Southern Fried Lacy Cornbread is thin and oh so crispy! This flat cornbread is perfect for serving with southern vegetables or with soups and stews. Made with only four simple ingredients, it’s sure to become a family favorite.
In the south, we love our cornbread. We love it so much that we have a multitude of recipes for it. On my site alone, I have more than a dozen recipes for cornbread from classic cornbread to pimiento cheese corn sticks and even corn pone. And I love them all.
This Lacy Cornbread does happen to be one of my favorites, and for a good reason. It has incredible texture! It’s flat, thin, crispy, and just perfect. Plus, it’s made with the simplest of ingredients – cornmeal, salt, and water. It’s pure comfort food!
I’ve seen similar recipes called lace cornbread or hot water cornbread. I’ve seen this southern-fried cornbread called Johnnycakes, too.
But where I come from, we call this “lacy” cornbread because of the airy or lacy edges produced by the very thin batter as it spread in the pan. Yep, this is crispy, crunchy, salty, fried goodness.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- You’ll only need four ingredients.
- It’s quick and easy to make.
- It has an amazing texture.
- It’s a perfect complement to southern vegetables, soups, and stews.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Fine Ground White Cornmeal (For this recipe, plain white cornmeal that has been finely ground is a must. You won’t achieve the same texture with any other cornmeal product such as cornmeal mix (which contains flour and leavening agents), coarse ground cornmeal, or yellow cornmeal.)
- Salt (Unless otherwise stated, I use Kosher salt in all of my recipes. Use whatever you have on hand.)
- Hot Water (I often simply use hot tap water. You can also bring the water just to a boil on the stovetop or in the microwave.)
- Peanut Oil (I recommend peanut oil both for the taste and for its ability to cook at a high temperature without smoking.)
You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.
How to Make Lacy Cornbread
- Stir the salt into the cornmeal in a medium bowl. Add the hot water and blend using a wooden spoon or wire whisk making sure there are no lumps in the mixture.
- This is a very thin batter. Thinner than pancake 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.
- Heat a flat griddle or skillet for several minutes 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.
- Ladle the batter by tablespoons onto the hot pan. Do not crowd the pan. When the edges begin to brown, turn with a metal spatula and cook the second side. It cooks very 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. If the batter thickens, thin it with a tablespoon or two of hot water.
Oh, and those dark edges in the photo? That’s not a mistake :-) That’s the very best part of this thin and crispy cornbread.
- Use a well-seasoned cast iron griddle or skillet. This is key for getting that perfectly crispy texture. (I urge you to invest in one good cast iron skillet. They’re relatively inexpensive and will last several generations if properly cared for. I have some that belonged to my great-grandmothers.)
- Don’t overcrowd the pan! Make sure you allow some space between the pieces of cornbread as you’re pouring them into the skillet or griddle. Adding too much batter into the pan will cause the bread to steam rather than fry.
- Be sure to use the correct kind of cornmeal. You’ll need plain, fine grind white cornmeal (not cornmeal mix). If you can’t source it in your local stores, two good brands, Palmetto Farms and Hoover’s are available online.
- Preheat the skillet. Make sure the skillet is very hot before adding the oil and cornbread batter in order to achieve a crispy texture. 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.
It’s almost easier to answer what not to serve with lacy cornbread. It’s a great addition to many meals, but some of my favorites things to serve it with are pinto beans, butter beans, Hoppin’ John, stewed okra and tomatoes, and vegetable soup.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
Lacy cornbread is best served fresh from the frying pan, but it will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for about three days. To reheat, place it on a baking sheet and warm in a 350 degree oven for about five minutes.
If you’re allergic to peanuts or just don’t have access to peanut oil, you can substitute with any neutral flavored oil that has a fairly high smoking point. Both canola oil and grapeseed oil are good choices.
I don’t recommend making it too far in advance as it’s best served fresh and hot. It will keep well at room temperature for about an hour.
There are a few things that could be causing your cornbread to not turn out crispy. First, make sure you’re using a well-seasoned skillet or griddle. Second, check that you’re not overcrowding the pan with batter. Third, make sure the skillet has preheated for several minutes before adding the oil and batter. And, finally, be sure to use fine ground white cornmeal.
There you have it! A southern-fried delicious cornbread recipe that’s sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. This quick and easy four-ingredient recipe yields the most amazing crispy, crunchy cornbread to accompany all your favorite southern meals. And best of all? You probably have everything on hand right now to make a batch. So what are you waiting for? Give this recipe a try, and let me know how it turns out in the comments below!
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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- 1 cup fine ground white cornmeal
- 1 ¼ cups hot water (boiled on the stovetop or your hottest tap water)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Peanut oil
- Mix the cornmeal, water and salt with a wire whisk making sure no lumps remain in the mixture. Set aside for a few minutes.
- 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.
- 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 to make sure it doesn’t burn.
- Remove the cooked cornbread to paper towels to drain. Re-oil the skillet and stir the batter in between each batch of cornbread.
- Use a well-seasoned cast iron griddle or skillet.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan!
- Be sure to use the correct kind of cornmeal.
- Preheat the skillet.
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.