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  • Writer's pictureScott Rotella

"Moist and Flavorful Cornbread Recipe: A Must-Try for Cornbread Lovers!"


Freshly made Cornbread

Cornbread is an oldie but goodie!  Cornbread is thought to have ancient roots from over 6,000 years ago and started with the domestication of corn in Mexico. Indigenous communities used the ground cornmeal to make various flatbreads and dumplings.  This created the foundation for future variations and uses of corn and cornmeal. 


I always liked the flavor of cornbread. I didn’t really like the texture of most. The crumbly nature often tickled my throat and made me cough.  I really wanted the flavor intensified with a much more moist finish. 


So I started to experiment.  First, I ruled out the box mixes. Yes, that Jiffy box is easy and fairly tasty, but not the texture I wanted. I tried various recipes that I found in cookbooks and eventually, the internet.  Then I started to add other things that I thought would either make it more moist or would intensify the flavor.  After trying many variations, I picked out the things I thought worked best. Recently, my interest has grown and so have done more experiments. That means I have frozen leftovers of cornbread. So I also worked on alternative ways to use leftover cornbread. My favorite is crumbled cornbread with cheese and an egg custard as a topping for casseroles and baked type dishes.  Kind of like a sweet and savory bread pudding. Yum!! 


In this post, I will share my cornbread recipe plus some thoughts on using leftover cornbread. I will also share one of my leftover recipes that I call Tamale Cornbread Bake.  It was inspired by tamales, but is really its own category.


Moist Cornbread


Yep, I wrote it…moist!  Sometimes, there is just not a more descriptive word.  I just don’t get why members of younger generations detest the word. But don’t get me started on how sad I am about how American English is transforming.  I digress…back on topic. 


My goal with this recipe was to make the most flavorful cornbread I could. As stated, I also wanted it much more moist. Before diving into the recipe, I usually make mine in a 12 inch cast iron pan.  It is homey and very traditional.  However, you can make them in various pans such as cake pans, muffin tins, etc. Just remember that time and temperature might need to be adjusted. 


Ingredients


  • Salted Butter - I brown the butter to add a rich and deep flavor.  If you do not use brown butter in your baking, you should give it a try.  It is really good in things like cakes and breads (think banana).If you need to cream your butter with sugar, just brown ahead of time and then refrigerate back to a solid state.   

  • Frozen corn - I really like to use frozen roasted corn. They sell it at my local grocery store and at Trader Joes.  This char adds more flavor to the final product.

  • Heavy whipping cream

  • Whole milk

  • Sour cream – This adds both a tang and also helps keep it moist. 

  • Pickled jalapeno wheels (optional) – If you like a little heat, add them. If you don’t like heat, I would still recommend adding a few as it really amps up the flavor. 

  • Eggs

  • Cake flour – I use cake flour because of its low protein level. Protein makes gluten and we do not need gluten in this recipe as it will just make the cornbread tough. If you do not have cake flour, use all purpose–just be careful not to overmix the batter. 

  • Corn meal – I recommend using a fine grain cornmeal, but any will work here. 

  • Sugar – A little sweetness is a must.  However, you can certainly swap this with honey or even agave. 

  • Salt

  • Baking powder

  • Baking soda


Instructions


  •  Melt the butter on medium high heat. The goal is to brown the butter. This should take about 5 minutes. When the butter starts to foam, it will also start to brown rather quickly. Just be careful not to burn the butter. 

  • As foaming subsides and butter begins to brown, add the frozen corn. This will stop the butter from burning. Continue to cook over medium heat to get the majority of the water from the corn evaporated and get the corn cooked. About 10 minutes. Allow to slightly cool.

  • In a separate bowl, add the wet ingredients: whipping cream, milk and sour cream. Reserve the eggs for later. Lightly whisk until fully combined.

  • In a separate large bowl, add the dry ingredients: Flour, corn meal, sugar, salt baking powder and baking soda. Whisk well.

  • In a blender, add the butter and corn mixture. Blend on high until fairly smooth. You can reserve a 1/4 cup if you want whole corn pieces in your cornbread. Remember to leave the top of your blender cap off so that steam can escape if the corn is still hot. Just cover with a towel.

  • Add the wet milk / cream/ sour cream mixture and optional jalapenos and blend until combined. The wet mixture should help to further cool the corn. Add the eggs and blend some more until well combined. I add the eggs later so they do not cook. 

  • Transfer the contents from your blender jar into the bowl with your dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until everything is combined. If you reserved some whole corn, add that also.  Be sure to not overmix the batter as this will develop gluten and make the bread tough.

  • Butter and flour the inside of your chosen cooking pan or cast iron skillet and add the batter to the pan / skillet. The thickness of the batter requires you to spread it. It will level out when cooking.  I sometimes use reserved bacon grease instead of flour for this. 

  • Bake for about 25 minutes at 425 F. If you have an instant thermometer, cook until the middle of the bread is about 190 F. Otherwise, you will remove the cornbread when the edges start to brown and you see flecks of brown on the top. Do not overcook.

  • Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and then remove the cornbread from the pan to a cooling rack. This will ensure that the cornbread does not get soggy from steam.


I like to serve with honey butter.  


Please refrigerate any leftover cornbread. 


This can certainly be cooked in a wood or brick oven.  Just make sure to regulate the temperature. I use the coolest part of my oven which is near the opening. 



Leftover Cornbread


This recipe makes a decent amount of cornbread.  As stated, I always have leftovers. Here are some thoughts on using leftover cornbread:


  • Croutons: Toast or air-fry chunks of cornbread for a flavorful addition to salads, soups, or stews. Add a sprinkle of herbs or spices for extra flair.

  • Stuffing / Dressing: Crumble cornbread and combine it with sausage, vegetables, and herbs for a delicious stuffing for poultry or pork.

  • Fritters: Combine crumbled cornbread with eggs, cheese, and your favorite vegetables, then fry until golden brown for savory fritters.

  • Thicken soups and stews: Add crumbled cornbread directly to thicken your favorite chili, stew, or chowder.

  • Bread pudding: Cube cornbread and bake it with custard, milk, eggs, and spices for a comforting and decadent dessert. Add raisins, nuts, or chocolate chips for extra indulgence.

  • Pancakes: Pulse leftover cornbread in a food processor until roughly ground, then add it to your pancake batter for a fluffy and unique twist. 

  • Casserole topping: Combine crumbled cornbread with eggs, milk and cheese and use as a topping for a nice savory casserole.  One of my favorites is used as a topping for a chili relleno casserole.  


Tamale Cornbread Bake



Tamale Cornbread Bake
Tamale Cornbread Bake

When I started developing this, my inspiration was tamales. I figured that cornbread is somewhat similar to the corn package that holds various tamale fillings. This specific recipe does not directly remind me of tamales, but I left that in the name as it is similar and was my inspiration.  


This is a quick and simple meal (not my specialty), so I was thrilled to develop something that is easy to put together and quick to get on the table. 


Ingredients

  • Ground beef - I use 80/20 ground beef for this. However, please be inspired to substitute.  I think of things like leftover steak, pulled pork, carne asada, etc. 

  • Salt

  • Ground black pepper

  • Taco seasoning - You can use whatever you have.  We found this Spice Islands Taco Seasoning when it was available at Costco for about 30 seconds.  We now buy it on Amazon.  It has amazing flavors. You can even add a touch to sour cream to make a nice flavored sour cream or add more and you have an instant dip that is great with tortilla chips.  

  • Yellow onion

  • Canned black beans - I generally buy canned seasoned black beans as they are versatile and I always have some. However, you certainly can use unseasoned. 

  • Crushed tomatoes

  • Rotel - I buy the kind that has green chilies.  However, since we already have tomatoes, you can just add a small can of diced green chilies instead.  I use Rotel because I usually have some on hand. 

  • Crumbled cornbread

  • Whole milk

  • Large eggs

  • Cheddar cheese 


Instructions

  • In an oven-proof skillet over medium heat, cook ground beef until browned. Drain the fat off of the beef.

  • Season beef with salt, pepper and taco seasoning. Add onion and cook for a few more minutes to slightly soften the onion. It will continue to cook in the oven.

  • Off heat, add the beans, rotel and tomatoes.

  • In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and stir in the milk. Add the crumbled cornbread and shredded cheese. Mix to combine.

  • Spread the cornbread mixture over the filling in the skillet. I take a spoon and drop portions across the top and then spread it out with the back of a spoon.

  • Beak in an oven preheated to 375 F for about 20-30 minutes.

  • Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.



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