This lemon blueberry cornbread recipe is a true labor of love that is years in the making. I have wanted to create this recipe for years but blueberry season is so short and I knew I wanted the texture to be absolutely perfect. So after many fails last summer, I went at it again. I have been testing this recipe for months! And it is finally perfect – just ask my in laws, I’ve been forcing all the edible iterations on them so I am not stuck with 8 batches of cornbread.
Lemon and blueberry is my favorite summer flavor combo – it’s sweet and sour and when it’s mixed with the light and crumbly cornbread – it combines all the right things for a light and refreshing summer snack!
Let’s talk about cornbread for a second
Cornbread can be a pretty polarizing food. The sweet vs. savory debate is always on-going. The dense vs cakey debate exists as well. Then you can get into the mix-ins: jalapeno, cheddar, cinnamon sugar swirls, fruit, canned corn, the list goes on.
Don’t even get me started with toppings: plain, with butter, with honey…
All this to say clearly cornbread can be one of those foods that falls into a personal preference category.
Traditionally cornbread is baked or fried. Though sometimes you can also find it steamed into a corn pudding type dish. More than likely the cornbread you are most familiar with is the baked variety but they are all unique and delicious in their own way!
Despite the MANY varieties and preferences when it comes to cornbread, most recipes all have a few common things:
- They all contain some cornmeal. This may feel like an obvious one but you might be surprised how little cornmeal many recipes actually include when you compare to the ratio of all purpose flour.
- They are generally leavened with baking powder. Baked goods like cakes and breads need a leavening agent to get that nice rise. Typically cornbread recipes use baking powder though some may use a combination of baking powder and baking soda.
What makes this cornbread special?
Texture: This lemon blueberry cornbread is the perfect balance between cakey and dense. It is light but still has plenty of that chewy cornmeal texture. Plus when you add in the burst of the sweet blueberries in every bite, it’s really just perfect.
Sweetness: This cornbread is also not overly sweet. There is a little sugar, there is the natural sweetness from the cornmeal and then there is a sweet and tangy glaze that soaks right into the bread while it is warm and in the skillet!
Lemon/Blueberry Combo: Nothing screams summer to me more than the combination of lemons and blueberries. It’s the perfect sweet and sour combo and it complements the cornmeal SO well.
Baked in a skillet: You can use any oven safe skillet for this recipe but I HIGHLY recommend using a 10 inch cast iron skillet if you have one. They get nice and hot so the cornbread will cook evenly and the cornmeal in the batter will crisp up and get a nice toasty sweetness on the edges.
It’s make ahead! While I love a nice warm slice of cornbread with melty softened butter, this recipe isn’t that. It is truly at it’s best several hours to 1 day after baking. The blueberries soften perfectly, that lemon glaze penetrates the entire crumb and it’s just incredible. I promise you it will be worth the wait, plus now you can make it and enjoy for a few days! Or make it the day or two before you want to serve it so it’s just done already. Super easy.
Baking with fruit tips!
Baking with fresh vs frozen fruit
This is a common question with fruit recipes because let’s be honest, getting great tasting, fresh fruit all year round is not realistic in most places. Fortunately, in a lot of recipes fresh and frozen fruit can be used pretty interchangeably – but you may need to make a few adjustments to account for the extra moisture. Have you ever thawed frozen fruit and seen all the liquid that is released? This is due to the water in the fruit expanding and contracting from freezing and thawing. Since most fruits are at least 90% water, the amount of moisture released can be significant.
For this particular recipe, you can use frozen blueberries but I recommend thawing and draining them first for the best result. You can use them straight from frozen, but do know that the blueberry juices will likely bleed throughout the cake so the coloring may change. It also may end up a bit more crumbly from the extra moisture so I would definitely let it sit and cool for a few hours before slicing and removing from the skillet.
Baking with lemon
Baking with lemon can be tricky. There are two main ways to get that intense lemon flavor: through the zest and the juice. However, if you try and bake with the lemon juice mixed into the batter, it can get pretty bitter and the acid could mess with the texture. In some cases, you just totally lose the lemon flavor completely! Cooked lemon juice is unpredictable in baking.
So, the key to getting that punchy lemon flavor in this recipe is by using the zest in the batter to bring out that sweet lemon flavor and then by using the juice (mixed with powdered sugar) as a glaze or a “soak” for the cake. Doing it this way, not only imparts that zingy tang of the lemon but also help keep the cornbread moist for days!
Lemon Blueberry Cornbread
This one-bowl cornbread recipe screams summer with just a hint of sweetness, tangy lemon and is loaded with bright summer blueberries.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted plus more for greasing skillet
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 lemons zest and juice divided
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven and skillet
Add your oven safe skillet to a cold oven and allow it to heat up as the oven preheats. I recommend a cast iron skillet for this as it gets a nice crust on the cornbread. Preheat oven to 400*
Make the cornbread batter
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugar. Once the sugar and butter are combined and the sugar is mostly dissolved, add the eggs and lemon zest and whisk again until smooth. Finally, add the cornmeal, flour, milk, baking powder, and salt until a thick batter is formed. Fold in 3/4 of the blueberries into the batter and pour into a greased oven proof skillet. Sprinkle remaining blueberries over the top of the batter and bake 15-20 minutes. The cornbread is done when the edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the skillet comes out clean.
Make the lemon glaze
While the cornbread is baking, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Once the cornbread is baked, pour glaze over the warm skillet of cornbread. The glaze will get soaked up and infuse the cornbread with a sweet tangy lemon flavor. Let cornbread cool completely before removing from the skillet and slicing.
- This cornbread tastes even better the longer it sits so you can totally make it on Sunday and enjoy during the week! Sliced cornbread will last at least 3-4 days if stored in an airtight container.
- If you prefer to use frozen blueberries, be sure to thaw and drain them first. Also note, they will not hold their shape quite the same as fresh blueberries but it should not alter the flavor of the cornbread!