When you make homemade chili, serving cornbread on the side is an absolute must. The bread’s buttery flavor tempers the chili’s spiciness, sparing your tongue from any scorching hot peppers. And on a national holiday like Super Bowl Sunday — when chili will be consumed in abundance — your party guests deserve nothing less than the best cornbread you can make. Keep reading for four tips that will take your cornbread to the next level, whether you’re making it from scratch or using a boxed mix.
4 Tips for Making Delicious Cornbread
Homemade cornbread is prepared in a variety of ways throughout the US, depending on where you’re from. In southern regions, it traditionally contains less sugar and more cornmeal than flour; this results in an intense corn flavor and crumbly texture. By contrast, northern-style cornbread recipes tend to use more sugar and flour, resulting in a sweeter taste and more cake-like texture.
There’s also a wide variety of boxed cornbread mixes. Some use white cornmeal and others use yellow; some are prepared in a cast-iron skillet, while others are specifically formulated for cooking in a muffin tin. The choice is yours as to which type will best complement your game day chili.
Once you’ve picked a recipe or mix, use these tips to elevate your cornbread gamel:
- Heat your cast-iron to piping hot. A cast iron skillet retains heat, which results in crispy, golden brown edges around your cornbread. TheKitchn.com food editor Meghan Splawn advises putting your skillet in the oven to preheat while the oven itself preheats. Once hot, “carefully add a pat of butter or slick of oil to the pan before adding the batter,” she writes. Then, bake the cornbread following your recipe’s instructions.
- Swap regular milk for cultured dairy. Cultured dairy products like yogurt, buttermilk, and sour cream give cornbread a tangier flavor than regular milk. Additionally, the acidity in these dairy products reacts with baking soda in the batter to help the bread rise, giving your cornbread a larger crust and fluffy interior once baked.
- Avoid overmixing the batter. The coarse texture of cornmeal means that even the most well-combined cornbread batter will still contain lumps. Don’t try to rid your batter of these lumps by overmixing. Doing so causes gluten to develop in the batter and results in a dense and dry cornbread. Instead, whisk ingredients until a thick batter forms. Then, immediately move onto recipe’s next step.
- Add extra ingredients before baking. Plain cornbread is delicious, but mixing in your favorite ingredients will make it even tastier. Grated cheese adds sharpness to the bread; diced jalapeños give it a little kick; and scallions add onion-ey zing. Honey or sugar are classic sweet additions; but for a more unique twist, incorporate apples, brown sugar, or maple syrup into the batter.
A Tasty Touchdown
A bowl of hearty chili isn’t complete without warm cornbread to enjoy it with. These tips should ensure you get tender, moist cornbread every time — especially as you’re preparing your game day spread. For more Super Bowl appetizer ideas, check out our stories on mouthwatering chicken recipes and preparing stuffed meatballs.