Skillet Corn Bread

This recipe appears across the South, but people are always amazed when they eat it, swearing it’s the best corn bread. It is typically southern, with no sugar or wheat flour. It is the way both of my grandmothers, from opposite ends of Tennessee, made corn bread, and it is now the way everyone I know in the Lowcountry makes it. I have given the recipe out literally hundreds of times, much to the chagrin of my family. To reproduce this corn bread, you will need a 9- or 10-inch well-seasoned, never-washed cast- iron skillet to obtain a golden brown crust. Serve with fish stews, pilaus, gumbos, and greens. My family reaches for the sorghum syrup when corn bread is served.


  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • cups cornmeal
  • 1½ to 2 teaspoons strained bacon grease
  • 1 scant teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 1 scant teaspoon baking soda


Mix the egg into the buttermilk, then add the cornmeal and beat it well into the batter, which should be thin. Put enough bacon grease in the skillet to coat the bottom and sides with a thin film, then put it in a cold oven and begin preheating the oven to 450°. When the oven has reached 450°, the bacon grease should be just at the point of smoking. Add the baking powder, salt, and soda to the batter, beat in well, and pour the batter all at once into the hot pan. Return to the oven to bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top just begins to brown. Turn the loaf out on a plate and serve with lots of the freshest butter you can get your hands on.