Cheesy Skillet Cornbread

Recipe updated Oct 12, 2012

This cornbread is packed with cheese, onions, and whole corn, and flavored with bacon drippings. Need I say more? This recipe is inspired by a favorite of my friend Lynn from her The Southern Living Cookbook. Lynn likes to make hers with Shoepeg white corn. We used regular yellow corn and it turned out terrific. Perfect with chili.

The recipe calls for the corn bread to be baked in the oven in a cast iron skillet. We serve the corn bread at the table directly from the skillet, the benefit being that because the cast iron holds its heat so well, the corn bread stays warm throughout the entire meal.

Cheesy Skillet Cornbread Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 8 servings.

Make sure your baking powder is fresh. Baking powder over 6 months old tends to lose its leavening power.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp bacon drippings (warmed to liquid), plus 1 teaspoon to grease the pan
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of cooked corn, either fresh, defrosted frozen corn, or drained from a can

Method

1 Place a 9 or 10-inch cast iron pan in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.

2 In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, garlic powder, and salt. Add remaining ingredients, and stir until just combined.

3 Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven (remember the handle is hot!). Place a teaspoon of bacon fat in the bottom of the hot pan and swirl it around until it is all melted and coating the bottom of the pan. Pour the batter from the mixing bowl into the pan. Remember to put a pot holder over the hot handle of the pan and return it to the oven.

4 Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let the cornbread cool in the pan. Remember that the handle is hot and will stay hot for quite some time. I recommend rubbing an ice cube over the handle to cool it down, just to avoid someone burning their hand if they attempt to move the pan before it has cooled down enough.

cheesy-skillet-cornbread-b.jpg

20 Comments

  1. phil

    I live in England. Where can I get cornmeal, or has it a different name here?

  2. Robyn

    Hi Phil: Here in New Zealand coarse cornmeal and fine cornmeal are sold both in the baking goods aisle and in the health food aisle of the supermarket. Perhaps you could ask at a health food store which stocks gluten-free products or at an organics store if they know what is called in the UK and where to buy it.

  3. corrina

    Hi phil, I also live in England and I bought my cornmeal from a small ethnic shop. Hope that is of help

  4. Lori

    This recipe looks delicious, and I would really like to make it, but I don’t own cast iron pans and can’t afford to own any any time soon.

    Is there a way to make this recipe without the cast iron?

    • Jacqueline

      Check second hand stores or yard sales for cast iron, even rusty ones can be reconditioned for a lifetime of use!

      I’ve used glass baking pans, brownie pans and cast iron for cornbread successfully. Good luck!

  5. marge

    What a fun one to make….picture perfect…When we were kids,, an did our own butchering..everything was done by scartch..down to cutting the hogs…an even crinding our own corn to make cornmeal (corn bread)…We served it ..an different recieps with tripe… it”s a keeper!!!

  6. Beth

    Hi Elise!

    This is one fantastic recipe! I made some this evening, having decided I was in the mood for a new recipe – and this is wonderful! It’s the first time ever my version has come out looking exactly like the picture! I’m absolutely thrilled! And my mother liked it too. I think this could become quite a family favourite.

    And just a note for any other English people about – you can find cornmeal in some of the larger Tesco stores now, and most Asda supermarkets stock it as well – you have to find the aisle with the healthfoods and/or rice etc products.

  7. Lisa

    Hi Elise,

    I also wanted to know if you must use cast iron for this. I have the hard anodized pans from Caphalon that can go in the oven. Would that be an acceptable substitute or should I just hold off until I get some iron?

    Thanks!

    Lisa

    P.S. – My family has loved every recipe I have made from this site. We are trying your dad’s savory chicken drummies tonight. The absolute favorite by far is the parmesan chicken – wow! Best ever! Thanks again!

  8. Tori

    To everyone wondering if you need cast iron for this recipe, I found that you don’t. The first time I made this, I didn’t have cast iron, so I bought an aluminum (disposable types) pie dish from the store (I’ve found those to be great for baking!) and it turned out wonderfully. The cast iron does add something to it, but it’s not an absolute neccessity in my opinion.

    Tori

  9. Darlene

    I have a friend who makes the best cornbread — even when she uses a box mix — her secret is: after mixing the ingredients — let it stand for 5 minutes before putting it in the oven — she says it helps it to rise.

  10. Bobby Williams

    Dear Elise;

    What we make in the south is simple really. Cornmeal (we used to grind our own) buttermilk, 1tsp. sugar and if you want it more cake like then add an egg.

    The only time another ingredient was added was each fall after we butchered the hogs and had cracklins’. That’s the only time something other than the three ingredients were put into the meal. We don’t call it cornmeal we just call it meal.

    One thing which is very important to a really crispy crust is the seasoned iron skillet and lard which you grease the bottom and sides of skillet until its white with the stuff. Yeah, I know..Lards bad for you. But I’ve cooked with it since I was a child and according to my Dr. I have excellent LDL and HDL. He always laughs and says ” I guess those lard and buttermilk biscuits are not going to kill you.

    My daughter is a neurologist and says that most illness’ are genetic. She also says that the lard is not good for any of us and that we need to eat more healthy.

    Being born in the south and raised on a large farm, we worked. Hard. No one was over-weight and no went to the doctor unless it was really really life threatening. We ate 3 cooked meals a day yet only removed the cans we used once a year. We only bought those at Thanksgiving and Xmas. No preservatives and no growth hormones nor additives were ever given to animals or our extremely large gardens. I have a feeling if people tried our lifestyle they would probably be more healthy. I know they would be slimmer.

  11. Anonymous

    Re: cost of cast iron skillets—I found mine at Target (granted, a few years ago) & they were about $10 for a package of 3 (small, med & large). They are a staple in my kitchen…well worth the investment!

  12. Rebecca

    I was hoping to make cornbread for an event two days from now, but have no cast iron skillet. I’m reading from everyone’s comments that while it’s not necessary, it makes a crispier tastier crust. There’s not enough time to buy and season one, so I’ll have to skip it. I never bought one and tossed/gave away the old ones found in the cupboard because they were nasty and rusty. Here’s what I don’t understand: How do you keep a skillet from rusting or if oiled, from getting rancid, if you only use them a few times a year?

    The best way to keep a skillet from rusting is to rinse it thoroughly after using, put it back on the stove to dry completely, and then take a paper towel dabbed in a little olive oil around the inside of it. There is such a thin layer of oil, I don’t think rancidity will be a problem. ~Elise

  13. Scott Brown

    Rebecca,

    What makes an iron skillet non-stick is the way it is seasoned. The black surface you see on well-seasoned pans is actually a very hard carbon deposit. The way I was taught to season a pan is to put it on the stove and let it get red hot. You really need to do this with a new pan anyway to get all the bad stuff off of the pan from when they make them. Once the pan is hot and has stopped smoking, you should rub it with animal fat. I use bacon fat. This will fill your kitchen with smoke, and leave a shiny black surface. Once you have the pan seasoned, NEVER use soap. To clean the pan, bring it up to a high heat and quench it in water, then wipe it out with a paper towel. The high heat and water will take most anything off the surface of the pan and leave the hard carbon coating behind. One of the best ways to keep the pan working is to fry fish. I use my pans to stir fry on extremely high heat. Hot pan, cold oil, never stick! As for the cornbread, the crust is worth the extra effort to use an iron skillet.

  14. Anonymous

    We call a similar recipe to yours Mexican cornbread. There is no need for eggs in cornbread at all, and especially no flour. Use real buttermilk, good meal, a tbsp of sugar, and oil or lard or bacon grease. That’s all. The iron skillet is a necessity for corn bread too. Use two cups of meal, only add enough buttermilk and mix well to make it pourable but not soupy.

    I was born and raised on a Southern farm and have lived here all my life. There wasn’t a need to diet and no one had to tell you to put your feet under the table at meal time. Much healthier living IMHO.

  15. Helana

    As usual Elise, your recipes are FANTASTIC! I made this cornbread last night to serve with a comfort food-style mac ‘n cheese, and boy was it a hit! However, I made 4 very minor alterations due to what I had in the kitchen: 1, I used monterey jack cheese instead of cheddar (it was what I had), 2, I ommitted the corn because I was out, 3, I used a muffin pan instead of my cast iron skillet, and 4 I added a cup of sugar. The product was fluffy, delicious, and gone in minutes. Thanks so much for posting such tasty recipes, this is certainly my new favorite cornbread go-to!

  16. Toni

    I just made this along with the chili con carne. Everything came out wonderful, but I was thinking about the cornbread a bit…the few times I’ve had cornbread, it was sweet, not savory. I love the taste of this particular cornbread with the very potent garlic flavor from the garlic powder. Is there any way to add sugar to this to make it sweet and less savory? Would you omit the garlic and substitute sugar? Is it even possible/wise to do that? Thanks so much for all the wonderful recipes (and pictures!). I wish you would put out a cookbook, Elise!

    Hi Toni, Southern cornbread is typically savory, not sweet. Northern cornbread is typically sweet and made with a higher proportion of regular flour to cornmeal. I would just look for a different recipe if you wanted a sweet version. ~Elise

  17. Bronwyn

    I’ve never cooked with cornmeal before in NZ but for a Mexican themed party I gave this a go. Poured rather than spooned my test batch into the pan but it cooked up well. Had nothing to compare the texture with but since I got good comments & we ate most of it I figured it was a good plan to make another lot for the party. It was gooood!! Oh – and I used my ceramic titanium non-stick pan that goes from stove-top to oven & got a really nice crisp base.

  18. Shelly

    Not the southern cornbread I grew up with in SC, but it was seriously yummy! I made it to go with some white bean and chicken chili and the combo was fantastic. Next time I’m going to add some chopped bell and jalapeno pepper for some more kick – add a Tex/Mex flavor. Thanks for a new cornbread recipe!

  19. Mel G.

    I made this tonight to go with our traditional New Year’s dinner of hoppin’ john, collard greens and ham. My husband is from the South but has never like cornbread (or hushpuppies) but he LOVED this recipe! Thanks so much Elise! We are adding this to our collection of family favorites!

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