Hot Water Cornbread
on May 12, 2022, Updated Mar 29, 2023
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!
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 Best Hot Water Cornbread
Have you ever tried or made hot water cornbread? It is SO good. We love it for a quick and easy alternative to the classic corn meal baked good. The main thing that’s different is that you make the batter using boiling hot water (hence the name), and instead of baking it in a cast iron or baking dish, you fry little patties of batter. It turns them into little biscuit-slash-hush-puppy-like rounds.
Plus, traditional cornbread is a little crisp on top and super moist but also crumbly (in the best way) in the middle. These are similar, but the outside is extra-crispy thanks to the pan-frying method in a light oil. It brings such a lovely texture to the little rounds that I love and can’t get enough of. 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!
The Difference Between Hot Water Cornbread and Regular Cornbread:
Hot water cornbread is made using hot, boiling water in the batter, plus little patties of the batter are fried in a light oil rather than being baked like traditional cornbread. It’s so good and creates the best texture! Hot water cornbread is a little more moist on the inside and much crisper on the outside than regular cornbread.
Hot Water Cornbread 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 have 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: Sugar gives a touch of sweetness that’s needed in cornbread.
Salt: Salt helps 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.
How to Make Hot Water Cornbread:
I LOVE how easy these little guys are to make! Just mix up the batter, press into patties, and fry away!
- Boil the water.
- Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt well with a fork.
- Pour boiling water into the bowl containing your dry ingredients.
- Mix well to combine.
- Preheat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
- Scoop 2 spoonfuls of corn mush into your hand; roll the corn mush into a ball between your hands.
- Press it between your palms to flatten the ball; it should be ½-inch thick and 2 ½ inches across.
- Place the pressed patties in the hot oil.
- Cook about 1 1/2 minutes per side until golden brown.
- Move the cornmeal patties to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
Tips for The Best Hot Water Cornbread:
Hot water cornbread is hard to mess up, but keep these tips in mind when you make it!
- 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.
You can eat hot water cornbread in so many ways:
- 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 coleslaw and baked beans
- As a side to chili or other favorite soups & stews
How to Store Hot Water Cornbread:
Store leftover hot water cornbread that’s completely cooled in an airtight sealable bag or container for up to 5 days refrigerated. You can eat them cold or at room temperature, or to reheat, place them on a foil-lined baking sheet in a 350 degree F. oven for 10 minutes or until warmed through. You can also store in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Hot water cornbread is a staple in Southern cooking. This version of cornbread dates back to the native people in America. Due to the ease of cooking it and the small list of ingredients, hot water cornbread has been made for generations. In became a staple during the Great Depression because it was inexpensive to make.
You sure can make hot water cornbread ahead of time and stash in the freezer until later. Once the patties are formed, place them uncooked on a plate and put in the freezer. Once they are frozen, transfer them to an airtight container or bag and put them in the freezer for up to 6 months. When you are ready to make them, simply take out the frozen patties the night before cooking and put them in the refrigerator.
A light oil such as canola or vegetable works great because it has a more neutral flavor and won’t take away from the corn bread taste. Peanut oil and corn oil would also work well for this recipe.
Hot Water Corn Bread
- 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
- 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 your 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. Then gently 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I like to keep a baking sheet in my oven preheated to 200 degrees F., and transfer the cooked cornbread patties to it while I cook the next batch.
- Working in batches, finish cooking the rest of the cornmeal mixture.
- When all of the cornmeal is cooked, serve hot.
- This is great served with butter and honey or maple syrup on top for a sweet treat. It’s also great served alongside any Southern meal. I serve these as a side to beans and sautéed greens, next to split pea soup, or as an easy side to a meal like chicken, coleslaw, and baked beans. It’s really versatile.
Give these cornbread recipes a try:
- The Best Homemade Cornbread
- Sour Cream Cornbread
- Skillet Cornbread
- Whole Grain Cornbread
- Homemade Cornbread Muffins
Easy dinner recipes to serve your cornbread with:
- Classic Ham and Bean Soup (Instant Pot or Slow Cooker recipe)
- Hearty 15 Bean Soup in the Instant Pot
- Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin and Potatoes
- Easy Slow Cooker Chili
- Quick and Easy Chili Recipe
Hot water cornbread can be a great last minute addition to any meal because it cooks in half the time as traditional cornbread. It accompanies soups, stews or collard greens deliciously or can be served with syrup, butter or molasses. It is really versatile!
Hot water cornbread is such a fun and easy take on the classic Southern baked good, and you’ll love how crispy on the outside and moist on the inside these little biscuits turn out!