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Spoon Bread Recipe

Spoon bread is a savory baked cornmeal leavened with eggs. It’s a little bit jiggly, and delicious with a dab of honey or piled high with savory items like cooked sausage. Simple to make, this Appalachian classic will be a nice swap from regular cornbread.

a baking dish of spoon bread on a table with some scooped out

The History of Spoonbread in Appalachian America

This spoon bread recipe is a traditional dish that originated in the southern United States. The dish is a type of cornmeal-based pudding that is served with a spoon, hence the name “spoon bread.” The dish is particularly popular in the Appalachian region of the United States, where it has been a staple for generations.

The origins of spoon bread can be traced back to Native American cuisine. The Native Americans used cornmeal to make a variety of dishes, including a type of pudding that was similar to spoon bread. When European settlers arrived in the Americas, they adapted the Native American recipe and added their own ingredients, such as eggs and milk.

Spoon bread became particularly popular in the Appalachian region during the 19th century. The dish was easy to make and could be prepared using ingredients that were readily available, such as cornmeal, eggs, milk, and butter. Spoon bread was also a hearty and filling dish, which made it ideal for feeding large families.

Today, spoon bread remains a popular dish in the Appalachian region and is often served at family gatherings and community events. While there are many variations of the dish, the basic recipe remains the same. To make spoon bread, cornmeal is mixed with eggs, milk, and butter, and then baked in the oven until it is golden brown.

If you are ever traveling through Kentucky, make a stop at the Boone Tavern Hotel Restaurant on the campus of Berea College, and have their spoonbread with your meal.

Evolution Over Time

Spoon bread became popular in the 19th century and was often served as a side dish with Southern-style meals. It was especially popular in Virginia, where it was served at the famous Monticello estate of Thomas Jefferson.

Over time, the recipe for spoon bread evolved, with cooks adding different ingredients to make it even more flavorful. Some recipes called for the addition of cheese, while others added bacon or ham. Today, there are many different variations of spoon bread, each with its own unique flavor.

Despite its popularity, spoonbread is still a relatively unknown dish outside of the Southern United States. However, those who have tried it often rave about its delicious taste and light, fluffy texture.

Basic Ingredients


Cornmeal is the main ingredient in spoon bread. It comes in different textures such as fine, medium, and coarse. For spoonbread, medium-grind cornmeal is the best choice as it provides a good balance between texture and flavor. Make sure you avoid “self rising cornmeal mix” which has flour added to it.

Yellow or white cornmeal both work fine here too.


Milk is another essential ingredient in spoon bread. It adds richness and creaminess to the dish. Whole milk is the best choice as it has a higher fat content which makes the spoon bread more flavorful. However, low-fat milk can also be used if preferred.


Eggs are used to bind the ingredients together and provide structure to the spoon bread. They also add richness and flavor to the dish. Large eggs are the standard size used in most recipes.


Butter is used to grease the baking dish and add flavor to the spoon bread. Unsalted butter is preferred as it allows the cook to control the amount of salt in the recipe.

Overall, these four basic ingredients are essential for making a delicious spoon bread. The right balance of cornmeal, milk, eggs, and butter is crucial to achieving the perfect texture and flavor.

Salt and Baking Powder

At the Dough Dabbler, we test with fine sea salt. Iodized table salt is a 1:1 swap. If you are using a larger grain salt like kosher, you’ll want to check a salt conversion chart.

Baking powder is used here for gentle lift. Make sure yours is fresh (purchased in the last 6 months) to ensure it still has its rising power.

Classic Spoonbread Recipe

Step-by-Step Instructions

In an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish (a 9×9 will make a thinner spoon bread, obviously), add the butter and melt it in the oven while it preheats.

In a pot, add the milk and heat it until it steams and bubbles appear around the edges but don’t bring it to a boil.

Add the cornmeal in a slow steady stream, whisking the entire time.

Add the eggs to a bowl and pour in 1/4 cup of the hot cornmeal and milk mixture while you whisk constantly. You don’t want the eggs to scramble. Repeat two more times for a total of 3/4 cup. Pour this mixture back into the main pot with the remaining milk and cornmeal.

Add the salt and baking powder to the mixture, then pour into the baking dish you preheated with the butter. Bake until golden, the edges are set and the center jiggles slightly.

It will puff and then deflate when you take it out of the oven. This is normal.

Cooking Time and Temperature

The classic spoonbread should be baked at 375°F (190°C) for 35-40 minutes. It is important to preheat the oven to ensure even baking. Classic spoonbread has a bit of jiggle in the center but shouldn’t be sloppy or wet.

Serving Suggestions

Typically spoonbread is served as a savory side dish. It pairs well with roasted meats, stews, and chili. For a sweeter version, add a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup to the mixture before baking. Top with whipped cream and fresh berries for a delicious dessert. The spoonbread can be served hot or cold, making it a versatile dish for any occasion.


Savory Add-Ins

Spoon bread is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit any taste preference. One way to add variety to the recipe is by incorporating savory add-ins. Some popular options include:

  • Cheese: Add shredded cheddar or Parmesan cheese to the batter for a cheesy twist.
  • Herbs: Mix in chopped fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary, or sage for a fragrant and flavorful spoon bread.
  • Vegetables: Sauteed mushrooms, onions, or spinach can add a savory and nutritious element to the dish.
  • Bacon: Crispy bacon bits can provide a smoky and salty flavor to the spoonbread.

Sweet Options

For those with a sweet tooth, there are plenty of ways to make spoon bread a dessert-like treat. Here are some sweet options to consider:

  • Spices: Add cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger to the batter for a warm and comforting flavor.
  • Fruits: Fold in fresh or canned fruit like blueberries, peaches, or apples for a sweet and fruity spoon bread.
  • Nuts: Chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds can add a crunchy texture and nutty flavor to the dish.
  • Sweeteners: Try adding honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar for a richer and more complex sweetness.

Experiment with different combinations of add-ins to create your own unique spoonbread recipe. Whether you prefer savory or sweet, there are endless possibilities to explore.

Common Mistakes and Solutions

Texture Issues

When it comes to spoon bread, texture is everything. One common mistake is not mixing the batter well enough, resulting in clumps of cornmeal and a gritty texture.

To avoid this, be sure to whisk the dry ingredients thoroughly before adding any liquids. Another issue is overcooking the spoon bread, which can cause it to become dry and crumbly. To prevent this, keep an eye on the spoon bread as it bakes and remove it from the oven as soon as it is set but still moist.

Flavor Enhancements

While spoon bread is delicious on its own, there are a few common mistakes that can result in a bland or unappetizing flavor. One mistake is not seasoning the batter enough, resulting in a lack of flavor. To avoid this, be sure to add enough salt and any other desired seasonings to the batter before baking.

Another issue is using the wrong type of cornmeal, which can result in a less flavorful spoon bread. For the best results, use stone-ground cornmeal, which has a more intense corn flavor.

Pairings and Serving Ideas

Meal Combinations

Spoonbread is a versatile dish that can be served with a variety of meals. It pairs well with meats like roasted chicken, pork chops, or beef tenderloin. For a vegetarian option, it can be served with roasted vegetables or a fresh salad.

To make a complete meal, consider adding a side dish like collard greens, black-eyed peas, or roasted sweet potatoes. These dishes complement the flavors of the spoonbread and add nutritional value to the meal.

Event-Specific Serving

Spoon bread is a perfect addition to any event, from a casual brunch to a formal dinner party. For a brunch, consider serving spoon bread with bacon, scrambled eggs, and fresh fruit.

For a dinner party, spoonbread can be served as a side dish or as a main course. It can be topped with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, or roasted garlic for added flavor.

To make a dessert, spoon bread can be served with whipped cream and fresh berries. It can also be topped with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup for added sweetness.

Overall, spoonbread is a versatile dish that can be served in many different ways. It is a crowd-pleaser that is easy to make and sure to impress.

a scoop of spoon bread on a spoon over a baking dish

Storing and Reheating


Spoon bread can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To store the spoon bread, let it cool down to room temperature, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in an airtight container. When you’re ready to eat it, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before reheating.


Spoon bread can also be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze the spoon bread, let it cool down to room temperature, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place it in an airtight container or a freezer-safe bag and label it with the date. When you’re ready to eat it, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Reheating Methods

There are several ways to reheat spoon bread, depending on your preference and available equipment:

  • Oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic wrap or aluminum foil from the spoon bread and place it in an oven-safe dish. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes to crisp up the top, if desired.
  • Microwave: Remove the plastic wrap or aluminum foil from the spoonbread and place it on a microwave-safe dish. Cover the dish with a damp paper towel and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through.
  • Stovetop: Cut the spoon bread into slices or cubes and place them in a skillet or frying pan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
a baking dish of spoon bread on a table with some scooped out

Spoon Bread Recipe

Savory and simple to make, this is a classic Appalachian side dish.
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Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 room temperature eggs beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Melt butter and pour into a 1 1/2 quart, 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the milk until bubbles appear around the edges. Slowly pour in the cornmeal in a steady stream, whisking all the time.
  • Place the beaten eggs in a medium bowl and add 1/4 cup of the hot cornmeal mixture into the beaten eggs, whisking the entire time to prevent scrambling. Repeat this two more times for a total of 3/4 cup hot cornmeal in the eggs.
  • Add the egg mixture back into the remaining hot cornmeal, and add the salt and baking powder. Stir well.
  • Transfer to the baking dish and bake 35 minutes. The spoonbread will puff while it bakes then sink as it cools. Serve warm.


Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 112mg | Sodium: 459mg | Potassium: 301mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 491IU | Calcium: 244mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword appalachian spoonbread, spoon bread, spoonbread

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