National Cornbread Festival Celebrates Cast Iron and Cornbread

It’s almost time for the 2017 National Cornbread Festival! The lovely little town of South Pittsburg, Tennessee has opened its heart and streets to thousands of visitors for 21 years. There are plenty of things to do: music, crafts, a carnival, tours, plenty of good cornbread and more.  One tour you will not want to miss is of the Lodge Manufacturing Company foundry where they’ve been making cast iron and cookware since 1896.

This year’s festival runs April 29-30, 2017. Celebrating the perfect marriage of cornbread and cast iron, Saturday features a 4-H Cornbread Cook-Off in the morning and the National Championship Cornbread Cook-Off in the afternoon. Over the years, we have been amazed by the creative recipes entered in the contest, many of which have become a family favorite.

After last year’s festival, I shared the winning recipe from the Former Judge’s cook-off. Bob’s Bama Hoecake Sliders are a tribute to some of our favorite Southern foods. Entered by Bob Carlton, a columnist for the Birmingham News, his sliders are a creative combination of little cornbread hoecakes, spread with pimento cheese and topped with smoked sausage and spicy pickles. Delicious! In case you missed it, here is the link.

Bobs Bama Sliders Small

Bob’s recipe reminds me of the 2010 Winner – Bacon and Gorgonzola Cornbread Sliders with Chipotle Mayo. This slider is made on delectable little corn muffins, split and filled with a small ground beef patty, grilled onions and cheese. Fun and tasty!

For a complete schedule of Cornbread Festival Events, visit Make plans now to join us in South Pittsburg at the end of April. Hope to see you there!

Lodge Cast Iron Crowns Cook-Off Winner at 20th National Cornbread Festival

In a weekend-long celebration of cornbread, dishes with French influence and southern flair take home top honors at the National Cornbread Festival.

Lodge Cast Iron® hosted the 20th Annual Cornbread Festival in its hometown of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, at which Ronna F. of Rockville, Maryland, was crowned the winner of the 20th Annual National Cornbread Cook-Off. As winner of the 2016 Cook-Off, Ronna’s original recipe, Cornbread-Topped Cordon Bleu Skillet, earned her the coveted cast iron skillet crown, a $5,000 cash prize, a 30-inch stainless steel gas range from FiveStar® Professional Cooking Equipment (a $3,250 value), and special gifts from Martha White® and Lodge Cast Iron.


1 large egg

cup milk

¼ cup sour cream

¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 package Martha White® Cotton Country Buttermilk Cornbread & Muffin Mix

1 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded or diced

1¼ cups bottled Alfredo sauce

1 4-ounce can of mushroom stems and pieces, drained

1 cup fresh spinach leaves

2 ounces thinly sliced deli-style cooked ham, roughly chopped

4 ounces shredded Swiss cheese

cups panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried parsley


Preheat oven to 375°F. In a medium bowl, using a wire whisk, whisk together the egg, milk, sour cream and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Blend in cornbread mix. Set aside.

In a 10-inch Lodge cast iron skillet, combine chicken, Alfredo sauce and mushrooms. Lay the spinach leaves over the chicken mixture. Scatter the ham over the spinach. Sprinkle the Swiss cheese on top of the ham. Spoon the cornbread mixture evenly over the top.

In a small bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs, remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the cornbread.

Bake at 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes until topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out clean. Cut into wedges.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Lodge is a trademark of Lodge Manufacturing Company.

National Cornbread Festival is a trademark of National Cornbread Festival, Inc.

Bob’s Bama Hoecake Sliders Takes First Place at 20th Annual National Cornbread Festival

It was a beautiful weekend for the 20th Annual National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, TN. – the home of Lodge® Cast Iron. Cornbread lovers flocked to the small town to celebrate the perfect marriage of cornbread and cast iron.

Martha White® invited five past cook-off judges – all cornbread experts – to compete for a donation to their favorite food related charity. The competitors prepared an original appetizer recipe made with corn meal or a cornbread mix and cooked in cast iron. Every recipe was so creative, and the judges had a challenge to select a winner. After much deliberation, Bob Carlton, a food writer for The Birmingham News, was declared the winner for his Bob’s Bama Hoecake Sliders. He selected Magic City Harvest and Jones Valley Teaching Farm to share the $2,000.00 donation.

In addition to being delicious, part of the charm of Bob’s recipe is his use of Southern ingredients. Bob created his appetizer sliders by making little buttermilk hoecakes using Martha White Self-Rising Flour to use as bun, filled with pimento cheese, local smoked sausage and spicy pickles.


2 cups Martha White® Self-Rising White Enriched Corn Meal Mix

1 large egg

1¾ cups buttermilk

¼ cup Crisco® Vegetable Oil

2 to 3 tablespoons of Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening (optional)

12-ounce container of pimento cheese (your favorite brand or see recipe below)

1 pound of smoked sausage

1 16-ounce jar of spicy pickle slices

Beat egg in medium bowl. Add buttermilk, vegetable oil and corn meal mix and stir until smooth. Set aside.

Slice smoked sausage into 2-inch pieces. Then slice pieces lengthwise to cut in half. Set aside.

If making your own pimento cheese, follow the recipe below or use a favorite family recipe.

Cut individual pickle slices into quarters. Set aside.

Heat a 12-inch Lodge Cast Iron skillet (or a Lodge Cast Iron griddle) over medium to medium high-heat.

After skillet gets hot, add the sliced sausage and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. After sausage reaches the desired degree of doneness, remove from skillet and let drain on paper towel. Repeat this step until all of the sausage is cooked.

Leave sausage drippings in skillet and (while skillet is still hot) begin dropping heaping spoonfuls of corn meal mixture into skillet to create medallion-sized hoecakes (about 2 inches in diameter).

Brown for about 1 to 1-1/2 minutes and then flip. Brown other side for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes and then remove hoecakes.

Place on a cookie sheet and keep warm in oven on low heat (about 200 degrees). Repeat this step until all of the corn meal mix is cooked. If sausage drippings run out, add 1 tablespoon of shortening to the pan for each batch of hoecakes.

To build the hoecake sliders, take one hoecake and spread with pimento cheese. Top with two slices of sausage and about four of the pickle quarters. Spread pimento cheese on another hoecake and then place it on top to create a small sandwich or slider. Hold it together with a toothpick if necessary. Repeat this step until you have used all of the ingredients.

Serve immediately and enjoy.

Makes 16 servings


Optional pimento cheese recipe:

8 ounces of sharp white cheddar cheese

8 ounces of red-wax hoop cheese

2-ounce jar of diced pimentos, drained

1/3 cup of mayonnaise

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

Grate cheese into large mixing bowl. Add mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce and pimentos and stir thoroughly until all ingredients are blended. Serve immediately or store in a sealed, plastic container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Lodge is a trademark of Lodge Manufacturing Company.

National Cornbread Festival is a trademark of National Cornbread Festival, Inc.

Come Celebrate 20th National Cornbread Festival With Us!

On April 23 & 24, 2016, the picturesque Tennessee River town of South Pittsburg, TN, will celebrate the 20th National Cornbread Festival. Paying homage to the South’s perfect union of cornbread and cast iron, the Festival will be a great fun-filled weekend for the entire family.

nationalcornbread logo

At the 20th anniversary of the Festival, Martha White® will host the 2016 Past National Championship Cook-Off Winners’ Charity event on Saturday, April 23, 2016. Past judges from The National Cornbread Cook-Off will compete for a food-related charity of their choice. These food experts will prepare an original appetizer recipe with a Martha White Cornbread Mix that has been prepared in Lodge® Cast Iron cookware. You’re sure to leave the Cook-Off with some great new ideas for delicious party food to share with your friends.

Lodge® Cast Iron will also sponsor a consumer Cornbread Cook-Off.  Creative home cooks will prepare their original main dish recipes for a panel of judges at the Festival. The recipes will be made with a Martha White Cornbread Mix and cooked in Lodge® Cast Iron Cookware.

Make a point to arrive early so you can see the 4-H Student Cook-Off. Seeing these young 4-H members competing will give you hope for the preservation of good cornbread for the next generation.

Last year we invited past winners to prepare their winning recipes and interestingly one of our earlier recipes, Festive Good Luck Cornbread Skillet, was the winner. The dish features smoked sausage, black-eyed peas, collards and cornbread and proves that cornbread combined with traditional ingredients is always a winner!

Come and share the fun with us. See how cast iron cookware is made by touring the Lodge Manufacturing plant. Explore opportunities to enter prize drawings, shop the crafts, enjoy the music and eat lots of good cornbread!  For more information, visit

Celebrate the Biscuit in Knoxville, Tenn.

I’m lucky to live in Tennessee – a state that hosts two annual events celebrating the South’s most beloved hot breads! As you probably know, The National Cornbread Festival® in South Pittsburg, Tenn., has just wrapped up the 18th annual event that pays homage to cornbread and cast iron. I’m happy to report that cornbread is alive and well!

May 15 – 18 in Knoxville, Tenn., we will celebrate another Southern favorite – the biscuit. The International Biscuit Festival pays homage to this icon of Southern baking with an amazing variety of events and lots of biscuits to eat.

Many of the activities will take place at the Historic Market Square District in downtown Knoxville. On Saturday, the main festival starts with Biscuit Boulevard, the tasting area with more than twenty restaurants and bakers sharing their signature biscuits. You will also want to visit The Biscuit Bazaar, see the Biscuit Art Exhibition and watch the Biscuit Baking Contest. You might even hear musical tributes to the biscuit at the Biscuit Songwriting Competition.

Prior to the International Biscuit Festival, The Southern Food Writing Conference will feature a panel of speakers who will focus on Southern Culture. Topics range from food’s role in southern life, soul food and the popularity of Southern food outside the South. Fellow blogger, Robyn Stone, who writes Add a Pinch and I will talk about Growing Up in the Southern Kitchen.

I hope to see you there.

National Cornbread Festival is a trademark of National Cornbread Festival, Inc.

Rhonda Vincent: National Cornbread Festival

On Sunday, April 27, (Last weekend) my band The Rage and I boarded the Martha White® Bluegrass Express and headed to South Pittsburg, Tenn., for the National Cornbread Festival®. For me, it marked a special anniversary. My first performance at the National Cornbread Festival in 2001 was also the first time I was asked to perform by my friends at Martha White. It’s remained an amazing relationship!

The National Cornbread Festival is more than just another stop on our tour because the guys and I actually love cornbread almost as much as we love music and our fans! Once the Martha White Bluegrass Express rolled into this small, friendly Tennessee town, we sampled lots of great cornbread – and saw all the folks who have been there to greet us over the past 12 years.

My life has revolved around music since I was 5 years old playing with my family band in northern Missouri. And while I was learning to play a variety of instruments, I was also learning to cook from my mother and my grandmother. To this day I love to cook every chance I get.

That training was put to the test during one of my early visits to the National Cornbread Festival when I was partnered with Linda Carman for a special cook-off to raise money for a local charity. I’ll admit to being a little intimidated cooking on a stage before a bunch of people. But Linda made it easy – and fun – right from the start. We made Rhonda’s Ragin’ Cornbread that day – a simple cornbread featuring sausage, cheese and just the right spice. I’m still getting requests for the recipe years later!

Next year, we would love for you and your family to join us at the National Cornbread Festival. Or join us from home by adding a cornbread recipe to your family meals!