Classic Cornbread in a Cast Iron Skillet on the Grill

by Jim Casey
classic-cornbread-in-a-cast-iron-skillet-on-the-grill
photo by Jim Casey

What constitutes classic cornbread is as debatable as the ol’ chicken vs. egg dilemma. Basically, “classic” heavily depends on what you grew up enjoying. Today’s savory cornbread recipe is not only a personal representation of that, but also it’s a simple recipe that dates back to the 1800s (when baking soda became available). So, it’s classic in that regard, too.

This cornbread recipe is savory with a crunchy crust—sans the sweetness in cornbread many folks are now fond of. In fact, cornbread recipes are as varied as family trees, with ingredients ranging from the additions of flour and sugar to sour cream and cheese.

Baking the cornbread in a cast iron skillet on the Big Green Egg (or charcoal grill) will give it a smoky flavor and crunchy crust, much like years ago when it was prepared in a wood-burning stove. If you have a cornbread recipe you are fond of, feel free to use it instead of mine. And if you don’t have a Big Green Egg, any covered grill should suffice. Of course, if you’re looking for more Big Green Egg recipes from Outsider, check out our Best Damn Brisket, Spicy Spatchcock Chicken, or Beef Short Ribs.


Classic Cornbread Ingredients

  • 2 cups white cornmeal
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp. bacon fat
Six simple ingredients: white cornmeal, buttermilk, egg, baking soda, salt, and bacon fat.

This classic cornbread recipe will come out savory, smoky, dense, and crunchy. It won’t be tough, but it’s not a “fluffy” or “sweet” cornbread. It’s more “bread-like,” less “cake-like.” This recipe calls for white cornmeal (not self-rising). The addition of baking soda (not baking powder) will give it some “rise” when it reacts with the buttermilk. In addition, the bacon fat (when rendered) will help impart a savory flavor.

In a large mixing bowl, add the cornmeal, baking soda, and salt. Mix thoroughly. In a separate mixing bowl, add the buttermilk and egg. Mix thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Big Green Egg Setup

  • Lump charcoal
  • ConvEGGtor
  • Fireproof gloves
  • No. 5 cast iron skillet

Fill up your Egg with lump charcoal and ignite. Wait for the Egg to get up to 500-600 degrees (usually takes about 20 minutes). Place the convEGGtor (indirect convection shield) on the Egg. Add the grate.

Place a No. 5 cast iron skillet on the grate (I’m using a Lodge No. 5 skillet from the 1950s). When the skillet gets to medium heat, add the bacon fat. Cook the fat until it renders, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the grill. Discard the solid pieces of fat. Add the rendered bacon fat to the batter. Mix thoroughly.

Render the bacon fat (left), and add to the batter (right).

Return the cast iron skillet to the grill, and allow it to heat up (the skillet should be coated in residual bacon grease). Pour the batter into the skillet. Close the Egg lid and set the temperature to 425 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until you can see a crust form around the edges and the top turns golden-brown.

classic-cornbread-in-a-cast-iron-skillet-on-the-grill
Cornbread cooks at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the grill (feel free to add a couple pats of butter). Let rest for 10 minutes. The cornbread should easily come out of the skillet with the help of a spatula.


6-Step Cornbread

  1. Mix the cornmeal, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Mix the buttermilk and egg in a bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Start a fire in the grill, and render the bacon fat in a No. 5 cast iron skillet.
  3. Add the rendered fat to the batter. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Return the skillet to the grill. Add the batter.
  5. Cook at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the grill. Rest for 10 minutes. Serve.
classic-cornbread-in-a-cast-iron-skillet-on-the-grill
Enjoy your cornbread masterpiece.
Outsider.com