My Best Southern Cornmeal Muffins

White or yellow cornmeal, sugar or no sugar, cast iron or not….it’s a waste of time to argue over what constitutes the perfect southern cornbread recipe.

The fact of the matter is that you like what you grew up with, what your mother and grandmother served at Sunday dinner after church, the last thing to come out of the oven as the call to table was sounded. If you timed it right, you could grab one while it was still almost too hot to touch and slice it open to insert a big pat of butter, remembering to put the top back on quickly so the melting butter would permeate both halves at once.

This is my idea of the perfect cornbread muffin.  Shatteringly crisp on the bottom and sides with almost a pudding-like moistness on the inside.

The ingredients are basic.  It’s the technique that stands between ho-hum and yum-yum.

My Best Southern Cornbread Muffins

Serves 6-12
By author margaret at The Right Recipe


  • 2 cups self-rising white corn meal mix (look for Martha White or White Lily brands)
  • 1 Large egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk (whole buttermilk, if you can find it)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (plus a bit more for greasing the muffin tin)
  • butter for serving


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Put cornmeal mix in a medium bowl. Beat the egg in a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup (or another medium bowl), add buttermilk and vegetable oil and mix until smooth. Pour buttermilk mixture over the cornmeal and stir until combined. Do not over mix…a few small lumps are fine. Set aside while you prepare the pan.
2. Grease a 12-count muffin tin by drizzling 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of vegetable oil in each cup and spreading it around, making sure to coat the sides. Place muffin tin in the hot oven until very hot….you should be able to smell the pan and the oil cooking almost, but not quite, burning …this will only take 5-6 minutes if your oven is nice and hot.
3. Carefully take the hot pan out of the oven and immediately fill with cornmeal batter, each cup about 3/4 full. The batter should sizzle and pop as you pour it in. Do this quickly and immediately return the pan to the hot oven. Bake until dark golden brown, 15-20 minutes.
4. When the muffins come out of the oven, immediately remove them from the pan (otherwise the crusts will steam and turn soft) Serve right away with salted butter.
5. Note: The muffins will still be great for a couple of hours but they are so amazing straight out of the oven that you'll have to try one, slathered with salted butter, right away.
  • Robin Barnes
    February 8, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    So easy – and SO good! I usually use an iron skillet – but the muffin tins were easier. And, the best part was the perfectly crisp outside of each muffin contrasting with the soft interior. Simple & delicious. Great recipe. Thank you!

    • Margaret
      February 8, 2015 at 8:39 pm

      Thanks so much for letting me know! I used my cast iron skillet for cornbread for years and it was good stuff. But once I started making the muffins, there was no turning back…seduced by the crispy crust.