Creamed Corn Is The Key Ingredient Addition In Alton Brown's Favorite Cornbread

Whether you're hosting a chili night or sizzling up some barbecue ribs, no comfort food feast is complete without a side of hearty, crumbly cornbread. The classic Southern staple is traditionally made with a mix of cornmeal and buttermilk (hold the sugar, please!), but we'll let you in on a little secret: There are about as many ways to make cornbread as there are ways to eat it.

If you ask any chef (or Southern grandma for that matter), they'll each give you their own unique twist on the recipe. Ina Garten, for example, sneaks sugar and sour cream into her version of the dish, while Sunny Anderson swears by store-bought Jiffy mix. But if you're looking for a homemade cornbread recipe that's extra rich, moist, and flavorful, turn to Alton Brown's. The celebrity cook and Food Network star dubs his special cornbread the "Cream of the Crop" — an apt moniker considering that the recipe's secret ingredient is, well, creamed corn. But it's not just any creamed corn. 

For his go-to cornbread, Brown takes inspiration from his "Better-Than-Granny's" creamed corn recipe, which adds rosemary and turmeric for a savory and herbaceous flavor. Heavy cream and stone-ground cornmeal, meanwhile, help to create the creamed corn's thick, decadent texture, which, when incorporated into cornbread, results in a moist and tender dish worth taking seconds of.

How to use creamed corn in Alton Brown's cornbread recipe

Although the star has quite a few cornbread recipes in his repertoire, Brown calls this version "the best skillet cornbread [he's] ever made." Well, that's certainly high praise, and reason enough to try it for yourself. On his website, Brown's creamed corn cornbread calls for cornmeal (stone ground, that is, for what he describes as a more toothsome bite), low-fat buttermilk, eggs, and, yes, some controversial sugar. Additionally, he uses baking powder and a touch of baking soda as leavening agents for a fluffier result.

Brown "strongly recommends" using homemade creamed corn in this recipe, but whether you're using his rosemary and turmeric iteration, your own family recipe, or cutting down on time by using a canned version, your cornbread is sure to benefit from the addition. As for when, exactly, you should add the ingredient, according to Brown's recipe, you should whisk up the dry and wet ingredients separately, blending the creamed corn with the eggs and buttermilk in their own bowl before combining them with the powdered components. After everything has been well combined, simply pour the batter into, preferably, an old-school cast iron skillet, place it in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and set your timer for 20 minutes. Once the cornbread has developed a beautiful golden brown crust, it's ready to be sliced and served as the perfect side dish, or, as Brown suggests, even the main course.