Growing up, cornbread was one of my favorite side dishes, especially alongside chili. My mom would serve it with butter and maple syrup and I would go nuts. It’s no wonder – I’ve always loved carbs.
Origins of Cornbread
Cornbread is a hotly debated topic and we don’t claim to be experts on its origin! But based on our research, it seems that the concept may have originated from a Native American dish called cornpone that was made with simple ingredients like cornmeal, water, and salt (source).
During the colonial era, cornmeal was an important ingredient and source of sustenance for enslaved individuals. It likely grew in popularity during these times and recipes evolved based on personal preferences and ingredient availability. It’s now popular throughout the US, but is especially associated with Southern cuisine.
The following is our plant-based, gluten-free version resembling what we grew up knowing cornbread to taste like!
Vegan Gluten-Free Cornbread
In the past few years I’ve attempted vegan cornbread with success. However, I had yet to crack the code on vegan, gluten-free cornbread.
Without eggs, gluten-free baked goods tend not to rise and miss that crumbly texture necessary in cakes and quick breads.
However, recently I hopped on the aquafaba bandwagon and things have changed. Unless you’ve been napping for the last year, you’ve likely heard of aquafaba – the starchy brine left behind in a can of chickpeas (or other beans, such as white and kidney beans).
The brine has the protein and wizardry necessary to mock an egg and even whip up and bake into things like meringues and pavlova! It’s kind of amazing.
While I haven’t perfected my meringue or played around much with aquafaba as a stand-alone ingredient (yet), I have been loving it as an egg substitute in gluten-free baking.
This recipe is easy, requiring just 10 basic ingredients. Plus, it’s extremely simple if you know how to turn on a hand mixer and whip up egg whites.
Aquafaba behaves the exact same as egg whites, creating a stable base and binding agent for this fluffy, perfect cornbread.
I know some of you may be tempted to sub out the organic cane sugar for a more natural sweetener, but I would beg you not to do so.
The texture and flavor of the cornbread is compromised when things like coconut sugar or maple syrup are subbed in and I know this by experience. The only thing that might work is subbing stevia for 1/4 cup of the sugar. Otherwise, I hope you’ll try it and love it as is!
I hope you all LOVE this cornbread! It’s:
Easy to make
& Ideal for fall + winter!
This is the perfect hearty comfort food to have on hand this fall and winter to pair alongside dishes like 1-Pot Vegan Chili, Vegan ‘Pulled Pork’ Sandwich, and Vegan Sloppy Joe’s! In my opinion, it’s almost undetectably vegan and gluten-free so everyone can enjoy (but no one will be able tell the difference). If not gluten free, try my Best Vegan Cornbread for 2!
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
The Best Vegan Gluten-Free Cornbread
- 1/3 cup chickpea brine (whipped until fluffy and soft peaks form // aka aquafaba)
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar* (as original recipe is written, you can sub up to 1/4 cup with 1 packet or tsp of stevia extract)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup grape seed or canola oil
- 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour*
- 1 cup fine cornmeal
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
FOR SERVING optional
- Vegan butter
- Maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and lightly grease a standard 9-inch round cake pan or 8×8-inch baking dish and dust with gluten-free flour. Shake out excess and set aside. (I also think you could use an 9-inch cast iron skillet, but it wouldn’t come out as easily and will likely have to be served directly from the pan).
- In a liquid measuring cup, measure out non-dairy milk and add vinegar or lemon juice. Set aside.
- Add chickpea brine to a medium mixing bowl and begin whipping until loose peaks form. Then add sugar in a little at a time and beat until the texture is glossy and white and semi-firm peaks form.
- Add dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Then add almond milk mixture and oil and whisk once more. Lastly, add the whipped chickpea brine (with sugar) and gently whisk/fold in until a thick but pourable batter is formed.
- The batter should be thick but pourable. Add more cornmeal or gluten-free flour if too wet or almond milk if too thick. I added 1 Tbsp more cornmeal and 2 Tbsp more light gluten-free flour blend (amounts as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size).
- Add batter to prepared cake pan and bake on a center rack for 25-35 minutes, or until the edges are light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out completely clean.
- Let cool completely in the pan – set on a wire rack to speed cooling process. To remove, run a dull knife around the edge of the cake pan to loosen, then slice and serve. Alternatively, place a plate on top and quickly invert. It will be upside down so flip onto another serving platter to get it right side up.
- Serve with vegan butter and maple syrup. Pairs extremely well with hearty dishes like Vegan Lentil Chili.
- Store covered at room temperature for 2-3 days, or in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Freeze up to 1 month.
*Some of you may be tempted to sub out the organic cane sugar for a more natural sweetener, but I would suggest not doing so. The texture and flavor of the cornbread are compromised when things like coconut sugar or maple syrup are subbed in and I know this by experience. The only thing that might work is subbing stevia for 1/4 cup of the sugar (as noted). Otherwise, I hope you’ll try it and love it as is!
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated without toppings.