Masa Harina Cornbread

This recipe/post might look a little familiar to you. It was originally posted with my recipe for Cocido Rojo (Mexican Beef Soup) back in the early days of this blog. I love cornbread (I make it at least twice a month) and have such great memories associated with it that I felt it deserved to have it's very own post. I hope you don't mind. 

My first and fondest memory of cornbread dates back many years ago when I was about 7 or 8 years old, when my dad and I lived with my great-grandmother Pearl in Amarillo, Texas. I don't remember much about my great-grandmother, but what I do remember is that she loved to watch her stories (The Young & The Restless) and that she was an amazing cook. She made absolutely everything completely from scratch. The two foods that stick out most in my mind are her Peach Cobbler (a recipe I'm still trying to duplicate) and her buttery melt-in-your-mouth cornbread. I remember that she always used to bake cornbread on the same day she'd cook a pot of pinto beans. For dinner she'd serve a slice of buttered cornbread in a bowl, then she'd ladle some of her freshly cooked pinto beans and broth over the cornbread. Such a simple meal, but it was one of my favorite meals EVER! 

My second, and most amusing, memory is from when I was in my early teens. My grandparents had left for the afternoon to run errands or visit friends. Whenever they left me home alone for a couple of hours, the first (and only) thing I ever wanted to do was play in the kitchen. I never knew what I was going to make, but I always had such fun cooking something to eat all by myself. I remember looking through the tiny little pantry in our trailer's kitchen in search of something to make, when I spotted a box of yellow cornmeal that had been sitting in the pantry for I don't know how long. When I turned the box over and saw the picture of cornbread baked in a cast-iron skillet, I was reminded of my great-grandmother's cornbread and knew exactly what I wanted to make.

But just as soon as I had made up my mind, I ran into a bit of a problem. The recipe had all kinds of measurements, but my grandmother didn't have any measuring cups or spoons. Well, she did have a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup, so I figured that it was better than nothing. I measured the cornmeal and milk using the glass measuring cup, and I used some of the spoons in Gramm's silverware drawer to measure the other ingredients like salt and baking powder. I popped it in the oven, and cleaned up the mess I made while I waited for it to finish baking. Shortly after I popped the cornbread in the oven, my grandparents came home and Gramm started to heat up our supper. Like magic, my cornbread was ready just as my grandparent were about to eat.

I excitedly cut into the cornbread and served them both a slice with a pat of butter on top. I stood anxiously by the table waiting for the oohing and ahhing to commence. Gramm took a bite, but didn't say a single word. Feeling kind of hurt, I glanced over at Pappy, knowing that he was sure to sing my praises. Pappy took a bit of cornbread, then made a face. I'm pretty sure Pappy was making the same kind of face I made whenever they made me eat nopales (cactus paddles). Ever the optimist, I thought maybe my grandparents were just teasing me. But Pappy quickly made it clear that they weren't teasing. He pushed away the rest of his cornbread and declared it the worst thing he'd ever tasted. Then he accused me of trying to poison him.  (Pappy had major trust issues because his previous wife was a bruja who practiced black magic.)

Now before you start to think that Pappy was the meanest grandpa in the world, he had a valid point. My first attempt at cornbread tasted awful. Like I-wouldn't-feed-it-to-my-worst-enemy kind of horrible. Believe me that there is such a thing as way too much baking powder and baking soda.

Thankfully practice makes perfect.

I've had to make some adjustments to my recipe over the years, like substituting masa harina for the cornmeal, since cornmeal is another of those hard-to-find-in-Mexico products. This golden cornbread is fluffy soft, crumbly, and buttery good. And it goes great with your favorite soup or Chili.

Classic Cornbread w/ Maseca -

Masa Harina Cornbread

  • 1 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup masa harina (I used Maseca) 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided 

Preheat oven to 350º F. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the milk and vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes.

In a mixing bowl combine the masa harina, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Stir in the milk, eggs, and vegetable oil until well combined; set aside.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in an oven-proof or cast-iron skillet over low heat. Remove from heat and pour in the batter. (Do NOT stir!) Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and spread remaining tablespoon of butter on top of cornbread. Enjoy! 

Classic Cornbread Recipe made w/ Maseca -



  1. Thank you so much Leslie for sharing your wonderful bread with "Bake your Own Bread".
    Let's spread the scent of it around the world. I'll certainly bake it soon - lucky me! I have some Harina Masa at home.

  2. I love cornbread--especially when I make it in the cast iron.

  3. Limones! Que rico! I will try making mine again with limes! :) Good job Leslie! Glad to have you back!

  4. What a wonderful story and delicious recipe! Pinning it to make soon!

  5. Great idea with limes! Great to have you baking with us again!

  6. I am in love with Marie Callender's cornbread. They are simple to make and super yummy, especially with honey butter. I've been a fan of MC's ever since I was a little girl, and have fond memories of eating it with my family back in San Jose, CA. Check out their website to order your cornbread mix. They also stock a variety of gourmet products I'm sure you will enjoy.

  7. Skip the milk and vinegar and just use a cup of buttermilk instead. Fold in a small can of creamed corn after making the batter. A small finely minced Serrano chili adds spice.

  8. I made this tonight. I was already a die hard fan of cornbread, but making it with Maseca makes it 100X better! Thank you for this delicious recipe!!

  9. Doubled this for my large family and increased the sugar to 1/2c for a doubled recipe (my family is used to a very sweet honey cornbread I usually make). It was very very thick, I ended up adding close to an additional cup of milk. It's in the oven now in my 13" cast iron, and smells heavenly. Can't wait to taste it!

  10. I was out of milk so I substituted heavy whipping cream and a tbl of water and these turned out lovely and soft. The perfect accompaniment to my homemade chili. :D

  11. Just tried this as a trial for Thanksgiving. Turned out great and I even subbed gluten free flour mix for the regular flour (had to bake it a little longer though and add a bit more milk).

    I think I grew up more with a Johnnycake style cornbread - so this was definitely different! But a good different!

    But question. If I need to make a 9x13 pan of this, would you recommend doubling or tripling the recipe? Thanks so much!

  12. If you put sugar and flour in it, what you have is a giant corn flavored biscuit, not cornbread. Corn is already plenty sweet. Leave the sugar out. Skip the vinegar and use buttermilk (takes about 1 3/4 cup, more or less; you're aiming for something that looks like quicksand). Add a teaspoon of soda to neutralize the acid. One egg is plenty. Cast iron skillet is essential equipment, 10 inch. If you don't have that you aren't doing it right. Put about a quarter cup oil in the skillet (I just slosh it in) and put it in the oven while preheating to 450. When it reaches 450, mix the buttermilk and egg into the dry ingredients and slosh it into the skillet. Instant crust. Cook until it looks like cornbread (i.e. no longer damp in the center and the edges pulling away from the skillet; i.e. 20-25 minutes). Invert onto a plate and serve immediately with butter. Or cheese. Or pinto beans. Or chili. Make two and you're at the starting point for cornbread dressing which, if you don't have on Thanksgiving, you're not doing that right either. And Hey! Gluten free, automatic for the people.

  13. Best comment ever! About cornbread anyway. My Mama always greased a cold skillet and poured the batter in. So, a hot skillet before pouring the batter will make it crunchier? Gonna try this tonight!!! Thanks!

  14. I should have said 400. 450 is probably too hot. Yes, it fries on the bottom so very crispy. If you want to make it even crispier, you can sprinkle some loose corn meal into the oil before sloshing the batter in. I think it is better wtih regular corn meal rather than masa. Masa makes it too dense for me.

  15. Thanks for posting a recipe that we in Mexico can make without making any adjustments! No buttermilk or regular cornmeal! Those are great, when you can get them, but they are unavailable to some of us. :)