This jalapeño cheese cornbread delivers big time. It's cheesy, it's spicy, it has fresh corn, and it's so easy to make! No beating is required, it comes together in 15 minutes and bakes to a golden, wonderfully textured quick bread.
Originally posted in November 2012, this post's content has been updated to serve you better. The recipe remains the same.
There are always many good reasons to make cornbread.
Moist, tender, full of corn kernels, a bit of a kick from the peppers, and overall really interesting flavor and crumb.
What makes this cornbread recipe so easy is that you can use a spatula or spoon. You don't even need a whisk or electric beater. It's very similar to old-fashioned muffins: one bowl with the dry ingredients, one with the wet. Both are lightly mixed and that's it.
It qualifies as a last-minute Thanksgiving recipe that can be added to your menu.
This cornbread recipe has all the ingredients we love: fresh corn kernels, polenta, jalapeños, and cheese.
- Corn: I use frozen corn because it's available year-round, but fresh corn can be used and even better if it's grilled or roasted.
- Polenta: it gives a wonderful texture and is easy to buy. I even use it in cakes.
- Cheese: my favorites are white cheddar and fontina. Look for a semi-hard cheese that is sharp in flavor.
- Jalapeños: I like fresh peppers, but canned work just as well. I even used jalapeños in adobo once (a very small amount as they are very spicy) and the cornbread was amazing.
What is cornmeal or polenta?
Cornmeal is a wonderful ingredient, so unique in color and texture (image above, center). It is ground maize, and it comes in different consistencies, finer (cornflour the most common one) to coarser.
Polenta is the Italian dish made with cornmeal, but in Spanish polenta is synonymous with cornmeal. So, many recipes calling for polenta refer to cornmeal, such as the Lemon Blueberry Polenta Cake, one of my favorites, or the braised pork with polenta crust.
Red peppers: I like to use red (as opposed to yellow or green) because I find they have a deeper flavor. But you can use your favorite.
Jalapeños: I like to use the fresh red jalapeños. But again, use whatever color you like or find (image above). Remove seeds for a milder bread, or use them for a spicier one.
Image from Public Domain.
Steps for making this easy cornbread recipe:
- Begin by cooking the chopped onion, red pepper, and jalapeños in some butter (image 1, above).
- When they are softened, 3-4 minutes on medium heat, add the corn kernels, and cook for a minute more (image 2). Remove and reserve.
- In a large bowl mix flour, cornmeal or polenta, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
- Scattered cold, diced butter on top (image 3).
- With your hands or a pastry cutter, start working the butter into the dry ingredients until it's incorporated. The mixture will be fine-grained (image 4), not lumpy as a crumble.
- In a separate bowl mix all wet ingredients - milk and eggs (image 5). Simply combine well, don't beat.
- Add it to the cornmeal and butter mixture all at once and mix lightly with a spatula, fork, or spoon. Dry spots will remain (image 6).
- Add diced or grated cheese and onion mixture (image 7).
- Mix until combined but do not beat or over mix (image 8). It's similar to a muffin.
- Transfer cornbread mixture to the prepared pan. I like to line it with parchment paper so that it's easier to lift from the pan and remove once it's baked.
- Smooth the top and it's ready to be baked!
- You can reserve some of the cheese and scatter it on top. I like to mix it all in the batter.
Make sure the oven is preheated and at a medium/high temperature.
When it's done it will be puffed and gloriously golden like the image below. Parts of the top will be cracked and some cheese might be bubbling here and there.
- This is a great bread to eat warm while the cheese is still melty, so you might even consider using a ceramic dish that goes to the table and serve it from there.
This is more of a please everyone kind of cornbread, with a spicy aftertaste. The kind that it's easily adaptable no matter what type of food you serve. See the variations below.
Because let's face it, sometimes it's hard to please everyone and things are better kept at a medium level. Especially during family gatherings.
- Milk: you can use coconut or almond milk for a dairy-free cornbread.
- Sweetener: if you need a sugar-free bread (apt for diabetics for example) simply omit it and use some sweetener if you like an even more pronounced sweet and salty flavor, or add a few more tablespoons of polenta and check the seasonings. The lack of sugar might make the cornbread need a bit more salt.
- Spiciness: if you don't want to use fresh jalapeños, you can substitute them with the powdered version or use chili powder or Merken (smoked paprika from Chile). Or omit them all if you don't like spicy.
- Muffins: you can make this recipe in muffin form. It will probably yield approx. 24 regular muffins.
- Pan: if you have to serve many I think a rectangular pan is better but I have made this cornbread in a 9-inch (24cm.) round cake pan for many years. Or make individual loaf mini cakes, one for each person.
This jalapeño cheese cornbread delivers big time.
It's cheesy, it's spicy and it's so easy to make! No beating is required, it comes together in 15 minutes and bakes to a golden, wonderfully textured quick bread.
- 2 Tbs + 7 Tbs unsalted butter (chilled and diced)
- 1 cup chopped onion (1 small medium)
- 1 cup corn kernels
- ½ cup red pepper (seeded, deveined and finely chopped)
- 2 Tbs jalapeños (seeded and finely chopped)
- 1 ¾ cups yellow cornmeal
- 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 Tbs baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk or whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups grated fontina or mild cheddar cheese (packed)
- Preheat oven to 400ºF /200ºC
- Butter round or square 9-inch springform pan.
- In a skillet over medium heat melt butter.
- Add onion and red pepper and cook for a few minutes until a little browned.
- Add corn and jalapeños and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and reserve.
- In a large bowl mix cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt and pepper.
- Add cold butter and rub with your palms until mixture resembles coarse sand.
- In a small bowl mix buttermilk and eggs. Add all at once to the dry mixture and mix just to combine. Add cheese and sauteed vegetables and mix well.
- Pour into prepared pan and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until golden and tester comes out clean.
- Let cool on wire rack.
Half recipe: you can make a smaller bread by halving this recipe, using 2 small eggs and an 8-inch pan.
See other variations in post, above.
Corn: I use frozen corn because it's available year-round, but fresh corn can be used and even better if it's grilled or roasted.
Cheese: my favorites are white cheddar and fontina. Look for a semi-hard cheese that is sharp in flavor.
Jalapeños: I like fresh peppers, but canned work just as well. I even used jalapeños in adobo once (a very small amount as they are very spicy) and the cornbread was amazing.
Keywords: Cornbread, jalapeño cornbread
Adapted from Bon Appetit