Hot Water Cornbread

4.37 from 11 votes

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, Hot Water Cornbread is a delicious pan-fried side dish. It’s perfect as a sweet treat with butter and syrup, or as a side for any Southern meal!

hot water cornbread with butter on white plate with knife and fork.
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

It’s SUCH a simple goodie to make, and you’ll love the classic cornbread flavors dressed up in a different texture than traditional cornbread! The main difference is that you make the batter using boiling hot water, and instead of baking it, you fry little patties of batter. This turns them into little biscuit-slash-hush-puppy-like rounds.

The little rounds have such a lovely texture that they can be addictive. Serve ’em with butter and syrup (or honey!) for something sweet or as a side for any kind of simple Southern meal. They’d also be great served alongside chili or another savory stew!

hot water cornbread resting on paper towel on white baking sheet.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Basic pantry ingredients that you likely have on hand.
  • No milk, eggs, or butter needed!
  • So fast and easy that it makes a great last-minute side dish.
  • Pairs perfectly with savory dishes like slow cooker taco soup or as a sweet treat with butter and honey.

Recipe Ingredients

Made with simple, household ingredients, hot water cornbread is an easy side to make any time!

  • Yellow cornmeal: This is what makes it gritty and gives it that cornbread texture and flavor!
  • Flour: Self-rising flour helps to bind the dough together and let it rise a bit (it contains baking powder) as it fries.
  • Sugar: For a touch of sweetness that’s needed in cornbread.
  • Salt: To balance and bring out the flavors.
  • Boiling water: This is the key ingredient to hot water cornbread! It makes the dough extra moist.
  • Light oil: Canola or vegetable oil work great for frying the cornbread patties.

See the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and quantities.

top view of ingredients for cornbread batter in a metal mixing bowl

How to Make Hot Water Cornbread

I LOVE how easy these little guys are to make—just mix up the batter, press it into patties, and fry away!

  1. Boil the water.
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients. Pour in the boiling water and mix well.
  3. Preheat the oil and form the batter into flattened balls.
  4. Fry in the hot oil until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towels.
how to make hot water cornbread collage image.

Recipe FAQs

Where does this unique cornbread come from?

Hot water cornbread is a staple in Southern cooking. This version of cornbread dates back to the Native Americans. Due to its ease of cooking and small list of ingredients, it has been made for generations. It became a staple during the Great Depression because it was inexpensive to make.

Can you make hot water cornbread a head of time?

Yes, you can make hot water cornbread ahead of time and stash it in the freezer until later. Once the patties are formed, place them uncooked on a plate and put them in the freezer. When frozen, transfer them to an airtight container or bag and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months. When ready to make them, simply take out the frozen patties the night before cooking and put them in the refrigerator. 

What is the best oil for frying cornbread in?

A light oil, such as canola or vegetable oil, works well because it has a more neutral flavor and won’t detract from the cornbread’s taste. Peanut oil and corn oil would also work well for this recipe.

cornmeal in measuring cup with spoon.

Expert Tips

  • Boil the water: Boiled water is what makes the batter super moist and extra good! Don’t skip the boiling part.
  • Form patties quickly: The batter is sticky, so form the patties quickly to avoid it sticking to your hands. If it’s too sticky, butter or grease your hands to make working with it easier.
  • Turn down oil heat if needed: It the patties are cooking too fast (getting too dark before 1 1/2 minutes per side), then adjust the heat of your stove so the oil is less hot.
closeup of hot water cornbread on paper towel.

The Difference Between Hot Water Cornbread and Regular Cornbread

Hot water cornbread is made using hot, boiling water in the batter. Little patties of the batter are fried in light oil, whereas traditional cornbread is baked.

It’s so good and creates the best texture! Hot water cornbread is a little more moist inside and crispier on the outside than regular cornbread.

What to Serve With Hot Water Cornbread

Hot water cornbread can be a great last-minute addition to any meal because it cooks in half the time as traditional cornbread. It is versatile and can be eaten in so many ways like these:

  • As a sweet treat or breakfast item served with butter and syrup, jam, or honey
  • As a side to Southern dishes, like beans and sauteed greens, split pea soup, or chicken with coleslaw and baked beans
  • As a side to chili or other favorite soups & stews

How to Store Hot Water Cornbread:

Leftover hot water cornbread that’s completely cooled can be stored in an airtight sealable bag or container for up to 5 days refrigerated. You can eat it cold or at room temperature, or to reheat, bake it at 350 degrees on a foil-lined baking sheet for 10 minutes or until warmed through. You can also store it in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.

More Cornbread Recipes to Consider

closeup of hot water cornbread on paper towel
4.37 from 11 votes

Hot Water Corn Bread

Fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, Hot Water Cornbread is a delicious pan-fried side dish. It's perfect as a sweet treat with butter and syrup, or as a side for any Southern meal!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 16 pieces


  • 1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
  • ½ cup self-rising flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 1 cup light oil for frying, such as canola or vegetable
Save This Recipe!
Get this sent to your inbox, plus get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.


  • Set a kettle to boil to prepare your boiling water.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, and salt, and mix well with a fork. 
  • When the water is boiling, carefully measure out 1 ½ cups and pour it all into the bowl containing the dry ingredients.
  • Mix well to combine. 
  • Add the oil to a large cast iron skillet, and preheat over medium to medium-high heat.
  • When the oil is hot, scoop about 2 tablespoons of corn mush into your hand, and gently roll the corn mush into a ball between your hands. Press it between your palms to flatten the ball so that it’s about a ½-inch thick and the patty is about 2 ½ inches across. 
  • Place the pressed patties in the hot oil. 
  • Cook until the bottom side is a light golden-brown, then gently flip it over, and cook the second side in the oil. Cooking to golden-brown will take about 1-1/2 minutes per side. If it’s cooking faster than that or getting too dark, reduce the stovetop temperature. 
  • When both sides are golden-brown, move the cornmeal patties to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
  • Working in batches, finish cooking the rest of the cornmeal mixture.
  • When all of the cornmeal is cooked, serve hot. 


  • Please do not skip boiling the water! This is a make-or-break step in the recipe.
  • The corn mush is pretty sticky, so working quickly will help it to not stick to your hands. You can also lightly grease or butter your hands to make working with the dough easier.
  • To keep the patties warm while cooking in batches, keep a baking sheet in the oven preheated to 200 degrees F and transfer the cooked cornbread patties to it.
  • These patties can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen either pre-cooked or as leftovers. Leftovers can just be reheated and raw patties can be brought to room temperature and fried.


Serving: 1 of 16 pieces, Calories: 100kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 219mg, Potassium: 52mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 0.1IU, Calcium: 2mg, Iron: 0.5mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Melissa

You May Also Like:

4.37 from 11 votes (8 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Sharon Clark says:

    5 stars
    It was easy to follow and they were delicious. Will make again 😍

  2. Cathy combs says:

    5 stars
    What can I add to the dry ingredients if I don’t have self rising flour

  3. Melissa says:

    Keep moving down the post or use the jump to recipe button, you just aren’t too the recipe yet. No need to be rude, a real human is behind this site and you don’t need to call me stupid.

  4. Katrina says:

    5 stars
    I love this recipe! I have not had these since childhood. They came exactly how I remembered. Glistening with butter. Out of all the recipes I’ve considered this is the one called for flour. I did not use self rising.

    1. Melissa says:

      Thank you for the comment!