Secret Ingredient Sourdough Cornbread

A perfectly moist, slightly sweet, sourdough discard cornbread recipe with a secret ingredient that takes it over the top!

Plate of sourdough cornbread squares

Cornbread can be a fickle thing to recreate. It’s either too dry and crumbly or ridiculously sweet and cake-like. Some recipes call for corn and others don’t at all. So, where do you even start?

With a few tweaks to my Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins (a tried and true favorite), I’ve created a unique, slightly sweet sourdough cornbread recipe that’s light and fluffy and won’t crumble all over the place.

To get started, you’ll need some leftover sourdough discard (bubbly active starter is fine too) and an 8×8-inch pan for thick-cut squares.

Thick-Cut Squares of Sourdough Cornbread on a Cutting Board

So, What’s The Secret Ingredient?

Glad you asked. There’s two actually:

  1. Pure Vanilla Extract. This adds depth of flavor and enhances the natural corn flavor without making it taste like birthday cake.
  2. Coconut oil (I get mine from Trader Joe’s). This also adds depth of flavor. I was inspired by a fantastic curried coconut corn soup that I make. The oil brings out a nutty flavor and no, the cornbread doesn’t taste like tanning lotion.

Why This Recipe Works

  • A higher ratio of flour to cornmeal is used for best texture- this is key.
  • Butter adds richness and flavor, while the oil keeps the cornbread moist.
  • Baking powder is used to “lift” the cornbread and baking soda tames any dense cake-like qualities.
  • You can easily make this 1 day in advance. The flavor and texture will only improve.
Sourdough cornbread batter in a pan
Baked Sourdough Cornbread in an 8x8-inch square pan

What about the Cornmeal? What type is best?

Medium-grind cornmeal (i.e. Bob’s Redmill brand) is what I used for this recipe. In my opinion, it adds more flavor and a heartier texture. Regular cornmeal (i.e. Quaker brand) will work too, but it’s finer in texture so the cornbread will be more smooth. Both will work.

Close up of sourdough cornbread thick cut squares on a cutting board with crumbs

A Few Tips…

I’ve made this recipe many, many times and I can tell you an 8×8-inch square pan will create the best looking thick-cut squares. If using a 9×13-inch pan instead, the squares will be thinner and you’ll have to reduce the bake time.

Also, pay attention to the batter when mixing. It should create “ribbons” when it drips off a spoon. If it seems too thick (due to the type of cornmeal used, the thickness of your sourdough starter, or from overpacking your measuring cups) it can easily be corrected with more liquid.

Secret Ingredient Sourdough Cornbread

  • Author:
    Emilie Raffa

  • Prep Time:

  • Cook Time:

  • Total Time:
    30 minutes

  • Yield:
    One 8×8-inch cake

  • Category:
    Sourdough Discard Recipes

  • Method:

  • Cuisine:

  • Diet:


A perfectly moist, slightly sweet, fluffy sourdough cornbread recipe with a hint of vanilla and coconut oil for depth of flavor. Can be made 1 day in advance. Excellent for festive feasts, soups, stews and more! I love it with coffee 🙂


  • For thick-cut squares, it’s best to use an 8×8-inch square pan.
  • Half and Half is equal parts milk and light cream (here in the US it’s sold as “Half & Half in the stores). You can sub with whole milk, and blend of milk and cream, cream with a splash of water etc. Buttermilk will work too.
  • To make this dairy free, use plant butter and reduce the salt to 1/4-1/2 tsp. Use an unsweetened plant milk of your choice.
  • To make this gluten free, swap the flour for King Arthur Measure for Measure GF flour.


  • 115 g unsalted butter
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 70 g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar (increase to 100 g or scant 1/2 cup if you like it sweeter)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 100 g (appx. 1/2 cup) leftover sourdough discard
  • 125 g (1 cup spooned & leveled) all purpose flour
  • 80 g medium grind cornmeal (I used Bob’s Redmill)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) half & half (*see notes above)


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line an 8×8-inch pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and coconut oil over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the melted butter mixture; whisk well. Add the sourdough starter and mix again.
  4. Add the flour and cornmeal to a separate bowl. Sift the baking powder, baking soda and salt directly over the top.  Mix to combine.
  5. Working in batches, add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients using a wooden spoon to incorporate.
  6. Gradually pour in the half & half until the liquid is fully absorbed. Dip a spoon into the batter and let it pour down; if slow “ribbons’” form the texture is correct. If it seems too thick (this could be due to the texture of your sourdough starter or the addition of too much flour) add more liquid to thin it out.
  7. Bake on the center rack for 25-28 minutes; the top should be golden brown when ready.
  8. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the cornbread bread (still on the parchment paper) to finish cooling on a wire rack.
  9. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Note: this cornbread can be made 1 day in advance. Once completely cool, cover in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature. Serve as is, or reheat wrapped in foil at 250 F until warm.


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