Hot Water Cornbread

| August 26, 2018 | 29 Comments

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.


Hot Water Cornbread, enjoy!
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.


Hot Water Cornbread, slider.

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


Hot Water Cornbread, place cornmeal in small mixing bowl.
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.


Hot Water Cornbread, add the flour.
Add the self-rising flour.


Hot Water Cornbread, add the salt.
Add the salt.


Hot Water Cornbread, stir everything together.
Use a fork to stir everything together.


Hot Water Cornbread, add the hot water.
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.


Hot Water Cornbread, mix well to make the batter.
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.


Hot Water Cornbread, heat the skillet.
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.


Hot Water Cornbread, add the batter.
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.


Hot Water Cornbread, spread lightly.
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.


Hot Water Cornbread, look for bubbles.
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.


Hot Water Cornbread, 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.


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


Hot Water Cornbread, enjoy.

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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Old fashioned, Hot Water Cornbread recipe, as seen on Taste of

Hot Water Cornbread

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American


Quick and easy Hot Water Cornbread, takes just a few minutes to make. Serve it warm for best results.



  • ¾ cup Yellow Corn Meal –self rising
  • ¼ cup Self Rising Flour
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • Hot water as needed, about one cup.


  1. Place the cornmeal in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Add the flour.
  3. Add the salt.
  4. Use a fork to mix the dry ingredients together.
  5. Gradually stir in enough hot water to make a thin batter.
  6. Let the batter rest while you heat up your skillet.
  7. Place a skillet over Medium heat on your stove top.
  8. Add enough oil to slightly coat the bottom of the pan.
  9. Use a ¼ cup measuring scoop to add batter to the hot oil.
  10. Do not crowd the pan.
  11. Watch for the bottom edges to turn brown, and for bubbles to appear in the batter.
  12. When the top begins to dry, flip the cornbread over.
  13. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes per side until done.
  14. Remove from pan and place on folded paper towels to drain.
  15. Serve warm.
  16. Enjoy!


This recipe can be easily doubled if you need more. Some folks use only cornmeal, omitting the flour. It’s a matter of choice. Try it both ways to see which you prefer best.

Keywords: Hot Water Cornbread, cornbread, southern cornbread, old fashioned cornbread


Your Comments:

Have you ever had Hot Water Cornbread? I bet your parents or Grandparents cooked this often. If you try  it, please let me know how it turns out for you.

Either way, share your memories of this great Southern bread with us. It will only take a minute or two for you to leave your comments in the section below.

Just remember, all comments are moderated.  That just means that I personally read each and everyone before they are approved for viewing on our family friendly website. Thank you in advance for sharing.

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Be Blessed!!!


You might also like: Mama’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Or, maybe this recipe:  Pan Fried Okra

And for dessert, try this:  Vintage Ice Cream Pie


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Category: Breads

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (29)

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  1. Dr. Sam Ainsworth says:

    My grandma used white corn meal with added cracklings. No egg, buttermilk and etc., just boiling water. Cooked in a well greased, larded, black iron pan on the stove top. Outstanding!

  2. Trish Stewart says:

    Absolutely wonderful this is the new corn bread for us. Thanks guys!!

  3. cheryl mays says:

    thank you for such a simple recipe for hotwater cornbread. i didnt think it would turn out..but its pretty simple and i just made My FIRST BATCH OF GREENS And They came out (THE BOMB) Im in Heaven..Be Blessed always in Jesus mighty name. ❤

  4. Delores Rhaburn says:

    I made the hot water cornbread last night with fried fish, mixed collard greens and rice. It was scrumptious. My grandson and I were very pleased. I tried other recipes, but this one is the one. Oh, I used white cornmeal, that’s all I had available. Thank you, I will be repeating this again tonight. Do you happen to have a corn fritters recipe?

  5. Kelly says:

    I just made these and they are delicious!!! It will be my go to recipe. Thank you

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Kelly, I’m thankful you tried our Hot Water Cornbread and glad to hear you liked it. I appreciate you taking the time to share your results with us. Thank you for your visit. Be sure to stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  6. Linda says:

    My mother made hot water cornbread the exact way you do but maybe not as much liquid. She’d grab the mixture (as hot as it was) and make a patty and put it in the iron skillet to fry up. My favorites were the ones that were more browned & crispy around the edges. We usually ate them with fresh pinto beans, or turnip greens but we LOVED them….the best were the ones that had the bacon grease added. Yummy. I can’t wait to try it your way and so glad I found your site. We’re from Texas and sending you blessings and good health.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Linda, Greetings to Texas, all the way from North Carolina. I’m thankful you found us as well. Thank you for the blessings and well wishes, I hope 2019 and beyond will be your best years ever. I do hope you try the Hot Water Cornbread. It’s really easy to do. Please let me know how it turns out for you if you get the chance. I appreciate your visit and do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  7. Betty Goodman says:

    Thanks for making this a one page print. (Smile) Love your recipes from the past. Hope Jan and Billy and you get to feeling better ASAP. Prayers still on their way.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Betty, I’m glad you like the recipe and that you could print it all out on one page. You might want to get some of that long legal paper for some of the others. Smile. I try to keep them all one page, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Thank you for your prayers and concern for my fishing buddy, his wife, and myself. It’s greatly appreciated. I’m very happy to have you as a subscriber to the Newsletter and appreciate all of your support and visits. I do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  8. Clara Smith says:

    Thank you for this recipe. I never remember Mama making cornbread like this, but she did make a thin cornbread that covered pretty much the griddle. She used cornmeal ground real fine, salt and water. She greased the griddle, put a big spoonful of batter on and then spread it to the edges of the griddle. It looked like these 8″ tortillas you can buy. We would have these with field peas, a little pepper pod or fried okra. She was from Yadkin Co and Daddy was from Onslow so I am wondering if this was a regional dish.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Clara, It’s amazing to see and hear of all the variations on cornbread. It was a staple for so many folks back in the day. I suspect they just tried to cook it in different ways to make it seem like something new every once in awhile. Smile. It’s still good bread, no matter how you cook it. Don’t you think? Thank you for taking the time to share your memories and your moms version with us. I’m going to try some larger one’s next time I get the skillet hot. Smile. I do appreciate your visits and hope you’ll visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  9. Shirley Nemeth says:

    My Mama made something like this we called cornbread fritters and they were very good. I’m not sure how she made them and try as I might, I can’t do it. You see, we kids were never in the kitchen watching her because we were busy working in the garden or fields or tobacco patch (or tobacco barn). She also made cornbread dumplings and put them on top of the collards near the end of cooking. I do remember seeing her make a cornbread batter, leaving it quite thick and making patties out of it to place on top of the collards. I tried it once in recent years and my dumplings disintentegredated into my collards. I ate them anyway. I’ve never heard of hot water cornbread but I’m ready to try it.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Shirley, I do hope you’ll try the Hot Water Cornbread. Let me know how it turns out for you. I’m sorry those dumplings didn’t turn out for you. I’ve yet to do a recipe for Collards and Dumplings. I’ll have to be careful when I do though so mine don’t disappear into the pot. Smile. It’s always great to hear from you. You must know that I appreciate your visits and that the door is always open. I hope you’ll stop by any old time. I’ll be looking for you. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  10. Priscilla Swayngim says:

    This was called fried cornbread at my house. Introduced this to my SC son-in-law the other day. He and I ate the whole plateful with new potatoes and green beans.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Priscilla, It goes by many names. As I’ve mentioned before, I think it depends on where you grew up. Still, it goes good with lots of different vegetables and meats. Potatoes and Green Beans are one of my favorites. Smile. Thank you for sharing your comment. I’m glad you stopped by. The door is always open, so please visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  11. Jennifer A. says:

    Thank you! When I read the okra recipe I was interested in the cornbread as well. I hope the vertigo disappears well before the holidays!

  12. Josie says:

    WOW! Memories. Now here is another memory. Mom use to make these when she made collard greens but not fry them and a little less wet. She would leave some of the collards whole and cook till done. Then make the hot water cornbread and wrap a spoonful of the dough in the greens, placing them on top of the liquid until done. Man that was some good eating. Wish I had paid more attention cause for the last few months I’ve been wanting some. I see collards and hot water cornbread on my lunch/dinner menu this week. Take care.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Josie, I’m glad we could stir up some good memories for you. Sounds like your mom made Collards with Cornmeal Dumplings. I haven’t done those yet, but maybe once the frost hits the collards this year I can put that together for Taste of Southern. You might want to look up some recipes for the dumplings, they are a little different than the Hot Water Cornbread. They usually have more flour I think. Either way, I do hope you get to cook some and enjoy them soon. Thank you for sharing your memories with us. I look forward to hearing how it all turns out for you. I do appreciate your comments and I hope you’ll visit with us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  13. Lois Muzzy says:

    I can’t find self-rising cornmeal in Phoenix. How much baking soda or salt do I add to this recipe to compensate. I’m anxious to try it.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Lois, You can try this. I would just add 1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder, and maybe about 1/4 teaspoon more Salt in addition to what’s called for in the recipe. Hopefully that would work for you. Let me know if you try it and how it turns out for you… okay? I hope you like it. I appreciate the question and do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  14. Dorothy Berry says:

    Hi Steve
    First off I’m pleased to hear that Billy and Jan are both on the mend, albeit slowly.
    Now I’d like to try the hot water cornbread. We don’t get cornmeal here, so I suppose I could use Polenta? What we do get is usually made from white corn and known as mealie or mielie-meal; it is a staple diet of the African population and they were not at all happy when, after a drought, we had to import from the US and it was yellow, not white! I suppose there might be a bit of difference in flavour. Wondering if I use this (much cheaper than imported polenta) whether adding a drop or two of yellow colouring would be an idea? Wanted to do it with the Pan-fried Okra and guess what – after having lots available for the last four months there’s suddenly none to be had!! It’s a relatively new thing here but heritage seed places have started supplying the seeds. I just love trying new (to me) traditional recipes. Might have to wait till next year (sigh!)for this one. Incidentally, I don’t think polenta is self-raising, but I found something that said to every cup of cornmeal add 1½ tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt – would you go along with this?
    South Africa

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Dorothy, Greetings again to South Africa, all the way from North Carolina. Thank you for taking the time to write. Thank you for your well wishes for my fishing buddy Billy and his wife Jan. I guess adding food coloring could help the looks, but it’s certainly not needed. And, changing your corn meal to self rising sounds about right with what you mention. I’ve seen it listed as adding 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder and 1/2 teaspoon Salt to 3/4 cups PLUS 3 Tablespoons of corn meal. You’ll find lots of variations, but I guess if you get close it will work out. I’m sure lots of folks have made it with plain cornmeal and just water over the years. Smile. I’m sorry I was too late with the Okra recipe for you. Frozen would work if you can find that. I hope you don’t have to wait a whole year before you get to try it. Smile. Thank you for your comments and for your visit today. The door is always open, so feel free to drop by any old time. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  15. Paula Schubert says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t put a touch of sugar in the mix. I prefer my cornbread to have a bit of sweetness added to it.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Paula, You may have found the one thing I “haven’t” added any sugar to. Smile. I too like my cornbread a little sweet, but I was trying to keep this Hot Water Cornbread as simple as possible. I appreciate the comment and I appreciate your visit today. I hope you know the door is always open and that you should feel free to stop by any old time. We’ll be looking for you. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  16. Elizabeth says:

    This is interesting. My Alabama grandmothers made Hoe Cakes with a mixture of corn meal, salt, and hot water. They didn’t add flour, eggs, or buttermilk, but I might try that in the future and see how they taste. My husband likes me to make the batter thin so that they’re crispy. We love them with pink-eyed peas. So good!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Elizabeth, I think it depends on where you grew up as to what you called them. Hot Water Cornbread just seems natural for a recipe that uses cornmeal and hot water. That was the original version from what I can find. I just add a little flour as personal preference. As mentioned, Hoe Cakes were a bit different when Mama was making them and that’s the way I still do, with the eggs and buttermilk. Some folks make the Hot Water Cornbread with a thick batter and pat them out in their hand, almost like a biscuit, then fry them. So, you’ll find lots of variations on it. I make my version of the Hoe Cakes thin and crispy. I like that too. Thank you for your comments and for your visit. I greatly appreciate it and hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  17. Marilyn Allison says:

    Good Morning Steve,

    Thank you for this recipe, I have been interested ever since you mentioned one time that you had hoe cakes as an afternoon snack when you came home from school. I researched those back then, and made them for my husband, we loved them. This is an easier version, and I showed the recipe to my husband, and he said “Let’s get cooking”, smile. I do intend to make them. Thanks for posting this recipe. Glad to hear about Jan, but very sorry about Billy, will keep them in my prayers. And you too, hope you do get about before Christmas! Have a great week, and I am looking forward to Tuesday’s newsletter and your new recipe with Oxo Good Grips. Love their things.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Marilyn, Good Morning to you as well. I do hope you’ll try the Hot Water Cornbread. Not a big difference from the Hoe Cake, but a little bit. Try it and see what you think. I’ll be waiting to hear your response. Thank you for your comments and for your prayers for my fishing buddy and his wife. We all greatly appreciate your concern. I’m thankful you subscribe to the Newsletter and I do hope you’ll enjoy the upcoming recipe from OXO. I always feel honored to be able to work with them. Thanks for stopping by today. You know the door is always open, so don’t be a stranger. I look forward to seeing you again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

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