Comfort Food Alert: Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread

A friend posted a picture of his Mom’s Mexican cornbread on Facebook, and started something. Dave’s peeps (including me) took notice of this good-lookin’ comfort food, with loads of comments, like:

That looks heavenly ~ I’ll be right over ~ Can almost smell it from here ~ Moms make the best food because they really don’t want us to move out!

Doesn’t that meat-studded cornbread in a cast-iron skillet just call out: “Comfort Food! You need this now!” photo credit to Dave Smith

So of course I begged for the recipe. And lucky for all of us, Dave’s Mom shared! We decided on Mary’s Mexican Cornbread as its moniker. But now that I’ve made it, I’ve changed it to Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread. Why? Well, I’ve had lots of really good Mexican cornbread in my day, but never one with meat in it. The ground beef is added as a filling between two layers of jazzed-up cornbread batter.  This adds a welcome heartiness, kicks it up a notch on the comfort food scale, and elevates the dish to a main course that’s easy and quick enough to make on a weeknight.

See the layers in the finished dish?

The meat layer in the middle sinks into the bottom layer of the cornbread and creates a strata with different textures from the bottom to the top; the result is almost like a tamale pie. In fact, you could substitute masa for the cornmeal and it would be very close to a tamale pie. The dish is so filling that all you need to finish out your dinner plan is some fruit or a quick salad.

Note: I made two minor additions to the recipe. First, I preheated the cast iron skillet; I learned to do that years ago from the back of a cornbread mix package. The preheating gives the cornbread a really brown crust, and we like that here at Glover Gardens. The second minor change was to use a bit of chorizo with the ground beef (this got the Grill-Meister really interested).

There are lots of other things you could do with this marvelous recipe – use fresh corn shaved off the cob instead of creamed corn, use canned green chilis or poblanos instead of (or in addition to) the jalapeños, or go a different direction with the peppers and use canned chipotle chilis, or substitute diced pork or venison for the ground beef…but don’t get me wrong, folks, this recipe is just right as-is. And trust me, it is so easy, so good and so versatile, you might just want to make two while you’re at it. As you’ll note at the bottom of this post, there are lots of other ways to serve Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread, and you’ll wish you had leftovers.


  • 1 to 1 ½ lbs. of hamburger meat (or a mix of 2/3 hamburger and 1/3 chorizo)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped Vidalia or 1015 onions
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 can cream corn (14.75 oz.)
  • 4 chopped jalapeños peppers (take out seeds and ribs if you want mild)

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Optionally, put a 10″ or 12″ cast-iron skillet into the oven once it is preheated, and let it get really hot while you’re assembling the rest of the ingredients (don’t grease it until after you preheat it). Otherwise, spray a 9 x 12 baking pan (glass or metal) with cooking spray and set aside.

Fry the hamburger meat (and chorizo, if you’re using it), drain, and set aside. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, oil and milk and stir well. Add the chopped onion, grated cheese,  chopped jalapeños and creamed corn and stir until just blended. If you’ve preheated your cast iron skillet, pull it out of the oven and spray generously with cooking spray.  Pour half of the cornbread batter into your greased pan or iron skillet and spread it out smoothly, then sprinkle the meat evenly on top. Pour the rest of the cornbread batter on top of the meat, spreading it evenly. Bake in the oven at 400° until brown, about 40 minutes. Serve hot.


Goodies are added to the cornbread batter which jazz it up
The batter, with the goodies mixed in
Pour half of the cornbread batter in the hot skillet first, then sprinkle the meat evenly before pouring the rest of the batter on top
Use a spatula to spread the top layer evenly
This looks just like the picture Dave posted of his Mom’s cornbread!
This recipe is so yummy! and would be good with sangria

The Grill-Meister is a big of Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread, and had some great ideas about other ways to serve it. How about topping it with some of my Glover Gardens Chili? Brilliant! It made a great one-dish lunch.

The flavors of the chili and cornbread are complimentary but different, and jalapeños added a nice kick

Or how about transforming this into Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread Breakfast, with a fried egg? Double brilliant!

Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread rocks a fried egg for a quick brunch dish with some refried beans on the side

Try this rockin’ recipe, and let me know what you think. I’ll be sure to pass your compliments along to Dave and Mary.


Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook (except the original recipe, which belongs to Mary)

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