What Meat Goes with Cornbread?

Cornbread, a Southern staple, holds a special place in the hearts of many food enthusiasts. Its slightly sweet taste and delightful texture make it the perfect side dish for any meal. But one may wonder, what meats pair best with this delicious bread? Let’s explore some mouthwatering options!

A tangy barbeque pork dish greatly complements the tender yet crumbly texture of cornbread. Whether it’s pulled pork, ribs, or chops, the sweet and smoky flavors of barbeque bring out the best in cornbread, satisfying both sweet and savory cravings. Additionally, chili, a hearty and spicy stew, provides a delightful contrast to the slightly sweet taste of cornbread, making it an ideal pairing.

Fried chicken, another iconic Southern dish, pairs effortlessly with cornbread. The crispy and savory exterior of fried chicken creates a delightful combination when enjoyed with the slightly sweet, tender cornbread. This classic duo offers comfort food at its finest, perfect for gatherings or a cozy family meal at home.

Classic Meat Pairings

Fried Chicken

Fried chicken and cornbread make a harmonious duo, offering a delightful crunch and satisfying savory flavors. The crispy coating of the chicken complements the soft, moist texture of cornbread. Enjoy this classic Southern combo with sides such as collard greens, coleslaw, or baked beans.

Beef Stew

A hearty beef stew pairs wonderfully with cornbread, especially during colder months. The rich broth and tender chunks of beef in the stew are balanced by the slightly sweet and crumbly texture of cornbread. Serve this comforting meal with a side of roasted root vegetables or a big green salad to complete the feast.

Pork Chops

Pork chops and cornbread go hand in hand as a wholesome, home-cooked meal. The juicy, flavorful meat of the pork chop shines when accompanied by the slightly sweet taste of cornbread. Pair this delightful combination with a side of sautéed green beans, steamed broccoli, or your favorite potato dish.


Cornbread is a staple side for any barbecue spread, uniting all sorts of slow-cooked meat favorites like pulled pork, brisket, and ribs. Whether you prefer smoky or tangy flavors in your barbecue sauce, cornbread offers a mild, tasty counterpart. Enjoy the meal with extras like coleslaw, baked beans, or a fresh vegetable salad.

Southern Comfort Foods

Collard Greens

Collard greens are a staple in traditional Southern meals. These leafy greens are cooked slowly with a mixture of seasonings and tender, smoky meat like bacon or ham hocks. They pair perfectly with a hearty slice of cornbread, which can be used to soak up the flavorful potlikker that the greens create as they cook.

Pinto Beans

Another great side dish that complements cornbread is pinto beans. This classic Southern dish features slowly simmered beans flavored with ham, onions, and spices. The beans become tender and creamy, which contrasts beautifully with the crumbly texture of cornbread.

Mac and Cheese

It’s hard to imagine Southern comfort food without mentioning mac and cheese. With its creamy, gooey cheese sauce smothering tender pasta, mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort dish. The rich, savory flavor of mac and cheese pairs exceptionally well with the slightly sweet taste of cornbread, creating a satisfying combination that is sure to please any crowd.


Finally, no list of Southern comfort food would be complete without mentioning gumbo. A hearty soup hailing from Louisiana, gumbo usually combines meat or seafood with a mix of vegetables, served over rice. The thick, seasoned broth is perfect for enjoying with a side of cornbread, bringing a taste of the bayou to your table while beautifully complementing the stars of the show, be it beans, greens, cheese, or all of the above.

Cornbread in Savory Recipes

Taco Bake

Taco Bake is a delightful dish to enjoy with cornbread. Simply prepare the taco meat using your favorite recipe, combining ground beef, onions, peppers, and spices. Layer this meat mixture in a baking dish alongside the cornbread batter, ensuring the two remain separate. Bake the dish at 375°F for 25-30 minutes, and enjoy the delicious blend of flavors.


Jambalaya, a traditional Louisiana dish, pairs perfectly with cornbread. Cook the rice, meat (such as shrimp, chicken, or sausage), and vegetables in a tomato-based sauce. For this recipe, cornbread made with a touch of baking powder makes an excellent side. Sweep the savory flavors of jambalaya with a warm slice of fluffy cornbread.


Meatloaf and cornbread are like two peas in a pod. A simple meatloaf recipe involves mixing ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, and various seasonings. Bake the meatloaf in the oven until cooked through, and serve alongside cornbread. The addition of eggs in the cornbread batter ensures a moist and delicious texture to complement the meal.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie and cornbread create a comfort food heaven. Combine cooked chicken, vegetables, and a creamy sauce in a baking dish. Instead of a traditional pie crust, top the mixture with cornbread batter, made extra fluffy with baking powder. Bake in the oven until the cornbread is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Enjoy this tantalizing take on a classic dish.

Serving Suggestions

Sides and Toppings

Cornbread is a versatile side dish that pairs well with various toppings and sides. For a heartier option, try adding a dollop of chili or a spoonful of pulled pork on top of warm cornbread. Complement the dish with coleslaw or green beans for added freshness and crunch.

Main Course Ideas

When it comes to main courses, cornbread pairs perfectly with classic Southern dishes like fried chicken, barbecue ribs, or smoked brisket. For a more creative spin, turn your cornbread into a base for a deconstructed pot pie or a savory bread pudding. Explore international flavors by serving cornbread alongside spicy dishes like jambalaya or curry for a unique and memorable dinner.

Vegetarian Options

Salads with Cornbread Croutons

Elevate a simple salad by adding cornbread croutons for a delicious vegetarian pairing. Toss your favorite green leafy veggies with a light dressing, and top it off with crispy cornbread croutons. This dish not only adds texture, but the croutons also complement the flavors of the salad. Plus, this meal is low in calories while providing essential nutrients.

Spinach and Kale Dishes

Pairing cornbread with spinach and kale dishes makes for a hearty, nutrient-dense vegetarian option. Try sautéing spinach or kale with garlic, onions, and your favorite seasonings. Serve the greens alongside a warm piece of cornbread for a delightful meal. This combination is packed with vitamins, minerals, and a moderate number of calories.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers are a versatile, vegetarian dish you can enjoy with cornbread. Fill the peppers with a mixture of rice, beans, and your favorite veggies, then bake until tender. The peppers and filling provide a satisfying meal, and the cornbread adds a comforting touch. This option is nutritious, flavorful, and customizable to your taste.

Cooking and Baking Tips

Using a Cast Iron Skillet

A cast iron skillet is ideal for cooking cornbread as it evenly distributes heat and creates a crisp crust. Preheat the skillet in the oven before adding the batter to ensure even cooking throughout. Coat the skillet with oil or butter to prevent the bread from sticking. Using a cast iron skillet also adds a subtle flavor to your cornbread, enhancing its taste.

Achieving the Perfect Texture

For a light and tender cornbread, don’t overmix the batter. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until just incorporated, but don’t worry if there are some lumps. Sifting the cornmeal before using it further ensures a smooth texture. Bake the cornbread at 375°F for 20-25 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick.

Storing and Reheating Cornbread

To store cornbread, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in the fridge for up to a week. To freeze cornbread, wrap it first in plastic wrap, then in foil, and place it in a freezer-safe bag for up to three months. When you’re ready to reheat, let it thaw at room temperature first. Reheat refrigerated cornbread in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes or in individual servings in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.

Written by Laurie Graves

Laurie is a 50-something wife and boy mom, who loves to share easy recipes, DIY home ideas, and food hacks. She truly believes that with a little inspiration, anyone can make their home and meals feel special.