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Southern Skillet Cornbread With Cheddar

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The ideal moist, lightly sweet cornbread.

There are cornbread recipes, and there are Cornbread Recipes. This is the latter: a delicious, Southern buttermilk skillet cornbread recipe that’s moist, just sweet enough, and loaded with green chilis, cheddar, onion, and creamed corn. This recipe is the one.

easy buttermilk skillet cornbread recipe with butter and cheddar cheese

Meet This Old Fashioned Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread Recipe

Everyone likes cornbread. On that much, we agree. From there, things get a little controversial.

Should cornbread be sweet? Or is sweet cornbread inauthentic? Does savory cornbread capture the history of this elementary American bread in its purest form? (Answers below.)

One thing is certain, though. No matter the sweet/savory cornbread debate, one thing cannot be debated: Jubilee‘s Spanish green chili buttermilk skillet cornbread recipe may be the best you will ever make.

skillet cornbread ingredients cheddar cornmeal onion chiles egg flour on marble

Cornbread Food History

This “Spanish” green chili skillet cornbread recipe comes from food writer and historian Toni Tipton-Martin’s cookbook, Jubilee. Jubilee won multiple cookbook awards, including a James Beard. The cookbook was an IACP award finalist, and named one of the best cookbooks of the year by the New York Times and many more.

Jubilee presents an important addition to the American cookbook cannon. Tipton-Martin wraps her beautiful and thoughtfully-rendered recipes in their African-American (i.e., American) history.

This cornbread, she explains, gets called “Spanish cornbread” because black cookbook authors living in the South and Southwest enjoyed cooking with Mexican ingredients like hot chiles and tomatoes, which they called Spanish ingredients.

The Savory vs. Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread Debate

As for the sweet vs. savory cornbread debate, Tipton-Martin explains that both are right.

“Asking a Southern cook whether sugar belongs in cornbread is like pouring gasoline on a smoldering fire,” she writes in Jubilee. While many old recipes did not use sugar, some theorize that sweeter Southern corn and the use of sorghum molasses accounted for its lack.

Cornbread was an evolution, starting from West African cornmeal mush called coosh-coosh, which then became skillet corn cakes or hoecake, which then evolved into regional and other variations depending on the availability of enriching ingredients like buttermilk and eggs, plus local influences.

cast-iron skillet with butter and cornbread cheddar batter

What Makes This Cast-Iron Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread Recipe So Moist?

In addition to buttermilk, this cornbread recipe gets its super-moist texture from creamed corn, buttermilk, onion, cheddar, and melted butter. The relatively high fat and liquid content does the job right.

How to Make This Cast-Iron Skillet Buttermilk Cornbread: Recipe Tips

  • Use a wooden spoon, and not a mixer to make it. Cornbread can be easily over-mixed, and this batter gets stirred together easily by hand.
  • Above all, get your cast-iron skillet very, very hot. The batter should sizzle when poured into the pan. The hot skillet gives the cornbread a nice brown bottom crust, and helps shorten the baking time.

Cornbread tastes best fresh, but this will last overnight at room temperature. This skillet cornbread can also be frozen or crumbled and dried for stuffing, dressing, or croutons.

green chili cast-iron skillet buttermilk skillet cornbread with butter and cheddar cheese

Love this Cheddar Green Chili Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread recipe? You’ll also like:

skillet green chile cornbread with butter and cheddar cheese

Hot Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread

A deliciously moist, buttery green chili skillet cornbread recipe, baked in a hot cast iron skillet and loaded with cheddar, green chiles, buttermilk, and sweet corn. Adapted from Jubilee's Spanish Cornbread.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: Baked Goods
Cuisine: American
Keywords:: buttermilk, buttermilk cornbread, cheddar cornbread, chile, corn, cornbread, iron skillet cornbread, old fashioned cornbread recipe, skillet, skillet cornbread
Servings: 8 to 10 people
Print

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup creamed corn (one 8-ounce can)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter, in large pieces

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In another mixing bowl, combine the creamed corn, buttermilk, egg, chiles, onion, and cheddar cheese.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry, and mix just until fully combined.
  • Heat the butter in a 10" cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until the butter melts and foams. Swirl the butter to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Pour the butter into the cornmeal batter. Leave the skillet on low heat while you're stirring the butter into the batter. Then immediately pour the batter into the hot skillet.
    PRO TIP: It is essential that the skillet is still very hot when the batter is poured into it. If the skillet is not hot, you will not get a nice brown crust on the bottom, and the baking time will be longer.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean in the center.
  • Serve warm with good, soft butter.

14 comments

  • 5 stars
    Excellent recipe to take your cornbread up a few notches!! We enjoyed this with chicken chili. Next time I will cover with foil half way through baking because it got really brown on top and middle took longer to get baked. No more dried out cornbread! Very moist and flavorful. Thank you for the recipe.

    • Unpeeled

      Wonderful! Thank you for the lovely comment and I am so glad you enjoyed.

  • 3 stars
    Be aware that this is a very dense, thick, heavy cornbread. It’s a matter of personal taste, but it is quite different from a more traditional cornbread texture. It was a big change from all my other recipes. Family did not like it.

  • JackieB

    Can you substitute self rising corn in place corn meal and baking powder?

    • Unpeeled

      Hello! The answer is…maybe. That said, it will be tricky to convert. Self-rising cornmeal often has salt and some amount of flour mixed in, plus the baking powder. You would have to know the percentage of each per cup to figure out the proper substitution, and the ratio might be off! If it’s not too much trouble, I’d advise sticking with the recipe.

  • What is the best size skillet for this recipe!

    • Unpeeled

      A 10-inch skillet would be the standard measurement, but you can definitely make it in a smaller or bigger one, and adjust the baking time as necessary. (The wider the skillet, the faster it will bake.) Enjoy!

  • Diane Frohling

    Are we supposed to use the whole can of chili’s, liquid and all?

    • Unpeeled

      Good question! I put in the whole can, liquid and all. I find that there isn’t too much liquid. If the brand you buy seems to have the chilis swimming in a lot of water, drain it a bit.

  • Frankie

    5 stars
    Awesome. The chiles had just the right amount of spiciness..I recommend this recipe highly.

  • I made so many changes to this recipe that I will not rate it. My version was excellent. I skipped the sugar because we don’t like sweet corn bread. I modified it to be vegan (flax eggs, non-dairy buttermilk, omitted butter and cheese). I discovered that I didn’t have creamed corn and had to use regular canned corn. I will be making this again because we all enjoyed it but with creamed corn!

    • 5 stars
      I made this again but with creamed corn and my other changes as detailed above. We really enjoyed this. Thanks

  • 5 stars
    I don’t think my skillet was hot enough because the bottom didn’t get too brown but the flavor is excellent. delicious. will make again.

  • 5 stars
    This is AMAZING. Was dubious about all the stuff in there like onions, but the flavor was fabulous and I am going to make this all the time.

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