Gluten free buttermilk cornbread is all the flavor and texture you love in the classic minus the gluten you don’t need. Whether you like it sweet or savory, you can do it all with this simple version.
The crispy, golden crust of a perfectly cooked skillet of cornbread feels like the last thing you’ll ever see again when you’re gluten free. But cheer up! Because it’s back and it’s as delicious as the classic.
This version uses buttermilk (if you’re dairy free, I’ll give you some swaps for that) and a few other basic ingredients–but you’ll want to be careful with substitutions because I know from experience with baking and especially gluten free baking that going rogue may not yield the same results.
I highly recommend using the brands that were used for testing for the best results.
Is cornmeal gluten free? Recommended brands
Cornmeal itself should be gluten free because corn doesn’t contain gluten–however–many factories that process cornmeal also process grains that contain gluten (like wheat) on the same machines and many cannot promise that the cornmeal hasn’t been contaminated.
That’s why you should buy your cornmeal from a company that markets gluten free goods and tests theirs for safety. I recommend Arrowhead Mills, or Bob’s Red Mill. As long as the bag says “gluten free cornmeal” then you’ll be fine.
Are store bought boxed cornmeal mixes gluten free?
No. Most boxed cornbread mixes like Jiffy and other brands use wheat flour in the mix, making them not gluten free. Unless the box is labeled as a gluten free cornmeal mix, assume it’s not.
You will also find bagged “self rising cornmeal mix” in the baking aisle next to the flour. This is also not gluten free because it’s a blend of cornmeal, flour and leavening agents all together. We can’t be sure that the cornmeal was gluten free and of course the addition of wheat flour automatically takes it out of play.
Why is there gluten free flour in this recipe? Cornbread should be straight cornmeal.
I hear you. Every once in awhile I run in to a cornbread purist who thinks we’ve committed a cardinal sin for using some flour in our cornbread.
They prefer a version with just leavening and cornmeal. If that’s what you’re looking for, this recipe won’t be for you.
The flour adds a nice texture to a recipe that can be quite dry and disappointing without it and I simply don’t make cornbread any other way–neither did any of the many southern women in my family who came before me.
I tested this recipe with Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free 1:1 flour. I would recommend you use the same brand that was used for testing whenever possible.
Does gluten free cornbread taste different?
Not tremendously. I think your selection of cornmeal and gluten free flour will really play in to that though. One thing you may notice is a bit of a difference in texture–larger air holes or slightly larger bits of cornmeal in your final result.
That’s because getting a super finely ground gluten free cornmeal is hard. Most are medium grind and that’s going to make your texture a bit more coarse. If you find a fine grind anywhere, grab it up.
I would not use a stone ground or coarse ground cornmeal here unless you know what you’re getting in to.
How to make this cornbread sweet
I grew up with only savory cornbread. Sweet was just for dipping corn dogs in. But if you’d like a sweet version you can use 1/4 cup sugar in the dry ingredients. If you’d like it less sweet, you can go as low as 2 tablespoons.
Gluten free buttermilk cornbread muffins
You can easily adapt this recipe to any shape pan or tin. Make cornbread sticks in a cast iron pan, or muffins in your standard tin. Grease it well or use muffin liners if you think it might stick.
Fill them 3/4 full and bake on the middle rack at the same temperature for 12-18 minutes (ovens vary) so check them often. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
Dairy free buttermilk alternatives
If you need to swap the buttermilk, keep in mind that most dairy free alternatives are largely water and flavor so they will make your cornbread much thinner in consistency.
I recommend adding just 1 or 1 1/4 cups of dairy free buttermilk to your cornbread before adding the rest to make sure you don’t make it too thin.
Use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 1 cup of non dairy milk and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then use as instructed.
How to make gluten free cornbread step by step
No cast iron skillet? No worries.
Any 8×8 or equivalent glass or metal baking pan or muffin tin will work. Just make sure to grease it well and don’t ever try to preheat anything glass on your stove top. You can stick the pan in the oven to warm while you mix the batter.
How to store leftover cornbread
Tightly wrap your cornbread in plastic wrap or transfer it to an air tight container. It will last on your countertop up to 3 days. Save any dried out leftovers for making holiday stuffing or dunking in a glass of milk.
Cornbread can be frozen, tightly wrapped for 2-3 months or vacuum sealed for up to 6 months.
Craving other breads without yeast? This Indian Fry Bread is a fast and fun way to serve up dinner.
Gluten Free Buttermilk Cornbread (Southern style)
- 1 3/4 cups gluten free cornmeal fine or medium grind, not coarse or stone ground
- 6 tablespoons gluten free flour we tested with Cup 4 Cup 1:1 gluten free flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 eggs we tested with large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil vegetable oil will substitute
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil for skillet, vegetable oil will substitute
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- In a large bowl mix the cornmeal, gluten free flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine.
- Add the oil, eggs and buttermilk and whisk until no dry pockets remain. Set aside briefly.
- Place an 8" cast iron skillet on the stove top, add the remaining oil and heat on high until the oil starts to just barely smoke–about 6 to 7 minutes. You can also preheat your skillet in the hot oven if you have time.
- Add the cornmeal to the skillet, filling it 3/4 full. Place the skillet on the center rack in the back of the oven until firm and golden around the edges–20 to 25 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean.
- If desired, use a spatula to loosen any stuck spots and flip the cornbread over for presentation.