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Cheddar and Jalapeno Cornbread

cheddar jalapeño cornbread sliced in cast iron pan

Growing up, cornbread was a staple around my grandmother’s table. Along with navy beans and ham, collard greens, apple fritters, etc. You know, your typical Southern fare. My grandmother made two versions of cornbread, one was sweet and the other was a more traditional cornbread that my grandfather used to eat with buttermilk. I never cared for the more traditional style, but the sweet stuff always had me asking for seconds. She called the sweet cornbread “Johnny Bread”. I still don’t know why she called it that or who Johnny was, but I do know the bread was amazing.

Over the years I have expanded on my grandmother’s original recipe to include a little heat. My family was never big on spicy food; I think I picked up a taste for it after joining the Marines and moving to Southern California. In keeping with my preferences, I added some jalapeno and cheese to the sweet cornbread base. After some trial and error, this is now my go-to cornbread recipe.

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Cheddar and Jalapeno Cornbread Recipe

Serves: 8 | Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 25 min

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (I used ghost chili salt for extra heat, you can sub kosher salt)
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, room temp and slightly beaten
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded (optional) and minced
1/2 cup bacon, chopped

Equipment

Grill or smoker, I recommend using a ceramic cooker for baking
Cast iron skillet, 8″
Apple wood chunks

Step-by-Step

Step 1: Grease the cast iron skillet.

Step 2: Preheat cooker to 350 degrees and set up for two-zone heat.

Step 3: Place the cast iron skillet inside your cooker to preheat the pan. It’s a common misconception that cast iron heats evenly, nothing could be further from the truth. Cast iron holds head extremely well but it does not heat evenly. For that reason, it’s important to preheat the pan for 20 minutes or so before adding the batter. Otherwise, you’ll end up with overcooked portions of cornbread due to hot spots on the pan. And, believe me, you’re not going to want to waste a single crumb of this bread!

jalapeños in sautee pan to make jalapeno cheddar cornbread recipe

Step 4: Sauté the jalapeno until lightly browned and softened. Set aside. If you prefer less heat you can remove all of the seeds. I like things a little on the hotter side, so I left about half of the seeds in the pepper.

Step 5: Fry the bacon until golden brown, discard the grease, and set aside.

ingredients to make cheddar jalapeno cornbread recipe

Step 6: In a large bowl, add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Whisk until well-mixed.

ingredients to make cheddar jalapeno cornbread recipe

Step 7: In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, vanilla, butter, honey, and eggs. Whisk until well-combined and no streaks of egg remain.

PRO TIP: to avoid a sticky situation when measuring honey, spray your measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray before adding the honey and it will pour out nice and easy.

ingredients to make cheddar jalapeno cornbread recipe

Step 8: Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and add the wet mixture, along with the bacon and jalapeno. Whisk until you have a smooth batter.

ingredients to make the best cornbread recipe

Step 9: Add the cheddar and fold until evenly distributed.

ingredients to make the best cornbread recipe

Step 10: Pour the batter into your preheated cast iron skillet.

ingredients to make cheddar jalapeno cornbread recipe

Step 11: Add apple wood chunks to your coals (if desired) and place the pan inside the cooker over indirect heat for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You don’t need much wood, as the porous mixture will take the smoke really well.

ingredients to make cheddar jalapeno cornbread recipe

Step 12: Glaze the top of the cornbread with a light coat of melted butter and let it cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. This adds a little flavor and beautiful golden-brown top crust.

Step 13: Let the cornbread cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Make the Cheddar and Jalapeno Cornbread Recipe:

Cheddar and Jalapeno Cornbread Recipe
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Servings: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt (I used ghost chili salt for extra heat, you can sub kosher salt)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs room temp and slightly beaten
  • 1 cup extra sharp cheddar shredded
  • 1 jalapeño seeded (optional) and minced
  • 1/2 cup bacon chopped
Instructions
  1. Grease the cast iron skillet.

  2. Preheat cooker to 350 degrees and set up for two-zone heat.

  3. Place the cast iron skillet inside your cooker to preheat the pan.

  4. Sauté the jalapeno until lightly browned and softened. Set aside.

  5. Fry the bacon until golden brown, discard the grease, and set aside.

  6. In a large bowl, add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Whisk until well-mixed.

  7. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, vanilla, butter, honey, and eggs. Whisk until well-combined and no streaks of egg remain.

  8. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and add the wet mixture, along with the bacon and jalapeño. Whisk until you have a smooth batter.

  9. Add the cheddar and fold until evenly distributed.

  10. Pour the batter into your preheated cast iron skillet.

  11. Add apple wood chunks to your coals (if desired) and place the pan inside the cooker over indirect heat for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  12. Glaze the top of the cornbread with a light coat of melted butter and let it cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

  13. Let the cornbread cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.