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.
I have at least a dozen different recipes in my own files. There’s my Old Fashioned Cornbread, Lacy Cornbread, Cheesy 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.
💗 Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This recipe has been around for a long, long time. Some food anthropologists can trace it back at least 400 years.
- It requires minimal ingredients that are easily sourced and stored.
- It can be served warm or at room temperature with almost anything from southern style greens, butter beans, sliced tomatoes, and fried chicken to your favorite soups and chilis.
- Because it’s just absolutely delicious! That’s why.
🛒 Ingredient Notes
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- 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 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.
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.
STEP 7. Turn and cook on the second side until browned.
STEP 8. Remove from the oil and drain on a rack or a plate lined with paper towels.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
❗ 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
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.
Yes, it can. It’s great both piping hot and at room temperature.
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.
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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Easy Hot Water Cornbread
- 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)
- 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.
- 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 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.