Skillet Cornbread

This skillet cornbread is rustic, custard-topped, and crusty-edged. It is bolstered with herbs and a bit of quinoa for an incredibly good accompaniment to chili or a favorite soup. Inspired by a legendary Marion Cunningham recipe.

Skillet Cornbread

One of my favorite cornmeal recipes is Marion Cunningham's Custard-Filled Cornbread from The Breakfast Book. My neighbor in San Francisco brought it to a Halloween potluck (to much fanfare), and it occurred to me it was the same cornbread Molly writes about in A Homemade Life. Everyone in my family now loves this cornbread, and it has shown up at many family gatherings over the years. It is one of those recipes, so spot-on, I thought I'd never change it, tweak it, or make it any other way. There was no need. Keep it simple, leave it alone.
skillet cornbread with a slice removed

Skillet Cornbread: The Inspiration

Narrator voice: she was unable to leave it alone. I eventually did an alternative version good enough to share. I took the general approach to Marion’s custard cornbread, introduced a cast-iron skillet, and a few ingredients that pair nicely with corn - herbs, quinoa. My hope was that it would result in something unique and special. And wow, did it ever work out!

skillet cornbread after baking

I hope you'll agree, the results are impressive. A rustic, minimally structured, custard-topped, crusty-edged, herb-scented corn-quinoa skillet cornbread. The recipe yields enough for a small crowd. Each piece is dense and moist, rich with ribbons of varying texture. It’s quite special and, if you are a cornbread aficionado, worth a go.

skillet cornbread cooling on a blue hot pad

Let me know if you try it out - it's perfect for picnics, potlucks, family meals, chili night,Thanksgiving and the like!

More bread recipes:

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Skillet Cornbread

5 from 1 vote

For this recipe medium or coarse-grind cornmeal will work. Use what you have. I call for whole wheat pastry flour here, but unbleached all-purpose flour is fine as well. Einkorn is also a nice substitution flour here. On the herb front, I’ve used a dried Sardinian mixed herb blend in the past. Herbes de Provence is also great, and this time I did 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme and dried oregano. If you don't have an oven-proof skillet you can use a 9x9 inch glass baking dish, or equivalent. Here’s how to cook quinoa.

  • butter to grease pan, about 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup / 4 oz / 120 g whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115 g yellow cornmeal (medium or coarse grind)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups / 7 oz / 200 g cooked quinoa, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, barely melted and cooled a bit
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2 cups / 475 ml milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vinegar (white, white wine, or apple cider)
  • 3/4 cup / 175 ml heavy cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C degrees and place a rack in the top third. Butter a 10-inch oven-proof skillet (or equivalent baking dish). I use a cast-iron pan with 2-inch deep sides. Roughly ten minutes before you are ready to bake, while you are mixing the batter, place the skillet in the hot oven (do not pre-heat a glass baking dish if you’re using one).
  2. In a large bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and dried herbs.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, quinoa, and melted butter until well-blended. Add the sugar, salt, milk and vinegar and stir again. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until the batter comes together. It will seem very thin, don't worry.
  4. Pour the batter into the pre-heated skillet. Pour the heavy cream into the center of the batter. Have faith, and do not stir. Carefully place in the oven and check after 45 minutes, the skillet bread is done when the top becomes lightly browned and the center just set. Somewhere between 45-60 minutes typically, but depending on your pan it could be longer. I like to finish things up with a few seconds under the broiler to brown the top nicely. You can serve this I like this warm or at room temperature, sliced in a grid, sprinkled with a touch more salt (if needed).

Makes one 10 1/2 skillet of cornbread.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)
Recipe Rating


I just have to post again so I can tell you how absolutely amazing and delicious this has been! I’ve made it three times already and been sad every time I took the last bite!
If anyone here happens to read this, please please please weigh the ingredients rather than go by volume. I shared the recipe with my mom who made a batch, and both the texture and flavor came out differently because she had measured by volume. My three times, it always came out just right because I went by weight.
Anyway, thank you for creating this!


FYI, there is a booth at the Ferry Building Farmers Market on Saturdays called Ridgecut Gristmills. They have stone ground cornmeal and cracked corn (grits/polenta) called Jimmy’s Cracked Corn–all of which is non-gmo. They also mill buckwheat and rice. Their grains are milled on a gluten free surface. I hear that they are working on oat flour and stone cut oats as well.


I made this a few days ago, and it was really fantastic, enjoyed by our whole family including the little ones!
Now being in NZ I may not fully understand the concept of skillet bread, but to our taste, next time I plan to either reduce the amount of sugar to serve with our meal, or omit the herbs (as it made a really good cake!)


Made this last night with dinner and it totally stole the show! I’m thrilled that we had leftovers (there are only two.5 of us) so we enjoyed some with lunch today (and will probably try it with breakfast tomorrow!!)
Thanks so much for sharing such a terrific recipe!

Katie B.

We had this tonight with a tepary bean chili. perfect combo! Thank you!


This was really really amazing. I’m so glad I tried it. Didn’t care for the cream though, I’d leave that off next time.
Thanks so much for posting it.


With two little ones (3 & 5) and us being a two-parents-working-full-time household, I rarely cook meals that take more than 30-40 minutes. That being said, the picture looked so good and recipe sounded so wonderful, I went for it, even though I didn’t even have the quinoa cooked yet. So, an hour and a half later, we finally sit down to eat. The first words from my husband’s mouth “Wow, that was totally worth the wait.” All four of us tore into that bread. Absolutely delicious and good with my lunch at work the next day. Thanks!
HS: So glad you thought it was worth it :)!


I made this for my mom’s 60th birthday and she said it was the best cornbread she had ever had. Bravo!

Willow King

I made this last night – it was AMAZING. Most and crusty and,…perfect 🙂 Thanks so much for this recipe!!!


Ha! Was trying to think of something new to do with quinoa, and thought, “I bet Heidi Swanson has some ideas…” And you’ve combined it with the custardy cornbread recipe I’ve been meaning to track down since I swooned over it at a picnic last year. Will try this VERY soon and let you know. Will probably crumble in some buttery sage since it’s going crazy in the garden. Thanks for sharing your wonderful sensibilities.


This bread is absolutely amazing! I usually use quinoa (with cranberries and crushed pecans) for breakfast, but this recipe made a perfect side to rotissere chicken, and my nine year old son loved it. Always a plus!

Nicole Kellar Munoz

I just took this bread out of the oven, gluten and dairy free!
I used brown rice and homemade almond milk (soaked almonds overnight, pureed for two minutes with twice as much water, and strained) and then used coconut milk instead of cream.
Nom nom nom!
p.s. I added poppy seeds and vanilla and it was just scrumptious.


I tried this and replaced the flour with gluten free and thought it worked really well and was lovely and moist. Is definitely a recipe to keep.

Roz Dibley

I tried this with vegan substitutions, and used coconut milk for the heavy cream. It worked pretty well, except didn’t set as well as the cream would have, and some of the oil separated out. I think next time I’d mix some cornstarch into the coconut milk- but it did work!


I made this last week and it was great, but the cream in the center didn’t set properly. It wasn’t heavy cream, but cooking cream from vegetable fat… slim pickings in Kyustendil. I will make it again, but omit the cream. One comment mentioned coconut milk… I wonder how that turned out?

Casey Angelova

Just made this and am enjoying an oven warm piece right now! It took a little over an hour for the center to set, but everything was nicely browned and toasty on top when done. Very easy to put together. I think this would make the perfect light lunch or dinner paired with a nice green salad and glass of white wine! I have been following your blog for awhile now and have wanted to try just about everything. I am so glad to have tried out this recipe and am so happy with the result. Thanks Heidi!


I made the corn bread again – this time using creme fraiche instead of cream. It puddled in the middle. Still, what about serving the bread like spoon bread, then a vinegar based salad on the side? Or…use the skillet on the grill – stir the creme fraiche with salsa, then pour in the middle? OR use a corn pone pan and stream the creme fraiche down the middle?


Recipe sounded great and all was good except that the center did not set up well. Otherwise everyone really enjoyed it.

Royce Thorpe

I made this last night and it was absolutely delicious. I added a few cloves of chopped garlic, and used fresh thyme and chives that I had bought for dinner the night before. We ate it for dinner with a side of spinach, sautéed with almonds. I can’t wait to have a piece for breakfast! Also- I made your black bean brownies and oh, WOW! Everyone loved them and I’ve been directing tons of people to your blog for the recipe. You know what you’re doing, lady!


This looks great. I just found this cooked quinoa from a company called Village Harvest in the freezer section at Andronicos. Do you think I can use it in the recipe? I figure I just need to heat it to room temp or thaw it, right?
HS: That should work just fine Lisa!

Lisa Presta

I made this the other day and loved it! I’ve been eating the leftovers for breakfast.


I love that you cover all your bases — I was so worried about not having a cast iron skillet or the right corn meal! Thank you! I cannot wait to make this bread!

Mandie @ Vegan Wagon

I swear this recipe has been in the back of my mind, I just didn’t know it til I read your post. In other words, looks right up my alley!

Small Kitch Cara

I just made buttermilk cornbread but reduced the cornmeal by 1/4 cup and added 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa. It was gorgeous and truly satisfying! Thanks so much for the inspiration! I’ll save your recipe for when there is company to share that heavy cream with!


I made this two days ago, and it was absolutely delicious alongside soup and roasted vegetables. I was concerned it might be too heavy, but not at all–it was perfect. (Though since I didn’t have any cream, I did substitute whole milk…that may have made a difference.)
And, in a quest for something sweet last night, I warmed up a slice, put a touch of natural honey and some jam on it, and it made a *wonderful* cake.


Quinoa pan bread. You’re so creative. I love the way an ingredient catches your imagination and you share your thought process as you figure out what to cook.
I’ll have to give this a try. Another perfect excuse to cook in my favorite cast iron skillet.

Family Cookbook - Denise

I’ve just started using quinoa and this is a delicious way to incorporate it and also I love the addition of vinegar to this recipe


I made this yesterday and my husband and I just finished the pan tonight. It’s delicious. My 2 year old won’t eat quinoa but he ate this “cake”, as he called it. I didn’t have coarse grind cornmeal so I subbed polenta and it worked great. I’ll be making this again.


Long time reader, first time poster! I love your blog, Heidi, especially the ultra simple recipes that are really more like techniques than recipes, and the healthy takes on old favorites!
Has anyone tried this with cooked bulgur wheat as a substitute for the quinoa? How did it go? I’m having trouble picturing what it would taste like with the cornmeal.
I’m trying to empty out my pantry before traveling all summer, and that substitution would go a long way toward getting rid of some of the flour/grains I’ve got stashed away!


I made a dairy-free version of this last night, using Earth Balance, EdenSoy Original, and Silk Creamer. It worked wondefully, although my oven took about 1.5 hours to set the “cream.” It was delicious with our chili over quinoa.


Your food photography is always wonderful, but this time I’m admiring the sashiko cloth underneath the skillet. Beautiful!
HS: Thanks Colleen 🙂


Yum, I am going to try this tonight!

Marie Goodloe

I’m making this. Anything with quinoa and I’m in!

melange a Trois

I made this tonight for dinner (with stir-fried bok choy on the side) and it was so heavenly! Incredibly rich and flavorful. This is going in my favorite recipes book!


Heidi, I hope you don’t think me disingenuous for this, but I’m just off dinner and you came to mind. I read this piece a few days back, and although it stuck with me, I didn’t have the wherewithal to pull up the recipe and give a new cornbread a go after a crazy hair-raising all-kids-all-on day. However. The memory of the skillet and the idea of cornbread was skulking in my subconscious, and so, we pulled together our favorite standby cornbread, with some locally milled, nubbly Ohio corn flour, from the recipe in A Year in A Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. And my son, the one who eats almost nothing, ate cornbread, for the first time. And while it wasn’t THIS recipe (and while I hope to try it soon, and have Molly’s original bookmarked, also), it is so often how things happen in our kitchen, real-time: inspiration, interpreted, adapted, for the time and energy we have at hand.
Really, just thanks for posting this, this week. The idea of it made our dinner, tonight.


A beautiful looking cornbread. My mom always used her cast iron skillet to make cornbread.
I have actually made quinoa cornbread before the recipe is from one of my vegan cookbooks.


My sister loves to cook with a cast iron skillet. I’ll pass this along to her.

Window On The Prairie

I tried this today, substituting half of the heavy cream with jocoque (a thin/runny Mexican sour cream). It was a perfect pairing with spicy beans (boiled beans added to a saute of tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, cumin).


What a marvelous coming together of diverse ingredients! Wonderfully creative again!


I made this recipe this evening, because I love quinoa and custard and biscuity sorts of breads, and this is all three. Didn’t have a skillet, so I just made it in a cake pan, and I have an appalling oven, so it took about twice as long to cook as your recipe called for. But in the end, it’s lovely. Warm and savory (though it would also be excellent if it were sweet and had cinnamon or nutmeg in it), with the slight grassyness of the quinoa and the most rich, buttery custardy texture from the cream, which finally did set up, despite my lack of faith and my wretched oven.


I made this bread tonight and my husband and I LOVED it. I prepared it exactly as written, my only exception being that I used a 9 inch round pan, so it took an extra 15 minutes to bake (1hr. 15 total). The outside was crusty, the inside was a combination of cakey, grainy and custardy. We didn’t butter it because it didn’t need it….plus I knew it already had the cup of heavy cream (mmmm).
I followed your instructions for cooking a sizeable pot of Quinoa. I removed the 1 1/2 Cups needed for this recipe, and made a simple Quinoa Tabbouleh with the remaining cooked Quinoa. The tabbouleh had a chance to sit and meld while I made the bread. The Tabbouleh served together with the bread was a filling and complete vegetarian meal.


Do you think you could use yogurt or some other substitute for the heavy cream? Not a huge fan of it myself…but this bread looks incredible and I may have to try it unaltered!!


I’ve been looking for a good cast-iron bread recipe and I think this could be it. It sounds and looks delicious! i cannot wait to try it.

russell @ Chasing Delicious

Wow, I think this has to be my next quinoa recipe! I really do need a new cast iron skillet… But this sounds just delicious!


I made a gluten-free version of this bread tonight. (I subbed a cup of Whole Foods brand gluten-free flour mix + 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum for the whole wheat pastry flour and floolwed the rest of the recipe as-written) It came out perfectly and was completely, insanely delicous. If you left out the herbs, this would be great with any kind of macerated or sauteed fruit over the top.


Just made this last night! So delicious. I absolutely love the custard that forms from the heavy cream. The quinoa also adds a great hearty texture to it. How do you think this will be using buttermilk?

Sam. L

I made this this morning and love it . Traded heavy cream for 1/2 c plain yogurt and 1/2 cup milk and used cinnamon instead of “mixed herbs”. Yummy


Just made this tonight to go with some BBQ pork we had leftover. I didn’t have enough heavy cream, so I substituted with milk and a dollop of sour cream. It may have a little less of the “custard” than was intended, but it still turned out delicious. This is #4 of your recipes I’ve tried and they’ve all come out fantastic, thanks for all the wonderful, healthy ideas!!


I really admire you and other people who can just come up with recipes off the top of your head. I look at an ingredient and I just run to a published cookbook to see what to do with it. Keep up the great work!


this looks like a great bread that is a stand-in for cornbread! not that you need a stand-in for cornbread, but still. either way, it’s certainly something that i’d love to try 🙂

heather @ chiknpastry

Looks like an amazing recipe! vie

The pictures make this look amazing…

The Amateur Mixologist

oh this looks so fabulous. I can’t wait to make it. I have had my eye on the recipe Molly has in her book, but your grainy version makes it even more tempting.

Sara Morris

I am completely intrigued by this!


I tried this recipe last night. Didn’t have heavy cream in the house so I used homemade yogurt, which worked really well. Delicious with an excellent texture. Just posted a pic of my skillet bread on my website’s blog: Sentences and Food.


Heidi, this is gorgeous. I’m so intrigued by the final product.
Definitely will try this today!.


Hi from a morning commuter train between Lincoln and Sheffield in the UK! I’m retiring soon and one of the things I’m most looking forward to is trying all your recipes. This bread will be high on my list….but I might even get it made tonight as it sounds too good to wait for!


This looks like a relative of the Tassajara Bread Book recipe for 3-Layer Corn Bread. Use coarse ground corn meal, whole wheat flour plus milk and eggs. It all gets mixed together and is very runny. Once baked the corn meal falls to the bottom, the wheat bran forms a thin top crust and a custard rests in between. Been making it for decades and it always amazes us!
And also, corn meal with cooked millet makes a good spoon bread, or cooked rice, or, or . . .

Wendy Baschkopf

When I clean out my pantry, I leave a few items sitting on the counter…it’s a good reminder to use them and seeing them leads to brainstorming uses. This is a really interesting use of quinoa!

nithya at hungrydesi

I leave ingredients out so I don’t forget about them or get inspired by them all the time.
I just had fried chicken for lunch but I am making this corned bread to go with the leftovers for dinner.


This looks great, Heidi! I am DF/GF and often sub rice milk in the corn bread I make. The So Delicious coconut drink that’s out now is pretty thick and doesn’t leave a strong coconut flavor – could be a good replacement for the cream.
Fine corn flour seems to work well instead of wheat flour if you add a tsp of xanthan gum to it.
As far as a replacement for cornmeal, I wonder if Bob’s Red Meal creamy brown rice farina cereal would work – it has a coarse grind to it.
Sorry…I love cornbread, and this looks fantastic. Just thinking aloud on how to modify it given some of the other comments.


Hello… very interesting idea for this “quinoa” bread. I have never made a skillet, sounds interesting, it looks yummy.


This sounds perfect! I love making a skillet cornbread but love the sound of a custardy one. Thanks also for the reminder about Molly’s recipe.


I love skillet breads better than oven breads. Cornmeal with quinoa and whole wheat flour sound delicious and healthy. I just made cornbread this afternoon. I wish I had seen your recipe before making it.

Nisrine@Dinners & Dreams

I love skillet breads better than oven breads. Cornmeal with quinoa and whole wheat flour sound delicious and healthy. I just made cornbread this afternoon. I wish I had seen your recipe before making it.

Nisrine@Dinners & Dreams

Another vegan here. Anything non-dairy that can be used in place of the cream? I sometimes make “buttermilk” from almond milk and vinegar. Would that work as a sub for cream in this recipe?
HS: I’d have to try it myself, but coconut milk? Or a homemade cashew milk?


I love this idea! I do not have quinoa right now, but I am going to try using amaranth. I hope it works! I would like to tell you that I love your recipes. They are very healthy and delicious.


That looks amazing. I want to crawl in that skillet and cuddle up to that bread. tmi, I know:)

The French

for Crystal and anyone else who doesn’t care for quinoa: there is a bitter-tasting naturally occurring coating on quinoa called a saponin. Botanists tell us that it is effective in repelling birds so the grain will live on, to produce the next generation. Humans don’t like the taste of the saponin either. So we rinse it off—plenty of water , swish it around, more water, do it a few more times. A couple minutes effort makes all the difference. Perhaps you already do that and do it well. But just in case…..and btw, I get a prewashed quinoa at Costco and it (to my taste) honestly doesn’t require washing.

Diane C

I’ve just started using quinoa and this is a delicious way to incorporate it. This one pan dish is a great way breakfast.

Susan Kessler

I love the addition of vinegar to this recipe…such a clever idea and I’m sure it adds a perfect zing of flavor! Thanks Heidi…

The Healthy Apple

Genius. I am a huge fan of Bob’s medium grind cornmeal, it gives so much texture! Love that you are using quinoa in so many recipes, it’s the only grain that provides complete protein so it’s ideal for vegetarians and vegans. Looking forward to trying this one.

Carrie (Love Healthy Living)

I have a huge bag of quinoa and am almost ashamed to admit I don’t really care for it. I’ve tried it so many different ways and nothing works for me. However, this bread seems like the perfect way to “mask” it and help me use up my stash. Luckily for me, it looks like it would be easy to veganize.


What an awesome recipe! I’ve been trying to find new ways to cook with quinoa — looks like I’m going to have to try this recipe soon 🙂


Looks great! I have a big bag of quinoa I need to use up, so I need all the ideas I can get!

Appetite for Conversation

I’ve been mixing regular quinoa with the red variety lately for some visual pizazz. I wonder how it would look here. Perhaps too reddy and less cornbready?
HS: No, I think it’d be great!

Lentil Breakdown

I had some cooked red quinoa in the freezer just waiting for the perfect recipe. This was it!
The result was visually pleasing and tasted warmly comforting on this rainy day (yea!) in Florida.


Wow! I love quinoa and eat it all the time, but I’ve never heard of pouring heavy cream into the middle of a skillet bread before baking! From what I understand from this post, you end up with a custard-like topping on the bread? What a fascinating idea.

Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks

This looks sooo scrumptious! Amazing work!


This looks incredible! For the “mixed herbs,” what sorts of herbs are you thinking here? I’m thinking of this (perhaps incorrectly) as a slightly sweet thing… so not sure if the oregano and thyme I’ve got on hand will work.


This is perfect for this evening’s meal of fried oysters (purchased at the Farmer’s Market.) Hot diggety!


How could this be made heart-smart? I cook spoonbread with oil and rice milk– could I substitute them for the cream, milk and butter?
And for the people who don’t like quinoa– use it in a pilaf like bulgar or under sauces like couscous.


Ooo – yum! I’m on a quinoa kick and this is perfect!

Belinda @zomppa

Wow, what an interesting bread! I am just starting to get into quinoa so may try making a gluten free version of this.

Christie {Honoring Health}

Oh wow, I cannot wait to make this as I adore quinoa…but will use half & half instead of heavy cream (10% fat vs. 35% in Canada). I am unclear about pouring the cream on… do you make a well and pour it into that or do you just pour it all over on top? Thank you so much! I just love your recipes!!
HS: It seems totally wrong, and far too much liquid, but yes – you pour it right on top.


I had never thought of using quinoa to make bread – a great idea.

Gourmet Chick

This sounds great, but I am allergic to corn. Does anyone have a good substitute for cornmeal? I’d love to find one that adds some texture, as cornmeal does.


Re: lightening the bread and re: vinegar.
Addition of vinegar is presumably to convert milk to a buttermilk analogue. So, use low fat buttermilk which has a much thicker consistency than milk and then use half and half or your favorite milk or milk substitute in place of at least part of the cream.


    Great suggestion Lynn!

    Heidi Swanson

Looks great except I’m not sure if I could take the one cup of heavy cream…too rich.. perhaps a could substitute.


I LOVE quinoa and can’t wait to try this. You put together such interesting recipes. 🙂


What a creative and great looking dish! I would love a slice of that!

Simply Life

This sounds absolutely delicious. I have everything on hand, so why not give it a try tonight!

Casey Angelova

Wow, that sounds incredibly interesting! I’ve never had quinoa before, but it sort of makes sense to bake it into a bread like other grains we know 😉
Beautiful photos by the way… I love bread in a skillet! 😀


What a delicious version of cornbread. Love the down to earth cooking method and I can just imagine it right out of the oven with a bit of creamy butter. A must try!

Lisa (Authentic Suburban Gourmet)

So deliciuos ecobread! Yumy yumy!!! 🙂


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