Sourdough Cornbread Recipe (Vegan & GF Options)
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 active 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). If you don’t yet have 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.
- 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
Step 1: Ready Your Sourdough Starter
Ensure your sourdough starter is at peak activity, ready for use in a recipe. 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.
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.
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)
- 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.
Ok… WOW! Just WOW!
If you haven’t tried this recipe yet, you absolutely must. SO FREAKING GOOD! I’m not much of a baker, but thanks to your blog I’ve struggle-bunnied my way through starting my own sourdough starter. I’m getting there with the regular loafs (still learning and tweaking!), but decided to give this recipe a try to mix it up.
This cornbread is absolutely perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing! It was such a huge hit in our house that we’ve begun making it once a week. Perfectly spongy and great taste—hint of sweetness but not too sweet.
I’ve made it in my cast iron combo cooker as well as a round baking pan, and both turned out wonderfully. I’ve had to go a little longer than the recipe calls for (maybe 10-15 min more) to fully cook the inside, but they have turned out wonderfully every time.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this recipe, and for all the things your IG account and blog has taught me over the years. Can’t wait for what’s next. THANK YOU!
Best cornbread ever! Cooking it in the cast iron pan was divine. It gave it the perfect crust. Thank you for putting your time into creating. This was my first experience, not only with cornbread but with sourdough. I used both of your recipes. Yum. I will be making this again and often.
Love it! Followed the recipe with substitutions to make it gluten free and dairy free. Turned out perfectly, slightly sweet, cakey but light. Will make again for sure! Thank you!
These were excellent instructions for a newbie sourdough baker who is still figuring out how to work with the starter. I made this recipe vegan with oat milk, vegan butter, and flax egg. I also baked it in a loaf pan for 45 minutes. It was delicious with a wonderful texture and great flavor. Highly recommend!
Made this for our small thanksgiving gathering with vegetarian chili!
Thanks again for all the great recipes and advice!
I have yet to be disappointed with anything I try from Deanna (food, garden or otherwise) and this cornbread but just another delicious surprise. I didn’t get the super fun pre-cook crisp but I’m still learning my confection oven true temps. Holy deliciousness. Thank you yet again!
This was great! This recipe makes 24 standard-sized muffins that take about 14 minutes to bake at 400F. I used organic cow’s buttermilk.
This was the best cornbread I’ve ever had! The recipe was so straight forward and well written. I never would have thought to use sourdough in my cornbread but this is the only recipe I’ll use going forward. It’s flexible too with add ins, I added a diced jalapeño and it was great. Thank you Deanna for taking the time to share and educate all your wonderful ideas and recipes!
Hi Deanna and Arron,
Thank you so much for your incredible website, which is so informative and inspirational. I have activated my sourdough started and made the No Knead Bread and Cornbread. Both were delicious, and my family gobbled them up. The recipe calls for 1.5 of starter. When feeding my starter, I keep 100g of starter and feed 100g of flour and water. If I used 1.5 c of starter, I wouldn’t have 100g left. If I keep 150g and feed 150g of flour and water, the starter overflows my 34 oz jar. I have a larger jar, but just wanted to ask if there is something I’m not understanding. Thank you! Next up, Pizza!
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hello Sherri, we are glad you have enjoyed the site so much and thank you for reading. When using a recipe that calls for more starter which leaves you with less than your preferred amount, you may just have to feed your starter less flour and water to equal what remaining starter you do have for the next feeding until you are left with your preferred 100 grams. Hope that helps and good luck!
Have you tried making this into muffins? Or freezing leftovers? It looks delicious!
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Hello Michele, It is delicious! I am sure muffins would work just as well yet we have never tried to make them nor have we ever had any leftovers that we froze. If you end up freezing some, let us know how it works out for you. Thanks and good luck!
This turned out great, even though though I only let it rise 90 minutes! I definitely will be making this again, and plan ahead better for the rise…thanks for sharing this delicious recipe!
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
That’s great to hear Kathy!
Moist with a crispy crust (must use cast iron pan!), easy, delicious, my favorite cornbread recipe. A real hit at our bbq yesterday.
Great to hear it was such a hit!
Really delicious. I didn’t think all that dough was going to fit into my skillet but it did. I had to bake it an additional 20 minutes but I live at high altitude (7,000 feet) and I always have to adjust bake time or temp.