With cornbread baking, the aroma wafting from the kitchen was wonderful. Who can resist a piece of warm cornbread fresh from the oven? Not many, unless you are gluten-sensitive and have to be mindful of what you eat. Baking and tasting this cornbread recipe, you'd never even think it was gluten-free, as cornmeal is naturally GF. Dairy-free options explained.
With a growing list of my friends going gluten-free (and we did too), I wanted a cornbread recipe everyone could enjoy without concern. My quest began with perfecting my buttermilk cornbread recipe. With a golden, tender crumb and big corn flavor, I was excited about how the final test batch came out, all without gluten.
After baking batch after batch of cornbread, trying different corn and grain blends, sugar versus honey, milk versus buttermilk, different temperatures and pans, I’ve come up with a gluten-free cornbread recipe I’m really happy about. With no flour of any type in the recipe (just cornmeal), this cornbread has big corn flavor.
Here's your shopping list:
- Gluten-free cornmeal
- Xanthan gum
- Baking powder (aluminum free)
- Baking soda
- Low fat buttermilk (see sub below)
- Unsalted butter (see sub below)
- Honey (replacing white sugar)
For a dairy-free substitution, use the following:
- Use a plant-based milk such as strained almond milk
- Add 1 ½ tablespoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (give the acidity of buttermilk); let is stand for 5-10 minutes or until curdled (lumpy).
- For more ideas, read this and this article.
- For the butter substitution use plant-based butter. Buy solid cubes, not the tub stuff. Here is what I like.
As refined white sugar was banished from my pantry, I went with honey as a sweetener. I also liked the results better when I baked in a light colored metal pan versus a dark non-stick one. A square of parchment in the bottom of the light pan helped protect the bottom and make sure it came out of the pan easily.
My testing included gluten-free flour blends mixed with the cornmeal, but it didn’t have the flavor I was after. I wanted big, true corn flavor, so I eliminated flour and used all cornmeal.
Out of curiosity, I also tested a gluten-free packaged mix that uses alternative flours like potato starch and sorghum flour but was not crazy about the results.
One Bowl, Easy and Quick
After you gather up the ingredients, this cornbread goes together quickly in one bowl. And the baking time was only 20 minutes (in my oven). Although my intent was to use this for cornbread dressing, its great beside a bowl of soup or for a snack.
What is Xanthan Gum?
Xanthan gum helps mimic the structure of gluten in baked goods. Just a little will do, 1 teaspoon in the entire recipe. It is often used in gluten-free baking to add volume. It’s easy to find these days in the baking section of many grocery stores.
Note - An option to xanthan gum is guar gum. It's less expensive and widely available. I have not tested the recipe yet with guar gum but it should produce the same result.
To serve, cut into squares or to make the cornbread dressing, see the post for cornbread stuffing on how to cut and dry the cornbread.
Buttermilk Cornbread (gluten free)
- 1 8x8 light colored metal baking pan
- 1 ½ cups gluten-free cornmeal 9 ounces
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum 4 grams
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder 6 grams
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda 2 grams
- ¾ teaspoon salt 5 grams
- 1 ¼ cups low fat buttermilk 10 ounces/300 ml
- 2 large eggs room temperature, beaten together
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 33 grams, melted and cooled
- 2 tablespoons honey
Mix Dry Ingredients
- Gather up your ingredients and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, add the cornmeal, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to incorporate.
Mix Wet Ingredients
- Whisk in the buttermilk (or dairy-free substitution) until smooth, then add the eggs, melted butter and honey. Whisk until the batter is well mixed.
Pout Batter, Bake and Cool
- Cut a square of parchment to fit into the bottom of an 8″x8″ square light colored baking pan. Spray with nonstick spray. Pour batter into the pan. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes (I have a convection oven) on the center rack, or until the cornbread is golden and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. The cornbread will be pulling away from the sides of the pan slightly. Use your nose. When the cornbread is done you’ll really smell it. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a cooling rack.
- To serve, cut into squares or to make the cornbread dressing, see the post for cornbread stuffing on how to cut and dry the cornbread.