Soft & Fluffy Sourdough Discard Cornbread Recipe 

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Add a little sourdough discard to my favorite cornbread recipe for the softest, most tender cornbread with a little extra tanginess! Learn how to make the best sourdough cornbread in about 30 minutes!

This is my all-time favorite cornbread recipe! I’ve been making this easy recipe for nearly ten years now and have adapted it in several different ways. It’s a little bit sweet and requires no mixing bowl at all – the batter is made directly in the hot skillet!

It’s wonderful to serve with breakfast, homemade chili, a nice holiday ham, or so many other ways. I like to serve it with a pat of butter and whipped honey as a tasty little treat! 

Can you make cornbread with sourdough discard?

Yes! Cornbread is a quick bread. That means it is leavened with baking soda or baking powder, not yeast. You can easily add your sourdough discard to your cornbread batter to bake like normal. It adds an extra tenderness and a little tanginess that is really lovely! 

This version comes together really quickly as the baking soda will raise the cornbread, not the yeast in the sourdough. You’ll just mix it all together and bake it right away!

freshly baked cornbread with sourdough discard in a cast iron skillet

Why you’ll love this sourdough cornbread recipe


  • SO TENDER AND FLUFFY – I’ve been eating this cornbread recipe for years, and the sourdough starter makes it even softer than normal! This might need to be my new go-to method.
  • USE UP EXTRA DISCARD – Sourdough discard is really just a sourdough starter that is past its peak. You can either use unfed sourdough starter or discard depending on how you like to manage your starter.
  • READY IN A HURRY – The baking soda and egg do all the work here! You don’t need to let the sourdough cornbread batter rest overnight or anything.

Equipment

This sourdough cornbread recipe is super simple. You just need an 8-9 inch cast iron skillet or 8-inch baking dish and a whisk!

ingredients to make sourdough cornbread.

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter – For this sourdough skillet cornbread, we melt the butter directly in the skillet. It makes the kitchen smell amazing!
  • Sugar – If you’re not a fan of sweetened cornbread, feel free to reduce or skip this! It’s entirely optional.
  • Egg – For best results, use a room-temperature egg.
  • Buttermilk – I almost always have buttermilk on hand to make cornbread, scones, pancakes, or waffles. It’s the secret to the best cornbread! If you are all out, you can make your own with 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice. You need to add an acid to activate the baking soda.
  • Sourdough discard – Use either sourdough discard or unfed starter (they’re basically the same thing). I used sourdough at room temperature. You can likely use it straight from the fridge, although it may require a little extra time in the oven.
  • Yellow cornmeal – This is essential in any cornbread recipe.
  • All purpose flour – ​For the best texture, always add some all purpose flour to your cornbread recipes.
  • Kosher salt – I use 1 tsp of kosher salt, which is larger and flakier than table salt. If you use a finer grit, you will need to use less, or your cornbread will be incredibly salty! 
  • Baking soda – This is the main leavening agent in this cornbread recipe, so don’t skip it. 

NOTE: I use a 100% hydration sourdough starter, which means that 1 cup of starter adds approximately 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour. If you use a different hydration level, you may need to adjust the water or flour content. Your results WILL vary if you use a really watery starter or a really thick one.

How to Make Sourdough Cornbread

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the cast iron skillet or baking dish in the oven with the butter until it melts.
  2. Then, whisk in the sugar until fully combined. Add the egg, buttermilk, and starter and whisk together.
  3. Add the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking soda). Whisk until the mixture is fully combined, but be careful not to overmix.
  4. Place the skillet back in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cornbread is firm and springy in the center and golden brown on top. 
  5. Remove from the oven and either eat right away or allow it to cool to room temperature.

Storing Suggestions

Store your leftover cornbread in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.

How to Serve Sourdough Cornbread

Cornbread is the perfect side dish, so it’s so great that this moist sourdough cornbread is ready so quickly!

  • Serve with butter bean chili
  • Drizzle with creamed honey
  • A hearty stew or roasted meats
  • Top with homemade honey butter or other flavored butters
  • Make sourdough cornbread stuffing with your leftovers!
drizzling honey on a slice of sourdough cornbread.

Tips & Variations

  • Make moist cornbread muffins. You’ll need to melt the butter either in the microwave or on the stove and make the batter in a large mixing bowl. Scoop the batter into the muffin tins and bake like normal. Adjust the baking time to 15-20 minutes.
  • Adjust the sweetness. This recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sugar. Feel free to use 1/4 cup or skip it entirely. I do not recommend substituting a liquid sweetener, like maple syrup or honey, as that will thin out the batter.
  • All out of buttermilk? Make your own buttermilk with regular milk or even non-dairy milk and add a splash of either lemon juice or vinegar. I’d put 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice or white vinegar in the 1/2 cup measuring cup, then top it off with milk. 
  • For a dairy-free sourdough cornbread, use coconut oil and homemade buttermilk (non-dairy milk and vinegar). I have not tried this method so it may not be quite as tender or as fluffy as normal.
  • Bake it in the air fryer! Follow the tips in my air fryer cornbread recipe to bake it on your countertop.
  • Use an active starter. If you have way too much active sourdough starter on hand, feel free to use it instead. 

FAQs

Can you make sourdough cornbread muffins?

Yes! You can almost always convert quick breads into muffins (but not necessarily the other way around). Just add muffin liners to your pan and fill the cups just below the top of the cup. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes.

Do you need to proof sourdough cornbread?

There are cornbread recipes that call for proofing the dough, but that is not standard for any corn bread recipe. It’s a quick bread and just uses baking soda to rise, like soda bread or other quick breads. It is not fermented at all. You are welcome to try proofing it in a covered bowl on the counter for a few hours, but I have not tried that method and cannot attest to how well it works.

Can I use whole wheat flour instead?

Here’s the thing – whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid than regular all purpose flour. In general, you need to add more liquid to compensate for the more absorbent flour. However, I found that this batter is a little bit thinner than my normal cornbread batter. You can probably get by by using whole wheat flour instead, especially since you use so little. You may need to add an extra splash of water or buttermilk to keep the sourdough cornbread from becoming too thick.

Related Recipes

cast iron skillet with homemade cornbread made with sourdough discard.
cast iron skillet with sourdough cornbread next to honey and butter.

Easy Sourdough Cornbread Recipe

This moist sourdough cornbread recipe is so soft and tender with a mild tanginess from an entire cup of sourdough starter! It comes together in a hot cast-iron skillet (or baking pan) and is ready in just about 30 minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Appetizer, Baking, bread, dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 12 slices
Calories 200 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 8-9 inch cast iron skillet or 8 inch round pan

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sourdough starter, unfed or discard
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, reduce to 1/2 tsp if using fine or table salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the cast iron skillet or baking dish in the oven with the butter until it melts.
  • Then, whisk in the sugar until fully combined. Add the egg, buttermilk, and starter and whisk together.
  • Add the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking soda). Whisk until the mixture is fully combined, but be careful not to overmix.
  • Place the skillet back in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cornbread is firm and springy in the center and golden brown on top.
  • Remove from the oven and let it rest 10-20 minutes before eating (or just go for it!).

Notes

Feel free to make cornbread muffins instead! Adjust the baking time to 15-20 minutes.
Store the leftover cornbread in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 200kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 3gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 303mgPotassium: 69mgFiber: 2gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 273IUCalcium: 18mgIron: 1mg
Keyword sourdough cornbread
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