Does Cornbread Have Corn In It? [How And Why Does It Have Corn?]

Image of cornbread with corn in it

Cornbread is particularly popular in the Southern and Atlantic United States of America. However, it’s enjoyed in the North, too. It’s made with many variations, but if you consider trying it out or baking it yourself, you may wonder if cornbread actually has corn in it.

Cornbread is made using cornmeal. The corn is grounded into fine particles so that it resembles coarse flour and can be used in baking. It’s also possible to include sweetcorn or corn kernels in a cornbread recipe. However, such a recipe is considered a variation of the standard cornbread recipe.

Baking and eating cornbread can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Whether or not your cornbread has corn kernels is a matter of personal choice. Join us as we uncover a few ways corn is involved in making traditional cornbread, why cornbread has corn in it, and if cornbread is gluten-free.

How Is Corn Included In Cornbread?

As the name suggests, cornbread is baked using corn. However, you’re not likely to see corn kernels in your traditional cornbread. Although cornbread does have corn in it, it’s in the form of cornmeal.  

Cornmeal is a powder made from corn, much like coarse wheat flour. You can find it in three main textures: coarse, medium, and fine.

Unless a recipe calls specifically for coarse cornmeal, you will likely use the medium or fine variety to bake your cornbread.

Cornmeal can be used with wheat flour or alone, depending on the recipe you are working from. It’s made by drying and grinding corn, and so we can see that cornbread does contain corn, albeit in a powder form.

If you are a fan of corn and would like to add corn kernels to your cornbread recipe, it’s possible, and there are delicious recipes to help you do just that.

Cornbread is quite a diverse dish, so you can add almost anything to suit your tastes.

Sweet corn is a great optional extra, as it pairs beautifully with the cornmeal holding the bread together.

When adding corn kernels to your cornbread recipe, the best option is fresh corn, right off the cob.

If you have a selection, choose sweet corn for this part. Cornmeal is typically made with field corn, so the sweeter version will taste great in comparison.

If you need to use frozen corn, ensure that you thaw, drain and pat it dry before adding it to your batter.

Another option for adding corn kernels to your cornbread is canned sweetcorn. If you are using this option, be sure to drain it thoroughly before adding it to the other ingredients.

Whether you use a cornmeal-wheat flour mix, choose a plain version, or add corn kernels, cornbread has corn in it, and the corn makes for a great taste and a crumbly texture.

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Why Does Cornbread Have Corn In It?

Cornbread with corn

Forms of cornbread have been baked and enjoyed by the Native American tribes of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek for thousands of years.

It was only when the English settlers arrived in the Southern Colonies that they learned the original recipes from the Native Americans and began adapting them to suit their tastes.

Cornbread is considered a staple food in the South of the United States, where the main crop is corn.

Because of the heat and humidity of the area, wheat and rye didn’t store well, so corn was used as the staple ingredient for making bread.

Farmers and enslaved people alike were known to make versions of cornbread, using the readily available corn in the Southern region.

Cornbread is also made in the North, and it’s quite different from that of the South.

The main difference is that the cornbread of the South is generally sweeter than that of the North, and it typically includes more eggs.

The settlers’ most famous early cornbread recipe was called corn pone. Its only ingredients were cornmeal, water, and salt.

Over the years, changes to how corn was grown and milled changed the cornmeal taste.

Because of this, people added more ingredients to the original corn pone, resulting in the cornbread we enjoy to this day.

Added ingredients that we still enjoy include:

  • Eggs,
  • Flour,
  • Milk,
  • Buttermilk,
  • Baking powder,
  • Baking soda, and
  • Sugar (though this is a cause for serious debate among cornbread enthusiasts!).

Today, we are lucky enough to enjoy finely-ground cornmeal readily available in most stores. Still, those looking to recreate the original taste insist on using stone-ground cornmeal.

Because of the changes in corn’s growing, drying, and grinding processes, even the ground cornmeal used by our recent ancestors was different from what we use today.

In the end, cornbread has corn in it because corn was plentiful in the South, where the settlers made their homes.

They learned the recipe from the Native Americans and adapted it to suit their European tastes. Because of the heat and humidity, cornbread was a better option than wheat or rye.

Even though cornbread is crumbly and has a relatively short shelf life, it’s still considered a staple meal in the South and can be used as a meal, side, or sweet treat.

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Is Cornbread Gluten-Free?

Cornbread is made using cornmeal, which is made from corn and is naturally free of gluten.

Since cornbread is made with cornmeal rather than wheat flour, you would be forgiven for assuming that it’s, indeed, gluten-free. The truth is that most cornbread is made using wheat flour and cornmeal.

The addition of wheat flour also means the addition of gluten to the mix. When purchasing cornmeal, be sure to look out for a gluten-free label.

Although the meal itself is gluten-free, some manufacturers consider the cornmeal to have gluten because of the manufacturing process.

To make your own gluten-free cornbread, consider substituting the wheat flour in the recipe with gluten-free flour.

Some people believe we don’t need flour in addition to cornmeal. We feel that adding a little flour helps make the cornbread lighter to eat, so you may wish to consider using this option.