Hot Water Cornbread

Hot Water Cornbread is a traditional Southern dish known for its simplicity and comforting flavor. Made with basic ingredients like cornmeal, salt, and water, this recipe yields crispy patties that are perfect for accompanying a variety of dishes, particularly soups and stews. Let’s dive into how to make this delicious side dish.


  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  1. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, and sugar (if using).
  2. Gradually pour the boiling water into the cornmeal mixture, stirring continuously until a thick, moistened dough forms.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, ensuring it’s about 1/2 inch deep.
  4. While the oil is heating, shape the cornmeal dough into small patties.
  5. Carefully place the patties into the hot oil, frying until the edges become crisp and golden brown, typically taking about 2-3 minutes on each side.
  6. Once cooked, remove the cornbread patties from the oil and let them drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.


  • Be cautious when adding boiling water to the cornmeal mixture, as it can create hot steam. Stir slowly and carefully to avoid burns.
  • Adjust the thickness of the cornmeal dough as needed by adding more or less water. The goal is to achieve a thick, moist consistency.
  • Maintain a consistent oil temperature while frying for even cooking and optimal texture.
  • Serve hot water cornbread warm for the best flavor and texture, alongside your favorite soups or stews.

Hot Water Cornbread offers a simple yet satisfying addition to any meal, with its crispy exterior and soft, flavorful interior. Whether enjoyed alongside a hearty bowl of soup or as a standalone snack, this Southern classic is sure to please. Try making it at home to experience its deliciousness firsthand.

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1. Can I make substitutions in the ingredients?

Absolutely! Hot Water Cornbread is quite versatile, allowing for some ingredient substitutions based on personal preference or dietary restrictions. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cornmeal: While traditional cornmeal is typically used, you can experiment with different types such as fine or coarse ground cornmeal. You could also try using corn flour or a cornmeal mix for variation.
  • Salt: Adjust the salt quantity according to your taste preferences. You can also use alternative seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, or chili powder for added flavor.
  • Sugar: The addition of sugar is optional and can be omitted if you prefer a more savory cornbread. Alternatively, you can substitute with honey, maple syrup, or a sugar alternative if desired.

2. How do I know when the oil is hot enough for frying?

Achieving the right temperature of the oil is crucial for frying the cornbread patties to perfection. Here are a couple of methods to determine if the oil is hot enough:

  • Temperature: Use a deep-fry or candy thermometer to monitor the oil temperature. It should ideally reach around 350°F (175°C) before adding the cornbread patties.
  • Visual cues: Another method is to drop a small piece of cornmeal dough into the oil. If it sizzles and starts to brown immediately, the oil is likely ready for frying. Alternatively, you can test by dipping the end of a wooden spoon into the oil; if bubbles form around it, the oil is hot enough.

3. Can I prepare the cornmeal dough ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the cornmeal dough ahead of time to streamline the cooking process. Here are a few tips for prepping in advance:

  • Make the dough: Follow the recipe instructions to prepare the cornmeal dough, shaping it into patties as directed.
  • Refrigeration: Once shaped, place the cornbread patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate them for up to a few hours before frying. This allows the patties to firm up and hold their shape better during frying.
  • Freezing: Alternatively, you can freeze the shaped patties on a baking sheet until solid, then transfer them to a freezer bag or container for longer storage. When ready to cook, thaw the patties in the refrigerator overnight before frying.
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4. How can I ensure my hot water cornbread turns out crispy?

Achieving a crispy exterior on your hot water cornbread requires attention to a few key factors. Here are some tips to help you achieve that perfect crunch:

  • Proper oil temperature: Ensure the oil is hot enough before adding the cornbread patties. If the oil is too cool, the patties may absorb more oil and become greasy instead of crispy. If it’s too hot, the cornbread may burn before cooking through.
  • Even thickness: Shape the cornmeal dough into patties of uniform thickness to ensure even cooking. Thinner patties will crisp up more quickly, while thicker ones may take longer and risk becoming soggy.
  • Don’t overcrowd the skillet: Fry the cornbread patties in batches, leaving enough space between them in the skillet. Crowding the pan can lower the oil temperature and result in uneven cooking.
  • Drain excess oil: Once fried, transfer the cornbread patties to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil. This helps maintain their crispiness and prevents them from becoming overly greasy.

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