My all-time favorite Thanksgiving side dish is back, hold the gluten! This gluten free cornbread tastes just like you remember, but it’s gluten free, dairy-free adaptable, and naturally sweetened. Plus, it’s fast enough to whip up a batch Thanksgiving morning!
I don’t think that classic gluten free cornbread needs any introduction. We’re 24 hours out from Thanksgiving, and everyone is scrambling to prep their menus, set their tables, and figure out a way to deflect that one aunt/great uncle/family friend from bringing up politics (pro tip: toddlers help!).
My apologies for this last minute recipe. It probably would have served you better to have this recipe about 2 weeks ago, but if you still think I’m that on the ball, you are probably lost. You may be thinking of another blog.
But since I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how to translate this recipe into a classic (cranberry free) cornbread, I make a few tweaks and wrote it up for you.
If this is coming too late for you to make for Thanksgiving (sorry), have no fear! I’ve gone through quite a few test batches of this, so I can personally attest to how well this completes a normal everyday dinner, provides an unexpected source of carbs at breakfast (scrambled eggs and buttered cornbread is my new favorite breakfast) and, if all else fails, freezes.
So, please, don’t skip this soft and tender cornbread recipe if you already have your Thanksgiving menu planned. Just bookmark it for after the turkey is tapped out.
What You Need To Know About This Gluten Free Cornbread Recipe
I’m going to keep this as short and sweet as possible, because I know you have better things to be doing with your time today, but there are some important things to know about this cornbread before you start baking.
The Ingredient List
First, the ingredient list is a little longer for this cornbread than most of my recipes, but it’s mostly dry ingredients that you just measure and whisk together in a large bowl before adding the wet ingredients. So please don’t let that turn you off.
Actually, let me rephrase that: it’s not really that long, it’s just kind of redundant. I know that the first question I am going to get is whether you need to include the gluten free all purpose flour, the coarse ground cornmeal, and the corn flour. The short answer is: yes. Everything on the list is necessary, and the ingredients that can be subbed out for something else are listed below.
What It Includes
The recipe is mostly reminiscent of a conventional cornbread recipe: a dry mix of a store-bought GF flour blend, cornmeal, corn flour, and .
Gluten free flour is something I typically avoid on this blog, since most brands contain xanthan gum (a common additive in gluten free baking that mimics gluten’s texturizing and strengthening characteristics pretty closely), which is not always tolerated well by many in the gluten free community – myself included. Since I usually avoid it, though, I decided it was worth making an exception for here. Gluten Free all purpose flour ensures the bread is springy and light, despite the heavy ingredients – something all purpose flour does in conventionally-made cornbread, and we need to mimic here.
Cornmeal is pretty self explanatory and what makes cornbread, well, corn bread. I use coarse-ground cornmeal in my cornbread, for the rustic bite it adds. You can use fine-ground, but measure a scant cup instead of the full cup the recipe calls for.
Corn flour is something you don’t always find in cornbread, but I included it because it helps to really strengthen the essence of corn in every bite. It is available in the “ethnic” aisle of most major supermarkets, near the hispanic food. Do not use pre-cooked cornflour. You’re looking for the stuff that tortillas are made from.
What It Doesn’t Include
There are a few classic cornbread ingredients that this recipe does not include. The first is buttermilk, which is milk that is soured by time or acid. It’s especially acidic, which contributes to flavor balance and to rise (remember that baking soda is pH basic, so when it combines with an acid, the resulting reaction is what causes the familiar rise.).
While buttermilk is not an ingredient that is specifically called for, the elements are there (coconut milk and lemon juice) so you will get the same reaction without the dairy milk. There is no different in the outcome of this cornbread if you mix the lemon juice and coconut milk together before adding it to the rest of the batter, vs just adding the two ingredients to the batter at the same time (without mixing them together beforehand), so I don’t call for that extra step. But what you’re basically doing with those two ingredients is adding deconstructed dairy-free buttermilk to the batter.
The other ingredient that you won’t see in this recipe that many conventional and gluten free cornbreads contain is baking powder. That’s because I don’t usually bake with it anymore (it contains cornstarch, which I tolerate fine, but I know many others don’t) so I don’t reach for it, even when I’m baking with gluten free grains. I mention this only to draw your attention to the fact that we are using baking soda and only baking soda in this cornbread. Do not sub baking powder for the baking soda!
Depending on their age, there are lots of ways kids can help with this recipe. We love recipes like this with a long list of ingredients, because it provides lots of opportunities to scoop, count, pour, and stir. Quickbread recipes like this (i.e. those which don’t involve yeast or kneading) are my go-to kid friendly recipe category – well, that and drop cookies. But we’ll talk about those next month. 😉
Kids can scoop-and-level the flours and other dry ingredients, pour them into the mixing bowl, stir, use the spatula to scrape down the bowl, pour batter into the pan, and (carefully) insert a tester or toothpick into the center to test whether the cornbread is done. Obviously, not all these tasks are suitable for all ages, so use your best judgement and supervise carefully!
Hearty, chewy, and perfect with a swipe of butter or ghee, this cornbread will not disappoint! It’s best when slightly warm, but also holds up well in the fridge or freezer, making it perfect for meal prep or holiday prep!
Tips for Gluten Free Cornbread Success
- Is this recipe paleo? It Is not. Although I go to great lengths to recreate classics without grains, this recipe is gluten free, but not paleo. It contains yellow cornmeal, corn flour, and (depending on the gluten free flour blend you’re using) most likely rice flour. If you’d like a completely grain free, let me know in the comments below! If there is enough interest, I will work on one.
- Is this recipe vegan? It is not, but it is adaptable. You can use coconut oil in place of the butter to make this dairy-free, any plant milk you want (I recommend full fat coconut milk from a can, but you can use almond milk instead), and agave or maple syrup instead of honey. And that just leaves the eggs. I haven’t extensively tested this, but you should be able to use a reliable egg replacer for that.
- Where do you get all these flours: I like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend because it is mostly rice flours and other easier-to-digest grains with no oat or soy. I get it in the baking aisle at the grocery store, at Whole Foods on online (usually Amazon). As I mentioned earlier, I get the corn flour in the “Hispanic foods” section of the grocery store, and the cornmeal either nearby or in the baking aisle.
- Yellow or white cornmeal? I used yellow cornmeal, but white will work just as well.
- Can I make this into muffins? Yes! I will write up the recipe separately when I have some extra time (har har) but all you need to do is reduce the milk to 3/4 cup and preheat your oven to 400F, then reduce it to 350 as soon as the muffins go in. They’ll probably need about 15 minutes, give or take a couple. Take them out when they’re domed and springy, and a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
- What if I don’t have a 10″ cast iron skillet? I made this in a cast iron skillet because it is kind of a classic look and also, to be totally transparent, because my 8×8″ baking pan was already in use. You can absolutely make this in a greased 8″ square baking pan, though, if you want. The baking time should be approximately, the same, or 1-2 minutes longer since it will be slightly thicker than if you make it in the cast iron skillet. Make sure you’re using certified gluten free cornmeal and cornflour, if necessary. The stuff at the grocery store may not be certified GF, so read labels carefully.
- How do I make this into sweet cornbread? Personally, I think that this recipe threads the needle nicely between sweet and savory cornbread, but that’s up to you. If you have a real sweet tooth, you can add coconut sugar or maple sugar until it reaches your desired sweetness, but be aware that you’ll also be adding flavor, color, and moisture that really isn’t intended for this recipe. So proceed with caution! The other route, which would be better, is to just drizzle the cornbread with honey right before you eat it.
- Can I use this for cornbread stuffing? I don’t see why not. Just use this for the cornbread component of your favorite recipe.
Well, after 1600 words about cornbread, you should have everything you need to know about this recipe, but if I left anything out, just leave me a comment below!
I hope you enjoy this cornbread as much as we have. It is one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes, and I’m so thrilled to be able to enjoy it again. I hope you are too!
Wishing you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving!
- 1 cup gluten free all purpose flour
- 1 cup coarse-ground cornmeal
- 1/2 cup corn flour (masa)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs, warmed to room temperature
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Thoroughly grease a well-seasoned 10" cast iron skillet or 8" square baking pan, and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the gluten free all purpose flour, cornmeal, corn flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the coconut milk, butter or oil, honey, and lemon juice. Whisk until well combined.
- Pour the wet (eggs, etc.) mixture into the dry (flours, etc.) mixture and stir gently until all ingredients are well-incorporated. There should be no clumps.
- Turn batter into the prepared skillet (or prepared pan) and smooth into an even layer.
- Bake for 28-33 minutes, until the cornbread is golden brown around the edges and springs back when pressed slightly.
- Cool for 10-20 minutes until slicing and serving.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. This bread has the best texture when slightly warm, so I recommend briefly heating it in the microwave before serving.
- To make this recipe into corn muffins, all you need to do is reduce the milk to 3/4 cup and preheat your oven to 400F, then reduce it to 350 as soon as the muffins go in. They'll probably need about 15 minutes, give or take a couple. Take them out when they're domed and springy, and a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 262 Total Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 51mg Sodium: 203mg Carbohydrates: 32g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 12g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 4g