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Awendaw Spoonbread

The best spoonbread is lushly rich and impossibly light at the same time.

6 to 8 side dish portions


20 minutes active, plus 30 minutes to bake

Because the grits in this recipe are cooked twice, once in the pot and once in the oven, they do not need to be soaked.


Comprised as it is of grits and cornmeal, spoonbread represents the height of corn flavor in casserole form; the best spoonbread falls midway along the continuum from common mush custard to elevated grits soufflé. During sweet corn season, Charleston cooks add raw kernels to the batter, creating a triumvirate of cascading corn flavor and texture. The marriage of corn and dairy creates dizzy-rich texture and flavor to begin with and, in this version, is enhanced further with a shiny patent-leather glaze of straight heavy cream.

Spoonbread made with our recipe and product tastes equally sublime with white or yellow grits and cornmeal, but it shows slightly prettier in yellow.

Historical Notes

Although the term “spoonbread” is a child of the 20th century, the dish is distinctly Native American. A combination of eggs and cornmeal mixed with liquid and baked, spoonbread is called “Awendaw” in Charleston, after the Awendaw Indians who lent their name to the river and the area 15 miles up the coast. Some of the best native corn and, later, the best settler corn came from this region.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a digital kitchen scale; a heavy-bottomed 2½-quart saucepan (preferably one with flared sides called a Windsor pan); a fine tea strainer; a mixing bowl; a balloon whisk; a wooden spoon; a well-seasoned 9-inch cast-iron skillet, a heavy 9-inch cake pan, or a 1½-quart casserole dish; and a rubber spatula.


    Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cast-iron skillet, a 9-inch cake pan, or a 1½-quart casserole dish with butter and set aside. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, whisk them lightly, and set the bowl aside.


    Place the grits in a heavy-bottomed 2½-quart saucepan (preferably one with flared sides called a Windsor pan) and add the water. Stir once. Allow the grits to settle a full minute, tilt the pan, and skim off and discard the chaff and hulls with a fine tea strainer. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the first starch takes hold, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are just tender and hold their shape on a spoon, about 25 minutes. Beat in the butter, salt, and pepper, and then whisk in the milk in three additions. Cover the pan and bring the grits slurry to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking frequently, quickly lifting and replacing the lid. Whisk in the cornmeal and remove the pan from the heat.


    Ladle about a cup of the hot grits mixture into the beaten eggs and whisk to warm them. Pour the egg mixture back into the grits. Stir in the baking powder. Scrape the batter into the prepared skillet, cake pan, or casserole and smooth the surface. Spoon the cream over the top and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 375 degrees and continue to bake until the spoonbread is nicely risen and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and serve without delay.