It doesn’t get much more southern than this Pimento Cheese Cornbread. Classic moist, tender cornbread is filled with gooey cheddar cheese and studded with pimento peppers.
If you’ve been hanging around these parts for any length of time, you know I’m no stranger to adding the flavors of pimento cheese to all sorts of stuff. From my Tomato and Pimento Cheese Fritters to my Bacon Pimento Cheese Bites to my Pimiento Cheese Scalloped Potatoes to my Tomato Cobbler with Pimento Cheese Biscuits, I love adding it all over the place.
And, yes… I do spell it as both pimento and pimiento. It’s just about however my mood strikes me. I’m a rebel like that. 🤣
So when Heather pointed out that I didn’t have a cornbread recipe that featured the South’s favorite spread, I knew I had to fix that. So, today, I’m sharing my Pimento Cheese Cornbread recipe.
Strongly based on one of my favorite cornbread recipes (yes, I have more than one), Elmer’s’ Cornbread, this version is light, tender, moist, and cheesy with pops of the tart and tangy pimento peppers scattered throughout.
Get that golden brown cornbread crust!
The trick to getting that golden brown, crispy crust on your cornbread is preheating the cast iron skillet you’re going to bake it in. I always preheat my oven with my skillet in it. However, newer ovens preheat so quickly you might need to leave the skillet in the oven a few extra minutes to ensure it gets hot enough. You want to hear that batter sizzle when you pour it into the skillet.
New in this post, you’ll find call-out blocks like the one above and below that feature important information that will help ensure recipe success. I know not everyone has the time to read the entire post, but hopefully featuring vital info this way will help folks gather the tips, tricks, and methods I think are important to help my recipes turn out perfectly every time.
What’s the difference between plain cornmeal, self-rising cornmeal, and cornmeal mix?
I get asked pretty frequently if there’s a difference between corn meal (plain cornmeal), self-rising cornmeal, and cornmeal mix. The answer is yes!
- Cornmeal or plain cornmeal is just that – plain cornmeal. It’s just finely ground corn.
- Self-rising cornmeal is plain cornmeal with added leavening ingredients like baking powder and/or baking soda and usually some salt.
- Cornmeal mix is plain cornmeal, leavening ingredients, salt, AND flour.
So, as you can see, with varying ingredients, you typically cannot interchange cornmeal, self-rising cornmeal, and cornmeal mix without making other adjustments to the recipe.
Pimento Cheese Cornbread
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil or shortening
- 1 1/2 cups plain cornmeal (I used yellow)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional, but recommended)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 heaping tablespoon real mayonnaise
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups thickly shredded sharp cheddar cheese – 1 (8-ounce package)
- 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimento peppers, drained
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Add 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil or shortening to an 10.25-inch cast iron skillet and place it in the oven to preheat while the oven preheats. (If your oven preheats quickly, you might want to leave the skillet in the oven to heat for at least 5 minutes once it's reached the target temp to allow the skillet to heat through. This is what gives the cornbread its thick, dark brown outer crust.)
- In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together. Add the egg, mayonnaise, buttermilk, and water and stir until smooth. Add the cheddar cheese and drained pimentos to the mixture – reserving a few of each to sprinkle on the top. Stir to combine.
- Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and rotate it to ensure the oil has coated the entire bottom of the skillet. Pour the batter into the skillet, being cautious as the hot oil can splatter a bit. You'll know the skillet is pre-heated enough if the batter sizzles when you pour it in. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and pimentos on the top of the batter. Return the skillet to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. You can also turn the oven on low broil for 2 to 3 minutes if you like the top really brown.
- Remove from the oven and immediately invert to remove the cornbread from the skillet. If left in the skillet, the bottom will lose its crisp, crunchy crust. Serve warm.
If nutritional values are provided, they are an estimate and will vary depending on the brands used. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, I recommend grabbing your favorite brands and plugging those ingredients into an online nutritional calculator.
I love to cook like you cook.
I seen you on tv for the first time so I just had to see what’s cookin.
I signed up for more good recipes.
Thanks, Arvin! Happy to have you join us!
Love your recipes
Thank you, Kathryn!
Pimento cheese is one of my favorite summer time snacks and to combine it with cornbread, my goodness! It just pushed it over the edge! I made it last last night and it was perfect with a pot of chicken stew.
That’s awesome! So glad you enjoyed it!
Hi Stacey. This recipe sounds amazing and I can’t wait to try it. I wonder how easy it might be to adjust the recipe to an 8″ skillet? That is the size that I make for myself. Thanks for the recipes.
Hi Pam! I’ve not scaled it down, so I can’t say for sure about quantities. But I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Hope you’ll enjoy!
This sounds soooo wonderful! I do not have a cast iron skillet, what can I use instead?
Any 10 inch cake pan should work or even an 8×8 should do the job!
I made your pimento cheese cornbread today. I am in love with it. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much Harry! So glad you loved it!
I am getting ready to make your pimento cheese cornbread . I can hardly wait to try it.
I’m so glad! Let us know how much you enjoy it!
I’m going to make this as soon as the weather cools off. Gave it 4 instead of 5 because sugar should NEVER be put in cornbread. If you want it sweet, eat cake.
This is hardly enough sugar to make it taste like cake. Sugar in cornbread has a few different purposes – mainly to help it brown up nice and golden. You can certainly leave it out, but I assure you… this ain’t sweet cornbread.
Cornbread with sugar added is in the original Betty Crocker Cookbook that I was given when I married 47 years ago.. So, it has always been added to my cornbread and we love it that way. Regular cornbread is good too
Love all your recipes and always get around to fixing them.
Thank you so much Joy!
We met at your book signing at ALABAMA GOODS and I GAVE YOU A RECIPE FOR A CHICKEN DISH. Enjoyed talking with you and love your new home place !!God bless you and your family.
LORD HAVE MERCY! This is definitely a KEEPER recipe!
Let us know how you like it!
Stacey? Sugar? Yikes. I know, I know, it’s ever the question of sugar vs no sugar. I also heat my iron skillet but do it on top of the stove and sprinkle a small amount of the cornmeal in the oiled skillet. When it starts to slightly smoke, I then pour in my cornbread mixture. For me, it gives a little extra “crunch” on the bottom. When it bubbles, transfer to hot oven.
Sugar or no sugar? That is the question! But no questioning that you HAVE to have a good crust!
Tell”em Janice. Next pone I’m going to do the cornmeal!