This bacon cornbread, a Southern staple, is made with corn kernels, bacon—LOTSA bacon—and cornmeal that’s soaked in milk to produce an incredibly tender, cake-like, almost pudding-like texture.
There’s cornbread. And then there’s cornbread enhanced with bacon, corn, and good ol’ bacon drippings. Just as God intended, according to some. And the texture? Long slow whistle. It’s tender and cake-like but without being super sweet! Spoonable and soft and moist and lovely. As a couple of our testers commented, sorta like the love child between that of a classic cornbread and spoon pudding. An unapologetically richer, slightly sweeter, unspeakably moister cornbread than Southerns swear by yet it’s still gosh darn versatile as can be. Originally published August 9, 2001.–Renee Schettler Rossi
- Quick Glance
- 35 M
- 1 H, 30 M
- Makes one 10-inch bread
- 1 cup coarse cornmeal, also labeled on packages as “polenta”
- 2 cups buttermilk, either low-fat or full-fat
- 8 ounces (8 to 10 slices) bacon
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 1/2 cups (16 ounces) fresh or frozen corn
- 2 tablespoons bacon drippings or mild vegetable oil
- 1. Several hours before baking the cornbread (ie the night before or the morning of), combine the cornmeal and buttermilk in a bowl. Cover and let the cornmeal soak at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.
- 2. The next day, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- 3. Place the bacon on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake until the bacon is crisp, 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of your bacon. Using tongs or a fork, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain the fat from the baking sheets into a stainless-steel bowl and reserve it. When the bacon has cooled, crumble it into coarse pieces.
- 4. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C). Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Stir in the granulated and brown sugars. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Dissolve the honey in the melted butter and then stir the warm honey-butter mixture into the eggs. Add this to the soaked cornmeal mixture. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon or whisk until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the batter is blended and smooth. It should be the consistency of a thick pancake batter. Stir in the corn kernels until evenly distributed.
- 5. Place 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat into a 10-inch round cake pan, a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, or a 12-inch square pan. Place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the fat gets quite hot. Using pot holders or oven mitts, remove the pan, and tilt it to coat all the corners and sides. Scrape in the cornbread batter, spreading it from the center of the pan to the edges. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon pieces evenly over the top over the cornbread batter, gently pressing them into the batter.
- 6. Bake the bacon cornbread for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cornbread is firm and springy (the baking time will depend on the size of the pan) and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top will be a medium golden brown. The internal temperature at the center of the bacon cornbread should register at least 185°F (85°C).
- 7. Let the bacon cornbread cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing it into squares or wedges. Serve warm.
Bacon Cornbread Muffins Variation
- If, like us, you swoon to the crusty corner pieces—you know, the ones with ample contrast of crunchy exterior to super duper moist interior—you may wish to consider increasing the exterior surface area of each serving by making muffins with this batter. Just fill a dozen or so buttered muffin cups and bake at 350°F (175°C) for about 30 minutes, until the center of each muffin is springy when you gently nudge it with your finger. You’re welcome.
Recipe Testers Reviews
My husband and I thought this bacon cornbread was absolutely delicious! We had it for dinner one night—still warm—and that was all we had. And all we needed. I'm quite sure we could have eaten the whole thing, if we hadn't been trying to diet. It was very moist, tender, and satisfying. It was hefty without being dense or soggy—just a delight!
The amount of corn was very appealing and not too much at all. The sweetness was just right. I guess you can tell that we loved this!
Cornbread can often suffer from being dry and flavorless, but not this bacon cornbread recipe! The texture was very soft and moist, which I liked, as cornbread can be so dry. The hint of sweetness from the batter balances nicely with the salty bacon and the corn creates an interesting texture and helps keep the cornbread moist. This recipe is a keeper and I am looking forward to trying it in muffin form.
I baked the cornbread for 35 minutes but I might have given it 2 more minutes in the oven. I cut this into 16 pieces but I would say it serves between 8 and 12 as you will probably go back for seconds! We paired this with chili for the perfect cold weather dinner.
Sweet, salty, and smoky—this bacon cornbread is scrumptious! It's not your typical cornbread, though. You’d want to use a fork to eat this super moist “cornbread.” It's quite substantial. A side salad may be all you need for a lovely lunch or light dinner.
I started soaking the polenta first thing in the morning for baking the cornbread for dinner. The cornbread could not have come out more gorgeous or delicious!
Everyone thought this bacon cornbread was delicious. It's like a cross between corn pudding (or spoon pudding) and cornbread. Much softer than cornbread but still very delicious. It's also on the sweet side due to the 3 different types of sweeteners and the butter as well as the added corn. The only thing that's a little difficult is the timing because the polenta needs to soak overnight.
I used a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. The baking time is accurate but this seems like a very forgiving recipe and if someone accidentally baked it a little longer, they might be ok.
I would make this again (and maybe see if I could push the soaking time to be less). I would also reduce the amount of sugar and brown sugar.
Many years ago, I lived in a townhouse community. Whenever it snowed, all the residents in my little corner of the world would come out with their shovels and clean sidewalks, cars, parking spaces, and even the street itself. Those who were unable to shovel, either because of recent illness or current pregnancy, stayed inside and made muffins, serving them to the shovelers with coffee and hot chocolate.
I made this recipe during the first snowstorm of the year and it reminded me of those days. Hot, with a perfect muffin top-like crust, and served with coffee, it almost made me glad to be out with my snow shovel. Almost. I'm forty years older now and understand the attraction of Florida in the winter.
The only drawback to this cornbread was that it was slightly too sweet for me. Simply a matter of taste and I do know the sugar contributes to the crusty edges, but the next time I make it I may play around with the sugary ingredients. Other than that, it is a successful snowy day dish.
I used a 12-inch square baking pan and got about 36 slices. Shoveling can give one a bit of an appetite.
This bacon cornbread had a fabulous flavor thanks to smoky bacon, sweet corn, and a not-too-sweet cornbread.
Overall, a very taste dish with a nontraditional cornbread texture. The cornbread was a little too moist for my taste, making it something that would not pair quite as well with chilis and pulled meats as a drier cornbread would.
I would suggest baking it in a 10-inch pan or something larger. I used a 9-inch-round baking pan and baked for a total of 1 hour and 5 minutes for a crisp crust. Using a larger pan would create a thinner cornbread, which I think would more evenly distribute the corn kernels and create a crisper result.
That said, the texture was wonderful.