Cornbread is a Southern cuisine staple known for its rich buttery texture, which makes it an excellent side dish while eating soups and chili.
However, in addition to being simple yet remarkably delicious, cornbread can also be quite versatile, as you can use it as a side dish in a wide range of recipes and even add various ingredients to its batter mix to enjoy a more elaborate flavor.
In today’s article, we’ll walk you through some of the best cornbread add-ins that you can try at home. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Cornbread is one of the simplest yet highly flexible types of bread. You can prepare the bread at home using a few simple ingredients and it usually doesn’t take long until it is ready for eating.
The best part about cornbread add-ins is that you don’t need to change your main recipe greatly in order to enjoy them, as most of them are simply mixed in with the batter.
For that reason, in order to know how to enjoy today’s cornbread add-ins, you will need to know how to make classic cornbread, and that’s where this section comes in handy. Here’s a step by step guide that shows you how to make cornbread from scratch:
To save yourself the hassle of going back and forth while baking your cornbread, you should have all your ingredients and cookware ready.
Here’s a quick look at the ingredients needed to make a juicy and moist cornbread with add-ins:
- 3/4 cup flour, preferably all-purpose
- 1 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 teaspoons premium baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon (or slightly less) baking soda
- 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar (adjustable depending on whether you want the bread sweet or not)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, preferably large
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- Any add-ins and seasonings of your liking (optional)
It’s also recommended that you bring all the bowls and pans you’re going to need for this recipe, including a 9 inch baking pan or 9 inch cast iron skillet along with a large mixing bowl.
Step 2: Preheat the Oven and Grease the Pans
Start by preheating your oven to around 430 ºF (220 °C). Meanwhile, you could use the time to grease the baking pan with oil spray or some butter.
Make sure that you cover all the sides of the pan as well. Ideally, you’ll need to put the pan in the preheating oven for 3 minutes to keep it hot, which makes it easier to grease evenly and improve the flavor of the cornbread.
Step 3: Mix the Dry Ingredients Together
Start by mixing all the dry ingredients into a decently sized bowl, including, flour, yellow cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Combine the ingredients together so that they’re evenly distributed.
You can also add dry cornbread add-in ingredients here, but it’s usually recommended to leave the add-ins after mixing the batter.
Set aside the bowl of the dry ingredients, and start by melting your butter in a water bath. Meanwhile, you should crack the two eggs in another clean bowl.
Whisk and beat the eggs with a fork until they become smooth, then pour your buttermilk and melted butter into the mix. Continue stirring and whisking the mix until they are all fully combined.
Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients bowl, then start pouring the wet ingredients gradually while stirring. Use a silicone spatula to get any lingering bits of wet ingredients from the bowl.
Continue folding and stirring the ingredients together until you get rid of all the dry bits. Make sure that you do that slowly because overmixing can make the cornbread a little tough.
The batter can be a bit lumpy, so you don’t have to worry about it as long as you don’t have dry spots.
Now that you have the batter ready, it’s time to mix and combine your add-ins. There are plenty of options to go with here, but more about that in the following section!
Take the baking pan out of the oven, and start pouring the batter evenly. Bake the cornbread batter for around 15 to 20 minutes or until it becomes golden yellow on top. Use the toothpick method to make sure that the inside is also fully cooked.
Now that you know how to prepare cornbread and when to mix your add-ins, here are a few suggestions that you might want to try out while baking your next batch.
Luckily, cornbread goes well with both savory and sweet add-ins, so you can enjoy it in a variety of ways without many adjustments. Here’s a quick look at some of the best options:
Cheese is probably one of the best things to combine with your cornbread batter to add a completely unique flavor profile!
You can also use a variety of cheese types or even more than one type. The most popular cheese add-ins are cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese, which are directly added to the batter.
You can also add cheese along with other add-ins from the list to add another layer of flavor to your cornbread.
With that said, keep in mind that some types of cheese may have a lot of salt, so make sure that you adjust your salt addition accordingly.
Using peppers is another great way to add a new depth to the flavor of cornbread, and you can even mix it in with different types of cheese and other ingredients.
If you’re into heat, you can kick things up by adding 1/2 cup of crushed cayenne or red pepper flakes to the batter mix.
Want to add more texture while keeping it spicy? You can roast some finely chopped jalapenos and add them to the mix.
If you like the flavor of peppers but you’re not into overly spicy food, you can add 1/2 cup of roasted pimentos or bell peppers, with or without the cheese.
3 – Sweet Corn
Sweet corn is perhaps one of the oldest additions that are quite delicious and is equally loved by children and adults!
For this addition, you only need to add 1/2 to 1 cup of canned sweet corn into the batter. This gives the batter more texture as well as flavor!
During the Fall, if you have plenty of pumpkin puree lying around in your fridge, you can add around 1/2 a cup to the uncooked batter.
To improve the flavor even more aromatic, you can add around 1.5 teaspoons of pumpkin spice to the mix, which is a mixture of nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.
This combination is ideal for shrimp lovers, but you can switch it up for any other type(s) of seafood that you enjoy!
Simply add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cooked shrimps (preferably chopped) along with 1 teaspoon of Italian or creole seasoning to the cornbread batter, and mix it until evenly distributed, then bake the bread as usual.
If you like adding a meaty texture to your cornbread, there’s a wide variety of add-ins to consider, especially sausages, pepperoni, or simply bacon!
Ideally, you’ll need to divide them into smaller pieces through chopping or crumbling. Add around 1/2 cup, along with an optional 1/2 cup of your favorite cheese and peppers, then bake as usual.
8 – Chopped Veggies
There are tons of veggies and condiments that you can add to your cornbread batter to lift up the flavor and make the bread a healthier and fuller meal.
For example, you can add chopped or grated kale, scallions, broccoli florets, zucchini, corn kernels, hominy, and much more!
These additions may also work well with other add-ins, such as cheese, meat, herbs, etc, so don’t be afraid to mix and match!
9 – Sweet Fruits and Berries
Alternatively, you can make your cornbread a sweet treat by sprinkling chopped fruits in the batter prior to baking.
This includes chopped and peeled peach or apple wedges and or berries, such as blueberries, cranberries, or blackberries.
If you have a sweet tooth, you can also add 1/2 cup of brown sugar or maple syrup to the mix.
When it comes to baked goodies, cinnamon is in a league of its own! If you like the flavor of cinnamon in pastry, you can add 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of finely ground cinnamon to the batter of the cornbread.
Of course, this works better with sweet varieties of cornbread, so you can also add a dash of cinnamon with other sweet and fruity add-ins.
In addition to cinnamon, there are plenty of herbs and spices that can also add a unique flavor to your cornbread.
This includes roasted cumins, fresh basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, cilantro, or a combination of these ingredients depending on what you like (around 1 to 1.5 teaspoons in total)!
Sourcream and buttermilk are among the most popular ingredients to add to your cornbread if you want to make its texture even softer while keeping it slightly tangy.
You can add anywhere between 1/4 to 1/3 cup of sour cream to the batter along with an optional addition of 1/3 to 2/3 cup of buttermilk to keep the cornbread moist and soft for longer.
If you like the tangy cornbread idea and want to take it all the way to the max, you should consider adding some lime juice to the mix.
In order to keep the zesty flavor of lime in check, you might want to add a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup to the mix.
Lastly, if you want to increase the nutritional value of cornbread while improving its flavor profile, a great way to achieve this is by using some nuts.
You can either use salted or unsalted varieties as an additive, and you can also choose from a wide range of options, including toasted pecans, peanuts, cashews, pine nuts, and much more!
There you have it! A brief guide that shows you everything you need to know about cornbread, including base recipes and a wide variety of cornbread add-ins to mix things up.
As you can see, this quick bread is remarkably versatile and can be baked sweet or savory. It also contains a variety of essential nutrients that makes it a healthy side dish when consumed in moderation!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.