Although most of my family looks forward to the side dishes more than the turkey on Thanksgiving (especially this healthy sweet potato casserole—it tastes like pumpkin pie!), the exact opposite scenario occurs with our main entrée at Christmas. Nearly every year, we purchase a honey baked ham from a specialty shop in town, along with an assortment of chutneys and stone ground mustards.
We typically cut a few slices to serve the day before as part of celebrating my grandparents’ wedding anniversary (yes, they were married on Christmas Eve!), but we save the majority of the ham for our regular Christmas dinner. Everyone reaches for those thick, juicy slices first, as well as the condiments, before turning their attention to the platters of sides.
Even with everyone sneaking into the fridge for a few extra nibbles in between meals throughout the next few days, licking the sweet honey evidence from their fingers to avoid getting caught, we still end up with leftovers. However, Mom always plans ahead and buys a special artisan package of dried beans from the store when she picks up the ham.
When everyone proclaims they’re done, she adds the rest of the ham to a big pot, along with the contents of the package and an ample amount of water, to make ham bone and bean soup. While it simmers, it fills the house with the coziest savory smell, causing everyone to ask, “Is it done yet?”
Occasionally, Mom whips up a batch of cornbread while the soup cooks. She usually follows the directions from one of our old well-worn cookbooks or on the back of the box of cornmeal, both of which depend on large amounts of oil and sugar for their moist texture. It’s a good thing we usually finish off the pan before New Year’s Eve… We need come up with resolutions to burn off all those calories!
With the holidays quickly approaching (how is it that Thanksgiving is right around the corner already??) and chilly fall weather fully upon us, I suggested that we make this Ultimate Healthy Cornbread instead this year. After their first bites, both of my parents’ eyes lit up, just like five-year-old children’s on Christmas morning, and they immediately agreed… While reaching for a second slice, with the crumbs of the first still lingering on their lips!
They quickly deemed it the best cornbread they’d ever had—and I definitely agree!
For the base of this healthy cornbread, you’ll use a combination of cornmeal and white whole wheat flour. White whole wheat flour is made by finely grinding a special type of soft white wheat, which has a lighter taste and texture very similar to that of all-purpose flour. This gives your cornbread the perfect tender texture, while still letting the comforting corn flavor shine!
Whereas the recipes my mom typically turned to all used oil, I actually prefer butter in this recipe! It gives the cornbread an extra cozy-comfort-food richness, especially when paired with vanilla extract. I know it sounds crazy… Vanilla extract? In cornbread?? Trust me—you do not want to skip it! Vanilla actually enhances butter’s flavor, so it makes this recipe taste just as indulgent as traditional ones!
However, unlike traditional recipes with around ½ cup of oil, you’ll only use 1 tablespoon of butter. (Or coconut oil… It also works, but it doesn’t have the same rich flavor!) Instead, the rest of this cornbread’s tender texture comes from Greek yogurt! It’s my favorite ingredient in healthier baking for a reason… It adds the same moisture as extra butter or oil for a fraction of the calories, and it gives your cornbread a protein boost, too!
Finally, you’ll mix in just a hint of honey for sweetness. Because my family often eats their cornbread warm with a drizzle of honey (and a small pat of butter that melts into all of the crooks and crannies), we prefer our cornbread on the not-so-sweet side. You could easily substitute a little extra honey for some of the milk if you prefer!
And there you have it! The best healthy cornbread—perfect for serving with soups, chilis, game day spreads… Or any time you’re just craving comfort food—but not the guilt! 😉
And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy cornbread!
The Ultimate Healthy Cornbread
- 1 ¼ cups (150g) finely ground cornmeal (measured like this – and see Notes!)
- ½ cup (60g) white whole wheat flour or gluten free* flour (measured like this)
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp (14g) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (see Notes!)
- ½ cup (120g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp (30mL) honey (see Notes!)
- ¼ cup (60mL) nonfat milk
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and coat an 8”-square pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the Greek yogurt, mixing until no large lumps remain. Stir in the honey. Alternate between adding the cornmeal mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the cornmeal mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the cornmeal mixture in 3 equal parts.)
- Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden and the center feels firm to the touch. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving. (For the best texture, let it cool completely to room temperature.)
View Nutrition Information + Weight Watchers Points
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♥ Spinach & Goat Cheese Cornbread Muffins
♥ Mini Cornbread & Black Bean Bites
♥ Quick Turkey Chili
♥ Spicy Black Bean Soup
♥ Roasted Bell Pepper Bread
♥ Rosemary & Garlic Bread
♥ Baked Spicy Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries
Made this today because my husband wanted cornbread to go with his tomato soup. We loved it. Thank you so much for this healthier recipe…it’s so good!
Don’t know what I did wrong but it hardly rose and tasted very gritty like the cornmeal hadn’t cooked! Very dry and unpalatable.
It means a lot that you tried my recipe, Gail! That sounds disappointing and not like how this cornbread is supposed to turn out, so I’d love to work with you to figure out what happened. In order to do so, I have some questions for you! 🙂
Did you make any substitutions or modifications to the recipe, including those listed in the Notes section?
Did you use a kitchen scale or measuring cups/spoons for all of the ingredients — especially the flour, cornmeal, honey, and milk?
If you used measuring cups, did you happen to dip them into the containers of flour or cornmeal while filling them, by any chance?
If not, and you used my “fork” measuring technique, did you shake the measuring cups back and forth at all while filling them (to “level out” the top, for example)?
What’s the exact cornmeal (brand + product name!) that you used?
How fresh were your baking powder and baking soda?
How was the consistency of your batter compared to mine in the video directly above the recipe? Was it thicker, thinner, or about the same?
When you measure the top rim of your square baking pan, how many inches across is it?
How long did you bake your cornbread?
How tall or thick were your square cornbread slices?
Was the flavor okay, or was that off as well?
I know I just asked a LOT of questions, but I’ll have a much better idea of the culprit once I know your answers to all of them!
Karen F says...
So delicious! I used pastry flour as noted, also subbed vegan yogurt and soy milk and was sure to weigh everything and it tasted so delicious! Even hubs, who dislikes cornbread tried it and loved it! My new go to recipe. Thx 🙂
I’m so glad you and your husband enjoyed this cornbread, Karen! Those are the best kinds of compliments, if you’d call this your new go to recipe and your husband liked it too. Thank you for taking the time to let me know and rate the recipe as well — it truly means a lot! 🙂
This recipe was so great! I had been looking for one without white sugar or huge quantities of honey. It was delicious! I used a scale to measure all the ingredients and used cup for cup gf flour, turned out perfect! Thank you!!
I’m thrilled that you loved this cornbread, Julia! That’s the best compliment there is, if you’d call it perfect and rate it as 5 stars. Thank you for taking the time to let me know — it truly means a lot! 🙂