Triangle slices of sweet cornbread on a black platter.

Cast Iron Sweet Cornbread

Cast Iron Sweet Cornbread is sweet enough to be dessert but not too sweet that it can’t be served with your meal made in your favorite cast iron skillet.

Sweet Cornbread sliced, partially on a platter and in the skillet with a side of chili.

This post has been updated from its original August 28, 2017 publication with new photography, content, and recipe card with updated instructions.

Is cornbread supposed to be sweet?

The short answer is no. But this isn’t just cornbread; this is sweet cornbread; so yes, sugar is needed. 

The question of if sugar should be used in cornbread is a deep and divisive argument.  Cornbread, while made all over the country, is considered a southern staple. Many feel sugar has no place in cornbread, by doing so, that makes it cake. 

I really don’t want to participate in the argument; I just want to eat the stuff. But the possible reason why the inclusion of sugar has occurred was illuminated in this article on Serious Eats. Using wheat flour is part of the same debate, but we’ll leave that one alone too.

Is cast iron sweet cornbread a southern thing?

We’re back to the debate of sugar or no sugar (or flour/no flour.) I have read many articles that say sweet equals northern. Being fascinated by the debate, I went down an internet rabbit hole of research and wow, that rabbit hole has left me more confused but a lot hungrier. 

As I mentioned, I’m not going to weigh in on the debate, that’s above my pay grade, but it’s clear that sweet cornbread is equally southern as it is northern. In fact, it simply boils down to how ones own family made it. 

Cast Iron Sweet Cornbread freshly baked in a skillet with a towel and slice server.

What kind of cornmeal is used in cornbread?

Well, that depends on what type of cornbread you’re making. Or more specifically what kind of texture your after. 

For this cast iron sweet cornbread, I was after a slightly more cake-like texture. I used medium yellow degerminated cornmeal. 

Is polenta and cornmeal the same?

The short answer is yes. It’s a matter of semantics. 

Cornmeal refers to any and all dried and ground corn. White and yellow are the most common types of cornmeal, but there is also blue cornmeal, it’s just harder to find. 

Cornmeal is also classified as whole-grain or degerminated. Degerminated means that the bran and oily germ has been remove during processing. Simply stated, it means the actual nutritious part of the grain has been removed. 

Sliced sweet cornbread in a skillet with a cup of chili.

The grinds are labeled by fine, medium, and course. Polenta and grits are usually course ground. The average cornbread is made with medium or a blend of medium-fine ground. 

Can you use polenta instead of cornmeal for sweet cornbread?

Yes you can, it will have a coarser texture. It will be less cake-like.

Each ingredient needed to make this cornbread recipe in individual bowl or in the cast iron skillet.

How to make cast iron sweet cornbread?

To get started, you’ll need the following:

  • medium-ground cornmeal
  • all-purpose flour
  • sugar
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • eggs
  • butter
  • milk
  • vegetable oil
Cast iron skillet heavily coated in softened butter.

Take 1 tablespoon of softened butter and generously coat the skillet.

The dry ingredients added to a bowl and mixed together with a fork.

Add all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and mix with a fork to combine.

The eggs, butter, milk, and oil combined in one bowl.

Gently beat two eggs then stir in the milk, oil, and melted butter.

The wet ingredients have been stirred into the dry ingredients.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a fork until the batter is made and not clumpy. It won’t necessarily be ultra smooth either.

The sweet cornbread batter has been poured the prepared cast iron skillet.

Pour the cornbread batter into the prepared cast iron skillet and bake. Now the torture begins…the wait for it to be done.

What to serve with Cast Iron Sweet Cornbread?

Here are some great savory recipes that will compliment this sweeter cornbread.

Cooked ribs in a Dutch oven with butter pats and drizzled with honey.

Cast Iron Sweet Cornbread

Cast Iron Sweet Cornbread is sweet enough to be dessert but not too sweet that it can't be served with your meal made in your favorite cast iron skillet.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Sweet Cornbread
Servings: 8
Calories: 391kcal
Author: Ned Adams
Cost: $5


  • 8 inch cast iron skillet


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 tbsp butter; divided


  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Use 1 TABLESPOON of softened butter to grease an 8-inch cast iron skillet (or other baking pan.)
  • Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl, mix well with a fork; set aside.
  • Lightly beat two eggs in another bowl.
  • Stir in the milk, oil and 1/4 cup MELTED butter into the eggs until combined.
  • Stir in the liquid ingredients to dry ingredients with a fork; until blended.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared skillet.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean.
  • Cool for 5 minutes before removing from skillet


Serving: 8g | Calories: 391kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 245mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 352IU | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 2mg
Sweet Cornbread in a cast iron skillet with perfect browning on top
Original August 28, 2017 Post Photo
Close up view of sliced sweet cornbread in the cast iron skillet with a serving utensil.


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