Savory Cornbread with Cheddar & Thyme

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This Northern-style cornbread is cakier than its Southern cousin. It’s the perfect side to any Southwestern or BBQ dish.

When it comes to cornbread, there are two devout camps: the Southerners and the Northerners, and both are passionate about their cornbread. I’ve lived most my life in the DC area – right smack in the middle – so I could really go either way.

There’s nothing quite like a crispy, thin wedge of authentic Southern cornbread from a cast iron skillet, but this Northern-style cornbread is just as special. It has a high flour-to-cornmeal ratio, which makes it cakier than its Southern cousin, and it’s made in a cake pan as opposed to a skillet. It’s moist, not too crumbly, and has wonderful – albeit subtle – flavor from the addition of corn, Cheddar cheese, and fresh thyme. I think you’ll enjoy it, no matter which camp you’re in.

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Savory Cornbread with Cheddar & Thyme

This Northern-style cornbread is cakier than its Southern cousin. It’s the perfect side to any Southwestern or BBQ dish.

Servings: 16 2-inch squares
Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw; just be sure they are not stuck together)
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 9-inch square glass or metal baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar and thyme until well combined. Stir in the corn and cheese.
  3. In a small bowl, break up the eggs with a wire whisk, then add the milk and whisk to combine. Add the wet mixture and melted butter to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon or spatula. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until puffed and lightly golden. Cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack, then cut into pieces and serve warm. Cornbread tastes best when served right out of the oven but leftovers can be wrapped in foil and reheated in a 350-degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cornbread can be frozen in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag for up to 3 months. To reheat, just wrap in foil and warm it in a 350°F oven until hot.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Just made this tonight. The flavor was really nice, but it was pretty dry. I think I will try adding some sour cream to the batter next time.

    • — Laura on July 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen:)
    Can I make this earlier in the day and serve at room temp?

    • — Debbie on May 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 25, 2021
      • Reply
  • I thought the word savory meant no sugar

    • — ?? on April 2, 2021
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  • Can you leave the sugar out of the recipe? I don’t like sweet corn bread.

    • — Betha on March 26, 2021
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    • Hi Betha, I think you could get away with omitting it or just cutting it in half. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on March 26, 2021
      • Reply
  • Very good. The thyme is a nice change. Next time I might try some additional aged cheddar because to bring out more of its flavour. Thank you!

    • — Julie on March 10, 2021
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  • I made this cornbread today and it is delicious.I also added chopped pickled jalapeños to it.What I like about it is a small wedge really fills you up.This will be a regular staple this month in my house.

    • — Karen Fleischman on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This our new favorite go-to cornbread recipe! We love how (dare we say) moist it is, and the texture is cakier than most other recipes. BONUS: The leftovers hold up very well for several days, as compared to a more crumbly, drier cornbread. Excellent recipe, we loved it served with the turkey chili you featured recently. A keeper for sure!

    • — Beth Holden on January 28, 2021
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  • Hi, Jenn,
    We absolutely love this recipe. It freezes beautifully and I am so glad that you shared it with us. I usually serve it alongside homemade soups, and so I always freeze the leftovers and have an emergency meal in the freezer! I was wondering about this: I have used white whole wheat flour in lots of baking recipes, and wondered if you thought it would work in this recipe? We are trying to use mostly whole grains these days, but if you don’t think it will work, I will certainly keep on baking this recipe. Thank you!

    • — Sue on January 27, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the cornbread, Sue! I do think white whole wheat flour would work well here. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on January 28, 2021
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      • I definitely will let you know. I made this for dinner yesterday, so it may be a few weeks before I bake it again, but I will use the white whole wheat flour and let you know how it goes. Thank you!

        • — Sue on January 28, 2021
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      • Hi, Jenn! I finally made this recipe with the white whole wheat flour and also used coarse grind stone ground cornmeal. We loved how it turned out and I will definitely keep on using the white whole wheat flour. Thank you again for your phenomenal recipes and replies to questions. Take care!

        • — Sue Simon on April 9, 2021
        • Reply
        • So glad it worked out — thanks for the follow up! 🙂

          • — Jenn on April 9, 2021
          • Reply
  • Loved this recipe. It was simple to make with loads of flavour. The only change I made was to substitute corn for peas (my hubby hates peas). Thanks again!!

    • — Nancy on December 28, 2020
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  • I made it without cheddar cuz i had none and I added more salt instead. I also used only 2 teaspoons of honey instead of the amount of sugar specified cuz its all I had. And I substituted polenta for cornmeal. My family loved it but i dont like it, I find it a bit bland and the polenta too crunchy. Should I have soaked the polenta in the mixture before putting it in the oven? I should have added sugar or bought a cheese. I live in a place where cheddar type cheeses dont exist. Do you think fresh farmers cheese could work?

    • — Lena on November 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Lena, I wouldn’t recommend farmer’s cheese here, but if you can access jack or Colby, or Gruyere, any of them will work.

      • — Jenn on November 23, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn: The metric tag doesn’t seem to work for this recipe—how much cheese by weight?

    • — Susanna on November 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sorry about that! I just added the conversions. Hope you enjoy the cornbread if you make it!

      • — Jenn on November 24, 2020
      • Reply
  • Very good! I made this recipe exactly as stated except I used salted butter because that is all I had, and I made them into muffins to give some away and keep some! Baked at 400 for about 19min in my oven. The recipe is perfect amount for 12 Regular size muffins. Beautiful, puffy, golden. Delicious warm, slathered with butter with chowder, or cold next day with jam. I will definitely make again. If I am not pressed for time, I may try roasting the corn before adding next time for a deeper corn flavour but its delish as is too! And very easy to make 🙂

    • — Angela on November 18, 2020
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  • Can I omit the thyme? I want to serve these with my tortilla soup and I dont think thyme will really pair well with my soup.

    • — Rachel N. on November 4, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on November 4, 2020
      • Reply
  • I wanted a great cornbread to go with my bean soup, and once again, Jenn, you have the best recipe on the planet. I live in Norway and cornmeal is not easy to find, particularly the course cornmeal cornbread calls for. So I improvised and crushed 4 corn-rice cakes and puréed the can of sweet corn, added the cheese and fresh thyme and it was a wonderfully moist cornbread with all the cornmeal flavor I was hungry for. I will never make cornbread the old traditional, dry kind again! You are amazing and I thank you. Tusen takk! #@onceuponachef

    • — Jen Humphrey on September 5, 2020
    • Reply
    • You’re so welcome! 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 7, 2020
      • Reply
  • Jenn, I made the cornbread, as muffins. Muffins were done in 22 minutes. Delicious! The only change I made was to add a quarter teaspoon of ground pepper, just cos we like things a little spicy. This is definitely going to be a go to recipe. Thank you! Chira

    • — Chira Mendis on June 6, 2020
    • Reply
    • Wonderful cornbread! Moist, great texture. Nice balance of flavours. First savoury recipe I have made. I will make it again. I think you could change up the herb depending on what you have, for example chives.

      • — Colleen on July 15, 2020
      • Reply
  • Do you have any dessert recipe/preferably a simple chocolate cake etc that is eggless?

    • — Nidhi Podar on March 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Nidhi, I don’t think I have any cake recipes that don’t require eggs, but a number of readers that avoid eggs have mentioned that they use flax eggs when baking. I would assume many baking recipes would also work with some kind of egg substitute. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on March 29, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I’m trying to avoid going to the store these days… if I made it without cheddar, would it still be ok? I know cheddar is in the name… or maybe I could put in a bit of feta? Thank you!

    • — Olga on March 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Olga, you could get away with omitting it, but I’d add a little more salt to the batter. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on March 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • Good recipe but not feeling the corn kernels in the bite …. not really tasting the cheddar and too much thyme for me…

    • — Lucy on November 29, 2019
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  • Could you sub buttermilk for the milk? I have some to use up. Thanks!

    • — Adina on November 22, 2019
    • Reply
    • I wouldn’t recommend it, Adina — sorry!

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2019
      • Reply
    • Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Let sit for 1/2 a minute, stir then use. It is a great substitute for buttermilk! I use this method any time I do not have buttermilk on hand and it works every time!

      • — Kathy Cabral on November 29, 2019
      • Reply
  • how long should it bake in mini muffin pans?

    • — Beth on October 28, 2019
    • Reply
    • They’ll take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, so to be safe, I’d start checking them at 10. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 28, 2019
      • Reply
  • Can I line the pan with parchment paper so it’s easier to lift it out?

    • Hi Beth, I haven’t used parchment for this, but I think it should work. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 28, 2019
      • Reply
  • Wanted to like this but it just didn’t hit the mark for me. Flavors of thyme (fresh) and cheddar cheese just didn’t come thru. Sure, texture of the bread of good but lacked flavor for me.

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