Irresistibly moist and buttery, cornbread is a delicious side that no festive spread should be without, and it's often one of the first things to disappear from the table! My recipe has the savory and smoky additions of crisp bacon, bits of caramelized red onion and pepper jack cheese, making this an extra cozy cornbread to share!
Cornbread, What a Little Slice of Heaven Tastes Like
Just imagining a hot pan of freshly-baked homemade cornbread being pulled out of the oven gets my mouth a-waterin’! 😉
Rich and wonderfully fragrant, it has an exquisite aroma that's a combination of the “nutty” corn meal, honey, and butter that it's infused with, and has a tender texture that's always seemed to me a cross between a cake and a bread with a fine crumb—slightly sweet and also a touch savory.
Classic cornbread, without a lot of bells and whistles, is enticing just as it is. But I've always thought of cornbread as a perfect canvas to add other delicious ingredients into in order to make it extra cozy and special, and perhaps a little more unconventional.
I like to sprinkle in a little “magic” into my cornbread recipe in the way of crispy bacon, finely minced and caramelized red onion, and some pepper jack cheese. These little add-ins make my homemade cornbread recipe taste that much more warm and inviting, like a little slice of heaven!
How to Make Cornbread
Delicious and moist cornbread always begins with a few basic “dry” and “wet” ingredients that give it its classic flavor and texture.
The dry ingredients include cornmeal, flour, some baking powder and baking soda; and the wet include butter, either milk or buttermilk, granulated sugar or honey (or both), and eggs.
These quickly and easily come together to create that sweet and savory flavor we all love in cornbread, and are a great basic list of ingredients.
But for the best cornbread recipe?
For me that means getting a little creative and adding in a few more yummy ingredients to kick the flavor up a bit!
Here's a peak at my cornbread recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- When it comes to cornbread, a few natural ingredient “partners” are smoky bacon, onion and cheese. I chop and crisp some apple-smoked bacon (so tasty!), caramelize a small amount of diced red onion, and have some pepper jack cheese grated and on hand. These give my cornbread recipe it's unique twist!
- I mix together my dry ingredients, add my wet ingredients into that mix and fold it all together; then, I fold in my prepared bacon, red onion, and some of my cheese.
- I pour the batter into the prepared dish, add a touch of the remaining cheese on top, and bake the cornbread.
- Once baked to perfection, I allow it to cool slightly before slicing and enjoying with softened butter and honey!
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 12
Nutrition Info: 268 calories
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
• 6 strips apple-smoked bacon (raw), finely chopped
• 1/4 red onion, finely minced
• Black pepper
• 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temp
• 2 eggs, beaten (room temp)
• 7 tablespoons melted butter
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 cup pepper-jack cheese, grated
- Preheat the oven to 425°, and butter a 8 ½” x 8 ½” x 2” (roughly) baking dish.
- Place a large, non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and once hot, add in the chopped bacon and cook until crispy and golden brown; remove bacon with a slotted spoon, and allow it drain on paper towel; set aside for a moment.
- Next, pour most of the bacon grease out of the pan, leaving back about 1-2 tablespoons; with the heat on medium/medium-low, add in the minced red onion, along with a pinch of salt and pepper, and caramelize it for a few minutes until very soft, sweet and golden-brown; remove from the pan and set aside for a moment.
- Prepare the cornbread batter by adding the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt to a large bowl, and whisk to combine those dry ingredients.
- Next, add to the dry ingredients the buttermilk, the eggs, the melted butter and the honey, and gently fold/stir just until combined; add in the crisped bacon, the caramelized red onion and about half of the cheese, and fold those ingredients in, just until combined.
- Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish, sprinkle over top the remainder of the grated cheese, and bake for about 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
- Allow the cornbread to cool slightly before cutting, and serving with salted whipped butter and some honey on the side!
Tips & Tidbits for my Cornbread:
- Smoky, crispy bacon: Thick-cut, apple-smoked bacon is a great option for this cornbread recipe. Just chop up a few strips and quickly crisp 'em up in a hot pan!
- Flavorful and meltable cheese: The pepper jack offers a hint of heat here, which is nice as it balances the sweet/savory notes; but, you can use plain jack cheese, or even mild cheddar cheese or mozzarella. Just choose a cheese that will easily melt.
- Add in a few corn kernels: For a bit of a fresh “bite” you can also add in corn kernels if you so choose to. Don't add in too much, as they'll release a little water (you want moist cornbread, not soggy), so try about 1/3 cup.
- Vegetarian option: You can omit the bacon altogether, if you desire, or substitute a smoky vegetarian “bacon” and crumble that in instead.
- Prep ahead of easy cornbread: You can prep all your cornbread ingredients the day before you plan on baking it and serving. Simply crisp the bacon, caramelize the diced red onion, and have the cheese grated. Also, measure out your dry ingredients and have them ready in your bowl. Then, the day of, simple whisk together your wet ingredients, and fold everything together, then bake!
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!