This southern style vegan cornbread is not only delicious and quite classic, it's also gluten-free. Vegan "buttermilk" creates a light, gorgeously golden crumb without any added fat. It makes a perfect meal with my vegan Hoppin' John and Collard Greens.
We love cornbread with its buttery, grainy texture, and this golden, delicious, southern American -- and vegan -- version is the latest favorite in our home.
This is a gluten-free cornbread, made with cornmeal only, and I use vegan yogurt to create a quick buttermilk that gives the bread amazing flavor and adds in some moisture. The cornbread is otherwise free of any added fats except the cooking spray (or tiny bit of oil) needed to coat the skillet.
This cornbread is the last of the triumvirate of dishes I am sharing with you for New Year's Day when eating these foods is considered lucky, including my vegan Hoppin' John and vegan Collard Greens.
All of these dishes are as healthy as they are delicious to give you the perfect start for the new year. If you try them, be sure to come back and let me know!
Making southern vegan cornbread from scratch
Cornbread is one of the easiest recipes you can put together. All you need to do is stir up the ingredients in one bowl, pour them into an oven-safe skillet or baking dish, and bake it up.
If all goes smoothly, you should have hot, fluffy, tender cornbread in under 30 minutes.
Cornbread should have a crusty exterior and a tender but moist interior. The way you get that crusty, golden exterior is by heating a cast iron skillet in a hot oven, adding oil to the skillet, and then pouring the batter into the hot skillet and baking rightaway. So always start your cornbread by heating the skillet in the oven.
If you don't have a cast iron skillet you can use a baking dish that's 9 inches square.
Why is there no flour in this recipe?
While versions of corn bread made around the country have all purpose flour, Southern cornbread is usually made with cornmeal only, preferably stoneground. You can use white or yellow cornmeal, but cornstarch is not a good substitute. Not using flour also has the happy and inclusive effect of making this gluten-free.
A vegan substitute for buttermilk
Southern corn bread uses buttermilk and eggs for the liquid component. For my vegan version I improvised by using my homemade, probiotic cashew yogurt and whisking it with water to make buttermilk. It works really well.
If you don't have vegan yogurt you can use 1 ½ cups of nondairy milk mixed with 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. But I would recommend adding 2 tablespoon vegetable oil into the mix to add some moisture.
To substitute the egg, I used aquafaba.
I deliberately kept this low in fat for the new year and its theme of eating healthy. But if you want a moister crumb add four tablespoons of melted vegan butter to the batter when you mix in the buttermilk and aquafaba.
- Cornmeal, preferably stoneground. White or yellow are fine.
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Vegan yogurt
- Cooking spray
- Optional: vegan butter
Vegan Cornbread, southern style
- 10-inch cast iron skillet
- 1¾ cups cornmeal (stone ground. I used yellow but white is fine too)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup vegan yogurt (whisked with ¾ cup water to make 1 ½ cups "buttermilk")
- ½ cup aquafaba
- Cooking spray for coating skillet
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the cornmeal in a bowl along with the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to mix.
- Add the yogurt and aquafaba and mix in. Check salt and add more if you want to.
- Coat the skillet with cooking spray or brush on some oil.
- Pour in the batter and smooth the top with spatula.
- Bake 22-24 minutes or until firm and golden-brown. Cut and serve.
How many teaspoons of chickpea juice do I need to get 1/2 cup aquafaba?
If you're using the canned brine just use 1/2 cup. If reducing the water from chickpeas you boiled yourself you will need to boil down the liquid until it's fairly thick.
Thank you for this recipe! I m going to try it this year for Thanksgiving. Can we use a flax egg instead of aquafaba? What else would you recommend if not? Thank you!
Hi Danielle, a flax egg should be fine!
Looks like a great recipe. I note with approval that there is no sugar. My Alabama mother used Mrs. Dull's Southern Cooking (she was authoritative in the early 20th Century. Yankees put sugar in cornbread, not Southerners. Also, this or it's non-vegan original would have been called "egg bread." Corn bread meant the oval shaped "pones" cooked in heavy metal corn-shaped pans. I still have one. Heavier than the egg bread they helped us last from "dinner", the largest meal of the day, eaten at noon in the kitchen, until "supper" at sunset eaten in the kitchen. Supper was left-overs or breakfast cereal and what remained of the pones. Your recipe inspired me. I'm going to dig out my pone pan.
This is fascinating. I really appreciate that background, which you've narrated so beautifully. I have heard of corn pones but never tried them before, I am inspired to now. Thank you!
Paula C Epstein
Can this cornbread recipe be made in a loaf pan instead of a skillets? I personally prefer slices this way. Also, would adding scallions or peppers change either the ingredient amount?
Yes on the loaf pan, remember to preheat it. And fine to add scallions or peppers. Just fold them into the batter. Since they'll express some liquid you might need to let the bread go a bit longer in the oven.
Instead of the yogurt "buttermilk", could we just add some vinegar to soy milk? Would you use the same amount overall?
Instead of aquafaba, could we use a flax egg or something else? (Flax egg being 1 T ground flax seed mixed with 3 T water.)
Love having oil free cornbread!
Yes, I do have the milk and vinegar tip under the buttermilk substitute section--use 2 tsp of vinegar with 1 1/2 cups nondairy milk. And a flax egg is fine--use two, which would be 2 tbsp flaxmeal whisked with 6 tbsp warm water. Cheers.
Done! Click on the "metric" tab under the ingredient list for conversions.
Could you please add metric data. I am not living in the US or Liberia. The rest of the world uses metrics.
Thanks a lot
Ulrich in Germany
You have the option of switching to metric at the end of the ingredient list. You just need to look for the word "metric" and click on it. So you don't need to be living in the US or Liberia to make any of the wonderful recipes on this site!
This looks like a fantastic recipe to start the New Year. Thanks for the inspiration, Vaishali!
Best wishes from Canada,
Thanks, Anmol. 🙂 A happy new year to you!