Recipes » Bread Recipes » Easy Hot Water Cornbread

Easy Hot Water Cornbread

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Light and fluffy on the inside with a crispy, crunchy exterior, this easy Hot Water Cornbread recipe is a classic southern treat!
5 from 20 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Finished cornbread on a white serving plate.

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 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 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


🥘 About the Ingredients


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.)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🥄 How to Make Easy Hot Water Cornbread


Place a 10 or 12-inch 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 clip of what the cornbread should look like and sound like when you’re adding 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


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 for about 10 minutes.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
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📖 Recipe

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!
4.95 from 20 votes
Print It Rate It Save
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 don’t recommend the coarse grind for this — or anything really.
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.
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.
FAQs
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 would never make cornbread without some sugar. 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? Pop them into a container and store 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 health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Recipe Rating




13 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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 🙏

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.