one.
Molasses dripping off of a stack of cornbread cakes on a plate.

Toppings for cornbread

There’s nothing like tearing a piece of freshly fried cornbread in half, slathering it with your favorite butter or jam, and watching it seep into every steaming nook and cranny of the bread.

  • Jam. I have been loving strawberry jam with cornbread lately but pick your favorite. If I don’t make my own, Thrive Market has some great fruit juice sweetened jams so you don’t have to have the white sugar. Jalapeno-bacon jam is also delicious if you can find it.
  • Molasses or honey. Just a drizzle is all it takes. Pair it with butter and you’ll be in cornbread heaven. 
  • Maple syrup. Enjoy these cornbread cakes just as you would classic pancakes. With syrup! The combination of sweet maple syrup and savory corn cornbread cakes is to die for.
  • Apple butter. Try my slow cooker apple butter
  • Butter. A quality salted butter would be great but, if you have the time, I highly suggest making your own. It’s just so satisfying and utterly delicious. 

What to serve with fried cornbread?

Sure fried cornbread is delish on its own with a slab of butter but I appreciate it even more when it’s served as a tasty accompaniment to other sides and mains. Here are some ideas for you. 

A stack of cornbread cakes with a pad of butter on top.

Classic Fried Cornbread Cakes

These 4-ingredient classic fried cornbread cakes are made from a simple cornmeal batter fried up crispy and delicious.
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author Rachel Ballard


  • 2 cups self rising cornmeal mix
  • 2 eggs or 1 extra large egg
  • 2 tablespoons oil avocado is my preferred; vegetable oil will substitute
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk or regular milk Start with 1 cup of liquid if you are using regular milk and add the rest as necessary
  • 1/4 cup oil for the skillet bacon grease, refined coconut oil or lard will substitute


  • Pour the cornmeal into a bowl and add the oil, egg, and buttermilk. Mix well. The batter should resemble thick pancake batter.
  • Once the batter is made, heat a 10 inch or larger skillet over medium high heat about 4 minutes and add ¼ cup lard, flavorless oil or bacon grease.
  • When shimmering, add ¼ cup (or up to ⅓ cup) batter leaving space between each cake in the skillet.
  • Reduce heat to medium and fry on the first side until golden brown and bubbles start to appear on the surface and pop; about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Flip and cook another three to four minutes. Serve warm.


Serving: 2cakesCalories: 286kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 7gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 631mgPotassium: 174mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 268IUCalcium: 194mgIron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword cornbread cakes, crispy fried cornbread, fried cornbread

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

About the Author

Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.