There are people for whom cornbread is an accompaniment to, say, chili or soup; and there are people for whom the chili is just an excuse to have at the cornbread. This is a cornbread for both, but especially the latter. The best sweet-style (but still savory) dairy-free cornbread I've got, for all your cold-weather stew and Thanksgiving needs.
I don't pretend to understand cornbread. It's a fence-sitter, ever perched between sweet and savory, north and south. Don't get me wrong; I'm not morally opposed. But if you ask me, cornbread should get off the pot and commit, maybe let some corn in and ratchet up the salt, while it's at it. Be that as it may, there are people in my life with strong cornbread opinions, opinions that go something like this: give me sugar, and a hard no on the corn kernels.
For those people, I make this dairy-free version, which can comfortably sidle up to your Thanksgiving turkey, turkey chili, or other meaty, stewed favorite. My sister, corn bread lover number one in these parts, can't eat dairy at all, so the stakes were riding yea high on this endeavor. Ultimately winning her seal of approval, the road to this superlative cornbread was littered with dry, tasteless pans of pale yellow squares. It takes a lot for me to stop fiddling with a recipe, but this one is canonical.
The Dairy-Free Goods
To get a nice, moist crumb but also a buttery flavor, this recipe uses a combination of oil and margarine (a.k.a. vegan butter), with proportionately more oil. My top picks for types of oil are avocado or olive, but I've pretty much tried them all and they all work. For the margarine, I like Melt or Earth Balance sticks.
This recipe features another regular dairy-alternative pinch hitter: non-dairy milk. You can use whatever your go-to may be; I like using almond because it's so neutrally flavored in bakes like these, but I'd wager that oat is nice too; cashew is a tad too strong here, I think.
Making and using this dairy-free cornbread
Oh hey, this is a one-bowl recipe. Stir together the dry ingredients, dump in the wet ingredients, and mix gently till everything's just combined. No mixers allowed.
The recipe makes a square pan of cornbread squares (such as an 8x8" / 20x20cm); double the recipe and bake in a large rectangular (9"x13") pan for a larger crowd. The bake time is roughly the same for both pans, but the larger pan might need a few more minutes.
As well as sopping up braises or beans, this cornbread is stellar for use in cornbread stuffing. One batch will make a big platter of stuffing, or, as I do for Thanksgiving, you can make a double batch and use half for the stuffing, half for serving.
Looking for more autumnal sides?
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Date-Candied Beef Bacon Crumbles
- Dairy-Free Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Maple-Roasted Winter Squash and Parsnips with Ras el-Hanout
- Winter Green Salad with Persimmon and Pomegranate
The Best Non-Dairy Cornbread (parve)
- Square baking pan, 8x8" (20x20cm)
- ½ cup yellow cornmeal, medium or fine grind - 75g
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour - 190g
- ½ cup granulated sugar - 100g
- ½ Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ¼ cups non-dairy milk - 300ml - I use almond milk
- 2 eggs, beaten with a fork
- ⅓ cup oil - 80ml - I use olive or avocado oil
- 3 Tbsp margarine, melted - 40g - I use Melt or Earth Balance sticks
- 1 Tbsp honey
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a square baking pan and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Pour in the vegetable oil, melted butter, honey, beaten eggs, and non-dairy milk, and stir just until moistened.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 45 minutes. Watch the cornbread towards the end: you want it to be turning golden at the edges and starting to show some cracks, but not darkening too much.