This Tex-Mex Cornbread Recipe is one of my favorite food memories from childhood. My grandmother made it every time we visited, and we pestered my mom so much that she began making it, too. On days when I’d come home from school and opened the door to smell Tex-Mex Cornbread baking, I knew we in for a fantastic dinner.
Back then, I didn’t realize this recipe is naturally gluten-free. We knew nothing about celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, only that the combination of onion, jalapeño peppers, cheese, and bacon made this extraordinarily delicious.
ABOUT THAT BACON FAT…
We also didn’t know that maybe putting loads of bacon fat in everything wasn’t necessarily the best thing for us. Nowadays, people freak out over such things, so even though my mother and grandmother used up to 1 cup of bacon grease in their versions, I’ve lightened mine up a bit.
Just a bit, mind you. There’s still a couple of tablespoons bacon grease in my recipe, though it works just fine if you leave them out and use straight canola or sunflower oil. Personally, I like the extra bacon flavor, but you do what you feel is best for you.
Do use real bacon that you’ve freshly cooked, though. Turkey bacon doesn’t have the same flavor, and store-bought pre-cooked bacon doesn’t, either. In fact, you can save some cleanup time by making the bacon in the oven then using the same baking sheet (wiped out a bit) to bake this Tex-Mex Cornbread.
I love to take this to potluck dinners and BBQ parties since one batch is big enough to serve 24 people. There’s never any leftover, and I’m always asked for the recipe. It’s that good.
Not having leftovers makes me sad since it’s such a personal favorite, so I’ve taken to doubling the recipe. After it cools I cut it into pieces then pop four into a FoodSaver bag, vacuum seal it, and stash it in the freezer. That way I can have Tex-Med Cornbread anytime I want but, since it’s frozen, I’m not tempted to eat it all in one sitting.
I thought this was a bit spicy when I was a kid. That’s because my mother minced the jalapenos and used the whole pepper: seeds, membranes and all. If you like the spice of jalapeño but don’t want your mouth to burn, make sure to remove the membrane and discard the seeds. You’ll get all of the flavors of authentic Tex-Mex Cornbread without all of the tears.
And remember: ALWAYS wear gloves when chopping jalapeños or you’ll regret it for days.
Tex-Mex Cornbread Recipe
- 2 cups yellow cornmeal
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp table salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk (no substitutions)
- 1 lb bacon cooked well and crumbled
- 2 tbsp bacon grease
- 2/3 cup oil canola or sunflower
- 2 14-oz. cans cream-style corn (look for gluten-free if you have sensitivities)
- 2 large jalapeño peppers deseeded and minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced finely
- 1 medium yellow onion minced
- 10 oz sharp cheddar cheese freshly shredded
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Place rack in the center of the oven. Grease a large, rimmed baking sheet.
- In a very large bowl combine the cornmeal, baking soda, and salt.
- In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until well-blended. Stir in the buttermilk.
- Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the bacon. Stir in the bacon fat, oil, and creamed corn. Stir in remaining ingredients until well-blended. Pour into prepared baking sheet and bake in 375°F oven for 35 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.