This Turkish Hot Water Cornbread recipe will replace all those that came before. It has the most beautiful golden color, the richest buttery, and crumbly texture, and a simply divine flavor that can only be achieved over years of perfecting ratios and technique.

Cornbread is a staple bread in many homes in a particular region of Turkey called Karadeniz(Black Sea), especially to pair comforting soups like Turkish lentil soup during winter. We found it too crumbly when we tasted it for the first time. But then we understand how the people of Black Sea enjoy it. On soups or with some butter on it when it is still warm. This is definitely not a kind of sandwich bread, but makes an amazing companion for soups.

This homemade cornbread recipe is very easy to make and most of the time goes into the baking part. You can even make this cornbread in advance and freeze it for later use. It’s easy, affordable, and delicious; what more could you want?

Today, we will be discussing all things cornbread, from what it is, ingredients used, some substitutes, and how to actually make it.

What Is Hot Water Cornbread?

If you haven’t yet visited the Black Sea Region in Turkey, or if you aren’t familiar with Turkish cuisine, then you’ve probably never heard of this hot water cornbread. It’s by no means popular or well-known outside of this region, but we can say this; it’s one of the most unique bread we’ve ever had.

This old fashioned cornbread is made with real cornmeal, butter for richness, some seasoning, and most importantly, boiling hot water. The combination of these ingredients, their ratios and the production method used gives the final product a very crumbly and buttery texture.

This cornbread is not soft or fluffy, but rather very dense and almost heavy, therefore it is best served with accompaniments like soups, homemade yogurt, and dips.

Ingredients for homemade cornbread on a grey background.

Old Fashioned Cornbread Ingredients

The most important ingredient for this hot water cornbread is the cornmeal. Locals say that the best results come from using the cornmeal produced in the Black Sea region. This cornmeal gives a very naturally bright golden color that store-bought cornmeal simply cannot.

However, if you don’t have access to this amazing cornmeal, use butter and olive oil. We added butter to this cornmeal bread for three reasons; the first being it adds richness and flavor. The second is that it helps bind the other ingredients together, and the third is that it helps add that beautiful sunshine golden color.

The addition of baking powder gives it that extra spring to prevent this homemade cornbread from being flat.

The last ingredient for this old fashioned cornbread is the water. This is a cornbread recipe with cornmeal only, meaning it needs to be hydrated thoroughly before the baking starts. Using boiling hot water helps speed up this process and softens the otherwise hard cornmeal granules before they are baked to prevent an uncooked, unpleasant bread.

What Is Cornmeal?

Cornmeal, corn flour, and cornstarch are often confused with each other, when in fact they differ quite a bit, mostly in function and use.

Cornmeal differs in that it has a much coarser, almost sand-like consistency compared to that of cornflour or cornstarch. Cornmeal is a crucial ingredient for this cornbread with water and cannot be substituted easily.

When mixed with water, the granules hydrate and help for a batter that eventually helps give a crumbly and buttery texture.

Corn flour and cornstarch are the same product, they just go by different names. We learnt that what we know as cornstarch in Turkey is called corn flour in the UK. These are made from corn as well but ground into an extremely fine, powder-like consistency. This form of processed corn is much better suited as a thickening agent and won’t be able to function as flours in breads do.

When they’re mixed with water, they will form a paste and won’t be suitable for bread baking.

Corn flour and cornstarch should never be used as a substitute for this cornmeal bread. You can however use polenta. Polenta is a form of cornmeal, but its texture is even coarser, perfect for making the polenta dish, hence the name. You can substitute these in equal parts.

 Read more >> Cornmeal vs Polenta.

Another substitute a lot of people make is a combination of all-purpose flour and cornmeal. The softer all-purpose flour helps you make a softer bread, however, personally, this cornbread’s texture is part of what makes it unique and appealing.

How To Make Cornbread With Hot Water

Is there anything better than freshly baked cornbread? Even more so when it only takes a few minutes to assemble before being baked. You’ll be in awe of its deep golden brown color, irresistible taste, and perfect texture!

  • First, prepare your equipment. Preheat your oven to 400˚F/200˚C. Once your oven has been heated, preheat a 9-inch square or round baking pan until needed.
  • Second, mix your ingredients. Combine the cornmeal, softened butter, salt, olive oil, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Mix using a spatula until all the ingredients have been evenly distributed.
  • Third, add the hot water. Make sure you have boiling hot water and add it to the cornmeal mixture. Use a whisk to incorporate the water until you have a smooth, runny, and thin batter, very similar to crepe batter. If your batter is too thick and like normal bread dough, add more water until you achieve the correct consistency.
  • Prepare the heated baking pan. Once the pan has heated, brush it with melted butter or olive oil that will help prevent the batter from sticking. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40 minutes on the middle shelf.
  • Cool and serve. Cornbread can be served hot or cold, either way, it needs to rest for a minute or two.

What Can I Substitute For Butter?

Your best alternative for butter in this recipe would have to be clotted cream. This thick cream has a very similar consistency to that of softened butter and you can substitute them in equal parts.

Another substitute that will do in a pinch is either crème Fraiche or buttermilk. Crème Fraiche would be the better between these two as its consistency is similar, whereas buttermilk is much runnier.

When using buttermilk as a substitute for softened butter, you need to start with half the amount and add more until the required consistency is achieved. The buttermilk will make the batter runnier; that is why you should start with less.

A stack of slices of cornbread made with hot water and wooden boards on the back.

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Other Corn Meal Bread Recipes

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Hot Water Cornbread

Turkish hot water cornbread in a round shape and sliced on a wooden board.

A wonderful smelling crumbly cornbread that goes perfect with soups!

  • Author: Zerrin
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 10
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Turkish


  • 3 cups (500 gr.) Cornmeal
  • 150 gr. butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 + ¾ cup (650ml) boiling water


  1. Preheat the oven at 400F/200C and heat the pan (9-inch square or round) you will use in the oven.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together corn flour, softened butter, salt, olive oil and baking powder with a spatula.
  3. Pour boiling water in it and mix with a hand whisk. 
  4. The mixture should be runny and thin compared to normal bread dough. Like a crepe mixture.
  5. If the consistency is not runny enough, you can add a little more water.
  6. Brush the heated pan with melted butter or olive oil and pour the dough mixture into it.
  7. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40 minutes.

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Keywords: cornbread with water, turkish cornbread, hot water cornbread

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