Truly sugar free cornbread recipe with no sugar substitute. Easy bake bread with buttermilk, cornmeal and eggs. Light and tasty!
This is a healthy twist on the traditional cornbread, which is normally made with a fairy high amount of sugar.
I wanted to create a version which would be truly sugar free with no added sugar, no natural sugar replacements (like honey or agave syrup) and certainly not any man-made sugar substitutes like diabetic sugar.
In my books, all of these natural sugars are still sugars and our bodies have similar reaction to them as with a traditional reined cane or beet sugar.
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Why make this recipe?
- Truly sugar free recipe – no sugar substitute
- Easy to bake bread or a side dish to have with your main meal
- Cornmeal is naturally gluten-free, which makes this bread much lighter than regular breads and easier to digest too.
The reason why this sugar free cornbread is delicous to eat
The lack of sugar in this bread will make it taste different from the traditional cornbread, but if you are serving it with your main meal, you’ll hardly notice it
The buttermilk and butter are both surprisingly sweet. Again there is no added sugar in these, but they do taste naturally sweet. Try them to see what I mean, before you add them in
The cornmeal is again much sweeter in taste than regular flour, which is why when combined with the buttermilk, the bread will make the taste great.
Finally, when you cut out the sugar, you can start training your taste buds to taste all the other flavours in the bread and you’ll discover that these become much stronger as your taste buds recover from the sugar overwhelm.
How can you make sugar-free cornbread without sacrificing its flavor?
Here are some tips for making sugar-free cornbread without sacrificing its flavor:
- Use high-quality, stone-ground cornmeal for a richer flavor.
- Add savory ingredients like cheese, herbs, and spices to enhance the flavor.
- Use buttermilk instead of regular milk or water for a tangy taste.
- I prefer to leave the sugar completely out, but you can also substitute honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar for sugar to add natural sweetness.
- Use a combination of all-purpose flour and cornmeal to balance the flavor and texture.
- Add a small amount of baking powder or baking soda to help the cornbread rise and stay moist.
- Use melted butter or bacon grease instead of vegetable oil for a richer flavor.
- Let the cornbread cool for a few minutes before serving to allow the flavors to develop.
- Serve the cornbread with flavorful toppings like butter, honey, jam, or hot sauce.
- Experiment with different recipes and techniques to find the perfect sugar-free cornbread recipe for your taste
What exactly is cornbread?
Traditional cornbread is a fairly sweet type of bread, often baked in a skillet using a mix of cornmeal and plain (all purpose) flour.
It’s used a side dish and served with soups, main meals like chilli con carne. The idea is that the sweet style of this bread takes away the heat of the spices from the food.
Any specialist equipment needed?
Cornbread can be baked in pretty much any tray with higher sides, like a large brownie tin, skillet, cake tin. You can also use a muffin tin and divide this recipe into muffin-sized bread.
We will be baking this cornbread recipe, so make sure that if you are using a skillet it’s cast iron and suitable for oven use ( for example, it shouldn’t have a plastic handle).
Sugar free cornbread ingredients
Cornmeal is a coarsely ground corn to create rough type of flour. It can be used instead of regular flour to add a wholemeal texture to most breads. It’s naturally gluten-free.
I’ve used plain (all-purpose flour) for this recipe. Other plain or low in gluten flours can be used as well, but it will change the taste of this recipe. You can use anything from spelt, buckwheat, wholemeal plain or specialist lupin flour.
Whist normally, you can use anything from water to milk or even yogurt to replace the buttermilk, in this sugar free cornbread recipe, I wouldn’t recommend it. The buttermilk adds natural sweetness and buttery flavour to the cornbread, which would otherwise be quite bland (since we are not using any sugar).
If you want to adapt this recipe without dairy, have a look at my vegan cornbread recipe, that gives you few different options.
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How difficult is to make corbread?
Cornbread is super easy and straightforward recipe to make. There is no kneading, proving or shaping like with a traditional yeasted bread. The dry ingredients are first mixed together and wet ingredients are added and mixed until just combined. The batter is then poured into a greased baking dish and baked in the oven until golden brown. The entire process usually takes less than an hour, and there are many variations and add-ins that can be used to customize the recipe.
How to make sugar free cornbread at home
Preheat your oven to 190C (375F), Gas Mark 5.
Prepare your tin (round or square) by lining it with a baking parchment
Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a medium sized bowl.
Add the cornmeal and mix in to the flour.
Melt the butter and let it to cool down a bit.
In another bowl or a measuring jug, mix the buttermilk, melted butter and egg and sligthly whisk it together.
Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and mix together, but don’t over mix it.
Pour the batter into your prepared tin and place in the oven (middle shelf)
Bake initially for 10 minutes on 190C (375C) and then reduce the oven temperature down to 180C (350C) or Gas mark 4. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until the cornbread is lightly golden/brown on the top. Check with a wooden skewer to see if the cornbread is ready (if it comes out clean/dry it’s done)
Leave to cool down in the tin for about 10 minutes (resting on a cooling rack) and then take out completely and place on the cooling rack. If you can peel of the baking parchment, do this now to prevent the cornbread sweating.
Serve as a side dish/bread with your main meal.
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What can you serve sugar free cornbread with
Cornbread is great as a side dish or you can also serve it with butter and honey, and it can be used as a base for cornbread stuffing or croutons.
- New Orleans gumbo
- Spicy collard greens
- Korean pork ribs
- Beef brisket
- Shrimp creole
- Buffalo wings
- Black bean soup
- Pulled pork mac and cheese
- Sausage gravy and as a side dish with sausages
- Baked eggs florentine
- Chipped beef gravy
- Mexican vegetables
- Tamale sandwiches
- Cornbread pizza
- Chili con carne (Southern Style) >>
- Turkey Chili >>
- Leek & Potato Soup >>
- Vegetable Soup >>
- Baked Potato Soup >>
Variation on this recipe
You can add a heaped handful (roughly 1/2 – 3/4 cup) of any of the following ingredients combinations
Cheese & Onion – sautéed onion finely chopped with grated cheddar cheese
Red Pepper & Chorizo – sauteed red pepper finely chopped with chopped chorizo
Bacon – add fried chopped up bacon bits to the mixture
Cheese – add a roughly grated cheese
Herbs – chopped up fresh mixed herbs, such as parsley, basil, chives etc
Scalling up this recipe
You can easily double up this recipe and bake large tray of cornbread or split it between smaller tins. Make sure that you adjust the time depending on how deep your trays are (not so much on how many cornbreads you have in the oven).
Can this recipe be made in advance?
Cornbread keeps well, but it’s still best eaten within 2-3 days from baking it.
How to store cornbread
I usually use loose plastic bag and then keep the bread in a bread metal tin.
How to freeze and defrost cornbread
If you know that you won’t finish eating the cornbread within 3 days, I’d recommend to freeze it.
Let the cornbread cool completely first and then wrap in plastic bag suitable for freezer. Keep flat in the freezer and use within 3-6 months.
For best freshness always freeze the cornbread on the same day you baked it, although you can freeze it any time.
To defrost your cornbread, leave it still wrapped (or loosely wrapped) in the original freezer bag and defrost overnight in the room temperature in your kitchen.
If you forget to take the bread out in time, you can also use defrost setting on your microwave. If you don’t have a defrost setting, use lower setting (50% lower or anything that will say low or medium temperature or setting). Leave in for 30 seconds at a time and turn the bread if needed to make sure that it defrosts evenly.
The bread will defrost in microwave from the middle, which means that the middle can be very hot and the sides still slightly cold or frozen (if you leave the microwave on full power). To counteract that, I usually take out the sugar free cornbread before it’s completely defrosted and leave it in a room temperature to finish defrosting naturally.
How to warm up your sugar free cornbread
If you prefer to serve your cornbread warm, there are easy ways to heat the cornbread when it’s a few days old or if it was previously frozen.
You can heat up the cornbread in microwave, where 10-20 seconds should be enough to make the bread lightly warm.
If you have your oven already on (for example if you are finishing baking your main dish), you can add the cornbread in on a tray and warm it up for about 5 minutes on about 180 C or 350 F. If the temperature is lower, that’s fine, it might take a little longer for the bread to warm up.
If the temperature is much higher that it’s not possible to lower it because your main dish needs that higher temperature to finish cooking or baking, I’d wait until you finish cooking.
I would then lower the temperature and add the cornbread in for 5-10 minutes (you can even switch the oven off and the residual heat will warm up the cornbread quite nicely).
You can also warm up cornbread on top of any saucepan if you are for example cooking a soup or stew. You can add a plate on the top of the saucepan and leave the bread on top (covering it with another large plate if you have the right size).
Again this is easier to do, when your main dish (in the saucepan) is already cooked or nearly done, so that you don’t need to keep removing the plate with the cornbread every time you want to steer the soup or stew.
How can the absence of sugar in cornbread affect its taste and texture?
The absence of sugar in cornbread can affect its taste and texture in a few ways. First, without sugar, cornbread will have a less sweet taste and a more savory flavor. This can be desirable for those who prefer a more traditional, Southern-style cornbread. Second, sugar can add moisture to baked goods, so without it, cornbread may be slightly drier and crumbly.
However, this can be mitigated by using high-quality, finely ground cornmeal and adding other ingredients like buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter to improve the texture. Finally, some people may find that sugar-free cornbread has a more pronounced corn flavor, which can be a positive or negative depending on personal taste.
Is it possible to make sugar-free cornbread that is also gluten-free?
Yes, it is possible to make sugar-free cornbread that is also gluten-free. Gluten-free cornbread can be made by using alternative flours such as almond flour, coconut flour, or a gluten-free flour blend in place of wheat flour. Cornmeal is naturally gluten-free, so it can still be used in gluten-free cornbread recipes.
To add sweetness without sugar, natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or stevia can be used. It’s important to note that gluten-free flours can have different textures and absorbency than wheat flour, so it may be necessary to adjust the liquid and dry ingredients accordingly. Additionally, gluten-free cornbread may be more crumbly than traditional cornbread, but this can be improved by using xanthan gum or other binding agents.
How many calories are we saving by not adding sugar to cornbread recipe?
The number of calories saved by not adding sugar to cornbread recipe depends on the amount of sugar that is typically used in the recipe – some recipes have 1-2 tablespoons, some up to 1/4 cup of sugar. According to the USDA, one teaspoon of granulated sugar contains about 16 calories. If a recipe has 1 tablespoon of sugar this would save about 50 calories (or 100 calories if the recipe has 2 tablespoons of sugar). If a recipe calls for 1/4 cup of sugar, which is equivalent to 12 teaspoons, omitting the sugar would save about 192 calories.
Sugar Free Cornbread
- 150 grams cornmeal coarse maize meal
- 150 grams plain flour all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 225 ml buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 50 grams unsalted butter
- Preheat your oven to 190C (375F), Gas Mark 5.
- Prepare your tin (round or square) by lining it with a baking parchment
- Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a medium sized bowl.
- Add the cornmeal and mix in to the flour.
- Melt the butter and let it to cool down a bit.
- In another bowl or a measuring jug, mix the buttermilk, melted butter and egg and sligthly whisk it together.
- Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and mix together, but don't over mix it.
- Pour the batter into your prepared tin and place in the oven (middle shelf)
- Bake innitially for 10 minutes on 190C (375C) and then reduce the oven temperature down to 180C (350C) or Gas mark 4. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until the cornbread is lightly golden/brown on the top. Check with a wooden skewer to see if the cornbread is ready (if it comes out clean/dry it's done)
- Leave to cool down in the tin for about 10 minutes (resting on a cooling rack) and then take out completely and place on the cooling rack. If you can peel of the baking parchment, do this now to prevent the cornbread sweating.
- Serve as a side dish/bread with your main meal.
This blog post was originally written on 21 June 2021 and last tested and updated on 14 August 2023