7 Easy Cornbread Recipes For Your Next Cookout

As one of the most essential elements of a well-conceived barbecue spread, cornbread manages to serve several useful functions: It’s a carb-based sponge (very handy when you’ve had a few too many beers or spiked sweet teas), it sops up leftover barbecue sauce like a champ, and it’s easy to customize with any number of flavors, mix-ins, and added ingredients. If you’d like to ditch the store-bought stuff in favor of your own homemade cornbread, consider these 7 simple-to-execute recipes, all offered up by pro bakers and chefs. 

Classic Cornbread

(By Michelle A. Roberts, chef/owner, Dr. Shells Soul Food Kitchen, Jonesboro, Georgia)

Classic Cornbread

We’ll start our list with a classic, quintessential cornbread recipe, one that doesn’t rely on bells and whistles, but instead shows off the natural sweetness of cornmeal and produces a perfect texture. When your cookout calls for cornbread to use as a canvas for any number of sauces, grilled meats, and accoutrements, then you’ll find the right fit in this version.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 2.5 cups milk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Method:

  1. Mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat 5 eggs with milk and oil.
  3. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture a bit at a time and stir until fully combined.
  4. Pour batter into greased pan or cast iron skillet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 to 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven and butter the top while still warm. 

Gochujang & Green Onion Cornbread Muffins

(By Joy Cho, founder/pastry chef, Joy Cho Pastry, New York City)

Gochujang & Green Onion Cornbread Muffins

Cornbread muffins work well for an outdoor picnic or barbecue, since their handheld nature eliminates the need for servingware. Pastry chef Joy Cho likes to bring some spice to her cornbread muffins with gochujang (Korean red chili paste), which she says “adds a subtle heat in this fun twist on classic cornbread muffins. Feel free to dial the amount up or down based on your spice preferences. These easy muffins err on the denser side, but that just means more sweet and savory flavor to complement your next grill-out, picnic, or casual weekday dinner.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
  • .5 tsp baking powder
  • .5 tsp baking soda
  • .5 tsp fine salt
  • .5 cup (80g) yellow cornmeal
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • .5 cup buttermilk (at room temperature)
  • .5 cup (105g) sour cream (at room temperature)
  • .25 cup (50g) brown sugar, packed
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg (at room temperature)
  • 1 tbsp gochujang
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • .5 cup diced green onions

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Liberally coat a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add cornmeal and ground pepper and whisk to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, sour cream, brown sugar, maple syrup, egg, and gochujang until smooth. Gradually add the melted butter and whisk until no lumps remain.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined, taking care not to over-mix. Fold in the diced green onions.
  5. Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups and bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before unmolding.  

Skillet Cornbread With Grana Padano

(By Matt Bolus, executive chef, The 404 Kitchen, Nashville, Tennessee)

Cast iron skillets regularly top lists of the best multipurpose cookware, so it should come as no surprise that they make perfect vessels for cornbread. Executive chef Matt Bolus adds Grana Padano cheese to his skillet cornbread and serves it with sorghum-sweetened butter, resulting in a winning combination. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • .5 cup Grana Padano, grated
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • .75 tsp baking soda
  • 12 tbsp room-temperature butter
  • 1 cup full-fat buttermilk 
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 tbsp sorghum

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (convection) or 425 degrees F (conventional). Put 2 cast iron pans in the oven to get hot. 
  2. In a large bowl, use a whisk to mix the cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the cheese and mix well again. 
  3. Melt 2 tbsps butter in a small pan over low heat. 
  4. Add the buttermilk to the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the egg and melted butter and incorporate completely. The batter should be thick but not dough-like. 
  5. Melt 2 more tbsp butter in the small pan over low heat.
  6. Remove the cast iron pans from the oven. Divide the melted butter equally between the pans. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans.
  7. Bake in the oven for 14 to 16 minutes for the convection oven or 18 to 20 minutes for the conventional oven. The bread should be golden (dark golden if using convection heat) and an inserted toothpick will come out clean when the bread is done.  
  8. Whip the room-temperature 8 tbsp butter with a mixer’s paddle attachment until pale and fluffy. Add sorghum and mix until incorporated. Serve with warm cornbread. 

Toreado Cornbread

(By Marisol Puentes, executive pastry chef, The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park, El Paso, Texas)

Blistered chile peppers (also known as chiles toreados) bring both a smoky aroma and a hint of heat to a traditional cornbread, which is why executive pastry chef Marisol Puentes likes to fold them into her batter. She then tops her cornbread with salty cotija cheese, which creates a flavorful crust during the baking process.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • .25 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 1/3 cup toreados (you can use your chiles of choice, but popular picks include jalapeños or Serranos)
  • .25 cup queso cotija

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, and eggs. 
  4. Add the egg-milk mixture and the melted butter to the dry ingredients and mix lightly using a fork until lumpy, leaving no dry spots. 
  5. Fold in toreados and pour the dough into any baking mold. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and bouncy to the touch. 
  6. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Honey Cinnamon Cornbread

(By Bonnie Shuman, executive chef, Weavers Way Co-op, Pennsylvania)

While some cornbread purists might scoff at a version that highlights classic dessert ingredients like honey and cinnamon, executive chef Bonnie Shuman embraces the sweet nostalgia evoked by her cornbread’s flavor profile. This cornbread works well as a snack, as a side dish, as a breakfast pastry, as a dessert — the possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • .5 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsps baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • .25 cup honey (Shuman recommends clover honey, but tells us that “any honey will do”)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and use cooking spray to thoroughly coat a 9 x 9-inch baking pan.
  2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Jalapeño Cornbread “Whoopie Pies”

(By Krystle Smith, blogger/recipe developer, Baking Beauty)

The New England icons known as “whoopie pies” typically consist of two circular chocolate cakes held together by a marshmallow creme filling. In her twist on whoopie pies, however, recipe writer Krystle Smith uses cornbread as the treat’s cake element and makes a “creme” with bacon and goat cheese. The result? A savory handheld bite that pairs ideally with summer BBQ fare.

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • .25 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed and diced
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and roughly chopped
  • 4 oz goat cheese, slightly softened
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Stir in buttermilk, butter, and egg until just combined. Fold in jalapeño peppers.
  3. Using a rounded tablespoon, drop batter onto baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light brown around the edges. Cool on pan for 3-5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Add goat cheese, cream cheese, and milk to a medium bowl and stir until smooth and creamy. Fold in bacon and chives.
  5. Spread or pipe about 1 tbsp of filling onto half of each whoopie pie. Top with remaining halves.

Cornbread Hush Puppies

(By Brie Golliher, owner, Boyce General Store, Alvaton, Kentucky)

Yes, that’s right … we’re talking about deep-fried cornbread here. Baker and restaurant owner Brie Golliher gives her cornbread the hush puppy treatment by making a “pancake-like batter” and dropping it into frying oil until it achieves a crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside texture.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups self-rising cornmeal
  • 1.5 cups self-rising flour
  • .75 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1-2 cups buttermilk
  • Frying oil

Method:

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Beat the eggs with one cup of buttermilk and then slowly add this mixture to the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Add more buttermilk to reach a thick pancake-like batter. Don’t over-stir.
  3. Let the batter sit at room temperature for 10 mins. Meanwhile, heat the frying oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit in a cast-iron or enamel pan.
  4. Scoop the batter into the oil in 1-teaspoon increments. Fry until golden brown. 

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