I must say, when sourdough and cornbread get together, they make some incredibly delicious babies! Golden homemade sourdough cornbread is a delectable combination of fluffy, moist, crumbly, a tiny bit gritty, and perfectly sweet. I honestly can’t get over how good it is. Furthermore, allowing the cornbread dough to ferment for several hours with sourdough starter makes it more nutritious than cornbread alone.
Some die-hard cornbread enthusiasts may scoff at this variance from a classic cornbread recipe. Personally, I love the idea of these two worlds colliding! Native Americans have been using cornmeal to create cornbread-like cuisines for centuries, later adapted and embraced by European settlers in the southern United States.
Sourdough on the other hand is one of the oldest forms of bread-making, dating back to ancient Egypt. It is thought that ancient Egyptians were the first to use wild yeasts to naturally-leaven bread. That said, I hope you enjoy this modern twist on two very old styles of bread.
A couple of notes:
- Sourdough cornbread can be baked in a 10 to 12-inch cast iron skillet, or in a deep 9×13 inch rectangular baking pan. Personally, we prefer using a cast iron skillet best, and it creates an awesome crispy crust! We have have successfully made and enjoyed our sourdough cornbread both ways. However, the sourdough cornbread cooks slightly differently depending on the pan you use, so you’ll see that noted in the baking instructions.
- Also note that we have never made our sourdough cornbread completely vegan (though we always use non-dairy milk), but I included vegan substitutions that should work well! If you do try out a completely vegan version, please do report back and let us know how it went.
- You can also easily use a gluten-free sourdough starter (learn how to make one here!) and substitute the small amount of wheat flour with GF all-purpose baking flour to make this recipe gluten free! It is otherwise mostly corn flour.
- 1.5 cups active sourdough starter at 100% hydration (see notes below) or inactive discard.
- 1.5 cups cornmeal (we use finely ground)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free AP/baking flour)
- 1 cup milk. We like making our sourdough cornbread with organic oat milk. Another vegan alternative is plain almond milk.
- 1/2 cup melted butter (sub with vegan butter alternative such as Earth Balance or Miyoko’s cultured vegan butter)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup honey (vegans could use more maple syrup instead of honey)
- 2 eggs, whisked (substitute with common vegan egg replacement such as flaxseed or silken tofu)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
Need a sourdough starter? Learn how to make one from scratch at home with this tutorial. Or, if you aren’t up for making a starter from scratch, feel free to pick up a dry (but alive!) organic sourdough starter the Homestead and Chill shop. All it needs a little water, flour, and few days to get active again.
Step 1: Ready Your Sourdough Starter
We usually make sourdough cornbread with starter that is at peak activity. This usually involves feeding it at least once or twice several hours before using it, depending on how you had it stored. A sourdough starter is considered at peak activity when it is bubbling in its container, has more than doubled in size, is no longer expanding, but hasn’t yet started to fall back down and deflate.
We like our sourdough starter to be at 100% hydration for this recipe, meaning it was fed equal parts water and flour by weight. For more tips on feeding, storing, and caring for a sourdough starter, see this article.
You can also make this sourdough cornbread recipe with discard starter, though I personally prefer it with active starter (or one that has been fed within the last few days) rather than very old neglected starter.
Step 2: Make Sourdough Cornbread Batter
First, combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. This includes the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly to combine. Next, add all of the wet ingredients, including the sourdough starter, pre-whisked eggs, melted butter, maple syrup, honey, and milk.
Use a whisk to stir and combine all of the ingredients into a batter, but avoid over-mixing. If you have never made cornbread before, keep in mind that it should be more of a semi-runny batter than a formed dough! Like a thick pancake batter.
Step 3: Ferment the Batter
Cover the bowl of sourdough cornbread batter with damp tea towel, which prevents it from drying out. Leave the covered bowl out at room temperature for three to four hours. During this time, the batter will rise. The “safety zone” for eggs and milk to be at room temperature is four hours maximum to avoid potential harmful bacterial growth. Did you know that I used to be a restaurant health inspector?! Sure did. For a longer fermentation/proofing time, move the dough into the refrigerator after 3 hours and
Step 4: Preheat the Oven & Pan
Begin to preheat the oven before the end of the four-hour batter ferment time. If you are baking the sourdough cornbread in a cast iron skillet, preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the skillet inside the oven while it preheats, warming up the skillet as well.
On the other hand, if you are using a standard rectangular baking pan preheat the oven to 400°F. Do not preheat your pan.
Step 5: Bake
Thoroughly coat your baking pan of choice with olive oil (and/or spray olive oil) to prevent sticking. Pour the fermented sourdough cornbread batter into the pre-heated hot cast iron skillet, or into another baking pan of choice.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until the top of the sourdough cornbread is golden brown. You can also test the doneness of the center by poking it with a toothpick. It is done when the toothpick comes out clean.
Step 6: Serve & Enjoy!
Get ready to dive in to your own little personal slice of heaven. Serve the sourdough cornbread warm or cool. Yes, it is a bit crumbly and messy – but that is the nature of cornbread! We love to enjoy ours with homemade soup – like this creamy butternut squash and sage soup, or this roasted carrot and sweet potato soup. Sourdough cornbread also most definitely pairs well with our vegan roasted sugar pie pumpkin 3-bean chili recipe.
After it has completely cooled, you can store the leftover cornbread in an airtight container (such as a tupperware) on the counter for a couple of days. Move it to the refrigerator thereafter.
Looking for more delicious sourdough recipes? Check these out:
- Homemade Herb Sourdough Discard Crackers
- Simple No-Knead Sourdough Bread Recipe
- Cast Iron Whole Wheat & Herb Sourdough Pizza Crust
- Simple Sourdough Focaccia Bread Recipe
- Baked Sourdough Tortilla Corn Chips
I hope you love this sourdough cornbread recipe as much as we do. When you give it a try (because let’s be real, we both know you will…) please come back and leave a review! Also feel free to ask questions, and spread the love by sharing or pinning this article.
Sourdough Cornbread Recipe (w/ vegan options)
- 10 to 12" Cast iron skillet recommended (or 9×13 baking pan)
- Mixing bowl
- 1.5 cups active peaked sourdough starter (100% hydration recommended – e.g. fed with equal parts water and flour by weight) You can also use discard starter in this recipe, though I prefer it with active starter (or at least fed within the last few days).
- 1.5 cups fine ground cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup milk of choice (We like using oat milk, or plain almond milk. Classic cornbread recipes often use buttermilk or whole dairy milk)
- 1/2 cup melted butter (or vegan butter alternative)
- 2 large eggs, whisked (sub with flaxseed or silken tofu vegan egg replacement )
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup honey (vegans use double maple syrup instead)
- Ensure you sourdough starter is at peak activity. This usually involves feeding it at least once or twice several hours before using it. A sourdough starter is considered at peak activity when it is bubbling in its container, has more than doubled in size, is no longer expanding, but hasn’t yet started to fall back down and deflate.
- First, combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Next, add all of the wet ingredients. Use a whisk to stir and combine all of the ingredients into a batter, but avoid over-mixing. The batter should be semi-runny, like a thick pancake batter.
- Cover the bowl of batter with damp tea towel, and leave it at room temperature for three to four hours (no more than 4).
- If you are baking the sourdough cornbread in a cast iron skillet, preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the skillet inside the oven while it preheats, warming up the skillet as well.
- If you are using a standard rectangular baking pan preheat the oven to 400°F. Do not preheat your pan.
- Thoroughly coat your baking pan of choice with olive oil (and/or spray olive oil). Pour the fermented sourdough cornbread batter into the pre-heated hot cast iron skillet, or into another baking pan of choice.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until the top of the sourdough cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
- Serve and enjoy! Store the leftover (completely cooled) cornbread in an airtight container (such as a tupperware) on the counter for a couple of days, but move it to the refrigerator thereafter.