Green Chili Cilantro Cornbread

July 14, 2010 · 24 comments

filed in: Bakery,Side Dishes,Vegetarian/Vegetarian Option

Green Chili Cilantro Cornbread

Every culture has its quintessential comfort food staple dish, and my peripatetic career has exposed me to many of them. In many Asian countries, rice is part of virtually every meal. In Kenya, ugali (corn meal mush) rules, as does motoke (plantain mush) in Uganda. Italians are comforted by their pasta, while many Middle Easterners and Indians delight in flat breads. And we natives of the American South do crave our beloved cornbread.

I don’t make cornbread every night, as did my grandparents, and I’m not a purist about the ingredients I use for it either, as they were. I frequently use non-traditional flavorings in the cornbreads I bake, such as in this recipe, which was inspired by the bold taste of Indian-style green masala. The combination of fresh green chilies, cilantro, and spices does much to perk up and add a new flavor note to homey cornbread.


1 1/4 cups stone ground, fine cornmeal, white or yellow
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
(optional, but preferred) 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup scallions and half their greens, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (coriander greens, dhania, etc.), chopped
1-3 jalapeño (or if you prefer extra heat, serrano) chilies with seeds, chopped
1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
1/4 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
1 1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter


  1. Brush an 8- to 9-inch cast iron frying pan or cornbread pan (see above examples) with vegetable oil and place in the oven. Preheat both the oven and the pan to 400 degrees F. A preheated baking pan, preferably of cast iron, is essential for crusty cornbread.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, coriander, cumin, and optional sugar (if the latter is used). Stir in the scallions, cilantro, chilies, garlic, and corn until well blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, egg, and melted butter. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and gently stir until the batter is just blended but still slightly lumpy.
  4. Remove the preheated baking pan from the oven, immediately spoon in the cornbread batter (it will sizzle), and return the pan to the oven. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes or until the cornbread is nicely browned and a straw inserted in the center comes out clean. Serves 4-8.

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{ 21 them below or add one }

Shelby March 15, 2011 at 9:49 am

I am definitely trying this cornbread recipe out. Sounds wonderful. I love anything with cilantro in it!


Judy October 25, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I love that pan! Oh dear, I don’t think there’s any way for me to shape these into triangles and then put them on a regular pan?

I have never tried such savoury cornbreads before. I think they’ll go excellent with some dishes I can think off the top of my head, such as chicken or beef stews. yummy. Love the Oriental /Middle-Eastern flavours in this. And cornbread. Lovely food, it is.


Nancy October 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm

I have never used the fancy pans; I use a cast iron frying pan and double the recipe? I heat the pan to warm up the butter that I ‘grease’ the pan with and get it bubbling hot before I pour the batter in. (My husband like the buttery-fried crust on the bottoms of his cornbread)


Barbara October 10, 2012 at 8:52 am

I’m definitely with your husband on the importance of heating the skillet before pouring in cornbread batter! Since you don’t mention the size of your frying pan, let me just say that the above recipe comfortably fits both in my 9″ and 8″ cast iron frying pans.


A Canadian Foodie July 28, 2010 at 11:21 am

I adore cornbread. I am crazy over spicy cornbread and cannot wait to make this. It looks GORGEOUS! I won’t use the fancy pan, though! I have to wait until I return home from holidays!
I have a few extra wireless minutes here while I wait for my husband in Bijeljina, Bosnia and just posted another lunch in Paris. I am so glad to start catching up on my reading… we just made Serbian Kubassa Sausage this morning with real pig intestines. It was an incredible experience and can’t wait to taste them! Valerie


Koek! July 22, 2010 at 10:50 am

Holey moley! That just looks too good to be true! Yum.


Arnold July 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm

This looks good enough to eat ;-) I am so glad you published something with cilantro in it. Is cilantro what we South Africans call ‘coriander’, or are we talking of two different things here?


Barbara July 18, 2010 at 2:37 pm

They are the same, and many thanks for asking, Arnold. North Americans typically use the Spanish term “cilantro” to refer to the greens of the coriander plant. I’ve clarified the terminology in the ingredients’ list above.

If you decide to make cornbread in South Africa, Arnold, I recommend that you increase the amount of fresh corn used. Based on my personal experience, the variety of corn grown for RSA mealie meal has less corny-corn flavor than the varieties grown specifically for cornmeal in New World countries.


Barbara S. July 17, 2010 at 2:07 pm

So glad I found you… I was looking at your goat cheese/tomato/basil mold, yes, very retro indeed, but different which I love. I am made for that cornbread pan, I’ll have to look for it. Your cornbread recipe sounds delicious!


megan July 16, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I have the corn stick pan and should pull it out and use it. This recipe looks perfect, love the chilies and cilantro.


Barbara July 15, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Many thanks, y’all. The next time I make this, I want to complete the green masala theme by adding a touch of fresh ginger. Might be interesting.

BTW I was amazed that the above cornbread pans, which I thought were pretty basic US kitchen gear, were such a novelty. How encouraging to think that regional cooking differences in the US still exist and that we haven’t become completely homogenized.


Maria July 15, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I have to get that pan!


Barbara July 16, 2010 at 7:44 pm

As mentioned below, that particular pan is ancient. But I’ve seen very similar ones in stores and on Amazon.


Winnie July 15, 2010 at 11:52 am

The pans are totally awesome and this cornbread with its wonderful seasonings looks fabulous!


Gera @ Sweets Foods Blog July 14, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Different customs and tastes, this is the world. The flat cornbread looks scrumptious! Cheers, Gera


Suzanne Collier July 14, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Cornbread! Nothing says comfort food more to me than cornbread. I love the green chile and your pan! I’ve talked many times about picking one of them up, but just never have. You are my inspiration! I could make a meal on this cornbread and a good garden-ripened tomato. Whew! I’m hungry!!


Lana @ Never Enough Thyme July 14, 2010 at 11:44 am

Barbara – I love this twist of flavors on a traditional cornbread recipe. Very original. Like you, I have one of those divided skillets and several corn stick pans as well. The divided pan is also good for scones by the way.


Heather Davis July 14, 2010 at 11:16 am

Love the bread and that pan! Amazing pic with the two together. General all round greatness as usual Barbara!


Barbara July 14, 2010 at 10:46 am

Many thanks, Amanda and Marla. Special purpose, cast iron cornbread pans are very common in the American South, and between my mother and me, we have five of them. The one with wedge-shaped sections is ancient, but I do see new ones similar to it in stores. Try Amazon.


marla {family fresh cooking} July 14, 2010 at 10:01 am

I have never seen a cornbread pan like that. So neat, I would love to find one. I too love non-traditional cornbread flavorings. I like the sweet & savory notes in yours. xo


Amanda July 14, 2010 at 8:23 am

This looks fabulous Barbara, and I LOVE that pan, it rocks!


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