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Hot Water Cornbread Recipe

Follow our complete, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to make this old fashioned Hot Water Cornbread. Super easy and quick. Printable recipe included.

Cornmeal, a little flour, a dash of salt, and some hot water. It’s all you need to make this quick and easy Hot Water Cornbread.

Let me just say up front that this is the way me, myself, and I, prefer to make Hot Water Cornbread. It’s certainly not the only way to make it, and you’ll find many other versions of it if you just look for them.

I think originally, it was made with just corn meal and water, but I like to add a little bit of flour to mine to lighten it up a bit. A dash of salt just gives a little more flavor. So does adding a bit of bacon grease to the pan when you fry it.

When I think about how easy it is to make, I could almost get a bit emotional. These days, it only takes about 10 minutes from start to finish to enjoy this warm bread.

Imagine though, what it must have been like for our Great-Great-Grandparents many years ago.

First, you had to build a fire in either the fireplace or the wood cook stove. Then, you had to wait for the fire to get going good so you could begin to heat up the old black cast iron skillet or griddle.

Once everything was hot, you scraped the bottom of the corn meal barrel to get out enough corn meal to make a few pieces of the bread. Wait, I forgot that you had to heat up a kettle of hot water first as well.

Take the kettle from the stove, pour some hot water into the meal and stir. Then, drop the batter into the hot skillet and listen to it sizzle as it begins to cook. Of course, it cooked a bit slower on the stove top, or even slower sitting on the hearth near the logs burning in the big fireplace.

But, once it was done, along with the other items you were fortunate to have on hand to make your dinner or supper, you could then sit down to enjoy your meal.

I bet it was good corn bread though. Don’t you? We’ve just got it so easy these days. We are so blessed.

Take a few moments to make yourself some Hot Water Cornbread. I think you’ll enjoy the taste and hopefully you’ll say a prayer of thanks for those that cooked before us.

Also, this is NOT what I know as a Hoe Cake. To me, Hoe Cakes are very similar. They look the same, but I add an egg and buttermilk when I’m making what I grew knowing Hoe Cakes to be. You can find my recipe for those elsewhere here on Taste of Southern.

So, if you’re ready for a taste of the past, then let’s head on out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!

Hot Water Cornbread Recipe: You’ll need these ingredients, and some hot water.

Place the cornmeal in a small mixing bowl.

I’m making enough batter for about four pieces of cornbread. You can easily double the recipe if you need to make more.

Add the self-rising flour.

Add the salt.

Use a fork to stir everything together.

Begin adding the hot water.

I use hot water straight from the tap. Many of the older recipes call for boiling water but I’ve never noticed any difference. You could also microwave the water to get it boiling if desired. Imagine what your Great-Great-Grandmother would think of that. Smile.

Gradually stir in enough hot water to make a slightly soupy batter, just a bit thinner than what pancake batter would be. For the record, I used almost a cup of hot water to make this batch.

The thinner the mixture, the thinner your cornbread will be because it will spread more once it hits the frying pan. You want your finished bread to be about one half inch thick for best results.

Once the batter is ready, just let it sit while you heat up the frying pan or griddle. It needs a few minutes to rest and absorb the water and thicken up a bit.

Place your skillet over Medium heat on your stove top and let it warm up.

Once it’s warm, add the oil or shortening, using just enough to coat the bottom of the pan well. Old timers would have used lard and maybe even a little bacon grease for added flavor.

When the oil gets hot, drop in about 1/4 cup of batter to make each piece of cornbread. Space it out so the pieces will not be touching.

If the batter is thick and doesn’t spread when you pour it in the pan, use the back of a spoon to lightly spread it out a bit. Again, you only want it to be about one half inch thick.

The cornbread will begin to brown around the bottom edges and start to bubble a bit in the middle. Watch for the top of the cornbread to start drying out a bit, just like you would if making pancakes.

When the top loses it’s shine, it’s time to flip them over.

Carefully flip the cornbread over in the skillet as it browns on the bottom.

I had three pieces in the pan to begin with, but once I flipped them, I could squeeze them together enough to where I could go ahead and add the fourth one to let it begin cooking.

I try not to press down on the tops once I flip it, but if yours is a little thick, go ahead and press it down a bit. And, you can flip them over a time or two until you get them as browned as you prefer.

Generally it takes 2 to 3 minutes per side until its done.

When the bread is done, remove it from the skillet and place on a paper towel to drain.


Hot Water Cornbread is best when served warm. It does tend to get a bit hard once it’s cold so it’s usually the last thing made as part of the meal. If you’re making a lot, keep it warm in a 200F degree oven until ready to serve.

Folks often top these with a bit of butter or you can cover them with maple syrup and enjoy like pancakes for a sweeter treat.

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