Sweet Chili Cheese Cornbread


I have three very blue-eyed, blond-haired little boys.  People often make comments when they see me with all three of them out and about, that go something like this: “Oh look at those blue eyes!  And all that blond hair!  Just like their Mommy…”  to which I politely smile and say, yes, just like their Mommy.  The truth is their Mommy really has no idea what her actual hair color is because she hasn’t seen it in years, but yeah, let’s just go with blond.  We can pretend, right?  Now that we’re pretending my hair is really blond, let’s pretend that all of those Goldilocks stereotypes are true, just so I can tell you about a recent blond moment I had.  Because it will make you feel smart.  Stick with me.

I giggled like a school girl the day a big box containing this arrived on my doorstep:

Proof that I’m officially a grown up.  Kitchen appliances make me giggle like a school girl.  I have wanted a wheat grinder forever and I finally got one.  It’s a Wonder Mill and I love it.  There was a time in my life when I wondered when anyone would want to grind their own wheat, or grind their own anything for that matter, and more proof that I’m a grown-up: I see value in it now!  I love that I can grind my own ingredients and make all kinds of flours, including those from wheat, beans, rice, and more.  It’s a great way to add some really healthy grains into your diet and nothing beats how fresh and pure it is.

Now.  When I told you all on Facebook how excited I was that I got my Wonder Mill a lot of people made comments about grinding popcorn and how awesome the bread is.  Popcorn bread??  I’d never heard of such a thing!  But it sounded intriguing.  Apparently I hadn’t been in the I-grind-my-own-grains club long enough to be aware that it was normal.  Not gonna lie; I felt a little left out.  And I really wanted some popcorn bread.

It wasn’t until I was browsing recipes on the Wonder Mill site that I saw reference to popcorn.  And it still took me an amazingly long time to realize that when you grind popcorn kernels, you get… CORN MEAL.  Oh my gosh, okay, wow, hello, welcome to earth Sara.  That totally makes sense now that I think about it, but somehow I never realized that’s what it was.  I’m awesome.  I want all of you who sheepishly leave comments and write emails that begin with  “I feel so dumb asking this because it’s a stupid question….” to remember this story, and then ask your stupid question.  Because it’s probably not stupid!

Another thing I didn’t realize is that grinding it is super duper easy.  I always assumed a wheat grinder was enormous and heavy and loud, and took up a lot of space, and took forever to put up and take down.  And maybe some are, but this one isn’t all that big and it’s so easy to use.  Can you tell I love it??  I just poured a little popcorn in the top:

And seconds later, this comes out the other end- beautiful, perfect, fresh, corn meal.  Oh my gosh I’m awesome.  I just made my own cornmeal.  You have no idea how things like this excite me.

So naturally I had to make some cornbread with it.  I set out this particular day to make some whole wheat bread and was totally blindsided by this cornbread recipe.  I happen to be really picky when it comes to cornbread.  I like it sweet, and moist.  I despise the dry crumbly stuff, ew.  This one might be my new favorite; so perfect for upcoming summer bbqs!  Let’s get cookin’.

Start by creaming together some butter and white sugar.  Did I mention I like my cornbread sweet?  And buttery doesn’t hurt either.

If you’re wondering, there is absolutely no reason why your butter needs to be cut into small cubes like mine.  Unless your microwave literally exploded and you had to purchase another one and wait for your husband to install it for you because you don’t want to do it yourself.  If that were the case, then you might find yourself wondering how on earth people lived before microwaves, and specifically how annoying it would be to have to actually wait for butter to soften on its own.  You might try cutting it up into small pieces to speed up the process.  If you’re wondering.

Then in goes a can of sweet, creamy corn and also a can of mild green chiles.  Green chiles aren’t spicy, they just add tons of yummy flavor.

Then we’ll add that fresh cornmeal I just made (by myself!  I’m practically superwoman!)  and also the flour, baking powder and salt.

Lastly, in goes a little shredded cheese.  Both Cheddar and Jack.  Just a little tip- when I’m buying cheddar cheese for a recipe, like bread, or soup, or a creamy sauce, etc.  I always buy medium or sharp, or even extra sharp.  Even if you don’t like that sharp of a flavor when eating it plain, it’s usually much better in a recipe because the flavor is actually strong enough to show through.  Mild cheddar tends to just add the creamy melty factor, but not a ton of flavor.

Pop it in a 9×13 pan and bake it up.  I just noticed when I typed out this recipe here that it has you preheat your oven to 350 and then reduce the heat to 300 when you put the pan in.  I so didn’t do that.  Now I know why mine baked way faster than it says it does.  Sooo if you forget to reduce the heat and cook it at 350 the entire time, it totally works.  But it will cook much faster so keep an eye on it.

Really though, this stuff is so super moist, and perfectly sweet and savory.  I loved the both the texture and the flavor.  It’s also super buttery, which isn’t a bad thing.  I think you could probably even get away with a little less butter- I might try it with 1 1/2 sticks instead of 2 next time just to test that out.  I’ll be making this one for bbq’s all summer long!


*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.




  1. I love love love your site. I decided recently that I wanted to have a great go-to cornbread recipe so perfect timing! I have some regular corn, not creamed, do you think using it will dry out the bread too much?

  2. What a great recipe for cornbread (which I love, love, love). And no, I didn’t know that cornmeal came from popcorn. Whod-a thunk it!

  3. I too have a broken microwave.. its been 3 weeks and I am still waiting on the Whirlpool Warranty service department to come out and replace it. I also have made many small butter cubes and used real teapots. (you know.. the ones people used before we realized water was microwavable!)

  4. I’m just getting ready to list my wheat grinder for sale. LOL Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But, since I got a Blendtec I don’t need it since the Blendtec grinds my grains really well and really fast in addition to being an awesome blender. I’m all about having less appliances on my counter. πŸ™‚ I’m now down to just 3, my toaster, 6 qt professional kitchenaid, and my Blendtec. Yay for simplifying!
    I love that I don’t have to keep corn meal on hand anymore. Just throw some popcorn in the blender and a few seconds later out comes fabulous corn meal! πŸ™‚ I’ll have to give your recipe a whirl as it sounds delish!

  5. YUM!! I had a roommate that made the best cornbread with freshly ground popcorn. We made her make it at least once a week because it was soooo good. Now I am craving it! Guess I better start looking for a wheat grinder…..

  6. Mmm, looks yummy. I love corn bread. Honestly one of my favorites is the Krusteaz honey corn bread and I’m always looking for one to make from scratch with a similar taste.
    Anyway, I was wondering, did you use 4 or 40 oz of green chiles? I figured it’s probably 4, but the way it’s typed, it looks like 40.

  7. You’re a hoot! That’s all I gotta say! Love reading your posts, they always make me laugh. And yes, I would feel excited (and pathetic at being such a ‘grown-up’) if I made my own cornmeal as well!

  8. I love me some good cornbread! And I like mine sweet, too. My office manager (who grew up in the South) used to tease me that mine wasn’t actually cornbread – rather it was cornCAKE!! Anyway, the only thing I don’t usually like is actual pieces of corn in my cornbread, so I may have to omit that. I’ve never tried it with cheese, either, so that should be interesting. πŸ™‚

  9. well speaking of dumb questions (cuz I was a childhood blond, who keeps it that way through lots of costly chemicals!!)…
    I love the whole grinding your own … idea, but where does one fine their own “unground wheat stalks”?? Am I missing something too?

    1. It’s not actually stalks, it’s just the grains. I bought a big bag at Costco. You can also get it at well stocked grocery stores, usually the ones that sell grains in bulk bins.

  10. I like sweet and moist cornbread, too (or, as it is apparently known, “Northern/Yankee Cornbread” as opposed to “Southern/Real cornbread when you live in the southern states). Those pics look so good; I really need to stay away from your blog until after I’ve eaten something… I’m so craving cheesy cornbread now. πŸ™‚

  11. I have never yet been disappointed by any of your recipes and I am super excited to try this one. I have been on the lookout for a good cornbread recipe for ages! Thanks!!

  12. Thanks for the recipe. I just got a new wheatgrinder last weekend, too!! I bought a Nutrimill because I have a friend who sells them. I love it!!

  13. That looks amazingly delicious!
    So…my sister has been “grinding grains” for a long time and I just assumed she had some pioneer-like hand crank machine. (probably powered by mules or something) Thanks for the subtle lesson and for saving me embarrassment down the road. Now I think I need one of those machines! FUN! (no mules required!)

  14. i have had my wheat grinder for a few months now… make bread all the time. i have been wanting to make some fresh ground cornbread but wasnt sure of a good recipie as i also like it sweet and moist! So THANK YOU we are totally gonna make some of this yumminess today! its like you read my mind on what i was craving!

  15. I always assumed that cornmeal was ground from regular dried cron, which is a different thing from popcorn. Is the texture of the cornmeal the same as store bought?

    Does the Wonder Mill do cracked grains too, or just flour? I have a mill which claims to do both, and sadly, I don’t love it.

  16. I really had NO idea that that’s how you get cornmeal. How do you store the popcorn kernals for long-term use? I looove sweet cornbread with chilis in it. Thanks for sharing your recipe AND your story. πŸ˜‰

  17. YUM! So if there are chilies and cheese in the cornbread can you still eat it with honey? Cause I’m not gonna lie, honey is the reason I love cornbread!

  18. I love this recipe but my kids are so picky they have to have plain cornbread. It is so amazingly sweeter to use ground popcorn or even to dry out extra sweet corn from you garden and grind it.

    Also all wheat is NOT the same since you’re getting started with grinding. I’m really enjoying hard white wheat instead of the hard red. With the hard red I have to add gluten flour but not with the white wheat.

  19. This looks yummy. Just thought that i’d mention that I’ve also made popcorn bread as in popped corn. You air pop it and put it in the blender and make a yummy foccacia bread with what looks like little styrofoam balls. Has nothing to do with the wonder mill but it is popcorn bread.

  20. What a fab idea! Wandered onto your site following a link on the balloon wreath and am glad I did. what a great place you have and coming from someone else who has NO idea what color hair I have (pretty sure it’s plaid) – I’ve added you to my RSS feeds and will be a regular stalker…uh visitor! πŸ˜€

  21. Wow, I’ve had a WonderMill for about 4 years and had no idea I could make cornmeal from popcorn! Thanks for the tip. I love my mill & grinding my own wheat excites me too πŸ™‚ It’s so fun to use!

  22. I have a Whisper Mill, the predecessor to the Wonder Mill. I LOVE it. I finally wore out the motor a year or so ago, and went and bought a Nutrimill. Hated it. Returned it after a day, and then made some calls and found out I could get the guts replaced for about 80 bucks. It was a relief to get it back into my hot little hands again and works like a champ. My parents have the same mill and use it almost daily, putting beans and all manner of other stuff through it. I’ve never thought of milling my own cornmeal, but I’ll definitely give it a try now!

  23. I have had my Wonder Mill for 2 1/2 years now (and yes, I giggled like a school girl when I got mine as well) but I never knew you could grind popcorn! The thought never even crossed my mind. So, guess what I’m making today. My husband will be one happy man! Thanks, Sara

  24. Thanks for yet another great recipe Sara! Josh loves cornbread- and I have never tried it with the chiles before (Yum)! I have really been wanting to get a food mill lately too. I will be sure to check out the Wonder Mill. Thanks!

  25. I feel so dumb! I seriously had no idea cornmeal came from popcorn. lol I’m so excited to try your recipe though, and great timing, I was already planning on making cornbread in a couple of days.

  26. Just made it for dinner, my 2 year old twins loved it! I’ve been wanting a recipe for cornbread with a little twist. It was perfect! I cooked mine at 350 for 40 min since we were short on time, worked great. Tons of butter, which is why you don’t grease the pan, I’ll definitly try it with less next time. Thanks for another winner!

  27. I have ground popcorn for years and really like white popcorn if I can find it. It makes even better cornmeal than yellow popcorn–it just has a great flavor. As far as storing popcorn goes, you can keep it a long time if you’re going to grind it, but it won’t pop very well unless it is fresh. The moisture in the seed is what helps popcorn pop when it is heated. After being stored a while the moisture dries out and you get a lot of duds when you try to pop it. So, I buy the cheap stuff for popping (because the stores sell it more quickly and it’s usually fresher) and when it gets a little old I grind it up!

  28. I have a friend that researches everything to a “T” before purchasing. We had about 4 different kinds of grinders together, put one cup of wheat into each grinder and timed each. We paid attention to noise, quality of the flour product, and time. Wondermill wond hands down. I wouldn’t buy anything else. I love grinding corn and wheat, but my favorite thing to do is mix about 12 different grains to make bread. Happy baking:)

  29. Can I substitute something for the cheese. My husband loves cornbread but at this time can’t have cheese. He can do the fat free cheese but I wonder if it would work the same.

    Thank you.

  30. i also didn’t know that corn meal came from corn kernels so thanks for teaching me that! and just so you know… if you don’t want to wait for butter to soften and don’t want to use a microwave you can grate the butter like you would cheese and it works just fine.

  31. Yeah! It really is super fun to get “big girl” toys for in the kitchen, right!? I have made several of your bread recipes (like the Rosemary Focaccia and the breadsticks/pizza dough) using half fresh-ground wheat flour and half white and they have turned out beautifully! Using flour you grind yourself (especially from hard, white wheat) makes a huge difference. It isn’t all dry and nasty like the store-bought junk so you CAN substitute it for white flour without it ruining your bread. I think most breads actually are tastier with at least part whole wheat flour. You’ll have to give it a try with your new toy!

  32. Yea, ok….LOL…my mouth was salivating just getting thru all the funny stuff and reaching the recipe!!!!! YEP…I’m a southern girl…did I KNOW what ground up popcorn was….NNNOOOOO…SO….my next dumb question…later, and thanks…

  33. Can’t stop laughing at myself…and a few of you…did not know where cornmeal comes from. I thought I’d always seen pics in the history book of the Native Americans grinding dried corn kernels which I guess is the same stuff you pop? Whoa Nelly! I haven’t made this recipe but I’m sure it’s awesome. I’ve made one for years that is very similar but with cooked rice added. Over the years I’ve added in pork sausage, leftover chicken and black beans. I am a southerner but I have to agree cornbread is better sweet and moist instead of dry. Love this blog!

  34. Sara,
    Are you also speaking at BYU-I in Rexburg? For some reason I have it in my mind that you and Kate are doing something else there in conjunction with your book signings. I’ve got a trip planned there that week, so it would be great to catch you while “vacationing” in Rexburg, ID!
    Thanks for sharing your amazing talents πŸ™‚

      1. Yea! That’s very fun πŸ™‚ Do you happen to know if you have to be a student to go, or if it’s open to general admission, because I’d love to come while in town for the week.

  35. Ha ha ha ha ha ha, I love it. Popcorn bread! You totally made me crack up laughing with that comment. I just started grinding my own wheat this year and I am looking forward to making fresh cornbread soon! Your recipe looks great. I love mine, but I think I’ll try yours soon just to mix it up. Thanks.

  36. Just a minor correction to your comment “Green Chilies aren’t hot”. Being a Native New Mexican, Green Chilies can be super hot and come in all temperatures… try some green chili from Hatch New Mexico sometime. πŸ™‚ although most that you buy in the store and canned are not hot. WE love your blog and cook just about everything you post!! keep em coming!

  37. LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! I used 1/2 cup of sugar and 3/4 of a cup of butter and it turned out perfect! Sweet but not to sweet!

  38. I tried this last night and it was delicious! I’m so excited to have a recipe that will use my popcorn in my food storage. I have a deathly fear of getting fat and so try to cook fat free or at least low fat. So, when I tried this I halved the butter. WHOA! It is still WAY buttery. Like soaked on the bottom. I think it could be halved again or even cut out and still be soft because of the creamed corn. I like my cornbread fat free so I can slather it with cinnamon honey butter and not feel TOO guilty.

  39. my boyfriend and i are avid cooks, and i made this on our “southern bbq” night that we had a couple weeks ago.
    holy CRAP is it ever amazing. we had so much left over we took it to a bbq with friends and it was raved about. amazing recipe, especially for my first time making corn bread!! thx!

    ps. we used fresh chilies. they work super well!

  40. OMG Sarah, you are so funny! However, I was reading your “stupidness” and my reaction was “OMG, WHAT?!?!? POPCORN?!?!? SHUT UP!!! WEIRD!” So, clearly you are not the only one that would not think that cornbread came from popcorn… I mean, why would anyone grind a movie snack and make bread out of it??? What?!? What else can we grind up that’s awesome to make more awesomeness??? It IS a “wonder” mill!!!

  41. I know cornbread is more of a chili side dish, but would this go well with your Chicken Tortilla Soup? I have that on the stove and have a bunch of cornbread packets (I know, totally cheating – Betty Crocker style) that I want to start getting rid of. Hoping I can add some spice to them with this recipe!

  42. Made this today to go with chicken tortilla soup, oddly enough given the post above mine. I did reduce the butter to 1 1/2 sticks, but did everything else the same. I love to cook my cornbread in my cast iron skillet, so I turned this into 2 batches and will freeze one for later. This was the BEST cornbread I have ever had. I totally skipped the soup and only had cornbread for lunch. πŸ™‚

  43. I’ve made a similar recipe for years. My family demands that I bring this to family dinners, etc. If you don’t have a grinder or you don’t have time to grind, use a box of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix, Add 1 egg, 1 stick of melted butter, 8 oz sour cream, 1 (15 oz) can of cream corn (not drained), 1 can (15 oz) kernal corn (drained). Optional additions are bacon bits, cheese, chilis, WHATEVER! Mix well. Pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.

  44. thank you so much for this post! I opened a bucket of popcorn from my garage (while looking for my wheat) and wondered what i could do with it. I’m sure going to try this out, it sounds delicious! PS I’m super crazy about grinding my own stuff too!

  45. Oh my gosh!!! I have been making this cornbread recipe for years now! I love it and everyone I make it for raves about it. The only change I make is to decrease the butter down to 10 tablespoons instead of an entire cup. It was just way too greasy for me so I played around with how much you could cut out and still have wonderfully moist, delicious cornbread. Makes me feel cool that you posted a recipe I have already been using for so long. πŸ™‚

  46. I made this with 1/2 cup sugar and it was plenty sweet for me. I used 11 T of butter and thought it was good, but was still a little buttery. I will try 9 or 10 T next time. I loved the chiles in it. Really yummy! Thanks!

  47. There are strong cornbread opinions in my house. My husband believes cornbread should be made with a cake mix and I believe it should include cheese and chilies. Since I am the one making it, I usually get my way and this recipe has been my go to for years. It has everything I want and isn’t at all dry like so many other recipes. It’s even, dare I say… *moist.* I usually cut the butter in half because I feel too guilty otherwise. And I love cooking it in my cast iron skillet. Thanks for a great recipe!

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