Great with chili or soup—or all by itself
Cornbread is a New World original. Long before Europeans landed in the Americas, corn (maize) was a food staple here. Native Americans prepared corn in many different ways—including grinding it into a coarse meal and baking it.
Nowadays, we usually make cornbread as a “quick” bread (i.e., one that’s leavened with baking powder). The modern version is also richer, often including milk and/or eggs.
Cornbread is pretty tasty stuff as is, but it’s even better when you add some zesty jalapeño peppers to the mix. Jalapeño cornbread pairs perfectly with spicy chili or hearty soup. And it makes a terrific snack all by itself.
Best yet, it bakes in 30 minutes or less. So you can whip up a batch and let it bake while you finish the rest of your dinner preparations.
Fresh hot bread for dinner? You’ll be a hero!
Recipe: Skillet Jalapeño Cornbread
Traditionally, cornbread is baked in a cast-iron skillet. But these days, many people just use a baking pan (usually something that measures about 8 x 8 inches). I like to use a skillet myself—mostly because the bread looks so attractive in it.
You can use a skillet with a diameter anywhere from 8 to 10 inches. The larger the skillet, the thinner your cornbread. I like mine on the thin side, so I use a 10-inch skillet.
You can use either white or yellow cornmeal for this recipe—there’s no difference in flavor. White cornmeal tends to be more popular in the southern US, yellow in the north. I like the deep hue of yellow, so that’s what I use.
I don’t include sugar in my recipe. (That’s another regional difference, BTW. It’s more common to find sweetened cornbread in the north than in the south.) If you prefer a bit of sweetness, add a tablespoon or two of sugar to the mix.
Prep time for this recipe is about 5 minutes, baking time 25 to 30. So you can have hot cornbread on the table in under 40 minutes.
This recipe serves 6 to 8. Leftovers keep for a few days at room temperature when stored in an airtight container or wrapped well in plastic.
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (such as canola; may substitute olive oil or bacon drippings—see Notes)
- 1½ cups cornmeal (white or yellow; stone-ground cornmeal is particularly nice)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 - 3 jalapeño peppers
- 2 eggs (may want to use pasteurized; see Notes)
- 1¼ cups milk (I like to use whole milk, but skim works too; see Notes for other substitutions)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place the oil in an ovenproof skillet (or baking pan; see headnote for discussion of sizes). Swirl the skillet to spread the oil, then heat for a couple of minutes on the stovetop until the oil is hot. When the oil just starts to smoke, remove the skillet/pan from the stovetop.
- Meanwhile, combine the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and Kosher salt in a mixing bowl. Blend well, preferably with a whisk.
- Wash the jalapeño peppers and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop the peppers into very small dice (or use a mini food processor). Add the peppers to the mixing bowl, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and beat until well mixed. Add the milk, and beat again to combine.
- Add the egg/milk mixture to cornmeal mix, and stir to combine well (preferably with a wooden spoon).
- Pour the cornmeal mixture into the skillet or baking pan, over the heated oil. Place the skillet/pan in the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes.
- At the 25-minute mark the cornbread will either be done, or close to it. (“Done” is when it’s nicely brown on top, with the bread pulling away from the sides of the skillet/pan; a toothpick inserted into the middle will come out clean.) If the cornbread isn’t quite ready, bake for another 5 minutes (but be careful, since over-baking tends to make for a drier texture).
- When done, remove the cornbread from the oven. Cut into slices and serve. I like to serve cornbread hot, but it’s also good warm (or cold).
- Any decent brand of cornmeal will work in this recipe. We like to use small-producer stone-ground meal when we can find it. But the nationally distributed Quaker brand (the stuff in the canister) is fine too.
- We prefer unbleached all-purpose flour, and are partial to the King Arthur brand. But any decent brand should work fine in this recipe.
- Almost every baking powder you’ll find on your grocery shelf is “double-acting.” It’s called double-acting because you get a first reaction (the bubbles that help cause cornbread batter to rise) when you mix the powder with wet ingredients, then a second reaction when the batter hits the heat of the oven.
- Baking powder does become weaker over time (and most baking powder tins have an expiration date). So replace your baking powder when necessary. We usually replace ours once a year, when daylight saving time ends (so we remember to do it).
- It’s a good idea to shake baking powder before using it to make sure all its components are well mixed. Baking powder consists of baking soda, plus an acidic ingredient (which reacts with the baking soda to produce leavening) and a neutral substance (usually corn starch) to provide bulk.
- If you don't have Kosher salt on hand, you can use plain table salt (though I’d reduce the amount by about half since table salt is finer and more “condensed” than Kosher).
- Eggs carry a slight (but real) risk of salmonella. So I suggest using pasteurized eggs when making any type of batter that you might taste raw. Although it’s unlikely the eggs you buy will be infected, why take the risk? Especially since most of us can’t make any type of batter without tasting it.
- You can identify pasteurized eggs because they usually have a red “P” stamped on them.
- You can substitute buttermilk for sweet milk in this recipe. Or even use yogurt.
- A nice addition to this cornbread is a cup or so of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Add it to the mix at the end of Step 4, after you add the minced jalapeño peppers.
- Bacon bits are also a good addition: Cut 3 to 5 slices of bacon into 1-inch pieces. Brown the pieces until they’re nice and crisp, then add them to the mix at the end of Step 4. If you cook the bacon first, you can use some of the rendered bacon fat in Step 2, instead of neutral oil.
- If you want to add some texture to the cornbread, you can add a cup of defrosted frozen corn to the mix at the end of Step 4.
- Want cornbread muffins? Just use a muffin pan instead of a skillet or baking pan. If you go this route, you don't need to heat the oil—just coat the muffin pan with baking spray (so omit Step 2).
- I usually serve cornbread with butter, but it's also great with any spread that appeals to you, including jam or honey. Or even maple syrup! In that case, though, you'll probably want to eat your cornbread with a fork.
- Speaking of which, although I most often eat cornbread with my hands (as I would a dinner roll), I often use a fork when I'm having a piece as a snack.
Chili’s Best Friend
“Mmm,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs as she bit into a piece of Jalapeño Cornbread. “This goes great with Pork and Sweet Potato Chili.”
“It does,” I said, buttering a slice. “And cornbread is so quick and easy to make. Sort of like your Beer Bread.”
“Which is another great option with soup or chili,” said Mrs K R. “But I think Jalapeño Cornbread is what I want with that Pulled Pork Green Chile Chili you promised me.”
“That’s coming right up,” I said. “It’ll be Sunday’s post.”
“Sunday, huh?” she said. “Just in time for the football game, I suppose.”
“Well, yeah,” I replied. “Our St Louis Rams are playing Houston. And chili makes great football fare. Maybe with a brewski or two.”
“Just remember to keep some antacid handy,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I bristled. “You’re saying my chili causes heartburn?”
“No,” she said. “I was talking about the Rams. The way they’ve been playing, you may need something to settle your stomach.”
“Uh, true,” I said ruefully.
“I’d set out some rye whiskey too,” she added. “You may need something stronger than beer.”
You may also enjoy reading about:
No-Knead Homemade Bread
Irish Soda Bread
Chunky Pork and Sweet Potato Chili
Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans
Or check out the index for more recipes
Perfectly sliced smooth, soothing, fulfilling, satisfying, glamorous conbread!
Haven't tried it for a long time...I think...it's about damn time :)
Love the dark, rustic yet urban food styling :) Heart-winning recipe :)
John, I love the simplicity of the cornbread...and yes, perfect paired with any kind of soup with it spiciness...I will have to give this recipe a try as the soup season starts...
Thanks and hope you are having a wonderful week :D
Hi Nusrat, isn't it a nice recipe? Lovely flavor, too. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Juliana, I think cornbread goes so well with soups, chili, stews - you name it. And the spicier the better! Thanks for the comment.
I love the combination of jalapenos and cornbread. Sweet and heat are great together
I love cornbread and actually just made some over the weekend. I like the sweet version with a bit of sugar and I even add a touch of vanilla. You'd be surprised. But I also do like you with the jalapenos and such. Cornbread is one thing that is always good however you make it. Thanks! And I hope the game goes well, or Mrs. KR might have to peel you off the floor!
Cornbread really is chili's best friend, especially this lovely one with jalapenos! Between the Ducks, Seahawks and my son's high school games, we're watching lots of football these days so chili and cornbread will be weekend staples.
I love cornbread, something I tried a few years ago and loved it since.
I can imagine enjoying this with some spicy vegetarian chili. Really like the addition of jalapenos in it and it's made in a skillet, that just means crispy bottoms..yum.
Hi Cquek, isn't it a nice combo? I'm in love with it! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, I should try vanilla! I sometimes make a sweet version, and serve it with maple syrup (kind of a pancake substitute). Good stuff! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Hannah, I agree that chili and cornbread is such a nice combo. Sounds like you have 3 days of football each weekend! Fun! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Asha, although I make a lot of meat chilis, veggies chili might be the best of all. And yes, the skillet makes a nice, crisp bottom on this cornbread - I love it! Thanks for the comment.
Mmm, the sweetness of corn with the heat of a few chilis. Now, we're talkin'! ;)
I'm going to make this right now! I mean it, right now. I'll tweet it later. GREG
Chilies in corn bread is my favorite! I wish I had some right now with my chicken soup, I'm sure it would make me feel better and banish this head cold ... well, at least it would taste good and be comforting. :)
This cornbread looks soo good, I think I prefer it all by itself!
The addition of Jalapeño gives just the right twist for a perfect bite.
Great post, John!
Hi Carolyn, it's such a nice combo of flavors - totally lovely. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Greg, enjoy! It's really good, as you'll be finding out soon. ;) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judy, sorry about your cold - spicy things always make mine better (at least help clear my head!). Thanks for the comment.
Hi Daniela, I actually like to eat cornbread as a snack all by itself. Although I'll never turn it down with a bowl of chili! Thanks for the comment.
That's really pretty. I've always used a cast iron skillet ever since a wise old woman in Tennessee said there were no other options. :)
I think this cornbread would go so well with the chilli dish and I'd love the kick those jalepeno peppers would give it. I know I would just love this served warm with lots of butter. Aussies don't make cornbread! (Terribly confession!) I first had cornbread after my mother went on her first every holiday to the US. She came back with some new recipes. When chilli season rocks around, I'm going to make both of your recipes xx
Perfect! My favorite way to eat cornbread is with jalapenos in it - so good :)
Yum! I adore Jalapeño Cornbread especially with some shredded cheese in it. The perfect accompaniment to any hearty stew or chili. I especially love it with Mofongo! Thanks for sharing, John...
I am fan of corn bread and this one looks so appetizing, John! It is perfect to accompany the chilli that you made.
Hi Maureen, a cast iron skillet is the one true way. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Charlie, it'll be too warm for you to make these for awhile, but when your fall arrives, you have a treat awaiting you! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Alyssa, this is my favorite way, too! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Louise, a bit of added cheese does add some nice flavor to this. I've never made Mofongo - I should, and try this with it! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, it's really a great dish - tons of flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Chili and cornbread MUST go on my menu soon. And you've inspired me to add some pickled jalapenos to my next cornbread batch!
I'll bet those jalapenos give the corn bread so much great flavor! I love how quick and easy this recipe is! I love cornbread, but also enjoy experimenting with adding different flavors to it.
Please pardon me for the fact I have never eaten corn bread with jalapenos... I guess you must be "shocked" hearing this :p
I realised that jalapenos cornbread is a common American fav but never a common food for Asian and Aussie cuisines. I love to try this one day :D
We're about to head back to Colorado where it will be much cooler (perfect weather for soup/chili and cornbread!) This looks so good! Thank you for sharing with me!
I don't know what it is about Mofongo and Jalapeño Cornbread John but you really should try it. And, guess what, I made your Jalapeño Cornbread bread tonight. It was exactly as I expected; dee...li...cious! (I even took pictures to share in the future:) Thanks again...
Hi Louise, delighted you liked it! And pictures, too? Swell! :-)
Hi Liz, it's a great combo when the weather turns chilly! Pickled jalapeños rather than the fresh ones would work great in this. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kristi, it does have great favor! And there really are so many different flavors that you can use - it's so versatile that way. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Zoe, no reason why you should have eaten this - it's much more popular in the New World, I suspect, than in many other places. Worth trying, though, if you ever get the chance. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Monet, Colorado weather should be primo for this! Hope you have a great trip, and thanks for the comment.
Magnificent and very flavorful. A great accompaniment to that mouthwatering chilli of yours.
I always love savory over sweet and this savory corn bread is a winner in my book :-) Would love to make this along with a bowl of soup. Thanks for sharing...
I absolutely love cornbread, especially when it is made in a skillet and contains jalapenos! Looks really delicious and perfect with a nice bowl of chili.
Loved the addition of jalepeno in the corn bread and how you made them in a cast iron pan in the oven!!! Its perfect with some chilli :)
ooh the cornbread looks good!
Hi Rosa, I have to say that chili and cornbread is one wonderful combo. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi easyfoodsmith, corn bread is actually a bit sweet already, IMO, even without added sugar. Sugar makes it more like cake to me (nothing wrong with that!). Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amy, cornbread is such good stuff, isn't it? Skillet not necessary, of course, but it adds such a nice touch! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Shibi, cooking in a cast iron skillet is so much fun for some reason! Weird, but true. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amy, it is really good! Well worth making. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh my mouth is watering and I'm craving some cornbread with now. :) Love those big pieces of jalapeno! I can just look at this and know it's good! I can see that you and Mrs. KR are big cornbread fans, just like Bobby and me. Our cornbread recipes are pretty close. I see a lot of recipes that have a 1:1 of cornmeal to flour, so I definitely agree with at least a 2:1 ratio if not more. As far as what to cook it in, I still use the same castiron skillet I've been using for 40 years.I made some cornbread at my in-laws house last Christmas and used pyrex, and for me, it just wasn't the same. Probably psychological, but... :) Can't wait to see your pulled pork and green chile chili!!! Thanks for another great post John!
Oh yum, this sounds fantastic and it would go nicely with so many things. I'm making a pumpkin soup, it would be perfect with that!
Hi MJ, I sometimes make cornbread with no white flour at all, which is also quite good. I do sometimes make this in a baking pan, but agree cast iron gives the cornbread a certain "something" that nothing else does. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Chris, this would be wonderful with pumpkin soup! Thanks for the comment.
This looks like the perfect combination of sweet, savory and spice. Great crumb and fantastic balance. Nicely done!
I've actually never made cornbread in a skillet before, I always use a baking pan. I'm going to try this!
Nice one, John, such a delicious a delicious sounding recipe and a really informative post! I think my Peter would love this one, thanks for sharing! Great photos too.
Oh dear, good luck on Sunday! And thanks for the tip about baking powder.
Hi Kate, this sort of cornbread really is so enticing! I love the stuff. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ashley, a baking pan certainly works well, but a cast iron skillet just gives it a certain something. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lizzy, I'll be you'd both love this! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Beth, oh I don't really take football all that seriously! ;-) Although I'm certainly interested in it. Thanks for the comment.
Corn bread is always a good thing and I love that you added the jalapeno peppers. Yummy!!
I needed this recipe last Saturday for my chicken chili!
This is a great recipe, John, producing a wonderful bread with a nice crumb. I love the color. It really does catch your eye when on the plate. For some time now, I've had a recipe for cornbread with bacon & jalapeños, half-written and waiting for me to finish it. Perhaps I will this season, for I rarely bake bread of any kind in the warm months. Now that it's chili season, though, it's time to start baking. Thanks for sharing your recipe and tips with us.
Hi Dawn, I agree it's always a good thing! And spicy is always better, too, in my book. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kristi, I'm sure you'll be making chili again, so you'll be ready! Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, you definitely need to write up your recipe so we can all read it and lust over it! Cornbread and chili really is such a terrific combo - one of the best, IMO. Thanks for the comment.
Oh my gosh! I laughed so hard at Mrs KR comment! That's how I feel when The Broncos are playing! The last game I was fasting and I thought I was going to pass out! I seriously cannot have spicy food when they are playing :) The way the Texans are playing his season, The Rams may have a chance.
You already know I love cornbread! I do like mine a bit sweet though but I'll take any kind. I also love the texture of some corn kernels. I love the chunky pieces of the jalapeño in yours, gives it a nice kick!
Enjoy your weekend John! I am an honorary Texan fan, so I hope they win ;)
This is seriously good stuff!!! Considering that you made it in a pan, it's amazing how well it has turned out. Jalapeno in a bread...you have me sold right there, lol! I agree with Mrs KR, this would be terrific with the chili dish you posted earlier.
Wow, never made any bread in a skillet before....
it looks delicious,
btw, did u using polenta or corn powder within this recipe???
never heard cornmeal before....
This looks so amazing!
Hi Nazneen, on paper, the Rams have some talent, and if they put it all together they could be a decent team. But that's theory, and alas the reality is what we see on the field each week. I fully expect the Rams to lose on Sunday. :-( Anyway, cornbread is tremendous stuff, isn't it? I love it anytime, but particularly at this time of the year. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Minnie, I actually made this in the skillet (though of course you can make it in a pan). It really is good stuff, isn't it? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi dentistvschef, I used corn meal (powder, I'm assuming). It's really the same as polenta, although it tends to be more finely ground than polenta. You could substitute finely ground polenta for this (just whirl it in the food processor). Thanks for the comment.
Hi Asmita, it is, it is! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Brilliant idea to make cornbread in a skillet! Your photos capture the cornbread so well, I feel like I can almost taste it! Now if only technology would catch up ;)
I love really good cornbread! Whenever a restaurant serves it before the meal I'm sold and know my dinner will be ruined. I've actually never made it before. Can't wait to try it.
Yes! I've been craving cornbread so much lately (must be the weather) and there's no better way to do it than in a big ol' skillet. Also can I just say that your recipe notes are so incredibly thorough and helpful? So cheers for spending so much extra time to type those out!
Hi Sashi, it'd be fun it we could taste over the internet, wouldn't it? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, cornbread is really easy to make - you owe it to yourself to make some. Of course, you'll probably spoil your dinner. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Irina, I think it must be a weather thing. We eat cornbread in warm weather, but really love it when it turns cooler. Thanks for the kind words, and comment.
Hi John , love jalapeno cornbread , such good flavor and I will give this one a try , I have one but I ).
Hi Nee, doesn't this cornbread have such nice flavor? And I think this is a particularly nice version. Thanks for the comment.
So ready for fall and soup and chili and cornbread season!
Hi Debra, I think fall meals might be the best of the year! Thanks for the comment.
This Texas girl loves some cornbread and this looks really great. You have inspired me to dig out that cast iron corn stick pan that is around here somewhere. It is just screaming to be taken out of mothballs for the winter.
Such a rustic presentation and great way to enjoy freshly baked cornbread. Love the spicy notes from jalapeno :)
Hi Karen, I know exactly what sort of cast iron stick pan you're talking about. Never had one, always wanted one! it's probably too long since you've made cornbread. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kiran, pretty hard not to like jalapeno, isn't it? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Looks delicious John! This is perfect with your Chunky Pork and Sweet Potato Chili. I'm hungry just thinking about it. YUM!
Love the idea of making a cornbread in a skillet. And, what a lovely yellow color! Deliciousness!
I adore cornbread but never end up eating it as much as I want. This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing a great recipe!
I have heard so much about cornbread (mostly from MJ) and still I haven't had the time to try it out. I really want to see how it comes with a clear soup. Should be super satisfying. Would you make it on a weekday or weekend?
Hi Anne, it's really great stuff. Perfect with chili, as you say, but great all by itself too. I need to make some more! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Julia, isn't the color on this super? That's why I always use yellow cornmeal - I can't get enough of the color! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Christine, cornbread is good stuff, isn't it? I don't make it as much as I should! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Helene, cornbread is so easy and quick to make I often make it on weekdays. But the taste is special enough that it's dandy weekend fare too! Thanks for the comment.
Ooh, I would love this and your chile for lunch! And you're right; the bread looks so much more attractive in a skillet. I think I can easily make this gluten-free. Yay!
Hi Gomo, this is pretty easy to make gluten-free. You can either substitute for the wheat flour, or just omit it entirely (using more corn meal). Thanks for the comment.
Cornbread is one of my most favorite sides, I love alone slathered with butter and honey! BUT complimented with chili is sooooo perfect too:-) I love how full of jalapenos your cornbread looks! My jalapeno plant has over twenty more peppers growing, best plant ever, and will have more than enough for this lovely recipe! Yum, Hugs, Terra
Hi Terra, that sounds like a terrific plant! Alas, all of our pepper plants did miserably this year - really unusual, because normally we get a great crop. Weather! Anyway, thanks for the comment.
This is a nice cornbread with a twist and a kick!
Hi Raymund, this does have a nice little kick. Very, very tasty. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I love cornbread but never make it because my husband doesn't like it. So instead I order it when we go out to dinner. I'd love to try yours!
Hi Vicki, you could probably make half a batch of this, and just eat it all yourself! I haven't tried freezing this, but I'll bet it'd work. Thanks for the comment.
Haven't had cornbread for a long time and it's about time. Love the rustic food styling :) Thanks for sharing.
Hi Lail, rustic comes easy to me. ;-) This really is a fun dish, and so flavorful. Thanks for the comment.
Now this is a really creative cornbread with Jalapeño!!! Love that you made these cornbread with skillet. It looks so nice to serve. I have to serve this with chilis too! :)
Hi Nami, it looks great when you serve it, plus the skillet puts a really nice crust on the bottom. I love the texture! Thanks for the comment.
I am sure you were happy that The Rams pulled off that win! The Texans were terrible, beyond terrible actually. They played like their first season. It's quite an interesting season already this year, and amazing how terrible some teams are playing.
Hi Nazneen, the Rams played reasonably well, but I agree the Texans just weren't themselves. Puzzling, really. It's been a weird football season thus far, hasn't it?
hi John, very interesting corn bread recipe. It sure look very inviting and delicious. You're excellent! Great pictures as usual.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Depending on what I add to it, cornbread can be a meal in itself when I don't feel like cooking. Jalapeños go so well with it, looks gorgeous John! And that antacid comment, jaja so true!
Hi Paula, cornbread is hearty enough it can become a meal! When I was a kid, we'd sometimes have it for lunch with maple syrup. Thanks for the comment.
Delicious combo.. I love the addition of jalapeno in cornbread...
Hi Sowmya, isn't this nice? I love spicy things! Thanks for the comment.
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