Lacy Cornbread

Don’t know whether you noticed, but in the last post I wrote…the Sausage and Kale Soup…there were a few little pieces of cornbread on the side of the bowl. Oh, you missed that? Well, let me tell you about it. That is what we in my little corner of the South call “lacy cornbread.”

Now, there are all kinds of cornbread. There’s the thick, cakey type. That’s a baked cornbread and it usually has eggs, maybe buttermilk and some leavening to provide rise. Then there’s corn pone which can be either baked in the oven or fried. It generally does not contain eggs but still has some leavening and it rises a little bit. Also, I would argue that hush puppies are cornbread, too. Of course, they’re fried and most people add onions and other seasonings. It just wouldn’t be a fish-fry without hush puppies.

There’s also the debate over whether or not cornbread should have sugar in the batter. You can count me as firmly entrenched in the no-sugar-in-the-cornbread camp. Even though I think it’s delicious with a drizzle of honey and a pat of butter, I just don’t want any sweetness at all in my cornbread itself. It really just depends on what you grew up with, I think.

But, back to the lacy cornbread. This is a fried cornbread made with the simplest of ingredients – cornmeal, salt and hot water. I’ve seen very similar recipes called, appropriately enough, “hot water cornbread” and I’ve seen this called Jonnycakes, too. But where I come from, we call this lacy cornbread. It’s because the cooked cornbread has an airy, or “lacy” appearance caused by the very thin batter as it spreads in the pan. Yep, this is crispy, crunchy, salty fried goodness.

To make my lacy cornbread, the one really crucial thing that you’ll need is some finely ground, white cornmeal. It can be hard to find, too. I’ve had trouble getting it here in north Georgia, so I just always plan on picking up a package or two when I visit home. Or either my Mama sends me some. Or my friend Sonya. Or I order it online. Gotta have the fine ground white cornmeal, you know!

You’ll also need a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. I use a flat, round cast iron griddle pan, but any cast iron skillet will work just fine.

Making batter for Lacy Cornbread

Stir the salt into the cornmeal. Add the water and blend using a wire whisk to make sure there are no lumps in the mixture. Use the hottest tap water available for your batter.

Lacy Cornbread batter

This is a very thin batter. See how it barely coats the spoon? That’s just what you want. Just set it aside for a few minutes while you prepare the skillet or griddle.

Lacy Cornbread flat griddle pan

Heat a flat griddle or skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, drizzle with one or two tablespoons of peanut oil tilting the griddle so that the entire surface is coated with oil.

Cooking lacy cornbread

Ladle the batter by tablespoons onto the hot pan. Do not crowd the pan. When the edges begin to brown, turn the cornbread with a metal spatula and cook the second side.  The cornbread cooks quickly, so watch it carefully.

Remove the cooked cornbread to paper towels to drain. Re-oil the skillet and stir the batter in between each batch of cornbread. If the batter thickens, thin it with a tablespoon or two of hot water.

Final of lacy cornbread

Oh, and those dark edges in the photo? That’s not a mistake :-) That’s the very best part of this lacy cornbread.

Lacy Cornbread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Southern lacy cornbread. Crispy, crunchy and completely delicious.
  • 1 cup fine ground white cornmeal
  • 1 ¼ cups hot water (your hottest tap water)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Peanut oil
  1. Mix the cornmeal, water and salt with a wire whisk making sure no lumps remain in the mixture. Set aside for a few minutes.
  2. Heat a flat griddle or skillet over medium heat.
  3. When the pan is hot, drizzle with one or two tablespoons of peanut oil tilting the griddle so that the entire surface is coated with oil.
  4. Ladle the batter by tablespoons onto the hot pan. Do not crowd the pan.
  5. When the edges begin to brown, turn the cornbread with a metal spatula and cook the second side. The cornbread cooks quickly, so watch to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  6. Remove the cooked cornbread to paper towels to drain. Re-oil the skillet and stir the batter in between each batch of cornbread.
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  1. Jennifer Pace says

    My south Georgia grandmother makes this. It’s my absolute favorite way to eat cornbread, and it’s the perfect side to a hot bowl of vegetable soup! Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Yes, this is a very typical cornbread from south Georgia. We have so many different kinds, but if you asked folks there which was their favorite, this would probably win.

  2. says

    I love anything with cornmeal! I doubly love this recipe because it a gluten free crispy “crostini” of sorts and I’m gluten intolerant. I’m always interested in a GF vehicle for appetizers, or an accompaniment for soups, etc. I am definitely trying this…so simple! I just did one of my favorites with cornmeal…my Roasted Pear Upside Down Cake…the recipe is not gluten-free but could be…just sub out the flour for corn flour. Thanks!

  3. says

    I LOVE this recipe! I am nuts for cornbread but there is something about these fried treats that goes beyond ordinary cornbread! Really perfect with soup, aren’t they. I have to try these….and oooh maybe drizzled with honey. Great recipes and I am always fascinated by all things corn bread: jonnycakes, corn pones, etc!

    • says

      Interesting – I wouldn’t think of this one for Thanksgiving. It’s very coarse and rustic. In south Georgia, you’d typically find this served with a meat and vegetable plate (fried chicken, with maybe fried okra, corn and field peas). It’s very humble food :-)

  4. says

    Yum! I love the flavor of cornbread but I don’t always want that thick brick of a slice. I think I’ll be able to hunt down white cornmeal here in Texas. Like another commenter said, it looks like a perfect pairing for chili.

  5. Jo says

    Oh this brought back so many memories. I live in NC and we just call it fried cornbread. My grandmother used to make this almost everyday. She would always have a glass of buttermilk with it. I asked her one time if she didn’t get tired of it for lunch. She told me to try it. I did and I loved it. Never thought I would love fried cornbread and a glass of buttermilk, maybe it was her company, but I did. Thanks for the memories, wish I could share some with her now.

    • says

      Yes, I know lots of older folks who enjoy a glass of buttermilk with cornbread. I never did enjoy the buttermilk, but I sure can put away some cornbread!

  6. Betty B. Hicks Jr. says

    My Mom made this cornbread and there was never a drop left after a meal. She also made pone cornbread, it was thicker to where she could pick it up and shape it. I have a great collection of iron skillets, one is like a griddle, and dearly love to make the Lacy patties. Sometimes I just make it for the memories. I am 82 and live in Madisonville, Tn. I worked for a newspaper for more than 28 years and even married the owner. I was the advertising manager and had a recipe booket published each year for our readers. Thanks for making me remember the olden days
    long gone by.

  7. Bruce says

    This is the best cornbread IMO. With some Carolina BBQ ( smoked pork butt soaked in vinegar all day), and some home made cole slaw it is hard to beat. Also goes very very well with ham and beans. I want to thank Tammy for this.

  8. says

    Okay, how have I not heard of Lacy Cornbread? I so need to make this, especially with all my cozy soup. Thank you for sharing. I love learning new recipes special to the Deep South! Yum, Hugs, Terra

  9. Sara says

    I find it hard to get plain white cornmeal also. I just use the yellow, but it’s not as good! This is the ONLY kind of cornbread per my husband…

  10. Allen Vergakis says

    My Alabama grandmother (Vesta Allen) knew that was the ONLY cornbread. For those whom may not know, the the lacy-edging is referred to as “tattering.” And the meal HAD to be stone-grown. This recipe brings back fond memories. Thank you and God bless you and yours, Allen. P.S. Now you know where I got the name Allen.

  11. Christa says

    My grandmother made a huge plate of lacy cornbread everyday for supper. A big pot of white peas, creamed field corn, fried okra and you have got a perfect South Georgia meal. She taught me that Hoover’s Fine Ground Cornmeal was the only kind to use for lacy cornbread and my kitchen is never without it. Your followers are lucky you have shared this southern staple.

  12. Nancy says

    OMG! My beloved aunt Ocie used to make this all the time and I have been trying to figure out how she did it. It was so good on a cold winter day with some good salty country ham. My aunt Ocie lived on a farm and was widowed and left with two young sons to raise. But she not only survived but thrived! Thanks so so much for this recipe!

  13. Pat Bush says


    I learned to make lacy cornbread from “Miss” Juanita
    Geer, when we would have sleepovers at Ada’s house.
    Aunt Pat


  1. […] Note:  You will not perfect this cornbread the first time unless you are a classically trained chef or just naturally a better cook than I am (which most everyone is).  After years of practice, I finally began to get it right about a decade ago.  Keep trying though cause even the “not perfect” pieces are yummy – crisp, crunchy, and finger-licking good (especially if you bathe each piece in butter).  Oh come on!  It’s the South! Lana’s Lacy Cornbread.  Step by step instructions with photos can be found here: […]

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