This rich spoon bread is a cross between cornbread and a soufflé. With the addition of bacon and cheddar, it becomes a delicious dish for brunch.
Spoon bread is (wait for it)…cornbread that you eat with a spoon. It’s made with cornmeal and whipped egg whites, so it’s similar in flavor to cornbread but has a lightness that’s similar to a soufflé.
This Bacon Cheddar Spoon Bread is a flavor-packed version of a typical spoon bread recipe, amped up with crispy bacon pieces, sharp cheddar, and chives. It’s a fun dish for brunch and it pairs perfectly with Praline Bacon and Banana Bread French Toast Casserole.
What is spoon bread?
Research is conflicted on the origins of spoon bread. Some historians point it back to Native Americans porridge. It was also thought to be a staple during the Revolutionary War.
Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet and author of The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American, notes in his book that “Spoonbread is simply a very rich and dense cornbread, a dish so dense that it must be served up with a spoon. General Washington loved this dish, and it was apparently served quite often at Mount Vernon (Washington’s plantation).”
- Use a finely ground cornmeal for this recipe (most cornmeal sold is finely ground)
- We’ll whip the egg whites with a mixer to create lots of lift. We’ll use the egg yolks, too!
- I recommend whole milk, but you can substitute 2% milk or even skim milk.
- Use pre-shredded cheddar or shred your own. I like sharp cheddar here.
- Crumbled bacon adds so much delicious flavor to the finished dish.
- Chives add a savory flavor and pop of color to the top.
How to make spoon bread
First, generously butter a cast iron skillet. Mine is 10 inches in diameter. This helps the spoon bread pull away from the dish easily, and it’ll have a delightful light brown bottom courtesy of the butter.
Then, place the cornmeal, milk, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened slightly.
Meanwhile, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. You could also use a hand mixer here. Take care not to get any yolks in the bowl, as they will impede the whites from whipping up nicely.
Whip the egg whites to soft peaks, which basically means that they form a soft (not stiff) peak on the end of the whisk attachment.
Whisk the egg yolks and baking powder into the cornmeal mixture, then fold in the egg whites gently with a spatula. Stir in the cheddar and crumbled bacon, then pour it into the buttered cast iron skillet.
Bake for 35–40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
When it comes out of the oven, it’ll be nice and puffy! Over the course of a few minutes, it’ll sink a little like the one shown here. That’s normal—every spoon bread will do that. Sprinkle with chives and serve!
My egg whites won’t whip up high. What did I do wrong?
Egg yolks are the enemy of whipped egg whites. Carefully separate the egg whites from the egg yolks before whipping the egg whites, taking care not to get any traces of egg yolks into the whites. Then, whip the whites with a stand mixer or hand mixer
My spoon bread deflated after I took it out of the oven. What happened?
This is normal! The spoon bread will deflate slightly after baking. Sprinkle on some chives to distract your eyes. 🙂
What to serve with spoon bread
While spoon bread is usually a side dish served with dinner, I served the Bacon Cheddar Spoon Bread as part of a Southern-inspired brunch with my friend Kelley of Haviland Events.
She supplied the gorgeous china and dishware that you see here. The dishes are known as chinoiserie, which is a European interpretation of Asian art. It’s the perfect dishware for brunch—so colorful, festive, and fun!
Bacon Cheddar Spoon Bread
- ¾ cup cornmeal
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 eggs, separated
- ⅔ cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
- For garnish: chopped chives
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 10-inch cast iron skillet.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the cornmeal, milk, and salt. Heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip on medium speed until the egg whites reach soft peaks.
- Add the baking powder and the egg yolks to the cornmeal mixture. Whisk to combine.
- Stir in the cheddar and crumbled bacon.
- Gently fold in the whipped egg whites with a spatula, taking care not to stir too hard so the egg whites don’t deflate.
- Bake for 35–40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Top with chopped chives and serve while still warm.
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