Cornbread is one of the most popular American side dishes, but many people consider it bland. The good news is that cornbread is a great blank canvas that can benefit from various seasonings. Here are some of the best spices for cornbread.
A classic addition to cornbread, jalapeño peppers are a great way to enhance both color and flavor. Your options range from fresh chopped jalapeños to powdered and even canned peppers. All will do the job.
Jalapenos are relatively moderate in heat, which usually makes them a safe add-in; however, note that the heat level can vary significantly, so you should test your peppers before adding them to the batter.
Another issue to keep in mind with some forms of jalapeño is moisture. Fresh and canned jalapeños come with a lot of water. Fresh jalapeños are mostly water, and canned ones soak up a lot of brine. You may need to adjust the other liquids in your cornbread recipe to keep the mixture from becoming wet and soggy.
A highly aromatic member of the mint family, basil can add a lot of flavor and aroma to a cornbread recipe or box mix. Basil’s flavor profile ranges from notes of mint and oregano in the dried herb to those of bright citrus notes, fresh mint, and licorice in the fresh herb.
Both dried and fresh oregano work well in cornbread, but fresh basil will work best. You have the option of making a herbed butter or oil with the basil and using that instead of the herb. All forms will add to both the taste and appearance of the cornbread and pair nicely with all of the other ingredients on this list.
Another member of the mint family, rosemary will enhance your cornbread’s flavor with its flavor and fragrance. Rosemary’s flavor profile includes notes of mint and citrus but also strong piney, resinous and floral flavors.
Like basil, you can use it dried or fresh. Both forms of the herb will provide many of the same flavor notes. You also get the option of infusing the herb’s flavor into butter or oil. Note that rosemary is pungent, and unlike basil, it is easy to go overboard with it. A little goes a long way.
Use rosemary in moderation if adding it to a recipe that didn’t originally contain rosemary.
Parmesan cheese comes from Italy and is named for the Parma region. An excellent flavoring additive to a range of savory dishes, parmesan cheese adds a strong burst of savory flavor to cornbread.
Rich in glutamates, Parmesan cheese functions like monosodium glutamate in that it enhances the umami properties of the cornbread. It contains sodium as well, so it is a good idea to adjust amounts of any other salt if you are adding the Parmesan to a pre-existing recipe.
Sulfurous and highly aromatic, garlic is one of the world’s most popular and important spices, and it works well in cornbread. Use it as the lone flavoring ingredient in cornbread or add it in with any or all of the other ingredients on this list. When used correctly, it turns cornbread into a hybrid of cornbread and garlic bread.
Garlic can come in a variety of forms, and most of them can work in cornbread. Fresh garlic can be finely chopped and added directly or infused into oil or butter that will then be added. Possibly the easiest form to use is garlic powder, which you can add to the dry ingredients when mixing the batter.