Savory (no sugar added) cornbread is one of my all time favorite comfort foods that really speaks to my soul. Cracklin’ cornbread adds delectable crispy fried cracklings, salt pork (aka side meat), or bacon for a dish that feels more like a main dish than a side.
I was an extremely picky eater growing up in central Georgia, but cracklin’ cornbread was one dish I never said no to!
If you ever have real pork cracklings that are created from rendering your own lard, I highly recommend using them to make cracklin’ cornbread. But pork belly, whether it is salted and not smoked like salt pork/side meat, or smoked as bacon, works beautifully to add an extra dimension of flavor and texture. You can also add in onion and/or jalapenos for some added flavor and a kick.
But sometimes just plain ol’ cornbread is perfect to help sop up the juices from a pot roast, pulled pork, or roasted chicken, and this recipe can be made without the craclkins if you desire.
This recipe can suit many dietary needs, including gluten-free, egg-free, and sugar-free. Plus despite what you’ve been told, you can make perfect cornbread with a brown crispy crust without a cast iron pan. I’ll show you how!
And yes, this recipe is for authentic Southern style cornbread. Not “corn”bread made from something like coconut flour. This is the real deal, made with stone ground coarse cornmeal, not a grain-free alternative and it’s definitely not a Paleo recipe. I do think you could consider it as part of an 80/20 approach to Primal, though.
Wait, you eat corn?
I am so glad that I did not include the word “Paleo” in my website name when I started it in 2012. Even still, it’s taken a lot of courage for me to share such a decidedly not Paleo recipe here, especially since I am known as one of the AIP bloggers and cookbook authors.
But the truth is I only did AIP for 6 months and it was all the way back in 2014.
I reintroduced all the foods.
Yes, even the non-Paleo foods like properly prepared legumes, gluten-free grains, and certain types of dairy.
I do still use Paleo as a broad set of guidelines for my home cooking, but my only real “rule” is that I don’t cook with gluten containing ingredients. That’s it.
That said, many of my meals do end up being Paleo or even AIP. And I do still enjoy creating recipes to suit these dietary needs.
I’ve been open on my social media (especially on Instagram, are you a part of that community yet?) that I have been eating broadly “real foods” for the last few years.
But for some reason I’ve been reticent to bring this discussion to the blog. 2019 is the year that changes!
I just have to be 100% open and honest about the lifestyle I am living. I know some Paleo and even Whole30 bloggers who eat SAD style food behind the scenes and are deceptive about what they share on social media. But I value transparency and authenticity above all else, which is why I am excited to start sharing more gluten-free real food recipes with you here alongside the Paleo and AIP offerings.
I hope you enjoy the variety in the recipes shared here!
And I plan to write an informational post to follow this one up, to point out some flaws in the argument against corn (especially with regards to phytic acid….are you aware it is an antioxidant with impressive anti-cancer action? And that zeaxanthin was named after corn, Zea mays, since it is the richest plant source?!) #ThingsPaleoBloggersDon’tTellYou
Coarse Grind Cornmeal for Cornbread
Coarse grind, stone ground cornmeal is the original type of cornmeal used to make Southern cornbread, and that’s what I used to make this recipe. Here is a little bit of cornbread history for you:
Excerpt is quote from this excellent article that I encourage you to read to understand more about the history of Southern cornbread: ‘The Real Reason Sugar Has No Place In Cornbread’.
Cracklin’ Cornbread Recipe Notes
1) This recipe uses coarse grind cornmeal and has not been tested with a finer grind. I used Delta Grind stone ground coarse cornmeal. If you are sensitive to gluten and using another brand, read the label to MAKE SURE that it is gluten-free coarse cornmeal. If it is processed in a facility that also processes wheat there WILL be contamination in the cornmeal.
It can be difficult to find a cornmeal that ticks all the boxes of being gluten-free AND coarse grind. If you are using medium or especially fine grind this recipe probably won’t turn out right and may need another flour added to it.
Bob’s Red Mill makes a coarse grind cornmeal but it is processed in a facility with wheat; their gluten-free cornmeal is only medium grind. It might work fine, but I haven’t tested it and likely won’t since I prefer to support my local producer.
2) The egg is optional. If you omit the egg, the texture is just a bit more crumbly. If you use the egg, you may need to add an extra tbsp or two of cornmeal so that the batter isn’t runny.
3) I didn’t test any other dairy-free milk options but I bet they’ll work just fine. If you can tolerate real buttermilk feel free to substitute that.
4) You can use cracklings (from rendering lard), crispy salt pork, or crispy bacon. Whatever you have available works! This is a great way to use jowl bacon (if you’re local in Memphis sometimes they have pastured jowl bacon at the Curb Market in Crosstown Concourse).
5) There is no substitution for the cornmeal. I often write recipes with many substitution options, but this is not one of them. One day I may develop a Paleo “corn”bread, but right now I can’t recommend an alternative.
6) For a crispy browned crust, use an 8” or 9” square glass baking dish. Grease it and add it to the oven as it pre-heats. This step is key for cooking up a pan of cornbread with a crisp, golden brown crust without a cast iron pan. Just be careful when you pour the batter into the hot dish!
7) You can just omit the crispy pork for plain cornbread. Sometimes plain is better! Especially if you’re serving it with a very flavorful main dish.
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Savory Cracklin' Cornbread
- 2 cups coarse grind cornmeal
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp unrefined salt
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp bacon grease (or palm shortening, or lard)
- 1 cup full fat canned coconut milk
- 1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup chopped crispy salt pork or bacon
- 1 egg (optional)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (optional)
- 1/2 cup diced fresh jalapeno peppers (optional)
- Use 1 tbsp of the bacon grease to grease an 8" or 9" square glass baking dish. Place it in the oven on a rack in the middle and preheat to 400F.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add the cornmeal, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt and whisk together.Use a fork to cut the bacon grease (or palm shortening, or lard) into the dry mixture until it reaches a coarse crumble texture.
- Add the coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, and if using, the egg. Adding the egg will make the final texture slightly less crumbly. Use a rubber spatula to mix it together to create a thick batter. If using the egg and the batter is too runny, add an extra tbsp or two of cornmeal to thicken it up.
- Fold in the crispy salt pork or bacon, and if using, the green onion and/or jalapeno peppers.
- Remove the greased, heated dish from the oven once it has reached 400F. Carefully pour the batter into the dish. It will sizzle. Smooth the top with the spatula and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Allow the cornbread to rest in the dish for 15-30 minutes before cutting and eating. If you try to eat it without letting it rest, it will fall apart.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and reheat in a 350F oven for about 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
Keywords: gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free
Suitable for: Gluten-Free