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Easy Hot Water Cornbread

Light and fluffy on the inside with a crispy, crunchy exterior, this rustic and easy Hot Water Cornbread recipe is a classic Southern treat! All you need are four ingredients and about 15 minutes to make the best fried cornbread you ever put in your mouth!

Ask ten southern cooks how to make cornbread, and you’ll get ten different answers. That’s because everyone has their own way of making it, their own recipes, and different types of cornbread for different types of meals. 

Finished cornbread on a white serving plate.

I have at least a dozen different recipes in my own files. There’s my Old Fashioned CornbreadLacy CornbreadCheesy Chili Cornbread, not to mention my mama’s recipe for Southern Cornbread Dressing, and Southern Hush Puppies, which are a type of cornbread as well.

Some of these are baked, and some are fried cornbread recipes. Each is quite different from the other, yet they’re all delicious and part of our southern foodways!

🤔 What is Hot Water Cornbread?


This style of cornbread gets its name from one of the few ingredients in its recipe – boiling water. It’s simply cornmeal mixed with salt and hot water, formed into little patties, and then fried in a heavy cast iron skillet until crunchy and golden brown. Because the frying time is so short, the boiling water starts the cornmeal cooking and results in a light, fluffy interior texture.

Years ago, this would have been the everyday bread served on tables all across the South. It’s also sometimes known as corn pone or hoecakes. The thicker, cake-like cornbread with buttermilk and eggs would have been served when you had company over or for Sunday dinner.

Finished Easy Hot Water Cornbread on a white serving plate.

❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe


🍳 Tools You’ll Use


This post contains affiliate links. Lana’s Cooking is reader-supported and earns a tiny commission at no extra cost to you when you shop from our links.

Lodge 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Pre-Seasoned Skillet
  • Lodge cast iron cookware is the perfect kitchen tool for beginners, home cooks, and chefs. Cast iron can handle any kitchen cooktop, oven, grill, and open flame. Crafted in America with iron and oil, its naturally seasoned cooking surface creates an easy-release and improves with use.
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This post contains affiliate links. Lana's Cooking is reader-supported and earns a tiny commission at no extra cost to you when you shop from our links.

🛒 Ingredient Notes


Simple ingredients needed to make hot water cornbread.
  • Cornmeal (Cornmeal comes in yellow or white, and either fine, medium, or coarse grinds. I always use white, fine ground cornmeal for any cornbread recipe, but you can use either white or yellow in the fine or medium grind. I don’t recommend the coarse grind for this — or anything, really.)
  • Salt (It’s optional, but I think it greatly improves the taste. I use kosher salt in all my recipes unless otherwise stated.)
  • Boiling Water (Starts the cooking process of the cornmeal and creates the batter.)
  • Peanut or vegetable oil for frying (I always use peanut oil for frying because it has a higher smoking point than other oils. You’ll need enough oil to fill your skillet to about 1/2 inch deep.)

The complete ingredient list with detailed measurements is included in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

🥄 How to Make this Easy Hot Water Cornbread Recipe


Place a 10 or 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to an approximate depth of 1/2 inch. Heat the oil while mixing the cornbread.

STEP 1. In a medium mixing bowl, add the cornmeal and salt. Stir together.

STEP 2. Gradually stir in the boiling water. 

STEP 3. Mix well, forming a dough with a wet, sticky consistency. Add more water if needed to attain the correct consistency.

Cornmeal patty formed by hand.
STEP 4.

STEP 4. When the oil is sufficiently heated (about 375 degrees F), form small patties of dough. 

STEP 5. Carefully lower the patties into the hot oil.

STEP 6. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes or until a medium golden brown color. 

Here’s a short video clip of how the cornbread should look and sound when you add it to the hot oil in the skillet.

STEP 7. Turn and cook on the second side until browned.

Finished cornbread draining on paper towels.
STEP 8.

STEP 8. Remove from the oil and drain on a rack or a plate lined with paper towels. 

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Finished cornbread on a white serving plate.

❗ Recipe Tips


  • This recipe doubles easily if you have more hungry mouths to feed. 
  • The batter tends to stick to your hands when forming the patties. To help prevent that, just wet your hands with a little water.
  • Cornmeal absorbs a lot of liquid and swells as it does so. If the batter has been sitting for any length of time before forming the patties and frying, it may need an additional tablespoon or two of water added.
  • Don’t be tempted to use hot tap water instead of boiling water! The hotter the water, the better for this recipe.
  • Watch the oil carefully while you fry. If it seems to be cooking too fast, turn it down just a little. If the cornbread doesn’t immediately sizzle and bubble when you add it, the oil isn’t hot enough.

❓ Questions About Simple Hot Water Cornbread


There’s no sugar in your recipe. Is that correct?

That is absolutely correct. I don’t put sugar in any cornbread recipe. Ever. Period. However, I know that there’s a whole other crowd that does add a small amount of sugar to cornbread. If you just insist, you can add a teaspoonful.

Can this be made ahead of time?

Yes, it can. It’s great both piping hot and at room temperature. 

How do you store the leftovers?

Um, well, honestly, I don’t think we’ve ever had any leftovers of this cornbread. If you do, though, just pop it into a container and store it in the fridge. It should keep for quite a long time – 5 or 6 days. To reheat, I’d suggest using the oven at 350 degrees and heating it for about 10 minutes.

Lana Stuart.

Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

📖 Recipe

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Finished cornbread on a white serving plate.

Easy Hot Water Cornbread

Light and fluffy on the inside with a crispy, crunchy exterior, this easy Hot Water Cornbread recipe is a classic southern treat!
4.98 from 43 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Breads, Side Dishes
Cuisine: American, Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 5 servings
Calories: 244kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cornmeal (white or yellow, fine or medium grind)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ⅔ cups boiling water (more if needed)
  • Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying (to a depth of 1/2-inch)

Instructions

  • Place a 10 or 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium high heat. Add oil to an approximate depth of 1/2-inch. Let the oil heat while mixing the cornbread.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the cornmeal and salt. Stir together.
  • Gradually stir in the boiling water.
  • Mix well forming a dough with a thick, wet consistency. Add more water if needed to attain the correct consistency.
  • When the oil is sufficiently heated (about 375 degrees F), form small patties of dough.
  • Carefully lower the patties into the hot oil.
  • Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes or until a medium golden brown color.
  • Turn and cook on the second side until well browned.
  • Remove from the oil and drain on a rack or a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Makes about 10 pieces of cornbread. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

  • Cornmeal comes in yellow or white, and either fine, medium, or coarse grinds. I always use white, fine ground cornmeal for any cornbread recipe, but you can use either white or yellow in the fine or medium grind.
  • I always use peanut oil for frying because it has a higher smoking point than other oils. You’ll need enough oil to fill your skillet to about ½-inch deep.
  • Store leftovers in a closed container in the fridge. It should keep for quite a long time – 5 or 6 days. To reheat, I’d suggest using the oven at 350 degrees and heating for about 10 minutes.

Nutrition Information

Serving 1serving | Calories 244kcal | Carbohydrates 46g | Protein 6g | Fat 4g | Saturated Fat 1g | Sodium 468mg | Potassium 205mg | Fiber 6g | Sugar 1g | Calcium 4mg | Iron 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Recipe Rating




22 Comments

  1. Nessa Ann says:

    5 stars
    This recipe was easy to make. I made it with my New Year’s Day meal of Blackeyed Peas, fried chicken and Collard greens.

  2. 5 stars
    so relieved to find this page! absolutely everything I need!

  3. I have been making hot water cornbread for years. I am 76 and got my recipe from my grandmother. I start with self rising cornmeal. I use boiling water with just enough milk to make it cloudy. Bring to a boil, but watch carefully because the milk makes it boil over. Next I pour enough of the water in the cornmeal to make it stiff like. Using a tablespoon I drop in the hot grease and watch carefully so it doesn’t burn but turns a golden brown. My family loves it ! My grandson always ask for the hot water cornbread!

  4. Degüello says:

    Our family has been making hot water cornbread like this for at least 3 generations here in Texas. I am 79 and trying to pass the recipe and method on, but I’m not sure it is catching. We too use only white corn meal for both our pan and hot water corn bread. We always used Aunt Jemima brand corn meal until they changed the name to Pearl Milling Company and find it harder to locate. Lilly makes some too, but hard to find here.

    We always add a tablespoon or two of flour to our mix. I find using two large spoons (one to dip, one to scrape) to transfer the hot patty to them hot oil is easiest while trying to keep as many peaks on it as possible, as rough makes it crispier than smooth in the end. Crispy is good.

  5. 5 stars
    You are one of my favorite cooks. The way you cook is like my mom and her mom and now me. Thanks for keeping cooking simple and good.

    1. Thank you so much! That’s one of the nicest compliments anyone could give!

  6. Michelle E. says:

    5 stars
    This is my go to recipe during my fasting periods. The Daniel Fast calls for bread without yeast and this is perfect with all my vegetables dinners!

  7. 5 stars
    This is my go to recipe. I make it to go with soups and chili.

  8. 5 stars
    My grandmother made this kind of cornbread when we were kids. Anytime we had beans she made these. We preferred the fried “Hoe Cakes” to regular cornbread because it’s crunchier. We love chopped onions added to the raw dough. Dice up 1/2 cup of yellow or white onion and add to cornmeal then add the boiling water. Fry as usual. I think you will love the addition of the onions.

  9. 5 stars
    I have been making cornbread for over 70 years. Lived all over this beautiful country and learned how to cook and bake the way the locals did. Never knew about this. Can’t wait to make it tomorrow. Thank you 🙏

    1. I really hope you enjoy it! This and lacy cornbread are my two favorite kinds.

  10. 5 stars
    I love rubbing butter on top as they come of the fryer. I like to shape mine like oval disks. But this recipe is the way to go. They are so delicious with greens or blackeyed peas.

  11. chloelouise says:

    Do you know my gran because she had the same attitude about putting sugar in her corn bread. Remember her stating very adamantly I’m not putting sugar in cornbread! Here’s the thing–I do not remember anyone ever asking her to put sugar in cornbread. This mysterious announcement is ingrained in my mind forever. She was from Schulenburg, Texas and her cornbread was delicious with crispy edges in a round glass pan. She served it with butter and orange marmalde and I miss her so much. Do you know her recipe for almond white cupcakes with vanilla and chocolate frosting with crushed nuts on the frosting. If you do I am never going off this website.

  12. 5 stars
    This is the same recipe my Mama used. It’s exquisite drowning in real butter. You’re absolutely right about the “hot water”, it HAS to be boiling. Hot tap water WILL NOT work. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    1. I just love hot water cornbread. I can eat way too much of it at one time if I’m not careful :-)

  13. I love cornbread especially without sugar. For health reasons, could this be made any other way without deep frying?

    1. Hi Judi — I understand your concern, but did want to clarify that this is not deep frying. It’s pan frying or also called shallow frying. This type of cornbread is simply meant to be fried. You can always try cooking it with just a few tablespoons of oil or even baking it, but it won’t be quite the same.