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The Evolution of Cornbread

Margaret Minnicks makes a living by writing online about entertainment, celebrities, books, movies, food, drinks, health, and spirituality.

Cornbread cooked in cast-iron pan

Cornbread cooked in cast-iron pan

I often write about my Southern roots. I grew up in rural Sussex County, Virginia. I am one of ten siblings raised by our mother. All of the siblings had chores to do on designated days. I enjoyed cooking on days when we had certain foods to eat. For instance, it took more time to prepare and cook biscuits from scratch. On the other hand, it was easier to cook cornbread because there were only two ingredients to use.

If my turn was on a Friday, I knew I was going to cook cornbread to go along with the fish my mother caught from the neighborhood pond.

Those were the days that I learned to cook cornbread the "poor person's way." Cooking cornbread is still inexpensive to cook, but the bread has evolved in many different ways from those days when money was scarce.

Take a look at how far cornbread has come.

Hot Water Cornbread

I learned to make cornbread with only cornmeal and hot water in a cast-iron frying pan with a little lard or frying meat grease. I didn't have to add anything else. This way of cooking cornbread is as basic as it can get.

I later learned from one of my sisters that when it was her turn to cook cornbread she would put a pinch of salt in the batter. Another sister said she would sprinkle both salt and pepper in her mixture. Another sister said when we were low on cornmeal, she would sneak a small amount of flour into her batter to stretch it.

None of the siblings tried to give cornbread any particular shape like pancakes. We just poured the batter into a pan with hot grease and let the batter go whichever way it wanted to go. Therefore, some cakes of cornbread turned out to be thicker than others, and no two shapes were ever the same.

My family always ate plain cornbread, but I later learned that other ingredients can be added to the hot water cornbread to enhance it. Such ingredients include pork cracklings, jalapeños, bacon bits, crumbled sausage, scallions, cheddar cheese, chile, pepperoni, and spicy shrimp. It sounds strange, but even kernels of corn or creamed corn can be added to cornbread.

Corn Muffin Mix

Corn Muffin Mix

Making Cornbread the Jiffy Way

One of my sisters recently shared with me that once she found out about Jiffy, she began using it. Another sister said even though she knows about Jiffy, she still makes cornbread the way she used to make it with hot water, salt, and pepper. She admits that she is "stuck in the past."

A box of Jiffy Muffin Mix is extremely inexpensive. At one time it cost only 39 cents a box. The price is much higher now, but it is still less than a dollar for a box of the mix. You can purchase it from Walmart and most grocery stores for about 47 cents a box. Jiffy is really a muffin mix that is much lighter in texture than cornbread.


Honey Cornbread

Of all the ways I have made cornbread, my favorite is Krusteaz Honey Cornbread. I can taste a bit of honey in every bite. In fact, I can pick up a square of this cornbread and eat it as a snack without having to eat it with a meal.

My oldest sister said she doesn't want to eat honey cornbread. She and my youngest sister favor Jiffy Muffin Mix.

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Pillsbury Cornbread Swirls

Pillsbury Cornbread Swirls

Cornbread Swirls

Most people know about Pillsbury Biscuits and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. However, some people will be surprised to know they can also purchase Pillsbury Cornbread Swirls.

This is the quickest, easiest, and laziest way to cook cornbread. There is no preparation time. There is no mess to clean up. There is no recipe to follow. All you have to do is open a can of swirls just as you open a can of biscuits.

Just place and bake each swirl in a muffin pan or place them on a baking sheet. The swirls are ready to be served in about 15 minutes.

Even though there are only six pre-cut swirls in each package, they are big enough to satisfy. Each swirl contains 170 calories, 7 grams of fat, 430 mg sodium, 5 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 23 grams of carbohydrate, and no cholesterol.

The swirls are sweet and light and not as heavy as the cornbread I used to cook with only cornmeal and hot water. Try them to see how you like them. They cost $2.48 at Walmart and about the same at other stores.


No matter which way you choose to prepare cornbread, you will love it for its taste, texture and aroma. It is a quick, easy and inexpensive side dish that is so versatile that it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner and as a snack.

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Sp Greaney from Ireland on April 11, 2021:

It's so interesting to see how a receipe cooked from scratch became so commercialised.

It does make things easier for people who want to make cornbread quicker though. The same thing has happened to pancake mix.

Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on April 11, 2021:

Cheryl, that is a good combination.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on April 11, 2021:

I’m going to cook some today with brown beans

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