For a fun twist on classic comfort food, you'll love this jalapeño popper cornbread! Just like jalapeño poppers, this cornbread is loaded with spicy jalapeño, smoky bacon and melted cheddar and filled with a whipped cream cheese butter as a nod to everyone's favorite party snack.
Whether you're tailgating or having a few friends over for game day, no meal is more satisfying and perfect for the occasion than chili and cornbread. But why settle on just any cornbread? Everyone's had plain, old cornbread before but jalapeño popper cornbread? Now that's a memorable dish.
This jalapeño popper cornbread features a crisp, chewy crust with a moist yet hearty crumb studded with savory bacon bits. Fresh jalapeños add the perfect level of heat, and the cream cheese butter gives this cornbread a decadent finishing touch that's unlike any other recipe you've tried.
How good does that sound? After one bite, I feel confident you won't need another cornbread recipe. This cheesy jalapeño cornbread is comfort food perfection.
Bonus: If you love this cornbread, make sure you also try my smoked jalapeño poppers.
How to Make
If you've never baked homemade cornbread, you'll be surprised at how easy and forgiving this recipe is. Let's start baking.
Because bacon can take time to brown, I like to begin by cooking our bacon. Since we're crumbling the bacon in our cornbread batter, I go ahead and cut it into 1-inch pieces and then cook until browned like so.
Once our bacon is ready, we place a cast-iron skillet in the oven and heat it to 400 degrees. By heating the skillet, this ensures it's piping hot when we add our batter, which gives the cornbread the perfect crust. This is an important step, so don't skip it.
Now we combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking soda and just a touch of sugar in a large mixing bowl and set it aside. In another bowl, we mix together two beaten eggs, sour cream, buttermilk and melted butter.
From here, we stir our dry ingredients into our wet ingredients to make our batter. The batter will look a bit lumpy. That's OK.
We then fold in our bacon, shredded cheddar and diced jalapeño to put the finishing touch on the batter. For the cheddar, I recommend grating your own cheese rather than grabbing the bagged shredded cheddar. Freshly grated cheese melts better because it isn't coated with a substance to prevent clumping in the bag.
If you like your food especially hot and spicy, feel free to leave in the seeds and membrane from the jalapeño before dicing, though I removed them for my batch. I like plenty of heat, but with the sliced jalapeños on top, I felt like that gave the cornbread enough heat for my taste, and it's likely the safer bet for feeding a crowd.
Now we remove the cast-iron skillet from the oven and add a couple tablespoons of butter. Once it melts, we pour in our batter, top with fresh jalapeño slices and bake. Remember, the cast-iron skillet is fiery hot right now, so be careful when handling it.
As the cornbread bakes, this is the perfect time to prepare our whipped cream cheese butter. This process is as simple as whipping together softened butter and softened cream cheese until it becomes one fluffy mixture. If you'd like, you can make the cream cheese butter ahead of time. Just make sure you allow it time to soften at room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour before serving to ensure it's perfectly creamy.
Once the cornbread comes out of the oven, we give it about five to 10 minutes to cool. We then spread plenty of cream cheese butter onto our warm slice of jalapeno popper cornbread and devour. Best cornbread recipe ever, huh?
And if you'd like more cornbread recipes, make sure you also try this sweet potato cornbread.
As you cruise through the grocery aisles, you may notice you have the option for white or yellow cornmeal. Both varieties work in this recipe, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
White cornmeal is traditional in Southern cornbread while yellow is the preferred type for Northern cornbread. Yellow cornmeal also has a stronger and sweeter flavor and shows off a more golden hue. If you prefer a more corn-forward flavor, go with yellow cornmeal while white cornmeal is best if you prefer subtle corn notes.
People have strong opinions on sweet versus unsweetened cornbread. Typically, Southern cornbread isn't sweet, but Northern cornbread is. Just like the white versus yellow cornmeal debate, it comes down to personal preference.
Honestly, I like both, but I designed this recipe so that it's not sweet. With this jalapeño, cheddar and bacon, I thought a sweet cornbread wasn't the right match. Sure, I use a couple tablespoons of sugar, but it doesn't come out sweet. I find it just gives the corn flavor a bit more life.
Of course, if you prefer a sweet cornbread, feel free to add ¼ cup of sugar or eliminate it completely if you don't want any kind of sweetening. You have the flexibility with this recipe to adjust the sweetening to your personal taste.
I prefer to serve my cornbread the same day as baking, but when that's not an option, this cornbread will last on the counter for a couple days, or you can extend its life by storing it in the refrigerator. No matter which way you store the cornbread, just make sure you tightly cover it with foil to prevent it from drying out. When you're ready to reheat it, you can simply pop slices into the microwave or keep the skillet covered with foil and place in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes.
You can even freeze cornbread. Make sure you fully cover the cornbread with plastic wrap and then place it in a freezer bag. The cornbread will keep for two to three months.
For beer, I like something with a nice balance of malt and hops, such as an American pale ale. The bread-like, sweet malt complements our cornmeal while the hops bring out our spicy jalapeño.
If you're in the mood for wine, you can't go wrong with a riesling or chardonnay. The residual sweetness of riesling counters the spice, and it comes with a nice dose of acidity to cut through the bacon and cream cheese butter. A chardonnay is also great because those buttery notes make for a delicious match with our cornmeal.
For a cornbread recipe like no other, I hope you try this jalapeño popper cornbread.
What to Serve With Cornbread?
- Authentic Texas chili
- Andouille sausage-chicken gumbo
- Shrimp and crab gumbo
- Venison chili
- Colorado-style pork green chile
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Jalapeño Popper Cornbread With Whipped Cream Cheese Butter
- Mixing bowls
- 10-inch cast-iron skillet
Jalapeño Popper Cornbread
- 6 bacon slices cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 ½ cups cornmeal spooned and leveled
- ½ cup all-purpose flour spooned and leveled
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs beaten, room temperature
- 8 ounces sour cream room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk shaken before measuring
- ½ cup melted butter
- 1 diced jalapeño stemmed, seeds and membrane removed before dicing
- 1 cup freshly grated cheddar
- 2 tablespoons butter unmelted
- 1-2 sliced jalapeños
Whipped Cream Cheese Butter
- ½ cup butter softened to room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature
Jalapeño Popper Cornbread
- In a cold skillet, add the bacon and turn the heat to medium. Cook the bacon until the fat renders and it turns brown. Move to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
- Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet in a cold oven and heat to 400 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, buttermilk and melted butter until it's smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients just until combined. The batter will be a bit lumpy. Then, fold in the reserved bacon, diced jalapeno and cheddar.
- By now, the oven should be 400 degrees. If not, allow it to reach 400 degrees. When it hits 400 degrees, carefully remove the skillet from the oven and place on a heat-proof surface, such as a trivet or the stove. Add the 2 tablespoons unmelted butter. Use a spoon to move the butter around to evenly coat the skillet. Pour in the batter and top with sliced jalapenos.
- Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Whipped Cream Cheese Butter
- As the cornbread bakes, prepare the whipped cream cheese butter by using a hand or stand mixer to whip the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy. Set aside in room temperature to keep it spreadable.
- When the cornbread finishes baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the skillet for about five to 10 minutes. Serve with whipped cream cheese butter. Enjoy!
- For baking at 5,280 feet, I used 1 ¾ teaspoons baking soda. I did not make any additional adjustments for altitude.
- For full tips, please see blog post.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.