Patti Labelle Hot Water Cornbread Recipe

Patti LaBelle is best known as the singer and songwriter for the legendary vocal group Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. But her career has extended well beyond singing into the realms of both acting and, more importantly, cooking.

She has released numerous cookbooks that detail her own favorite recipes, which range from tasty desserts to classic, all-American soul food.

One of her best recipes is for a Southern-influenced cornbread dish that can be traced back to the Native Americans.

Today we are going to show you how to make this quick and easy cornbread meal at home, so you can try a little bit of this American staple for yourself.

How to make Patti Labelle hot water cornbread 

Cornbread is a nice, simple, and easy-to-make kind of bread that normally uses cornmeal and eggs, which are then baked.

What makes Patti’s recipe unique is that it utilizes boiling water as part of the batter, which is then fried as little bread patties instead of the traditional way of baking it in a dish.

This creates that wonderful golden outside and also retains a degree of moisture that the baking process tends to strip away for regular cornbread.

Super simple to make and wholeheartedly delicious! Give it a try today, as it only takes 15 minutes to cook!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups water

Number of portions: 4

Instructions

Depending on where in the United States you are, you’ll find all kinds of cornbread variations around. Sometimes they are made to be more savory and can be flavored with things like pork cracklings, which are enjoyed more in the southeast.

If you go further north, they will often prefer a sweeter cornbread made with molasses or sugar.

We are opting for a sweeter cornbread for this recipe, but of course, if you think you might want a slightly different flavor, be sure to check out our ingredient substitutions, as you can definitely get playful with this dish!

Step 1:

Put the canola oil into a skillet (ideally a cast-iron one to ensure the evenest distribution of heat possible) over medium-high heat.

Step 2: 

Try not to let the oil heat for too long, otherwise, the outside of the cornbread will cook too fast before the middle has been adequately cooked.

The key here is to only heat the oil for 1-2 minutes and start it frying sooner. This gives time for the oil to work its way through the cornbread completely and ensure an even fry.

Step 3: 

While the oil is heating, mix together the yellow cornmeal, salt, green onion, sugar, and thyme. Mix all these initial ingredients together thoroughly.

Step 4:

Now add the boiling water (ideally straight from the kettle) to this mixture, and stir it all thoroughly until it’s as smooth as possible.

The smoother you can get it the better because if everything is not adequately mixed, it may form lumps that are difficult to cook.

Step 5:

Once the batter is adequately mixed, quickly moisten your hands and flatten them into smaller patties. The exact size of these isn’t too important, so can just size them to your preference.

Try not to make them too tall though, as it needs to cook all the way through.

Step 6:

Start to fry them in appropriate batch sizes. There’s no hard and fast rule here, but you don’t want to cool the oil down too much, so use your best judgment to fry an appropriate amount in each batch.

Step 7:

Fry for about five minutes each, being sure to rotate them at the halfway mark. You should see the outside turn a beautiful golden brown.

Step 8:

Remove from the skillet and use some paper towels to help drain the excess oil so they’re a little crispier.

They are now ready to serve! Enjoy them with your favorite condiments and side dishes.

Ingredient substitutions

Depending on where you live, hot water cornbread recipes can vary quite dramatically, from being dessert-like made with sweet molasses all the way to a savory lunch that uses cooked pork cracklings and sometimes mashed potatoes with shredded cheese.

Here are a few suggestions to help inspire you with ideas on how you can get playful with your cornbread recipe and explore different flavors.

Grapeseed/vegetable oil

Not everyone has canola oil lying around, and the recipe does call for a fair bit of the stuff. Fortunately, it’s very easy to swap this out for another kind of oil that can be used in a simple 1:1 replacement ratio. This includes grapeseed, vegetables, and even sunflower oil.

These all have a fairly neutral flavor and won’t distort the flavor of your cornbread in any noticeable way.

Corn grits

Can we still call this cornbread if we substitute the cornmeal? Regardless, corn grits and yellow cornmeal are incredibly similar and are actually made from the same core ingredients and process.

The only real difference is that corn grits are a little thicker and unrefined, which makes them slower to absorb the water.

The way to counter this is to delay the heating of the oil and instead mix the ingredients and hot water together first and heat the oil after. By the time it’s up to temperature, that mixture should have set and will be almost indistinguishable from regular cornmeal.

Pork crackling

Interested in making your cornbread a bit more southern-inspired and less sweet?

Substituting the sugar for some delicious pork cracklings is a super simple and easy way to turn this into a delicious, savory dish. While not exactly healthy, for anyone looking to avoid sugar, this is definitely the way to go.

 Just make sure that if you wish to cook with meat, ensure it’s nice and fresh.

What to serve with Patti Labelle hot water cornbread 

Cornbread makes a great side dish to bolster all kinds of main dishes. It’s usually served with some kind of meat, such as fried chicken and sauce to offer that counter to the rich and juicy meat flavor.

But it also works great with things like soups. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Pot roast

Pot roast is a wonderfully hearty meal associated with Southern cooking that pairs just wonderfully with cornbread.

A good trick is to place some cornbread at the bottom of your bowl and then spoon the pot roast right over the top of it.

Vegetable soup

Soup and cornbread are one of the best pairings. Use a little bit of that drier and sweet cornbread to enhance the flavor of that slightly oily and rich vegetable soup. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like it.

How to reheat Patti Labelle hot water cornbread 

Cornbread’s so easy to make, and you’ll often find yourself with too much of it and need to keep some for later. Here’s how to go about reheating it.

How to reheat Patti Labelle hot water cornbread in a pot

Add just a little bit of canola oil (or your preferred cooking oil) to a pot and heat it on medium-high heat.

Add the cornbread patties to it and fry for about 1-2 minutes. Then, flip them over and cook for a further minute on the other side, and it should be adequately warmed through.

How to reheat Patti Labelle hot water cornbread in a microwave

Cornbread can be prone to getting soggy when microwaved. To help counter this, wrap the patties in moist paper towels and microwave for about 30 seconds. They should be nice, firm, and adequately moist still.

How to reheat Patti Labelle hot water cornbread in the oven

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the cornbread in aluminum and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and give them about five minutes to cool down before serving.

How to reheat Patti Labelle hot water cornbread in an air fryer

Preheat the air fryer to about 320 degrees F and place the cornbread into the frying basket. Cook for 3-4 minutes, and it should be thoroughly warmed through. Do keep an eye on it though in case the edges start to burn.

You can take the basket out at the 2-minute mark and give it a good shake to allow it to reheat more evenly.

How to store Patti Labelle hot water cornbread

Cornbread does store pretty well if you find yourself needing to keep some for later. The main concern, particularly if it’s still hot, is that any kind of cold refrigeration will cause it to build up moisture and become soggy.

We can counter this primarily by ensuring it’s cooled to room temperature beforehand, as well as wrapping it in plastic wrap to protect it from the cold.

Store in the fridge

Once it’s cooled and wrapped, place it inside an air-tight container (or a food bag also works) and refrigerate.

It’ll keep for about one week in the fridge.

Store in the freezer

Once the cornbread is cooled and wrapped, place it in a heavy-duty freezer bag to store it and keep it fresher for longer.

Once frozen this way, it will keep for about three months.

patti labelle hot water cornbread recipe

Patti Labelle Hot Water Cornbread Recipe

In the mood for a classic American side dish? Patti Labelle’s delicious cornbread recipe is unique in that it’s made with hot water and fried, which gives it a delicious, golden coating unlike any other. It’s super easy to make, so give it a try!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 1302 kcal
Equipment
  • 1 Skillet
  • 1 mixing bowl
Ingredients
  
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup green onions finely chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups water
Instructions
 
  • Put the canola oil into a skillet(ideally a cast-iron one to ensure the most even distribution of heat possible) over medium-high heat.
  • Try not to let the oil heat for too long, otherwise the outside of the cornbread will cook too fast before the middle has been adequately cooked.
  • The key here is to only heat the oil for 1-2 minutes and start it frying sooner. This gives time for the oil to work its way through the cornbread completely and ensure an even fry.
  • While the oil is heating, mix together the yellow cornmeal, salt, green onion, sugar, and thyme. Mix all these initial ingredients together thoroughly.
  • Now add the boiling water (ideally straight from the kettle) to this mixture, and stir it all thoroughly until it’s as smooth as possible.
  • The smoother you can get it the better because if everything is not adequately mixed, it may form lumps that are difficult to cook.
  • Once the batter is adequately mixed, quickly moisten your hands and flatten them into smaller patties. The exact size of these isn’t too important, so can just size them to preference. Try not to make them too tall though, as it needs to cook all the way through. 
  • Start to fry them in appropriate batch sizes. There’s no hard and fast rule here, but you don't want to cool the oil down too much, so use your best judgment to fry an appropriate amount in each batch.
  • Fry for about five minutes each, being sure to rotate them at the halfway mark. You should see the outside turn a beautiful golden brown.
  • Remove from the skillet and use some paper towels to help drain the excess oil so they’re a little crispier.
  • They are now ready to serve! Enjoy them with your favorite condiments and side dishes.
Nutrition
Calories: 1302kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 8gFat: 116gSaturated Fat: 9gSodium: 882mgFiber: 7g
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