This Easy Cheesy Loaded Cornbread is truly addictive. It is basically savory, but with that touch of sweetness that keeps you coming back for more. And it’s colorful too. It’s perfect for a Memorial Day barbecue, picnic or pot luck. But it works just as well at another time of year, with chili in colder months or as a side dish all summer long.
I do love cornbread. In fact, I once jokingly said I would marry whoever had brought the cornbread to a pot luck. Turned out to be my friend Jan. And while I didn’t marry her, I did get her “secret cornbread recipe” – a Trader Joe’s mix. Although that mix is marvelous, I found a way to improve it.
Apparently I’m not the only fan of Trader Joe’s mix. A quick search showed that one of my favorite food sites, Serious Eats, found that it was a clear winner over the Crate & Barrel mix. This ode to my favorite mix has nothing to do with the company that makes it. In fact, the company does not know of my love for their cornbread unless someone there is a reader of this blog. I’m just a home cook who is not afriad to take a shortcut if the results are delicious.
But of course, you could make this lovely cornbread with any mix – or even with a great “plain” homemade version. Just make sure your cornbread “base” is moist and a touch sweet.
Tips for Making Easy Cheesy Loaded Cornbread
- Make it colorful. I’ve specified several ingredients that make this cornbread colorful. You could change them up. But whatever you end up with, make sure it’s colorful. That’s part of the allure of this cornbread. Tip – keep in mind that when you sauté red onions, they lose most of their red color. However, scallion tips stay green.
- Using hot peppers. There is no telling how hot a particular pepper will be. In general, jalapeno peppers are less hot than serrano or habanero. However, within each category heat varies. Also, keeping the seeds in (no matter which type of pepper you use) will make your dish hotter than if you take them out. Typically we measure heat in peppers on the Scoville scale. I’ve used jalapeno pepper, but you could use a hotter variety. To be safe, you can use disposable gloves when cutting peppers. And whichever type you use, when cutting don’t touch your eyes with hands that have been cutting the peppers.
- Don’t over-mix the batter. Like muffins, cornbread needs only minimal mixing. Just combine the liquid and dry ingredients. Over-mixed cornbread will be dry and its crumb will be too “tight.”
Easy Cheesy Loaded Cornbread
Use a mix or make your own. Then add the extras and you'll have a delicious mostly savory (with a touch of sweetness) cornbread. Crusty on top and addictive throughout, it freezes well too.
- 1 cornbread mix or homemade, with necessary add-ins such as milk, egg, and oil.
- 1 & 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated and divided 6 oz/180 g Divided into 1 cup/4oz/113 g for mixing in and rest for topping.
- 1 jalapeno pepper (or less), diced See below
- 2-3 scallions, diced
- 1/2 red pepper, diced
- 1 cup corn kernels Fresh (If fresh, parboil or microwave for 2 minutes with 2 tablespoons of water, then drain), canned or frozen. (If frozen, defrosted). See note below.
Preheat oven to 400° F/200° C. Lightly grease a 9-inch/23 cm pan or a 10-inch/25 cm cast iron pan on bottom and sides.
Lightly sauté the diced red pepper and jalapeno (or other hot pepper) for about 5 minutes under medium heat until softened. (If using the same pan as for the cornbread, which I did, when you remove the peppers, lightly grease the pan again, to make sure all surfaces are greased.)
Add those peppers and the other dry and vegetable ingredients together, including the dry ingredients from the mix, except for the reserved cheddar cheese to go on top. Gently combine.
Add the liquids (egg, oil and milk specified in the mix recipe in my case) and mix just to combine. Pour into the pan and top with the reserved cheese. Bake for about 35 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool to barely warm in the pan. Either cut in the pan or remove. Freezes well, tightly wrapped.
See the post tips for discussion of heat of the jalapeno or other pepper. I used about 3/4 of a jalapeno with a few seeds left in.
I love another Trader Joe’s product besides the cornbread mix – the canned corn. I use the corn, drained straight from the can. If you prefer (and can get) fresh corn, this guide will help determine how long to cook the corn. Note that you should only cook it for half the time mentioned, as it will continue to cook in the cornbread.