The great taste of cornbread with the ease and speed of drop biscuits. Perfect for chili, soups, or other comfort foods. Just whip it up when you need them.
To me, biscuits need to be something to just "whip up" at the last minute to fill a hole in the menu. I do not plan out the great southern buttermilk biscuit. My biscuits are usually ready for the oven before the oven is fully preheated.
So I set up a challenge for myself. To make a cornbread biscuit that can hold up like a biscuit but have some great cornbread taste.
The best model recipe was from Cooks Country (membership site). It had a 3 to 1 ratio of flour to cornmeal. I combined that with my normal biscuits with some great results.
This is a very nice combination and is a solid four for what it is. You can argue for a five, and I will give that to you, but it is a biscuit and not filet.
The cornmeal can be white or yellow. This seems to be a regional/cultural thing. In the south, it seems that white cornmeal is the norm. But in the north and midwest, yellow is more common.
The choice is yours; the taste and texture are essentially the same. Since I'm from Iowa, yellow says corn for me.
👨🍳Cornmeal to Flour Ratio
Let's first talk about the structure you need in a drop biscuit. It needs to stand up and rise in place. Southern cornbread is essentially all cornmeal and no flour. That is just not going to hold up its shape as a biscuit. The more flour, the more it can maintain shape.
Many recipes call for about a one to one ratio of cornmeal to flour. That seems to be "on the edge." I believe a one to one ratio can work especially with a cut biscuit, but I don't want that added step.
I stuck with the 3 to 1 from Cooks Country. They test the heck out of everything, and it was just right.
Honey is added to make the corn taste pop. You could use sugar in any other form you want, but honey adds a little extra something. And it is the most common sugar used with cornmeal.
Most of use smaller households don't keep fresh buttermilk. I don't suggest you need to buy it for this recipe. A common substitute works well.
To simulate buttermilk in cooking, add about a tablespoon of either white vinegar or lemon juice to fresh milk and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
With this recipe, I suggest using ¾ cup of milk to start. You may need a splash more to get the right texture (some flour is drier). To that ¾ cup, use 2 teaspoons of vinegar or juice (close enough). Don't worry about treating the splash of milk if you need it.
If you happen to have dried buttermilk, it works great in baking.
To store, wrap with plastic wrap or foil. Good at room temperature for 1-2 days, refrigerated for up to 7 days, and frozen for 2-3 months.
❓Troubleshooting - Why is My Biscuit Flat?
There are several things already in your favor to prevent this with this recipe, but it can still happen. The baking powder is maxed out. The baking soda gives you a quick pop at the beginning of the cooking. And the ratio of cornmeal to flour is good.
First - Oven Temperature
It needs to be hot and fully preheated. Your oven may be run a little cool. Have you noticed that things take a little longer to cook than recipes say?
You can up the temperature by 25 degrees. Even if you are wrong, it will be ok and just the cooking time will be shorter. Or you can check it with an oven thermometer.
Second - Too Moist or Too Dry of Dough
Those balls of dough should be sticky but not too mushy.
If they start to fall a little just sitting there, they are too moist. Put them back in the bowl and add a tablespoon or two of flour.
Too dry (not sticky) is bad also; they won't rise correctly. You just need to get a feel for it.
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🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Preheat oven to 400° convection or 425° conventional. Prep a smaller baking sheet with a good coating of PAM.
Combine 1 ½ cups flour, ½ cup cornmeal, 1 tablespoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt. Cut up or shred ½ stick (4 tablespoons) cold butter. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a fork.
In a separate bowl, add 2 tablespoons of honey to ¾ cup buttermilk. Mix well. The honey will dissolve better if warm. If you don't have buttermilk handy, add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice to the milk before dissolving the honey,
Add wet with dry and mix until combined but don't over mix. Just get to the point that all the dry components are incorporated.
Make 8 drop biscuits. That will be balls of about 1 ¼ inch each.
Bake until golden brown. 12-14 minutes total.
- 1 ½ cup flour
- ½ cup cornmeal - yellow or white
- 1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice - if using regular milk
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Preheat oven to 400° convection or 425° conventional. Prep a smaller baking sheet with a good coating of PAM.
- Combine 1 ½ cups flour, ½ cup cornmeal, 1 tablespoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt. Cut up or shred ½ stick (4 tablespoons) cold butter. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a fork.
- In a separate bowl, add 2 tablespoons of honey to ¾ cup buttermilk. Mix well. The honey will dissolve better if warm. If you don't have buttermilk handy, add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice to the milk before dissolving the honey
- Add wet with dry and mix until combined but don't over mix. Just get to the point that all the dry components are incorporated.
- Make 8 drop biscuits. That will be balls of about 1 ¼ inch each.
- Bake until golden brown. 12-14 minutes total.
My Private Notes
- You may use either yellow or white cornmeal.
- You need a little sugar to make the corn flavor "pop". That is usually honey but maybe other sugars.
- Use aluminum-free baking powder, or you may have an after taste.
- If your biscuits are flat, your oven temperature may be off. Also, you may need a bit more flour or milk. The dough should be sticky but not too mushy. See the troubleshooting discussion in the post.
- The endpoint of cooking is the browning of the biscuits.
- To store, wrap with plastic wrap or foil. Good at room temperature for 1-2 days, refrigerated for up to 7 days, and frozen for 2-3 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Published January 21, 2018. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.