Gluten-Free Cornbread with Buttermilk and Honey

By Sally Cameron on December 03, 2012

Appetizers & Snacks, Baked Goods, Gluten-Free, Side Dishes

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.

Gluten-Free Baking

With a growing list of my friends going gluten-free (and eventually we did too), I wanted a cornbread recipe everyone could enjoy without concern.

My quest began with perfecting my gluten-free cornbread recipe. With a golden, tender crumb and big corn flavor, I was excited about how the final test batch came out.

Recipe Testing and Development

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.

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. 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.

Making gluten-free cornbread

One thing I did keep in the recipe that is often used in gluten-free baking is xanthan gum. It’s used in GF baking to add volume. It helps mimic the structure of gluten in baked goods. Just a little will do, 1 teaspoon in the entire recipe. It’s easy to find these days in the baking section of many grocery stores. I learned more about it reading Gluten-Free Baking for Dummies. Next post I’ll be sharing the cornbread dressing recipe.

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 will add a note when I do. It should produce the same result.

Gluten-Free Cornbread with Buttermilk and Honey

With a golden color and tender crumb, this gluten-free cornbread has big corn flavor and can be enjoyed by anyone following a gluten-free diet. Its nice with a bowl of soup or a cup of tea for a snack. It’s also wonderful in cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys or with roast chicken during the year.


  • 1 ½ cups gluten-free cornmeal 9 ounces/ 260 grams, Bob’s Red Mill
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum 4 grams
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder 6 grams
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda 2 grams
  • ¾ teaspoons table salt 5 grams
  • 1 ¼ cups low fat buttermilk 10 ounces/300 ml
  • 2 eggs room temperature, beaten together  
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 33 grams, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons honey


  •  Gather up your ingredients and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees (190 C). In a large bowl, add the cornmeal, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to incorporate. Whisk in the buttermilk until smooth, then add the eggs, melted butter and honey. Whisk until the batter is well mixed.
  •  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.
  1. bob raymond - December 3rd, 2012

    The cornbread sounds great! Can you tell me why you
    used Xanthan gum and what it does?

  2. bob raymond - December 3rd, 2012

    Oops! I just found the paragraph under the picture where you explained
    the Xanthan gum! Nevermind…..:)

  3. Madonna - December 3rd, 2012

    I love this post. Thank you so much for doing all the hard work for us. I get upset when a recipe goes awry. I try to stay with trusted recipes. Your recipes make me think I can cook. I love that you explain what happens when you use light pans as opposed to dark ones. I can’t tell you how many things I ruined before discovering this – all of those sacrificial cookies. Equipment to me is as important as the recipe. I do like that this can be put together in one bowl. I am still trying to work up to using xanthan gum. The name just kind of creeps me out, but if you say so I will get some and give it a try. Oh, and you even gave the weight of the salt; I am so happy.

  4. Sally - December 3rd, 2012

    Thanks Madonna. I fret over recipes and details because I want them to come out right for everyone, and yet that is tough. There are so many things than can differ, change a recipe and possibly make a great recipe into one that is not for home chefs. If anything goes awry, I want to hear about it and be able to help. If you make this and have any issues, please email me and let me know. The batches I cooked in dark pans got overly dark too fast and were at times not quite done enough on the inside. it was both a frustrating and interesting process. This is really the first I’ve used xanthan gum. You can use guar gum as well. They do basically the same thing. Oh, and tools can make a big difference!

  5. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious - December 5th, 2012

    This cornbread is just gorgeous! I don’t really make much gluten-free things but I think that has to change, starting with this recipe. I can’t wait to serve it alongside with some chili.

  6. Sally - November 22nd, 2014

    It’s great with Chili Chung-Ah! Thanks for reminding me!

  7. elizabeth - January 19th, 2013

    Try using guar gum instead of xanthan sometime. The author of Blackbird Bakery Gluten Free considers it better as it is great for digestive health and doesn’t smell like xanthan gum. I can get it at the co-op in bulk for very little money – no need to shell out a small fortune for a package of x-gum.

  8. Amy - November 10th, 2015

    Just curious if the buttermilk can be replaced with unsweetened dairy free variety with apple cider vinegar?

  9. Sally Cameron - November 10th, 2015

    Hi Amy, I’ve never tried that so unfortunately I don’t know. I am thinking it would probably work. Would be a good experiment. The cornbread might have a different texture or might not rise the same. If you try it please let us know! Thanks.

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