Honey Skillet Cornbread (with corn inside!)
It’s the return of my suppertime staple!
When I was in San Francisco on my book tour earlier this year, I met up with some friends who live in Los Altos. We caught up for awhile, then went out to eat. Anna and Katie assured me that no matter what I got for dinner, we had to spilt the cornbread as an appetizer. In fact, that’s the whole reason we went. I can’t even remember what I had for dinner because the most memorable part, aside from hilarious conversion and copious amounts of wine, was the cornbread.
The waitress dropped it off at our table in a hot skillet, alongside a ramekin or two of honey butter on the side. We let it cool for a minute, but the smell alone made the next table stop mid-conversation, look down at their menu, and say to us “we’re getting that too.” Oh my gosh, this cornbread. My friends weren’t lying. And the dinner patrons alongside our table made a stellar choice. This honey skillet cornbread was crusty on the edges. Caramelized on the top. Real corn inside. Tender in the center. Massively rich. Melting in my mouth. Done well, girls, done well.
Not to be dramatic about food or anything, oh hi have we met? but the skillet cornbread was life-changing. Ok ok, night-changing. I had to get me some more, so I set out to create something somewhat similar. Though can anything seriously ever live up to that cornbread night? This is what I came up with and I’m damn happy with the result!
Here’s how it all comes together.
It’s a lot like my regular cornbread, which is very much not regular and very much my favorite cornbread on the planet. Today’s version is just a simple upgrade using all honey (no brown sugar), a skillet for baking, and real corn kernels dancing around each bite. The texture is completely phenomenal with its tender center, sweet corn kernels, and sweetened crunchy edges. It’s light on the inside, but baking this cornbread in a cast iron skillet will give you that crisp golden brown crust on the edges and top. It’s the reason it’s so damn good!
More on the skillet method:
Pouring your cornbread batter into a hot skillet will help the cornbread’s crust develop quickly– and beautifully. It sears the edges, but seals the flavor and soft texture inside. The skillet should be warm before the baking even begins. Here’s what I always do: you’ll need melted butter for this cornbread recipe. Melt the butter in your cast iron skillet over the stove (hey, brown the butter while you’re at it!) then pour the butter into a bowl and let it cool for a few minutes before continuing with the remaining ingredients. The skillet should still be warm once you’re ready for the batter, but if not– you can heat it on the stove for a minute or two. I swear this hot skillet trick makes a difference.
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, no worries. Any oven-safe skillet will do. Here is the cast iron skillet I own in a few different sizes. I use the 10.25 inch for this particular recipe.
Other than that, it’s just business as usual around here. We’ll throw some real corn in there because yay summer and even though it’s corn season I may have used canned. Don’t be mad. It was just easier for me! But really, any form of corn works. Frozen, canned, fresh. Obviously fresh would be best and obviously you should roast or grill it before throwing it in. F-L-A-V-O-R. Just saying.
It’s a pretty simple bread, but feel free to throw some excitement in there. I’ve done a few of these with my regular cornbread recipe in the past year and every version is just as mouthwatering as the original.
- A handful of shredded cheese– Kevin loved the cheddar cheese version
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries– I was tempted to add raisins but the crowd coming over for dinner would 100% think
that’sI’m strange, so I opted for less judge-y cranberries
- 1-2 finely chopped jalapeños for heat– muffins!
- A cup of blueberries for that savory & sweet treat
- 6 strips of bacon crumbled– this was devoured in approximately 8 minutes
- 1 Tablespoon dried rosemary + sprinkle of crushed red pepper– delish for Thanksgiving
Get creative. As long as you don’t ditch that butter, the skillet, the yummy corn kernels, and the honey. Oh my gosh and the buttermilk. I forgot to mention it! You know the deal: buttermilk for best texture, moisture, and flavor. That tangy goodness! You’ll love it here. You also need its acidity to react with the baking soda, but since it’s Monday and I’m already a few hours late on this post, I won’t get all geeky on you here. There’s more on baking soda right this way.
It’s just two of us and I wish I could say this cornbread lasted longer than 48 hours. It’s topped with jam for breakfast, drizzled with honey for a snack, fabulous with lunch, and even better with a big ol’ plate of BBQ chicken hot off the grill for dinner. There’s no refined sugar, so I don’t feel so bad polishing it off in 2 days. For a heartier texture, try using whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. I don’t recommend leaving out or subbing the butter because that’s where 90% of the flavor comes from. You’ll love it too!
Honey Skillet Cornbread
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup (75g) honey
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, at room temperature2
- 1 cup (120g) cornmeal1
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (175g) corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)3
- 9 or 10 inch oven safe skillet (I love this one!)
- While constantly whisking, melt butter over low heat in your skillet. Pour butter into a medium bowl and allow to cool down for 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Whisk the honey, egg, and buttermilk into the melted butter. Set aside.
- In a separate larger bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Fold in the corn. Avoid overmixing.
- Skillet should still be hot, but if not-- heat the stove on low and warm it up for a minute or two. You want a hot skillet.
- Pour batter into hot skillet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges and top are golden brown and the center is cooked through. Use a toothpick to test to check. Allow to slightly cool before slicing and serving. Serve cornbread with butter, honey, honey butter (do it!) jam, whatever you like. Wrap leftovers up tightly and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Make ahead tip: For longer storage, freeze baked cornbread for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up in the microwave or bake in a 300°F (149°C) oven for 10 minutes.
- I always use Indian Head Stone Ground Yellow Cornmeal. Found in your regular grocery. Love this stuff.
- If you do not keep buttermilk on hand, you can make a DIY version by adding 2-3 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to a large liquid measuring cup. Then add enough regular room temperature milk (whole, skim, 1%, 2%-- whole milk is strongly recommended for moistest, richest texture) to make 1 cup total. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. This soured milk can be used in the recipe.
- If using frozen corn, thaw and drain well. If using canned corn, drain well.
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Jalapeño honey cornbread muffins. Try them!
Serve with my favorite slow cooker chicken chili.
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