12 Ways You Can Use Up Leftover Cornbread

To understand the heart of another culture, or at least, food culture, one should taste that culture's bread. The crusty baguette of France, the tangy injera of Ethiopia, and the varying versions of plain and stuffed chapati, naan, and paratha across the Indian subcontinent are non-negotiable accompaniments to their respective cuisines. And in the United States, particularly in the South, the absolute best cornbread strikes the same sentiment. A thick, fluffy, and ever so mildly sweet staple that pairs with chilis, soups, and barbecue.

Cornbread needn't just be a side dish. This Southern classic, with roots in Native American culture in which corn was gold, can take on many shapes and forms. Should you find yourself with leftover cornbread on hand after baking some for dinner, repurpose it instead of reheating it. Avoid the dreaded days-old, dried-out cornbread, reduce waste by not throwing it away, tune into your creative side, and get crafty in the kitchen.

Transform leftover cornbread into breakfast dishes, appetizers, and desserts. Breathe new life into tried and true recipes with some inspiration from this list we've made of fun ways to use up your leftover cornbread.

Turn your cornbread into crunchy croutons

Homemade croutons add a delightful crunch to all sorts of salads and soups. This culinary staple is really just made from dried-out bread. After a couple of days, cornbread starts to become dried out so why not give it a little nudge and transform it into cornbread croutons? While often made from sourdough or white bread, using cornbread for your croutons will be a surprisingly sweet substitute.

Cornbread croutons only require a few simple ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cube your leftover cornbread, drizzle it with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt until the bread cubes are lightly coated. Handle the cornbread gently as you're tossing them with the oil and salt, as they can crumble easily. Spread the seasoned bread on a lightly greased baking sheet or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes. Turn them over about halfway through and when they're golden brown, remove them from the oven. For a more flavorful, crunchier crouton, try pan-frying them instead.

Toss the final product into your favorite dish. They elevate a simple arugula salad and are a delicious complement to the flavors of a hearty fall salad. Cornbread croutons also add the perfect crunch to the top of a creamy butternut squash soup.

Elevate your breakfast with cornbread French toast

When a breakfast classic meets America's beloved bread, the results are bound to be a culinary delight. Put a Southern twist on French toast by using last night's leftovers. Don't fret if the leftover cornbread is dried out, the milk-egg mixture will infuse it with moisture and flavor.

The idea is simple: Replace brioche, sourdough, or whatever your preferred bread for French toast is with cornbread. Cut the cornbread into one-inch slices and dip into your usual French Toast mixture. You may want to keep it simple with the classic egg, milk, and cinnamon blend, or experiment with some flavorful alternatives. When you dip the bread, be careful not to soak it. If the cornbread is overly saturated with the batter, it can fall apart. Prepare your preferred sauces and fruits for the final touch. Strawberries, caramelized apples, and syrup all make for tasty toppings.

Or, you can try out a recipe that plays on the natural pairing of cornbread and blueberries. Whip up a tasty blueberry sauce, mix it into the egg mixture, dip your cornbread slices, and cook in a skillet until golden brown. Top with fresh blueberries, more of the blueberry sauce, and a spoonful of whipped cream — yum!

Steal the show with cornbread stuffing

Cornbread is a staple side dish year-round but tends to make an appearance on the table in even more abundance during the fall season. Given the historic association of corn with Native American culture and cuisine, corn dishes — and cornbread — are particularly a favorite feature on Thanksgiving menus. Step up your stuffing game by swapping out white breadcrumbs for crumbled cornbread. While cornbread stuffing has long been a favorite in the South, you might just surprise the palates of any non-Southern guests.

This cornbread stuffing recipe is a fantastic starting point for inspiration. As your cornbread is already a day or two old, you won't need to let it sit out in a bag. Simply take your leftover bread and crumble it. Chop and cook celery and shallots, season the crumbles, and add in the cooked veggies. Mix it all together, bake it until it's golden brown, and voila! Hats off to you, chef. The family will be raving about your scrumptious cornbread stuffing all evening.

Looking to add some surprising twists to your standard recipe? A sage cornbread is a fun way to elevate the flavor profile with a woody-piney twist. Pecans, walnuts, and dried cranberries make for other tasty additions. 

Crumble it on top of a fruit crisp

Fragrant notes of warm fruit mingle with caramelized sugars as juices bubble through the golden-brown topping. Fruit crisp is an easy dessert to throw together without much fuss. Using leftover cornbread as the topping is a creative and delicious way to repurpose this classic Southern side. Corn pairs well with a range of flavors, including the bright flavors of summer fruits like blackberries and blueberries. The crumbly and slightly dense texture of cornbread provides a wonderful contrast to the soft and juicy fruit filling.

Choose your favorite fruit — blackberries, plums, apples, peach crisp, or perhaps a blend of a few — and spread them in a casserole dish. Sprinkle the fruit with a spoonful of sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Instead of the typical topping of oats, brown sugar, flour, and butter, take your leftover cornbread, which has already started to become dry and crumbly. Crumble it by hand or for finer crumbs, blend them in a food processor for a few seconds. To add another layer of texture and flavor to your dessert, add some chopped nuts, such as pecans, to the cornbread topping.

Generously sprinkle the crumbs on top of the layer of fruit and bake until golden on top. The moisture-retaining properties of cornbread help keep the dessert from drying out. Enjoy while the crisp is warm and juicy— and with a scoop of ice cream for the finishing touch!

Mix the crumbs into a casserole

The magic of casseroles is that you can add pretty much anything you want to them. These hearty dishes may be a bit of a throwback to the 1950s but they still have a place in contemporary kitchens. Casseroles are budget-friendly and a fantastic way to repurpose leftovers and turn them into a new, delicious meal. Not sure what to do with your stale cornbread? A cornbread casserole is the perfect solution.

The versatility of cornbread lends it well to many types of casseroles. Cube or crumble the cornbread and mix it into your favorite casserole recipe or a preferred combo of ingredients. Diced vegetables like corn, tomatoes, and bell peppers pair well with the flavors of corn.

In need of some more help to get started? Try this Mexican cornbread casserole for some mouthwatering inspiration. Layer the casserole dish with crumbled cornbread before mixing together diced tomatoes, green chiles, and kernel corn to make the spicy base of this casserole. Add in ground beef or keep it vegetarian and opt for black beans instead. When you've completed your concoction, sprinkle shredded cheese on top and bake it in the oven until the edges are browned and the cheese is melted.

Whip up some corn fritters

Corn fritters are a tasty snack that is featured on menus across the Southern United States. The star ingredient in corn fritters is none other than corn. These fried cakes are a delightful blend of sweet and savory. They can be used as a base in replacement of a tortilla in a main dish or simply enjoyed on their own as an appetizer dipped in jam, honey, or maple syrup.

While incredibly scrumptious as is, elevate a corn fritters recipe by replacing the corn meal or flour with ground-up cornbread. Your leftover cornbread is already well on its way to being crumbled anyway, so grind it up in a food processor until it reaches a fine consistency and mix it in with the corn kernels and desired spices, such as paprika, chives, and parsley. The cornbread substitute adds a bit of texture and a hint of sweetness.

Looking for a truly Southern-inspired appetizer? Add jalapenos, corn, onions, cilantro, and cayenne into the mix. Chopped tomatoes, avocado slices, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs on top of the fritters are an enticing accompaniment. Top with a dollop of sour cream or your preferred creamy dipping sauce and dig in.

Slice it and make a sandwich

A simple way to use the cornbread from last night's dinner is to use it quite literally: as bread. While it might not be as tasty on its own anymore, reusing it for a sandwich gives your leftovers a second chance to shine. Swap out sourdough, multigrain, or whatever your favorite loaf is with cornbread for a surprising sarnie that plays on the salty and sweet elements of cornbread.

The world is your oyster when it comes to designing sandwiches with cornbread. Open-faced sandwiches provide a fun foundation from which to create an epic snack. Slice the bread to your desired thickness. Grill the bread until golden and lightly crunchy to prevent it from crumbling. While many ingredients pair well with cornbread, a turkey-cranberry combo is simple and sinfully delicious. Spread a layer of creamy goat cheese on the toasted cornbread, layer it with turkey slices, and drizzle with a spoonful of cranberry sauce. Top it with a handful of fresh greens like arugula or micro greens.

Leftover cornbread also makes for a killer grilled cheese. Mix up your tried and true toasted cheese sandwich recipe with the crumbly texture of cornbread. Fill the sandwich with sharp white cheddar, sliced jalapeños, and a drizzle of honey. Toast the sandwich until the bread is golden and the cheese is gooey and melted. Have fun experimenting with your fillings—the more creative, the better!

Add it to your favorite mac and cheese recipe

Mac and cheese is a household favorite for kids and adults alike. This indulgent comfort food is a perfect side dish. Mac and cheese can also be the star of the meal with countless variations. A mouthwatering blend of cheeses like sharp cheddar, gouda, and goat cheese, or a sprinkle of nutmeg, cayenne, or basil and thyme are all ways to turn your mac and cheese up a notch.

Another way to elevate your classic mac and cheese? Look beyond the cheese and use cornbread instead of breadcrumbs. Cornbread soaks up the rich, cheesy flavors of the dish and adds a crumbly texture that offsets the creamy noodles. The hint of sweetness is a perfect balance against the saltiness of the cheese and noodles.

This substitution is a perfect way to use up leftover cornbread that has already started to dry out. Crumble up your leftover cornbread and use it either as the crust or the topping for your baked mac and cheese. If you're feeling particularly daring, throw in some pepper jack cheese and chopped jalapeno to play up the Southern twist in this dangerously delicious variation of a well-loved classic.

Make a delicious cornbread pudding

Creamy, custardy cornbread pudding is a variation of the beloved bread pudding dessert. Cornbread pudding swaps out white bread and uses cornbread cubes instead. What better way to breathe new life into your leftover side dish than soaking the cornbread in a milky-egg-spiced mixture? The texture of cornbread works well in the custardy nature of bread pudding, creating a dessert as delicious as it is comforting.

Crumble up your cornbread. Mix together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and any other baking spices of your choosing. Pour the wet ingredients over the cornbread crumbles and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the bread to absorb the liquids and flavors of the mixture. Stir in chopped nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries for a pop of flavor and added texture. Bake until set and golden brown.

Cornbread puddings are incredibly versatile so have some fun with it and elevate your bread pudding. Warm spices like cloves and nutmeg transform it into a comforting dessert around the holiday season. Blueberries are a phenomenal add-in during the summer months that complements the taste of cornbread. Enjoy it warm with ice cream, whipped cream, or a spoonful of your favorite topping.

Pan fry and top it with ice cream

Transform stale, underwhelming day-old cornbread into sweets that will wow. A simple fix to leftover cornbread is to turn it into a dessert. Slice the bread, drizzle it with maple syrup, and pan-fry it to infuse it with a subtle sweetness. The once-dry bread is now lightly crisp and oozing with flavor.

Take this opportunity to let your culinary creativity shine. Add a scoop of ice cream to the syrup-soaked cornbread. You can't go wrong with a classic vanilla. Maple walnut, blueberry, and strawberry ice creams are all delicious pairings with cornbread. Top your cornbread dessert with a swirl of caramel sauce, a spoonful of blueberry compote, a sprinkle of shredded coconut, or some chopped nuts for a touch of decadence.

If you're feeling even more adventurous in the kitchen, take this cornbread ice cream delight and turn it into a cornbread ice cream sandwich. This is no ordinary ice cream sandwich. Cornbread works as the perfect foundation of a sandwich and strikes the perfect balance of sweet and salty in a sweet treat. Slice the bread, spread a scoop of ice cream, top it with another slice, and freeze until solid for a tasty treat on a hot summer day. While many ice cream flavors will do the trick, to truly embrace the flavor profile, fill it with homemade corn ice cream.

Add it into a breakfast hash

Some of the best recipes come from ad-hoc innovation with no set formula. Chop some of this and that, sprinkle a dash of this, crumble that, and toss them all together for a scrumptious concoction. Breakfast hashes epitomize this concept of a no-fuss meal that helps you use up some leftovers from the kitchen. A cornbread breakfast hash is the perfect solution to use up your leftover, dried-out cornbread — and step up your brunch game.

Hash is the breakfast dish that is yours for the making. Have fun experimenting with your favorite flavors and additions to your cornbread hash. Make it southwestern and mix in some black beans, chilies, chopped bell peppers, hash browns, cilantro, and pepper jack cheese with the leftover cornbread. The brilliant thing about hashes? You can never really go wrong no matter what you add in.

An autumn hash is a filling comfort food perfect for those chillier days when you want to stay cozy inside. Cornbread fits right into that sentiment. Nutty, sweet roasted butternut squash, earthy wild mushrooms, and gamey sausage make the foundation for this fall meal. When all the ingredients are good to go, toss them in a frying pan with some cornbread crumbles and shredded sharp cheddar. Crack eggs on top and enjoy.

Top it with cheese for a cornbread pizza

Cornbread might not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when you envision a pizza bubbling with melted mozzarella. A definite departure from a classic thin-crust pizza, cornbread crust is a praiseworthy substitute that's worth the adventure. The coarse texture of cornbread adds a pleasant crunch to the crust and its natural sweetness enhances the overall flavor profile. This variation on a favorite food is a fun way to use up leftover cornbread.

Using cornbread for your crust will create something similar to a deep-dish pizza. The dense and slightly crumbly texture of cornbread is an unexpected complement to the gooey and cheesy nature of pizza. Cornbread also tends to retain moisture well, preventing the crust from becoming overly dry during the baking process.

Crumble the leftover cornbread to create the base of the pizza. Form it into your desired shape pizza shape and brush it with olive oil. Now comes the fun part: the toppings. Keep it classic with a tomato base topped with mozzarella and basil. Or, get creative with your chosen toppings. Go for a vegetarian Mediterranean option with olives, cherry tomatoes, and zucchini. A BBQ chicken pizza with shredded chicken, a smoky BBQ sauce, red onions, and cilantro also are a fantastic compliment to cornbread. Your biggest challenge might be not being able to resist going back for seconds.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.