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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



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


Calories: 251kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 6gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 239mgPotassium: 674mgFiber: 6gSugar: 1gCalcium: 211mgIron: 2mg
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  1. I think 2 1/2 tablespoons are way too much baking powder. I did not like the taste. Is it possibly a mistake? Should it say 2 1/2 teaspoons?

    1. Hey Angi, great question. It’s not a typo and amazingly it’s a much lower amount than most comparable recipes. Food.com uses just 3/4 cup cornmeal and 1 tablespoon baking powder. I can’t imagine how terrible that would be! You’re welcome to reduce the amount and see how your cornbread turns out. –Rachel

    2. I will try again with less baking powder and whisking the egg white before mixing it with the other ingredients.

  2. 5 stars
    Self rising cornmeal, buttermilk and one egg. Melt 1/4 stick of butter in a 8” cast iron skillet on the stovetop while the oven is preheating to 425 degrees F. Mix self rising cornmeal, one egg, and enough buttermilk to make a slurry to your liking. When the butter is sizzling, pour in your slurry..it should sizzle. Bake until as brown as you like it..approximately 15/ 20 minutes ( I like mine crusty). NO flour and definitely NO sugar. The crust is yummy, and the interior has a tooth. Don’t ruin my southern cornbread with flour please. Try it you’ll like it…like Mikey! My grandma made a thin cake as she liked the crust the best!

  3. Annie,
    You wrote, “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.”
    This statement is true only if making baked cornbread. If making hot water cornbread all you need is cornmeal, salt, and boiling water, then fried in oil using cast iron skillet.
    Grandpa Glenn

    1. Right Glenn. When I wrote this post it was with baked cornbread in mind but I will say that I also use this same recipe for skillet cornbread with great results. –Rachel

    1. Fried (skillet) cornbread patties has many names depending on where you live and what the ingredients are.
      Cornbread where I grew up was made with white cornmeal, salt, boiling water and was called “Hot water cornbread” or just “cornbread”. Boiling water is an important part because you must have high temps to release the starch from the cornmeal. It is this, when fried, that gives the little patties a wonderful crunchy outside, but a softer and moist inside. Darn, I’m getting hungry just writing this.

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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.