Bestselling author Kristin Hannah shares her mom’s signature buttermilk cornbread recipe: EXCLUSIVE

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Kristin Hannah’s mother predicted she would become a writer before she even thought to start writing.

The bestselling author of epic historical novels like “The Great Alone” and, most recently, “The Women,” recalls her mother's influence on her trajectory on an episode of the Audible podcast “Your Mama’s Kitchen,” out March 13.

In an exclusive clip given to, Hannah tells host Michele Norris about the conversation she had with her mom, who had terminal breast cancer at the time.

“We were talking about my future. I was in law school at the time. She said, “Don’t worry, honey, you’re going to be a writer anyway,’” Hannah said.

“It was a shocking comment because I showed no interest in that. I had no interest in that. One of the things I learned in retrospect is I really believe it was her dream for herself. That, and of course that we as mothers, we know our children so well. We know them better than they now themselves — we see it. She did see that this was something I should move towards. It just took me a while to do it,” she continued.

Hannah said her mom had three kids by the time she was 28, and never got to experience the change of the ’60s and ’70s herself, but instilled its principles in he daughter.

“She was constantly talking to me about being change. Changing. Fighting for what you want. Making a path for yourself. It took me a long time to understand that I think she was giving me a lot of that encouragement and pushing me down that road because that had not been available to her,” Hannah said in the clip.

The two decided to write a book for the last few months of her life — a historical novel, per her mom's request. After law school classes, Hannah and her mom would “brainstorm this book.”

“It allowed both of us to imagine this future that was going on instead of ending,” she said.

The day she died, Hannah happened to write the first pages of the book, then got the call. “I was able to lean down and whisper to her, ‘I started the book.’ It meant a lot to be able to do that,” she said.

Hannah worked as a lawyer but years later, when she was on maternity leave, returned to writing. She calls this her “origin story.”

Elsewhere in food-centric podcast, Hannah speaks about her upbringing and what happened when her family moved from California to a farmhouse in Washington state, where they used a wood-burning stove.

“Suddenly, here’s my mom who was 32, is building fires to cook dinner at night and learning how to cook like a pioneer wife,” she said. “Even I, at 9, knew this was not normal. People don’t live like this.”

But the family grew to love their new normal. She said this was the beginning of a “kind of life that all of us ended up gravitating to," which has left a mark in her fiction. “The Great Alone,” for example, follows a family who moves to the Alaskan wilderness.

Her mom wasn't a big cook, though. Hannah said she was an “eat-to-live human being,” because “food wasn’t the most important thing on her agenda.”

But she did have signature recipes — including one Hannah shared with us below:

Kristin Hannah’s Mom’s Buttermilk Cornbread


  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons honey


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F and grease an 8-inch square pan.

  2. Stir together butter and sugar in large bowl. (She loved to melt the butter in the microwave and then mix everything in one bowl.)

  3. Add eggs and beat until well-blended, using either a wire whisk or electric hand mixer.

  4. Mix in buttermilk, baking soda, cornmeal, flour, salt and honey.

  5. Pour batter in pan and bake 35 for 40 minutes.

  6. Serve with salted butter and homemade jam.

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