This easy gluten-free cornbread is savory, not sweet. It’s perfect on its own or served with chili.
How to Make Gluten-Free Cornbread
- Preheat oven. If using a cast iron skillet, place it in the oven to preheat. A hot skillet gives the cornbread a crunchy exterior. Don’t have a skillet? No problem. Use a cake pan. (Skip preheating the pan when using a cake pan.)
- Make the batter. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Don’t skip this step; you want the baking powder, baking soda, and salt evenly distributed throughout the other ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and stir until the batter is almost smooth. Don’t worry about a few lumps here and there.
- Bake. Pour the batter into a greased 8-inch skillet or 8-inch cake pan. Bake until set.
- Cool. This is the hardest step. Before serving, cool the cornbread for about 5 minutes. Cut into pieces and enjoy.
Gluten-Free Cornbread: The Ingredients
Note: Corn is a gluten-free grain, but some brands of cornmeal aren’t considered gluten-free by their manufacturer because of how they’re processed. Look for a cornmeal that’s labeled gluten-free.
The type of cornmeal you use affects the type of cornbread you get.
If you use finely ground cornmeal, the cornbread will have a soft, cake-like texture. If you use a cornmeal with a medium grind, the cornbread comes out cake-like but with a little crunch. My favorite type is coarsely ground cornmeal, which makes a cornbread with body and crunch. No one will confuse cornbread made with coarsely ground cornmeal for cake.
While I think coarsely ground cornmeal is the way to go, use whatever cornmeal you like. In this recipe, they’re totally interchangeable.
I know, I know: Cornbread doesn’t need flour. People feel strongly about this topic—and don’t even get those folks started on the subject of sugar in cornbread. It’s a hot topic. Really hot.
I’m going to sit out the debate and just tell you what I like: I prefer my cornbread with a hint of softness. Not quite cake, but something a little more tender than an all-cornmeal cornbread provides. Because of this, I add a little gluten-free flour to my cornbread recipe. The gluten-free flour gives the cornbread a tender crumb. It also helps to keep it moist on the counter for a day or so. For me, this is a win-win. Great texture and a longer shelf life? Yes, please!
I tested this recipe with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour. Since there’s such a small amount of flour, any grain-based gluten-free flour should work. (Don’t replace the flour with almond or coconut flour; the almond flour makes for a heavy, greasy cornbread, and coconut flour will give you an unpleasantly spongy cornbread.)
Sugar (Just a Little)
This isn’t a sweet, cake-like cornbread, but it does contain two tablespoons of sugar. The sugar helps enhance the natural sweetness of the corn. In fact, if you try this cornbread with sugar and without, the recipe made with sugar tastes more “corn-y” than the one made without. (If you want a sweet cornbread, bake a batch of my gluten-free corn muffins; they have a nice sweetness to them.)
The sugar also helps the cornbread to brown. However, this is one of the rare baking recipes that works if you skip the sugar. (Most of the time omitting sugar from a baking recipe is a no-no.) If you don’t want any sugar in your cornbread, go ahead and leave it out.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda
This recipe uses two different chemical leavening agents: baking powder and baking soda. As you might know, baking soda requires an acid, like buttermilk or molasses, to be present in the recipe to work. But this recipe contains no acid. So why include it? Flavor. Due to its alkalinity, baking soda deepens flavor when used judiciously in a recipe. The mere 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda enhances the flavor and helps the cornbread to brown. Pretty impressive for such a small amount!
Two eggs give the cornbread lift, moisture, and flavor. I haven’t tested the recipe with egg alternatives, so I can’t say if this recipe works egg-free.
Milk (and Its Alternatives)
Since I rarely have buttermilk kicking around the house, I stopped using it in my cornbread. Not only is this great for making last-minute cornbread, but it also benefits folks who are on a dairy-free diet. If you follow a dairy-free diet, simply replace the milk with your favorite dairy-free alternative.
Oil (or Butter)
Lots of cornbread recipes are loaded with butter. (My friend makes one with one-and-a-half sticks!) While that can be yummy on occasion, I usually don’t want that level of richness when I eat cornbread. So I use a little oil instead of butter. I find the oil keeps the cornbread moist without muting the corn flavor.
Any baking oil (corn, canola, or soy) works well. If you include dairy in your diet and prefer the flavor of butter, swap the oil for melted butter. After melting the butter, cool it before adding it to the batter.
The Pan: Skillet vs. Cake Pan
I think a cast iron skillet is one of the best pieces of equipment you can have in your kitchen. You can use it to make a steak or make a cake. (Or, in this case, cornbread.)
If you have an 8-inch cast iron skillet, use it! Pop it in the oven before you turn the oven on to preheat. A hot skillet gives gluten-free cornbread a crispy brown exterior. And if you’ve ever baked gluten-free, you know how challenging it can sometimes be to get a nice brown crumb on baked goods.
When the oven is at temperature and your batter is ready to go, remove the skillet from the oven. Grease it generously. Use either cooking oil or nonstick cooking spray. If you use vegetable oil, swirl it around in the pan to coat the pan evenly.
But what if you don’t own a cast iron skillet? Does that mean you’re destined to live a life free of gluten-free cornbread? Not at all! An 8-inch round cake pan works just fine. The baked cornbread won’t turn out as brown and crunchy; that’s the only difference.
Gluten-Free Cornbread FAQ
Does cornbread contain gluten?
Many do. Although cornbread can be made without wheat and other gluten-containing ingredients, many contain wheat flour. Unless you made it yourself or it’s labeled gluten-free, it’s a good idea to assume that cornbread contains gluten.
Is cornmeal gluten-free?
Pure cornmeal is gluten-free. However, due to how some brands of cornmeal are processed, some manufacturers don’t consider their cornmeal gluten-free. Always read labels before using.
What’s the best pan to use for cornbread?
My favorite pan to use is an 8-inch cast iron skillet. If you don’t own one, don’t worry—an 8-inch round cake pan is a great replacement.
Can you freeze cornbread?
Yes, you can freeze cornbread. Be sure to cool it completely and wrap it well before freezing.
Easy gluten-free cornbread. Savory, not sweet. Includes dairy-free option.
- 1 1/2 cups coarse/medium ground gluten-free cornmeal (see note) (8 ounces; 226 grams)
- 1/2 cup gluten-free flour, see note (2 1/2 ounces; 70 grams)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (1 ounce; 28 grams)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk, see note for dairy-free option (6 ounces; 170 grams)
- 2 large eggs (about 4 ounces out of shell; 114 grams)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (2 1/3 ounces; 66 grams)
Heat oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. (If using an 8-inch cast iron skillet, place into oven before preheating. Heat skillet for at least 10 minutes.)
Prepare the batter. Whisk together gluten-free cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the milk, eggs, and oil. Whisk until combined. Batter should look almost smooth. A few lumps remaining is normal.
Bake. If using a skillet, remove skillet from oven and place on a heatproof surface. Grease with nonstick cooking spray or brush generously with vegetable oil.
If using an 8-inch round cake pan, grease the pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
Pour batter into pan. Bake until set, about 15 minutes. The cornbread should spring back when touched.
Cool and serve. Allow cornbread to cool for about five minutes before cutting into pieces.
Store. Wrap cornbread and store on the counter overnight. Or cool thoroughly, wrap tightly, and freeze for up to two months. Allow cornbread to thaw on the counter.
This recipe was developed for coarse and medium ground cornmeal. If you use finely ground cornmeal, the batter might be thick. If that occurs, add 1/4 cup additional milk.
Bob's Gluten-Free 1:1 Baking Flour recommended.
Replace milk with a dairy-free alternative, such as rice milk or soy. Full-fat coconut milk is not recommended because the fat content makes for a very rich, almost greasy, cornbread.