Although named a "bread", spoonbread is closer in consistency and taste to many savory puddings, such as Yorkshire pudding. As made by some recipes, spoonbread is similar to a cornmealsoufflé, although typical Southern recipes do not involve whipping the eggs to incorporate air.
The dish is believed to be of Native American origin. It was commonly called Awendaw or Owendaw. The first print recipe for spoonbread appeared in a cookbook by Sarah Rutledge in 1847. Spoonbreads became popular around the turn of the 20th century, as soda-acid forms of leavening (such as baking soda with some form of acid elsewhere in the recipe or baking powder) replaced yeast for corn-based breads in Southern cooking.
Since 1997, Berea, Kentucky, has been home to an annual Spoonbread Festival held in September.