Quick Cornmeal

Cornmeal is flour ground from dried corn until it becomes a fine, medium, or coarse powder. This common staple food is often found near the salt and flour in the grocery store, and it’s great to have on hand if you’re looking to make a hearty and semi-fast meal (fast to mix, a bit of time to bake). Depending on the type of corn used, cornmeal can be white or yellow; both varieties work equally well in most recipes. Once you’ve picked out and purchased your cornmeal, make sure to store it in an airtight container until ready to use.

Cornmeal mush is a thick cornmeal pudding or porridge that is often cut into flat squares or rectangles and then fried. Popular in the southeastern United States, this dish is fairly simple to make. All you’ll need is 1 part cornmeal to 4 parts boiling water. You decide the ‘part,’ as in 1 cup cornmeal to 4 cups water, based on how much you wish to make. Bring the water to a boil. Place your cornmeal in a large bowl. As the water comes to a boil, take approximately 2-3 spoonfuls of the water from the pot and whisk it into the dry cornmeal until a paste is formed. Pour or spoon the paste slowly into the boiling water, whisking and stirring to prevent lumps. When you’ve got a nice smooth pot of cornmeal mush, cook it to the thickness you would like. You can let it simmer for approximately 5 minutes to make sure it is warm throughout.

If you would prefer using your microwave to the stovetop, you may want to make cornmeal hot cereal. The proportions for microwave cornmeal hot cereal are 1 part cornmeal to 4 parts water. For example, you could use 12 cup cornmeal and 2 cups cold water. Place the cornmeal and the water in a microwaveable bowl and cover. Cook on HIGH for two minutes. Uncover and stir. Cover again and microwave on HIGH for one more minute. Remove, stir, and either eat hot or allow to cool before digging in.

Hot cornmeal cereal can be breakfast in a cup - just stir in your desired combination of maple syrup, applesauce, dried fruit, chopped nuts, fruit preserves, and/or soy or rice milk. It can also be a fast, savory lunch. Stir in nutritional yeast, vegan shredded cheese or sour cream, salsa, leftover cooked veggies, leftover chopped cooked greens, or cooked beans. A school ‘lunch lady’ that we know says her vegan students enjoy peanut butter-and-jam hot cornmeal for breakfast and salsa-and-beans hot cornmeal for lunch. For a special dessert, she adds chocolate or carob chips, chopped dried apricots, and shredded coconut to hot cornmeal.

Here are some more ideas for items that can ‘soup up’ your hot cornmeal cereal:

  • Fresh: Chopped onions, corn off the cob, chopped tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, chopped mangos, chopped fresh chilies
  • Canned: Chilies, pimentos, corn, mixed veggies, sliced mushrooms, sliced olives, kidney beans, drained crushed pineapple, 1 Tablespoon of nutritional yeast, chopped walnuts or pecans, halved raisins, or dried apricots
  • Thawed frozen: Peas, black-eyed peas, corn, mixed veggies, or chopped okra
  • Vegan ‘dairy’ and ‘meat’ alternatives: Sour cream, shredded cheese, soy crumbles, vegan ground round, crumbled vegan sausage, chopped Tofurky™, or chopped seitan
  • Sweet: Applesauce, chopped canned or dried fruit, mashed bananas, maple syrup, molasses, chopped nuts, peanut butter, carob chips, vegan fruit-flavored yogurt, or non-hydrogenated vegan margarine

If you allow yourself an occasional indulgence, prepare hot-water cornbread. Prepare one of the hot cornmeal recipes, omitting half the called-for liquid to create a stiff batter. Drop the cornbread batter by spoonfuls into hot vegetable oil and deep fry until golden and crispy. This is a traditional Southern dish.

A little less indulgent but almost as tasty is this baked cornbread recipe. Prepare one of the hot cornmeal cereal recipes above, omitting half the calledfor liquid to create a stiff batter. Spread into a baking dish so that it is approximately three inches thick. Cover and refrigerate. When cool, you can gently slice the cornbread into thick strips or squares. Place them on a non-stick baking sheet, and bake in a 400-degree oven until crispy.

Here’s another recipe for cornbread that will please many palates:

Wheat- and Sugar-Free Cornbread

(Makes eight 2-inch squares)

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 12 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened soymilk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 112 teaspoons powdered egg replacer mixed with 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 Tablespoon nonhydrogenated vegan margarine

Mix cornmeal, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl and set aside.

Pour soymilk into a large cup and add lemon juice to ‘sour.’ Combine ‘sour’ soymilk with egg replacer. Add to cornmeal mixture and stir only to combine.

Use margarine to prepare a 9" x 13" baking dish, a 8" square baking dish, a cast-iron skillet, or muffin tins. Fill with cornbread mixture. Dot the top of the batter with margarine and bake until golden, approximately 20 minutes. This recipe doesn’t rise very much, but it forms a nice crust.


  1. To make this mix in advance, measure and combine cornmeal, salt, baking soda, and dry egg replacer. Store in an airtight container until ready to add liquid ingredients.
  2. To microwave this recipe, place the prepared batter in a 1-quart microwaveable dish. Cover with a wet paper towel. Microwave on HIGH for 5 minutes. Remove towel and microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Total calories per serving: 79 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 13 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 256 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram