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.
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.
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💗 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.
🍳 Tools You’ll Use
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Cast Iron Skillet
A black cast iron skillet is a must-have for any southern kitchen! We use them for everything from cornbread to fried chicken to scrambled eggs.
🛒 Ingredient Notes
- 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 LOVE to know what you thought!
Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked it!
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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.
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.
Thank you so much! That’s one of the nicest compliments anyone could give!
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!
Great! I enjoy this cornbread with many, many different meals.
This is my go to recipe. I make it to go with soups and chili.
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.
Sounds delicious! I’d like to try it sometime.
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 🙏
I really hope you enjoy it! This and lacy cornbread are my two favorite kinds.
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.
Yum! Butter on top makes it even better – if that’s possible!
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.
No sugar in the cornbread. Ever :-)
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!
I just love hot water cornbread. I can eat way too much of it at one time if I’m not careful :-)
I love cornbread especially without sugar. For health reasons, could this be made any other way without deep frying?
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.