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Sweet Jalapeño Cornbread Never Tasted so Good

Preview: This Sweet Jalapeño Cornbread recipe is packed full of fresh corn, Cheddar cheese, jalapeños, and sour cream. It’s moist, spicy, and sweet with a buttery and crispy crust.

This cornbread recipe is for those of you who are drawn to “cornbread cake.” That includes me. If the cornbread I’m eating doesn’t have enough sweetness, I grab a bottle of honey. Even the jalapenos can be sweet if you buy candied jalapeños in a jar.

Southerners like to argue about the rightness or wrongness of adding sugar. Some say it should never happen. Well, it does happen at my house and it’s the only kind I want to eat.

Try this extravagant, over-the-top treat that will make you want to eat soup (so you can have cornbread) every night of the week. Don’t miss the video!

Updated 1/10/2020

Sweet Jalapeño Cornbread on a cutting board ready to serve

Recipe Inspiration

To come up with this Jalapeño Cornbread recipe, I started with a cornbread recipe from “Flour” by Joanne Chang.

From there, I went crazy with substitutions and additions in my quest to duplicate the cornbread served as an appetizer at one of my favorite restaurants (The Tavern in Ft Worth).

Ingredients and Substitutions


Regular yellow or white cornmeal is suitable for this recipe. In my opinion, stoneground cornmeal is not a good substitute.

Sour Cream:

Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream if you like.

If you make your own Greek yogurt, use yogurt-whey instead of milk. Since you will want to make this recipe over and over, it’s a welcome way to make good use of all that whey.


I am infatuated with sweet pickled or candied jalapeños here lately. The sweet and spicy flavors together are ridiculously addictive.

Not all brands are hot, like the ones pictured here. Some brands are mild. Pay attention when buying them if that matters to you.

Alternatively, use regular pickled jalapeños, or leave them out entirely, but in my opinion, they are the star of the show.

No, wait…

The buttery crust ON TOP is the star of the show. There are just too many things to like about this cornbread.


I know. There’s a little much. Just try it once.

Margarine is not recommended.


Fresh corn is so tender and suits the soft texture of this cornbread. My second choice would be fresh corn you have frozen yourself. The third choice would be commercially-frozen corn. Canned corn comes in last.


The recipe calls for brown sugar. I like the flavor. You could try white sugar or even honey or maple syrup.

If you want to go crazy, sprinkle the smallest amount of white granulated sugar over the top. Do this after you spread the batter in the pan with melted butter.

The sugar idea is entirely optional, and I promise not to tell if you try it.

My favorite skillet for cornbread: a carbon steel fry pan

This recipe is a skillet cornbread from start to finish. But I’m not a big cast-iron-skillet fan. Not only are they heavy, but I think I can taste the skillet if the cornbread is left in there too long after baking. Maybe it’s just my skillet.

Cornbread--in a carbon steel fry pan
cornbread in a carbon steel fry pan

Nevertheless, I’ll take a carbon steel fry pan any day over a cast-iron skillet.

It’s lighter in weight but holds the heat like an iron skillet. Carbon steel fry pans make the crispiest golden-brown crust.

If you don’t have one, use your cast iron skillet with confidence. This cornbread recipe will still turn out perfectly.

And it’s not just for cornbread…

Anytime I want a nice crust, whether it’s on a piece of meat, fish, or some veggies, I pull out this pan.

Just like cast iron, it develops a virtually non-stick dark-colored patina with use. (See the picture below of melted butter.) Since the definition of “patina” includes “a long time,” you shouldn’t be surprised to hear it takes a while to build that highly-desired patina.

How to assemble Sweet Jalapeño Cheese Cornbread:

melting butter in skillet
First, melt butter in a skillet inside your conventional oven while it is preheating. Pour all but a generous tablespoon of the butter into a separate bowl and set aside to use in the recipe.
dry ingredients
Combine dry ingredients.
whisking oil and butter
Combine oil and 2 tablespoons taken from the melted butter you set aside earlier.
Add eggs to oil and butter. Whisk well.
Add milk (or yogurt-whey) and sour cream (or yogurt) to egg mixture and whisk well.
folding in dry ingredients
Fold in dry ingredients.
Adding corn, cheese and jalapenos
Add corn kernels, cheese, and chopped jalapeños.
spreading batter in skillet
Spread the thick batter into hot iron skillet with butter in the bottom.
brushing butter over the top of cornbread
Pour the remaining butter you set aside earlier over the top of the cornbread and spread evenly with a brush.
Sweet Jalapeño Cornbread
We like to eat this hot out of the oven while the crust is still crispy.

Leftovers are delicious but way too tempting. So, we wrap individual servings and freeze them. When ready to eat, we like to split the cornbread and sauté in a buttery skillet until golden brown.

Speaking of leftovers…

This particular recipe makes tasty cornbread croutons or cornbread crumbles as you would use in dressing as you would serve at Thanksgiving. Love them in this Green Chili and Squash Dressing.

Cornbread is always a good idea...

cornbread in a skillet

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Hope to see you again soon!

p.s. Questions or suggestions? Please email me: Paula at

Yield: 10 servings

Sweet Jalapeño Cornbread

cloning the cornbread at the tavern--sliced and ready to eat

A butter-crusted cornbread with a moist interior thanks to sour cream, corn, jalapeños, and cheese. My husband declares this is the best cornbread I have ever made.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 1/4 cup butter, unsalted, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup pickled sweet jalapeños, chopped
  • 2.5 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  1. Place 1/4 cup butter in the skillet you plan to bake in and put in your oven while it's preheating. As soon as the butter is melted, pour out all but approximately 1 tablespoon butter (which will stay in the skillet) into a small dish and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil and 2 tablespoons of reserved melted butter. Add eggs, milk, and sour cream to oil mixture and whisk well. Stir in corn kernels and jalapeños.
  4. Fold wet ingredients into the cornmeal mixture until all dry ingredients are incorporated and the corn and jalapeños are evenly distributed. Lightly fold in cheese.
  5. Spread cornbread batter in buttered iron skillet. It will be somewhat stiff. Pour remaining butter you set aside from step #1 evenly over the top of the batter. Use a brush or the back side of a spoon to ensure the butter is evenly distributed over the top surface of the cornbread batter.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean.


Attention Greek yogurt makers:

Substitute yogurt-whey for the milk and Greek yogurt for the sour cream. It is my favorite way to use yogurt-whey.

Substitute for corn:

It's OK to substitute frozen corn for the fresh although I think the fresh is worth the trouble. If you do use frozen, try to find the small and tender white corn as opposed to the larger yellow kernel corn. Only use canned corn if you are on a dessert island somewhere and no other corn is available.

Preparing fresh corn:

My favorite way to fix one ear of corn is to put it in the microwave on High for 3-4 minute--un-shucked. When finished, shuck the corn and cut the kernels off.

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Nutrition Information:


10 servings

Serving Size:

1 serving

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 247Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 348mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 6g

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