Alton Brown's Cornbread No Chaser


Thank goodness I had taken pictures and put them on my hard drive as opposed to just keeping them on my camera's SD card or else I'd have to put this post off yet another day.  I had intended to post this yesterday, but forgot the recipe, and of course it wasn't anywhere online.  This is not at all how I had intended to open up my post, but there's some insight into the scattered mind that is mine. 

So, today is about cornbread.  I made some on Sunday and will probably make more tomorrow, because Sunday's cornbread was a gift for a family and its aroma and appearance just makes me want some.  Like pinto beans and pound cake, every Southern cook needs a good cornbread recipe in his or her repertoire.  I am not ashamed to admit that, until I got Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for More Food, I used Jiffy Corn Muffin mix.  I like Jiffy Corn Muffins.  Drew was never that thrilled with my Jiffy cornbread.  The problem was that I just didn't like a lot of homemade cornbreads.  They were dry or sort of bland.  What's all this fuss?  Alton Brown's cornbread recipe in I'm Just Here for More Food, however, is great.  It's moist enough, corn-y, and slightly sweet, but not at all overly so.  A side note on this cookbook- I LOVE this cookbook.  It's informative and its recipes are set up to give you success.  Buy it today.  Or ask for it for Christmas.

So, why make homemade cornbread when I can buy a mix I like?  Well, for one thing, I actually like the taste of the homemade cornbread better.  The mix, also, has hydrogenated oils, and if you don't care about that it's not a big deal, but hydrogenated oils are trans fats, which means they're not exactly found in nature.  That's no good if you're trying to eat as naturally as possible.

So, here we are.  This cornbread involves maybe one more step than other recipes you'll find because you soak the corn meal in milk before adding it to the rest of the ingredients, but other than the soaking time, it comes together in almost no time flat and bakes fairly quickly, too.  I can't express to you how much I love this recipe, except to tell you that it converted someone from disliking cornbread to loving it. 

You will need a cast iron skillet for the job.  Mine is 10 inches, I think, and works very nicely.  Seriously, I guess you could make it in a baking pan or dish, but invest in the cast iron.  It's one of the best pans you'll own.  It'll become a family heirloom.  Also, I use scales to weigh my ingredients in this recipe rather than measuring cups or spoons, but you feel free to use either method.  I'll post both. 

Cornbread No Chaser
from Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for More Food

1 1/2 cups or 7 1/4 oz. cornmeal, preferably stone ground
1 1/4 cups or 10 oz milk
1 cup or 4 3/4 oz. all purpose flour
1 Tb or 1/4 oz. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. or 1/4 oz. kosher salt (or 1 tsp/ 1/4 oz regular salt)
1/2 c or 3 3/4 oz. vegetable oil
2 large eggs

Place a skillet on an oven rack and preheat to 450 degrees. 

In a large bowl, soak the cornmeal in the milk for 15 minutes.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

After the cornmeal has soaked, add the eggs and vegetable oil to the cornmeal mixture and beat/stir to combine well.

Pour the cornmeal mixture over the flour mixture and stir to incorporate, taking care not to overmix. 

Using an oven mitt, remove the skillet from the hot oven, grease with butter, and pour in the batter.  Bake about 25 minutes or until the cornbread is golden brown. 

Remove the skillet from the oven, invert the cornbread onto a serving plate and then flip again onto a cutting board.  Slice the cake of cornbread into 8 wedges and return it to the plate. 

  • Maybe I'm weird, but I prefer the cornbread's crust when the skillet hasn't been preheated.  So, I just butter the skillet and pour the batter into a room temp. skillet. 
  • This is so good with beans!  Or soup! 
  • I am assuming this is a regional product, but I use House Autry Stone Ground Yellow Corn Meal.  It's great. 

Comments (13)

Yes, you are weird

I love Alton Brown and will definitely try this recipe ... but I'm curious. You mention that the cornbread is moist and slightly sweet. What do you think makes it sweet? I was expecting a little sugar but there's none.

Corn makes it sweet.

Hi @Chanel Babe- I can only guess that it's the cornmeal that you use. I use stone ground corn meal from House Autry (found at Wal-Mart where I live).

In general, I LOVE Alton Brown's recipes. But I just made this one, and it has very little taste. Maybe it's me, but this recipe DEFINITELY needs some sugar. As it is now, it is not sweet at all. It's just ... BLAH. Curious to know if others feel the same way....

Sorry your experience was BLAH! I don't know what to tell you, because every time I've made this it's been great- good corn flavor, slightly sweet but not dessert-like sweetness. Here are two things I've thought about:

1. Are you looking for sweet, like other quick breads (such as banana bread)? If so, then you'd need to add sugar. Start with 1/4 cup and tweak from there. This cornbread is meant to be eaten with savory foods, so it's not sugary sweet on its own. It is, however, a real treat when crumbled in a mug or bowl, milk poured over it, with a drizzle of honey.

2. Maybe play around with the cornmeal you use? I usually use House Autry brand, which is made in the region where I live. It's stone ground.

The fresher the cornmeal, the better it taste. Some cornmeal has almost no flavor. If you buy a counter top grain grinder,you'll have the freshest flour and cornmeal.

I love this recipe. I got I'm Just Here for More Food as a gift about 11 years ago and Cornbread No Chaser has become my favorite cornbread recipe. I think soaking the cornmeal is brilliant and the reason it's so good. Sometimes I'm lazy and don't feel like pulling out my cookbook so I use your Web page. I've got you bookmarked - you're very convenient!

The cornmeal makes all the difference in a recipe like this. Use the freshest cornmeal you can find - i stone grind my own and the flavor and freshness is amazing. Good luck!

Hi Vicky Lynn! Glad I could be convenient! This is also my favorite recipe and made me into a cornbread lover

People who prefer sweet just need to add it. I do sometimes, other times just a little, but I never skip it completely. Cornmeal isn't sweet to me. PS. We have a lactose intolerant diner, so I used almond milk and some vinegar for the milk. I could've used lactose free milk, but I never have that. Best thing to use is buttermilk. I'm southern, but even back in SC we added some sugar. I hate the really sweet cakelike kind you get in restaurants sometimes. Good recipe.

I keep my corn meal in the freezer. Seems to help keep it fresh.

I know this is an older post but anyway- if you are looking for sweeter either 1/2 or all of the vegetable oil can be substituted for honey.

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