Allow me to introduce you to Jalapeño Cornbread with Bacon & Cheddar.
This cornbread recipe is CRAZY good. Each bite is heavenly.
It’s ultra cheesy from the cheddar. Perfectly salty, savory, and hearty from the bacon. And has a perfect kick of spice from the jalapeños (and this is coming from someone who isn’t a big fan of spiciness).
I recommend finishing off the cornbread with a drizzle of honey on top, for the perfect balance of sweet and savory!
Not to mention… this cheddar jalapeño cornbread might be the most vibrant and colorful cornbread I’ve ever seen. This is sure to be a show-stopping side dish with your friends and family at any BBQ, picnic, potluck, or even on Thanksgiving.
How to Make Jalapeño Cornbread with Cheddar & Bacon
What is Cornbread?
Cornbread is a fairly straightforward combination of simple ingredients, plus cornmeal – but it’s always an impressive, delicious side to bring to any gathering, family dinner, or potluck. This moist, flavorful cornbread contains buttermilk and sour cream for so much moistness and a flavorful taste. It also uses real corn for an extra pop of flavor, extra sweetness (without too much sugar), as well as extra moisture. Serve with a side of butter or honey, and people will be asking you to bring it to every gathering for years to come!
If you prefer a classic cornbread recipe without any mix-ins, check out my Basic Cornbread recipe.
Ingredients for Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread:
- Eggs – Binds the ingredients to avoid a cornbread that crumbles apart.
- Buttermilk – Helps to thicken the batter, provide extra flavor, and activate the baking soda so every square of cornbread stands tall and proud.
- Milk – The ratio of equal parts buttermilk and milk provides the best texture!
- Sour cream – Adds richness and a bit of a tenderizing tang.
- Honey – Lends sweetness and a hint of floral flavor.
- Yellow cornmeal – Preferably stone-ground cornmeal. More on this ingredient below!
- All-purpose flour – Measured correctly, so you don’t end up with chewy or dense cornbread.
- Baking powder & baking soda – Helps the cornbread rise. Learn more about the differences between these two leaveners in my Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder article!
- Granulated sugar – Sweetens and moistens the cornbread.
- Fine salt – Brings out all the other flavors.
- Butter – Always use unsalted butter in baking so you’re in control of the amount of salt.
- Fresh or canned corn kernels – Boosts the corn flavor and provides a fun pop of sweetness.
- Bacon – A salty, delicious addition to this cornbread, and also provides a delightful textural contrast.
- Sharp cheddar cheese – For oozy delicious cheesiness! I like sharp cheddar because it also provides a great flavor – but you can use a different shredded cheese if preferred. Monterey jack or pepper jack cheese would also be delicious.
- Jalapeño peppers – For a fantastic little punch of heat, which can be customized to your preference (leave the seeds and pith/ribs for more heat; remove both for less heat).
What Type of Cornmeal Should I Use?
I prefer stone-ground cornmeal for cornbread, as it’s generally a slightly coarser product, and typically boasts a corn-forward flavor – which is exactly what we’re looking for in cornbread. If you don’t have stone-ground cornmeal, or can’t find it at the supermarket, then any yellow cornmeal will work just fine. Just be sure not to accidentally use cornstarch or corn flour, as these are not the same thing and cannot be used interchangeably!
How Spicy is this Jalapeño Cornbread?
This cornbread definitely has some heat to it, but it’s not so spicy that you don’t also enjoy the flavors from the corn, bacon, and cheddar. If you’re worried about spice, remove the ribs and seeds from the fresh jalapeños and/or reduce the amount of jalapeño called for in the recipe.
Instructions for How to Make Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread with Bacon:
- Prepare the mix-ins. Cook the bacon to your desired crispiness. Grate the sharp cheddar. Dice the jalapeños (removing seeds and pith/ribs for less spice – that part’s up to you!), or slice into rings. Set aside.
- Whisk the wet ingredients. Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, milk, sour cream, and honey in a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk the dry ingredients. Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a separate bowl.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Make a well and add the wet to the dry, then stir. Add the melted butter, corn, bacon, sharp cheddar, and jalapeños. Stir the mixture gently until just combined.
- Bake. Pour into a prepared 9×13-inch baking pan and top with a little more cheddar (and a few rings of jalapeños, if you want to be extra fancy). Bake until the top is golden brown and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan. Insert a toothpick into the center to check for doneness.
How Do I Prevent Cornbread from Being Dry? What is the Secret to Moist Cornbread?
Buttermilk and sour cream are my secret weapons here! Buttermilk is used primarily for its pleasant tangy flavor, but it also helps to tenderize and leaven baked goods. I always recommend using real buttermilk for this reason. You can read more about my buttermilk experimentation in my Buttermilk 101 article. The sour cream’s extra fat content, combined with its creamy consistency, means it brings another level of moistness to this cornbread. I recommend using a full-fat sour cream for the full textural and flavor benefits.
Is Cornbread Gluten Free?
Most cornbreads, including Jiffy Cornbread Mix, contain at least some flour (often whole wheat flour). My jalapeño cornbread recipe contains all-purpose flour, for added structure, so this recipe is not gluten-free.
What Pan Should I Use for Jalapeño Cornbread?
- I love this 9×13-inch light-colored metal pan for baking cornbread – and just about anything else!
- I don’t recommend baking this in glass, ceramic, or silicone, if possible. These pans don’t conduct heat well and can dry out the edges before the center cooks through. Learn more about Glass vs. Metal Baking Pans here.
- Oppositely, I also don’t recommend using a dark-colored metal baking pan. Darker metals conduct heat too aggressively and can burn your cornbread before the middle cooks through.
What Goes Well with Jalapeño Cornbread? How to Serve:
Jalapeño Cornbread is delicious as a snack all on its own (especially with a slathering of butter and a drizzle of honey!), it also pairs well with:
Can I Use this Recipe to Make Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins?
Yes! Pour the jalapeño cornbread batter until three-quarters full into about 24 muffin tin cavities and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.
How Long Will the Jalapeño Cornbread Stay Fresh?
Wrap leftover jalapeño cornbread in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature.
Does Jalapeño Cornbread Need to be Refrigerated?
Nope! Store at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Can I Freeze Cornbread?
Yes! Full slabs of jalapeño cornbread, or sliced portions of jalapeño cornbread, can be wrapped well in plastic wrap and stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What to Do With Leftovers of Homemade Cornbread Recipe?
- Make Cornbread Stuffing
- Cornbread Dressing – crumble or dice the cornbread to make dressing/stuffing.
- Cornbread Croutons – to make croutons, cut into 1-inch squares. Brush cubed cornbread with butter and season with a little salt and pepper, and bake in a low-heat oven until crispy.