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Masa Harina Cornbread Recipe

Masa Harina Cornbread is a delicious, light and fluffy side dish. Made with masa harina, cheddar cheese, green chiles and a variety of spices, it looks like cornbread but tastes like a tamale.

Several pieces of cornbread stacked on two plates.

The Best Cornbread Recipe

We love cornbread! It’s one of our favorite side dishes, and we eat it with just about any main dish even scrambled eggs for breakfast.

A few weeks ago, John wanted to make cornbread but we didn’t have any cornmeal. He found some leftover masa harina in the pantry from the last time we made tamales and decided to give it a try.

Oh, man!! That batch of masa harina cornbread forever changed how we’ll make it in our house. It’s light, super fluffy, and so flavorful. It tastes almost like you’re eating a tamale without all the work.

This masa harina cornbread has replaced our jalapeño cornbread as the best cornbread recipe! We won’t make it any other way.

Ingredients You’ll Need:

  • Butter: We use 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter for greasing the pan and adding moisture and flavor to the cornbread. Salted butter works, too, just make sure to omit the salt later in the ingredients.
  • Masa Harina: Meseca brand is our favorite. It’s a fine grain with a soft feel and gives this cornbread an ultra light and fluffy texture.
  • Flour: You’ll need ¾ cup of all-purpose flour to mix with the masa harina.
  • Leavening Agents: We use both baking powder and baking soda to help give this dish its airy lift.
  • Salt: Just 1 teaspoon of salt enhances the flavor of the other ingredients.
  • Seasonings: We use garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and cumin to make this side dish taste just like our tamale recipes! Adjust these to taste or omit them entirely if you prefer.
  • Egg: You’ll need 1 large egg for a binder.
  • Dairy: We use a combination of buttermilk and milk to give this cornbread plenty of moisture. Add to that 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese shredded off the block.
  • Green Chiles: You’ll need 4 ounces of well-drained diced green chiles. We use the canned variety, but if you have access to fresh chiles those also work.

How to Make Masa Harina Cornbread:

Scroll to the recipe card below for full instructions and ingredient amounts! 

This recipe comes together in about 10 minutes and only uses 1 bowl! Super quick with an easy clean-up makes it so much tastier.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F, and place the butter in a 9×9-inch baking dish.
  2. Place the pan in the oven to melt the butter, and remove it before the butter begins to pop and brown.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the masa harina, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and seasonings.
  4. To that bowl, add the egg, buttermilk, and milk, and stir in the melted butter.
Masa harina, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and seasonings in a bowl.
Masa harina cornbread batter in a glass bowl.
  1. Fold in the shredded cheese and green chiles then transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
  2. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the cornbread turns golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cheese and green chiles on top of cornbread batter.
Unbaked cornbread batter in a pan.

Tips and Variations:

  • This cornbread bakes a little darker than other cornbread recipes. That’s due to the added spices, so be sure to test for doneness with toothpick.
  • Make sure the leavening agents aren’t expired; otherwise, your cornbread won’t rise and be airy.
  • Swap the mild green chiles with a spicy variety or with jalapeños for an extra kick of heat.
  • Use a different cheese such as pepper jack, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella for a different flavor profile.

How to Store Masa Harina Cornbread:

Refrigerator: Store leftover cornbread in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.

Freezer: Leftover cornbread freezes well. Wrap individual pieces tightly in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. Place the wrapped cornbread in a freezer-safe container or plastic bag and the cornbread stays fresh for about 2 months.

Thawing and Reheating: Thaw frozen cornbread in the fridge or at room temperature. Reheat in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds before serving.

Angled view of cornbread with cheese and green chiles on a couple of plates.

Masa harina (dough flour) is a type of corn flour made from cooked and dried corn kernels. This creates a very finely ground flour that is used widely in Latin American cuisine for making things like tortillas, tamales, pupusas and other traditional dishes.

Yes, sour milk (milk + lemon juice or vinegar) may be used in place of buttermilk. Pour in less than what the recipe calls for and add more only if needed.

Sour milk is thinner than buttermilk, so less may be needed.

To make sour milk, start by adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of regular milk. Then, let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes. Once it has thickened and acquired a tangy flavor, it is ready to use.

If your recipe calls for more than 1 cup of buttermilk, adjust the amount of milk and vinegar used.

Masa harina cornbread batter is easy to stir. It’s fluffy, moist (well hydrated), and easy to scrape out of the bowl with the use of a spatula.

This batter isn’t overly wet and isn’t dry. If it looks dry, add some extra milk.

What to Serve with Masa Harina Cornbread:

This cornbread is great as a side dish or to have a piece as a snack by itself. Here are some of our favorite pairings.

Other Great Side Dish Recipes You May Love:

Like This Recipe?

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Plate stacked with cornbread and jalapeño slices.

Masa Harina Cornbread Recipe

5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cool Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 16 Servings

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups masa harina
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded off the block
  • 4 ounces diced green chiles well drained

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F, and place the butter in a 9×9-inch baking dish.
    ½ cup unsalted butter
  • Place the pan in the oven just long enough to melt the butter.
  • In a large bowl, combine the masa harina, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and seasonings.
    1 ½ cups masa harina
    ¾ cup all purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    ½ teaspoon onion powder
    ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Add the egg, buttermilk, and milk, and stir in the melted butter.
    1 large egg
    1 ½ cups buttermilk
    ½ cup milk
  • Fold in the shredded cheese and green chiles then transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
    1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
    4 ounces diced green chiles
  • Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the cornbread turns golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Scroll up and see the post for tips, FAQs, and storage recommendations.

Notes

*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1 piece. Actual calories will vary.
 
*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 166kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 368mg | Potassium: 152mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 382IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 1mg
Recipe Rating