Are you craving the perfect comfort food to accompany your next hearty meal? This sweet cornbread recipe achieves the ideal balance of fluffy texture and irresistible sweetness.
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A slice of warm cornbread is always a treat! Whether making a holiday tray or pairing it with a bowl of homemade chili, it’s quick and easy to prepare. I used to grab a box of Jiffy cornbread mix, but then I learned how to make sweet cornbread from scratch. The taste is so much better!
Get the eggs and milk at room temperature as your first step. This ensures that the melted butter doesn’t clump up when mixed. Plus, when the batter isn’t cold, it will bake up light and fluffy instead of dense. It’s easy to convert the recipe into cornbread muffins to simplify portioning.
- Cornmeal: Use finely ground yellow cornmeal to add a slightly crunchy texture and savory taste.
- Flour: All-purpose flour contains 10 to 13% protein, adding structure to the bread while keeping a tender crumb.
- Leavening Agents: Baking powder ensures a good batter lift and prevents a dense texture. Eggs help in multiple ways: bind so the bread doesn’t crumble apart, rise from the egg whites, and add fat from the yolks.
- Sweeteners: Granulated sugar adds just the right amount of sweetness. A bit of honey adds a more interesting taste and is a humectant to help keep the cornbread from drying out.
- Salt: Kosher salt enhances the taste of the cornmeal and sweeteners so that the bread does not taste bland.
- Butter: The milk solids in the butter give a more complex taste and butterscotch note. The fat also keeps the bread soft.
Combine the dry ingredients
In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. The particles are very fine, and to ensure an even rise, make sure they are well distributed. If you are meal-prepping, you can store this in an airtight container until ready to use. I do this a few days before when making Thanksgiving dinner to save me time on the day of.
Combine the wet ingredients
Temperature is critical to making a tall, fluffy, and tender cornbread. The eggs and milk should be at room temperature. You can speed up the process by adding the eggs to a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes. Heat the milk in the microwave briefly until it’s tepid.
The melted butter should be slightly cooled and not hot so it doesn’t scramble the eggs. The milk and butter should not be above 144ºF (62°C). Whisk together until all of the wet ingredients are well combined.
Bake the batter
Gently fold the wet and dry ingredients together. Don’t overmix, or the texture will get tough from too much gluten development. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish, I used a metal pan. Add the batter to the pan and bake at 350ºF (177ºC). To test for doneness, there should be no crumbs sticking to a toothpick when inserted in the center.
I like to use an instant-read thermometer to check. It’s ready at 185 to 190ºF (85 to 88ºC). The edges and surfaces should be golden brown. The baking time will be about 30 to 35 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes to finish cooking. Slice and serve while still hot!
This easy cornbread recipe is a fantastic base to add more flavorful mix-ins. Try these exciting options:
- Oil: Vegetable oil or coconut oil can be substituted for butter. However, since there will be no toasted milk solids, the flavor will not be as nutty, and the color may not be as golden brown on the edges.
- Milk: Instead of whole milk, use buttermilk. The extra fat and fermented flavor add dimension.
- Flour: Instead of all-purpose flour, add whole grains with whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour. Gluten-free flour works well with the recipe too.
- Sweetener: Maple syrup can be swapped for honey. Substitute brown sugar for granulated sugar for a molasses note.
- Sweet Spices: To enhance the sweetness without adding more sugar, mix in a warm spice. Cinnamon or nutmeg, or use a pre-blended spice mix like pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice. Start with ½ to 1 teaspoon.
- Savory Spices: Add smoked or sweet paprika, cumin, or coriander. Make it spicy with chipotle, cayenne, or chili powder. Use ½ to 1 teaspoon.
- Herbs: Chop fresh rosemary, thyme, lavender, chives, basil, or tarragon. Dried herbs work well, use half the amount as directed. Start with 1 tablespoon.
- Cheese: Shredded cheddar cheese, swiss, gouda, parmesan, or gruyere add a melty texture. Sprinkle some feta or goat cheese on top, then bake. Add ½ to ¾ cups.
- Vegetables: I love adding ¾ cups of canned sweet corn kernels. It makes for a more hearty bread with bursts of corn flavor. Mince up ¼ cup of jalapenos or salsa for a spicy bite. Stir in ½ cup of banned beans for extra fiber.
- Fruit: Add lemon or lime zest for a citrus note. Stir in fresh or dried cranberries. Make a skillet cornbread with blueberries for sweeter slices.
- Roasted turkey
- Fried chicken
- Creamy mashed potatoes
- Macaroni and cheese
- Green bean casserole
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Turkey chili
Frequently asked questions
No, cornmeal is just a single ingredient added to make a homemade cornbread. Cornbread mix is meant to be mixed with liquid ingredients. It typically has cornmeal and self-rising flour, with baking powder or baking soda already mixed in.
Unless you are using whole wheat flour that contains bran, which needs to be hydrated for 10 minutes, you don’t have to let the cornbread batter rest. It’s better to bake immediately for the best rise from the baking powder.
Cornbread will taste the best when baked and eaten on the same day. However, it can be stored in an airtight container to prevent the pieces from drying out. Covered and reheat at 350 degrees until warm, about 10 minutes.
How to make cornbread muffins
To make smaller corn muffins, fill the muffin tin 2/3 full. Increase the baking temperature to 400ºF (204ºC). This ensures the batter quickly rises and sets for a domed top. If baked at 350°F (177ºC), the surface will be more flat. It only takes about 15 minutes to bake, about half the time.
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- Heat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the center position. Preheat oven to 350°F (177ºC). Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil. Set aside.
- Combine Dry Ingredients – In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Combine Wet Ingredients – In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, butter, and honey.
- Make the Batter – Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.
- Bake – Add the batter to the pan. Bake until golden brown on the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. The center should reach between 185 to 190ºF (85 to 88ºC). Loosely cover the surface with foil after 25 to 30 minutes if browning too quickly and more time is needed.
- To Serve – Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into 9 large or 16 small pieces. Serve warm.
- Recipe Yield: 9 large slices, or 16 small
- Adding Corn: Mix in ¾ cup of cooked corn kernels for extra texture and flavor.
- 9-inch Pan: A larger 9-inch square pan can be used. Check for doneness at 25 minutes, adding more time if needed.
- Cast-Iron Skillet: Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in an 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Coat the bottom and the sides. Add the batter and bake until golden brown, about 25 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
- Make Muffins: Fill 12 muffin tins 2/3 full with the batter. Bake at 400ºF (204ºC) for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then remove.
- Make Mini Muffins: Fill 48 mini muffin tins with 1 tablespoon of batter. Bake at (204ºC) for 6 to 8 minutes, 24 muffins at a time. Cool in the pan for 2 minutes then remove.
- Storing: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Freezing: Individually wrap in plastic, transfer to a large resealable bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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