Southern American cuisine is rich with amazing recipes and flavors. One of them is the fast and tasty cornbread, which goes well with chili, slow-cooked pork chops, beef roasts, and even soup.
According to the original recipe, sugar has no place in cornbread. But if you want to know how to make cornbread sweet, keep reading.
Cornbread is an example of batter bread, and the original recipe doesn’t contain any sugar. This actually makes sense, as cornbread can be a tasty side dish to several savory plates.
The traditional cornbread recipe includes cornmeal, water, and a dash of salt. However, people have tried adding several ingredients to elevate this old and simple recipe.
Since colonial times, traditional cornbread, or cornpone, was the staple. Over the years, cooks decided to incorporate other ingredients to make the recipe richer and tastier.
This was mainly related to the change in the milling process. As farmers switched from stone mills to steel roller mills that eliminated more of the corn kernel, cooks needed to adjust their recipes to maintain the same old cornbread consistency.
Now, you can prepare cornbread using butter, milk, egg, all-purpose flour, and baking soda. All-purpose flour, in particular, is a new ingredient, as it wasn’t that readily available in the South, where cornbread originates.
On the other hand, sugar was never considered an ingredient simply because cornbread was served next to breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates as daily bread.
Yet, if you want to make cornbread sweet, you can try the following options.
Although it’s not part of the original recipe, there’s no harm in adding some sugar to make cornbread sweeter.
You can add half a cup of brown or white sugar to the batter while making your cornbread. Just a little sugar can be an excellent choice if you want to serve your cornbread for breakfast next to jam and honey.
It won’t be overly sweet, so you can eat it on its own.
Even if you want to serve cornbread as a side to an omelet or soup, a little bit of sugar can make it taste better.
Nevertheless, remember not to add too much sugar, as cornbread is supposed to taste a little savory or at least balanced.
A lot of people prefer to add honey instead of sugar to increase the level of sweetness in their recipes. While honey doesn’t necessarily work for every recipe, it definitely works for cornbread.
Honey is actually sweeter than sugar, so it will immediately make your cornbread taste sweeter. But, at the same time, it has a lower GI value than sugar, so it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels fast.
Moreover, it contains several minerals and vitamins, so it’s a healthier choice.
A dash of honey will make your cornbread pleasantly sweet while keeping the battery moist and fluffy. It will work for you if you want your cornbread to taste really sweet.
Adding molasses to your cornbread’s batter provides several benefits.
First, it increases the nutritional value of your cornbread. Moreover, it makes your cornbread tastes sweeter. Finally, it prevents the batter from drying, giving you moist and tasty cornbread.
Molasses is a thick sweet syrup that is extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets. There are also other types extracted from dates and pomegranates.
Light molasses is the sweetest type and people usually use it in baking recipes.
Molasses is a healthier option than refined sugar, as it contains Vitamin B6, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
It adds a sweet, warm, and a little smoky flavor to your cornbread, so it definitely makes it taste better. It’s not as sweet as sugar or honey, so it will work for you if you don’t want your cornbread to be too sweet.
Although it might not be a usual ingredient, the Cherokee people actually used to add chestnuts to cornbread.
Chestnuts taste a little bitter when raw, but the starches turn to sugar during the curing process. This is why they become sweet, buttery, and rich.
Adding some roasted chestnuts to your cornmeal while making cornbread batter won’t only make it taste sweeter, but it will actually make it healthier.
Even after cooking, chestnuts retain their nutritional value, representing an excellent addition to your cornbread recipe. As a matter of fact, ellagic and gallic acids, two antioxidants, increase in concentration when chestnut is roasted and cooked.
They’re also rich in vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium, so they’re good for your health. Chestnuts will make your cornbread creamier and richer, without being overly sweet.
Changing the cornbread’s taste profile is possible by adding a few ingredients.
For example, you can try adding some blueberries if you want to make it taste fruity. Blueberries are slightly sweet with a little acidic taste.
If you want your cornbread to taste sweeter, you can try some blueberry preserves.
Blackberries are even sweeter. So, you can add fresh blackberries or blackberry preserves to your batter. Berries will also change the way your cornbread will look.
Boxed cornmeal mix is actually a great addition to your pantry.
It’s an easy and economical way to prepare a batch of cornbread for your family. At the same time, it will help you build your confidence if you’re not used to baking.
All you need is just to blend your cornbread mix with some eggs, a little butter, and milk, and your cornbread will be ready.
However, a lot of people believe that this ready-made mix can be too bland or not as rich as the original recipe that you can prepare from scratch.
So, if you’re looking for ways to elevate your cornbread and make it taste richer and tastier, you can try one of these ideas.
Adding some corn kernels to your ready-made batter mix will make it taste more like the original cornbread. At the same time, it will add some texture to your recipe.
All you have to do is to mix half or a whole cup of fresh kernels into the batter and just follow the rest of the recipe steps.
Canned creamed corn is prepared by removing the kernels from the ear and the milk from the cob. The kernels are then puréed or creamed to create a thick, sweet, milky liquid that you can use in several dishes.
If you don’t have fresh corn to add to your cornbread, you can strain a can of creamed corn and mix it with your batter. However, you might need some cornmeal or all-purpose flour to adjust the texture of your recipe.
Making your cornbread a little tangy will work for you if you want to serve it with chili or slow-cooked roasts. If your dish tastes a little sweet, serving cornbread as a side will add the needed balance.
To make your cornbread tangier, you can either add half a cup of sour cream or buttermilk. These additions will also make your cornbread mix moist and fluffy.
Remember that adding more liquid to your cornbread recipe can change the texture of your batter. So, you might need to add more cornmeal or flour for the right consistency.
Spicy cornbread can be the perfect side dish for a simple soup or salad. It’s also quite easy to prepare.
All you have to do is to get your store-bought mix and add one or two tablespoons of your favorite chili sauce or paste. Since there are several varieties, trying multiple ones will make your cornbread taste different every time.
For a simple spicy taste, you can mix some cayenne pepper or smoked paprika with your mix. Cajun spices can also be incorporated into the recipe and totally change how it tastes.
You can change the cornbread’s texture by mixing some roasted chopped jalapeños. Pickled jalapeños will also work and will make your cornbread taste spicy and tangy.
The original cornbread recipe doesn’t contain sugar because it’s usually served with savory dishes.
However, you can try several ingredients to make cornbread sweeter.
Mixing some honey or sugar with the recipe will make it sweeter. Molasses is slightly less sweet but will make your cornbread moist and tasty.
Adding some chestnuts or berries will make your cornbread healthier and tastier.
However, this isn’t the only way you can elevate your cornbread. You can try mixing some fresh corn, canned corn cream, buttermilk, sour milk, or spices to give it a new taste profile.
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.