Gluten-Free Cornbread: tall, tender, moist… marvelous!

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Golden-brown crust.

Sugar-and-gold corn interior.

The melted gold of pure, rich butter.

It all adds up: this cornbread is absolutely golden!

Heck, you’d never know it’s gluten-free by looking at it, would you?

Nor by tasting it. This cornbread is so good, I’d feel just fine making it for family, friends, or a potluck.

It’s not just “pretty good, considering it’s gluten-free.”

This cornbread’s darned good. Period.

Here’s your first secret to success:

Our special gluten-free multi-purpose flour. For those of you baking GF, you know that both grittiness and a “grassy” taste can be problems.

Not with this flour.

Still, if you choose not to use it, you can make your own gluten-free brown rice flour blend, which will work just as well.

Here’s your next secret:

Xanthan gum. It’s a thickener, emulsifier, and stabilizer that steps in for gluten, improving the “body” and texture of gluten-free treats.

If your recipe calls for xanthan gum – use it. It’ll keep crumbling, so common in GF baking, to a minimum.

Let’s get started.

First, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Put the following in a bowl; not the bowl for your stand mixer, but another bowl (do as I say, not as I did!):

1 1/2 cups gluten-free yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup buttermilk powder
2 tablespoons King Arthur Cake Enhancer, optional
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl (your mixer bowl), whisk together the following:

5 tablespoons melted butter or oil
1/2 cup brown sugar*
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon vinegar, cider or white
3 large eggs

*We like our cornbread a little sweet here in New England. If you like a more Southern-style cornbread, feel free to cut down on the sugar.

Add 1 cup of the dry ingredients to the egg/oil mixture, beating to combine.

The mixture will be very lumpy; that’s OK.

Add the remaining dry ingredients about 1 cup at a time.

After each addition, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat for 30 seconds on medium-high speed.

See why you need to scrape the bowl? You want to incorporate all that flour (and the sticky residue along the sides and in the bottom of the bowl) into the batter.

Once all the dry ingredients have been added, beat on medium speed for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.

See how nicely this has thickened? There are still some lumps, but many fewer than when you first started.

Lightly grease a 9″ square pan. Make sure your pan spray isn’t one that includes flour.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Use your wet fingers to gently smooth the surface. Let the cornbread sit for 10 minutes.

Bake the cornbread for 25 to 30 minutes.

It’ll rise nicely, and its top crust will be golden brown.

Unlike many baked goods, the toothpick test – it’s done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean – doesn’t quite work for this GF cornbread.

A toothpick did indeed come out clean at this point, but the internal temperature was just 169°F – too low. The cornbread would have been gummy if I hadn’t returned it to the oven.

Another 3 to 4 minutes was all it needed. So, you want to bake about 3 to 4 minutes beyond the point where a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. My Thermapen says the internal temperature of this bread is 190°F – just right.

Remove the bread from the oven. You’ll notice the edges pulling away from the sides of the pan; that’s another sign it’s fully baked.

Cool 5 minutes before cutting.

Serve warm, to melt the butter. OH so good…

Did I mention this is one TALL cornbread?! The angle exaggerates a bit, but the bread is a good 2″ high.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Gluten-Free Cornbread.

Print just the recipe.

And check out all of our gluten-free recipes.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Rob

    In the South, cornbread is traditionally gluten free as is. No wheat flour is used in the recipe, only white cornmeal, shortening/lard, clabber, leavening and sometimes an egg. This is not because wheat flour was unavailable but because wheat was reserved for other purposes.

    This recipe is more like a cake rather than true cornbread. I’m sure it is tasty, but is not authentic.

    No, Rob, it’s surely not authentic Southern-style cornbread. But as you say, that doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty, right? :) PJH

    Reply
  2. Rob

    It’s not authentic and that’s why I felt I had to comment… Although cornbread is a humble dish, it is still traditional and just like styles of pizza, Christmas dishes, or family recipes, it’s hard to call anything but the real thing the real thing. Although I do appreciate the desire to innovate, food traditions are something important to observe, pass down, and celebrate as I’m sure you know well, thus my comment.

    My post was not to antagonize, I actually found it humorous that this recipe solves a problem that doesn’t even exist in my tradition! Happy baking.

    Thanks, Rob. I’m always, always happy to find people eager to hold onto traditions, food cultures that have been passed from generation to generation. And I totally understand the emotion that can come with these traditions; it’s the spiritual energy that carries them ever onward. This gluten-free cornbread, with its sugar and flour, isn’t cornbread in the original sense of the word; rather it’s shorthand for people wanting to bake what they’ve come to know, in our modern culture, as cornbread. Bottom line: I value your information, and thank you for sharing it; keep fighting the good fight! PJH

    Reply
  3. Gargoyle

    All that is needed for Gluten Free Corn Bread is a bag of self rising corn meal. Well that and eggs, shortening/drippings and milk, maybe a little sugar if you want it sweet. Of course I am just a country boy from Texas, and that is the way my mama taught me to make it.

    This way just seems to be more work for the same result.

    Reply
  4. KAPP

    Hi, I have been on an endless search for cornbread that has that cake-like consistency…to no avail…I have tried dozens of recipes I thought would be it. I would try this recipe however that would require me to purchase GF type ingredients that I don’t necessarily need. Do any of the recipes on your website provide that sweet, dense, cakeyness that I’ve been so desperate to find? I have only been able to eat cornbread that looks like the picture above and was sweet and almost like cake rather than dry, crumbly cornbread, at restaurants and could therefore not obtain the recipes. If this recipe it the only answer you’ve got, I will most definitely try this recipe but will have to purchase those special ingredients. Thanks for your help on my quest. thx!

    Try our Guaranteed Cornbread… I think it’s just what you want. PJH

    Reply
  5. Kimberly

    Encouraging home cooks to put xanthan gum into their home baked products? Wow. The main reason many of us are at your website is so we can get away from those hyper processed food like substances that we’ve all been feeding ourselves for the past few decades, but are clearly not what we should be eating.

    Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide, derived from the bacterial coat of Xanthomonas campestris, used as a food additive and rheology modifier,[2] commonly used as a food thickening agent (in salad dressings, for example) and a stabilizer (in cosmetic products, for example, to prevent ingredients from separating). It is produced by fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose by the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium. After a fermentation period, the polysaccharide is precipitated from a growth medium with isopropyl alcohol, dried, and ground into a fine powder. Later, it is added to a liquid medium to form the gum.

    Does that sound like something we should be eating? Yuck! You guys allow us to make our own solutions to this problem…please don’t make it worse!

    Kimberly, I’m getting an answer for you from our GF product and recipe developers. In the meantime, I can comment that you could write the same type of “chemicalese” about the yeast bread fermentation process, should you want to get down to the molecular level… We do pride ourselves on using top-quality ingredients here at King Arthur, and would never offer our customers an

    OK, here’s what our GF team says, courtesy of Dr. Andrea Brown, our test kitchen PhD:
    I’m sorry that you don’t like this ingredient. We certainly respect your choice not to use it. Though it is in our mixes, we provide 3 gluten free flour blends (our white flour, our GF whole grain flour, and our ancient grains) as well as several gluten free starches that you can use to make your own gluten free baked goods.

    Xanthan gum is a natural substance, but it is purified with isopropyl alcohol, which gives you pause. On the one hand, I can understand why: isopropyl alcohol is not safe to drink. However, it is used in rubbing alcohol and facial toner since it evaporates easily. That makes it nice for food safe preparations, since it quickly evaporates away from the purified xanthan gum.

    Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide, a molecule made of sugars linked together, as are starch, cellulose, and pectin. It sounds yucky that it is made by bacteria, but many things we eat are fermented by bacteria – cheese, yogurt, vinegar, and sauerkraut. We all have more bacterial cells in our bodies than human cells, and we can’t digest food without them. Bacteria are necessary.

    Xanthan gum provides much needed structure in gluten free baked goods. If we didn’t use it, we would need to use a gum purified from beans or seaweed, which tend to have a stronger flavor and not perform as well.

    We don’t see xanthan gum as a health hazard. It is FDA approved and a natural product of this kind of bacteria. Though it is purified with an alcohol that isn’t safe to drink, this alcohol is used in topical products safe for people and evaporates quickly, so we feel xanthan gum processed with it is safe to use.

    Reply
  6. jenaij

    The only ingredient I don’t have is the buttermilk powder. Is there a substitute I can use?

    Though we haven’t tested the substitution, I’d think you could substitute 1 cup buttermilk for 1 cup of the water. Or a 6-ounce container of plain yogurt for 3/4 cup of the water; if the batter seems stiffer than that in the pictures in the blog, add a tablespoon or so additional water. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  7. KAPP

    Thx! I’ll try that recipe. Is there anyway to make the top of the Guaranteed Cornbread have a golden-crust color? would substituting the sugar with brown sugar do the trick?

    No, substituting brown sugar won’t work. You could try brushing the top with butter, once it’s set enough to brush; then giving it 10 minutes or so at the end on your oven’s highest rack, so it’s close to the heating element (if your oven has an upper heating element). Good question – let us know how it works out! PJH

    Reply
  8. Margy

    Don’t know much about the pros/cons of xanthan gum, but your recipe contains two deadly poisons:sodium and chloride. Oh, I’m sorry, that’s SALT when combined. So I guess it’s all in your point of view. Bottom line, I guess, if you object to the ingredients, don’t make the recipe. Oh, and xanthan gum has always been available in the gluten-free section of our local organic/natural foods store.

    Reply
  9. beadgalsarita

    Something worth pointing out, many celiacs actually can’t handle corn either. I didn’t realize this until recently when a GF friend informed me. Something to keep in mind for the future :)

    Reply
  10. mikest

    Hi PJ, tried this last night… It went a bit wonky…

    I baked it for about 55min and the center still failed the toothpick test, but since it was get *really brown* and the center was now peaked like the pyramids, I pulled it out of the oven. Eventually sitting on the stove cooling it finished cooking and seems fine (tho a bit dry from the excess time). Thoughts??? Where did I screw this one up? :-)

    Mike, it’s always best to have a 2-way conversation when things don’t turn out – you’ll be able to work out what happened much more quickly. Give our bakers a call, OK? 802-649-3717. Or Live chat – either way, they’ll talk you through it, I’m sure. sorry it was wonky… PJH

    Reply
  11. Jeffalina

    You know, I just popped some gluten-free cornbread into the oven and decided to take the twenty minutes of oven time to surf some food sites, and I randomly jumped to your site! If this new recipe doesn’t work out, I will definitely be trying yours soon. Cheers. Jeffalina @ http://www.fourfigsandaduck.blogspot.com

    Reply
  12. Janice

    Would this recipe work as muffins? Obviously, you would cook it for a shorter time. Before I started eating gluten-free, I often made cornbread muffins instead of bread, and muffins would make it easier to freeze any leftovers.

    Don’t see why not – I say go for it, and please let us know how they come out, Janice – PJH

    Reply
  13. New GF baker

    Love this recipe! I am relatively new to GF and am learning the process so I am thankful when recipes actually work out. Especially when they are delicious and I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Thank you.

    Reply
  14. joyce

    Hi I am also new to GF baking. Do you use a fine or coarse grind cornmeal for this and what grind do you use for the Ancient Grains Drop Biscuit? Thank You

    We use fine grind corn meal in all of our recipes unless otherwise specified. Betsy@KAF

    Reply
  15. Jeannie

    Is there a simplified variation on this recipe available that uses the gluten free baking mix instead? I’d love to have it if you have tried it successfully. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Jeannie- We don’t have a recipe for cornbread using the gluten-free baking mix, but I will be sure to pass along that request. In the meantime I hope you can enjoy this one! Happy baking! Jocelyn@KAF

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