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How to make self rising cornmeal

Learn how to make self rising cornmeal (also called cornmeal mix) for the best homemade cornbread you’ve ever eaten even if you can’t buy it in a store where you live. This is the secret to great southern baking!

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a bowl of self rising cornmeal on a towel with some cornbread in the background

What is self rising cornmeal? Is there a difference between it and just “cornmeal”?

Yes there is a big difference. Self rising cornmeal (also called self rising cornmeal mix) is a blend of the dry ingredients needed to make cornbread, hoe cakes, or corn cakes. Many people think that cornbread is made exclusively from ground cornmeal alone–and it sure isn’t. You need to add all purpose flour, salt, and baking powder in the right ratios with cornmeal to get a light and tender cornbread.

What kind of cornmeal should I use? Yellow or white? Does it matter?

Honestly color doesn’t really matter. The color of your cornmeal will also be influenced by the eggs you use and yellow or white—both taste pretty much the same.

But what does matter is the texture.

I tested my cornbread with medium stone ground cornmeal and I knew it was going to be too coarse. I didn’t mind it in the final result—don’t get me wrong—and if you like crunchy bits in your cornbread you won’t mind either. But I’d recommend getting the finest ground cornmeal you can find and nothing that says stone ground.

a split image of medium ground cornmeal on the left and finely ground on the right
For best results, use a finely ground cornmeal and nothing “stone ground”

If you only have something with a larger grind on hand you can still use it. Just try giving it a whirl through the food processor to see if you can get the pieces any smaller. A coffee grinder may do a better job for small amounts or you could put it in a Vitamix or high powered blender to further refine it.

cornmeal salt and flower in a food processor
If your cornmeal is too coarse, try grinding it smaller in a food processor or high powered blender. (The pink stuff in this image is salt.)

How do I make 2 cups of self rising cornmeal mix?

My recipe makes 1 1/2 cups–doggone it–but that’s plenty by the time eggs, oil and milk are added and your cornbread is headed to the oven. Either way if you want 2 cups, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups cornmeal (finely ground)
  • 8 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
a bag of cornmeal, flour, and baking powder on a blue napkin with a whisk and a bowl of flower

>>Attention! This is the sure fire way to ruin your cornmeal mix!<<

And that is to use old baking powder. Folks, if your baking powder is more than three months old, it has likely lost its ability to react with the buttermilk in your recipe and will not rise.

You simply cannot pull some old container out of the back of the cabinet and complain when you bake a beautiful hockey puck.

David Lebovitz has an easy test you can do with your baking powder to see if it’s fresh. Take a couple of minutes to test yours before wasting ingredients, okay?

And definitely test before you come screaming at me. I’m over that y’all.

Get the recipe for the best southern skillet cornbread out there

You can kick off your cornbread making skills with my classic crispy skillet version. It’s not sweet–you can read allll about that controversy in the post but it’s loved by many, sugar or not.

cornbread in a skillet on a blue napkin
Get the recipe for this cornbread.
a bowl of self rising cornmeal on a towel with some cornbread in the background

How to make self rising cornmeal

Make this easy pantry staple for light and tender cornbread you can enjoy whenever you're ready.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 5 people
Author Rachel Ballard

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Blend everything together in one bowl. Use according to whatever recipe you are following.

Nutrition

Calories: 251kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 6gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 239mgPotassium: 674mgFiber: 6gSugar: 1gCalcium: 211mgIron: 2mg
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29 Comments

  1. This was a good ratio of flour to cornmeal. I was surprised about the amount of being powder, but it worked. I do think it needs more salt though

    1. You’re welcome to add as much salt and you’d like in your next batch Renee. I think it also depends on the oil you use and if there’s a salty bacon grease involved that might also flavor the cornmeal. Just something to keep in mind. –Rachel

  2. Self rising cornmeal and cornmeal mix are not the same thing. Cornmeal mix has FLOUR in it, and I don’t want that. The main reason I like and make cornbread is to crumble it up and spoon pinto beans and liquid over it. If you do that with cornmeal mix cornbread it turns doughy. I wish people would differentiate between the two. The are not the same. Self-rising just means it has baking powder in it, to make it rise. See: Martha White Hot Rise Self Rising Cornmeal. It has no flour in it.

    1. Hey Connie, thanks for your thoughts. Your comments are noted though I will say this version makes great cornbread that doesn’t turn doughy under beans. –Rachel

    2. @Connie, YES HONEY!!! I love cornbread crumbled in my pintos!! I like the TendaBake yellow cornmeal. I use equal parts cornmeal (self rising) and whole buttermilk with a TBL of oil per cup of cornmeal, and bake in my iron skillet. No, no egg. That’s how Mom made it and I do too. It’s so good!!

    3. @Rachel Ballard, I make cornbread with plain white cornmeal & flour. However I can’t find plain white cornmeal anymore. How do I know how much flour is in cornmeal mix?

    4. If you’re buying cornmeal mix for the first time Becky, it would be hard to say because I’d think all companies have their own ratios but you can use it straight from the bag since the flour is already incorporated. Look locally for cornmeal and not just at the grocery store. There are small mills just about everywhere that will ship to you. –Rachel

  3. I should have asked if I can substitute Jiffy Mix for self rising cornmeal when required for hush puppies

    1. Pam I’ve never used a bag of Jiffy Mix in my life but self rising cornmeal is basically the same thing. Jiffy just has sugar in it. Add your onions and it will work fine. –Rachel

    2. @Pamela, honestly all my kin are from Alabama and they would roll over in their graves if they saw a box of Jiffy cornbread mix 😱

  4. Has anyone tried to mix medium stone ground with the fine cornmeal? Any thoughts about the proportions or about what the result might be like?

    1. @Monita, I work with organic cornmeal I like to make it self rise cornmeal when I do I will let you know the corn meal is stone grinded along with cornmeal flour yellow or white and all is organic I believe it will be great

  5. Is this supposed to be 2 teaspoons of baking powder, not 2 tablespoons?? My cornbread turned out incredibly bitter. 🙁 Should have listened to my gut instead of the recipe!

    1. No Sara that’s correct. In fact I’ve seen recipes that call for FOUR tablespoons. Have you made cornbread before? Maybe you’re missing a sweet version? I’ve tested this recipe and it tastes like normal non-sweetened cornbread. –Rachel

    2. @Sara, 1/4 cup sugar will take care of the bitter flavor….most of us from the south don’t care for sugar as we crumble it up and add to an ice cold glass of buttermilk

    1. @Rachel Ballard, Wait! I’m confused now. At the top of the article, it says ‘ Self rising cornmeal (also called self rising cornmeal mix) is….’, but you’ve just replied to Stephanie, that she’s right and there is a difference. I need a recipe for self-raising cornmeal flour; will the above recipe for cornmeal mix be sufficient?
      I am currently confused.com 🙂

    2. Hey Asha, sorry for that confusion. Here’s the scoop: when I wrote this post, I called it exactly what we call it in the region where I live “self rising cornmeal” when in reality I have been schooled by some die hard folks out there who see things differently. Self rising cornmeal is truly just cornmeal, salt and some leavening like baking powder. What I make adds flour–making it self rising cornmeal mix. This is what a lot of southern cooks use to make cornbread and we’re happy with it. Some others feel that it’s sinful to add flour. 😂 So it depends on what you’re making as to whether you need the flour in your recipe or not. I hope that helps, and feel free to ask for further clarification if needed. –Rachel

    1. @Rachel Ballard, Thank you for clarifying Rachel. That’s really helpful. 🙂 I’ve heard about this cuisine for years but have decided to try to cook some of it after reading descriptions of it rather than hearing about them in films. Thank again.

  6. With a course ground cornmeal, I’ve found it works best if you go ahead and mix it, but let it sit in the bowl for a while before sticking it in the oven. It gives the batter time to soak up the moisture (you may even find you need to add a bit more milk) and results in an amazing cornbread, no crunchy bits and a great texture.

    1. @Christopher, I process it a little in the Ninja til it’s a little finer then add the buttermilk to it and let it sit for about 15 mins. Cornbread is so tender and moist 🙂

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