Cornbread Salad- an extraordinary salad made with layers of homemade cornbread, beans, corn, bell peppers, tomatoes, green onions then topped with bacon bits, cheese, and a generous serving of ranch dressing. Each ingredient is in complete harmony. This easy salad recipe is everything you’ll need for a special family dinner or when entertaining!
I love southern food and I always make it a point that nothing should be wasted. That’s why I especially love this Cornbread Salad recipe here because the main ingredient is a leftover cornbread. But it’s not like we always have leftover cornbread every time I make one.
And so when we did have some leftovers from the 4th of July celebration, I immediately thought of making this salad here and I couldn’t be happier after seeing the results. It’s so easy to assemble, seriously. All you need is a good imagination to give your Southern Cornbread Salad some personality. Shall we?
What is Cornbread Salad?
Popularly served in potlucks and picnics, Cornbread Salad is an old-fashioned salad with a beautiful marriage of bacon, beans, veggies, dressing, cheese, and of course, cornbread. It’s usually assembled in a clear bowl so you could see the different layers of ingredients that go in it.
What I love about making this dish is that there are a lot of ways you could make this dish. Today, I’m going to show you my own delicious take on this dish. I can assure you that there’s no room for blandness in this recipe and that every scoop of it deserves praise.
Cornbread Salad Ingredients
So how do we make this dish as perfect as it could be while still preserving its good flavor and pretty façade? Well, I think we should get to know first what makes our dish irresistibly good.
Homemade Cornbread – this baked side dish is an absolute flavor superstar while being crumbly, moist, and buttery. It’s primarily made up of cornmeal, butter, eggs, and buttermilk. Check out my homemade cornbread recipe HERE.
Bacon – everybody loves it and you know you do too. It has a natural sweet and salty flavor that really complements the greens and the dressing of the dish. And anything with bacon in it is great, right?
Tomato – one fine and juicy fruit, or is it a veggie? Whatever it is, it tastes good. Because of its natural acidic property, it helps add a nice touch of acidity and freshness in this layered salad.
Kidney Beans – peculiar but it fits right in snug and tight. It seems bitter if you eat it individually but if you add a lot more of it and mix it in, it starts to get sweet and earthy.
Corn – add a little sweetness with this golden crop. For this recipe, we will use canned corn to ensure a plump crunchy feeling. But if you want to do it from scratch, you can check my How to Boil Corn post for some tips.
Onion and Green Onions – tangy, sweet, and savory. The complex flavors of this bulb give our dish the kick of elevated savory to give it a bit of personality.
Red and Green Bell Peppers – the mildest kind of pepper. It doesn’t give you any heat but it does add freshness and crunch to it in every bite.
Grated Sharp Cheddar – blend it all together with a distinctly smooth and flavorful layer of sharp cheddar. This acts as a natural salt for the dish without drying it out.
Ranch Dressing – it may not be the star of the show, but definitely a vital one. A creamy thick dressing with just the right amount of tanginess and a kiss of heat. See my homemade HERE. Or if you have the store-bought bottled ones, that should be fine, too.
As mentioned before, you can be as creative as you like with this dish. Don’t hold back! But to give you some guidance and still be faithful to the dish, here are some recipe variations that you could try:
- If you want to have a vegan version of this dish, just replace the bacon with fried mushroom seasoned with honey and soy sauce. It’s a far cry for a bacon replacement but the flavors would easily level the flavors.
- Another variation of this is to add in turkey or chicken instead of bacon. This gives you more protein than bacon. So to all those gym rats out there, this might be the version for you.
- You can try using a mix of cream cheese and mozzarella, too, to have a creamy and stretchy salad. It also goes well with the flavors of bacon and bell peppers.
- Swap the kidney beans with pinto and/or black beans, if desired.
What Goes Well with Cornbread Salad?
Since this is a tasty side dish, you could pair it with almost anything. Here some of my recommendations.
- Although this is a southern cornbread salad, a good meaty seafood mix is a great pairing for this to give a flavorful contrast like this New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
- Speaking of BBQ, you can also serve this dish as a side to this Shish Kabob or this Marinated Grilled Flank Steak.
- If you’re feeling fancy, you can always serve this with Spiced Roast Turkey or this Blackened Spatchcock Chicken for the holidays.
More Southern Salad Recipes To Explore
Southerners really create masterful salads that are always sure to win a crowd. So if that hits all the bells and whistles, you can check out these other southern salads below.
How To Make Cornbread Salad
Heat the skillet or cast iron over medium-high heat. Then add chopped bacon, cook until the bacon is brown, turning as needed until brown and crunchy about 6-7 minutes or more.
For the assembly, you can use a large glass bowl or you can equally arrange on a large serving bowl. Arrange according to preference or you can refer to the picture for guidance – cornbread, tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn, bacon, and onions.
Top the salad with cheddar cheese ( if desired), green onions, parsley, and ranch dressing. I usually reserve the ranch dressing until ready to be served. Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours before serving. Serve with extra ranch dressing on the side.
- 1 bunch homemade cornbread , cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3-4 cups tomatoes , seeded and chopped
- 1 cup red bell pepper , diced
- 1-½ cup green bell pepper , diced
- 2 (14.5 oz each) cans red kidney beans , rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 oz) can corn , rinsed and drained
- 8-10 bacon strips , diced
- 1 medium onion, small diced
- 1-2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup green onion , diced
- ½ cup parsley , , chopped for garnish (optional)
- homemade ranch dressing
- Heat the skillet or cast iron over medium-high heat. Then add chopped bacon, cook until the bacon is brown, turning as needed until brown and crunchy about 6-7 minutes or more.
- For the assembly, you can use a large glass bowl or you can equally arrange on a large serving bowl.
- Arrange according to preference or you can refer to the picture for guidance - cornbread, tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn, bacon, and onions.
- Top the salad with cheddar cheese ( if desired), green onions, parsley, and ranch dressing. I usually reserve the ranch dressing until ready to be served.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours before serving. Serve with extra ranch dressing on the side.
Tips & Notes:
- Swap kidney beans with pinto or black beans.
- For best results, make your cornbread at least 4 hours ahead.
- Keep any leftover in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Take note that the texture starts to change like the cornbread starts to get soggy.
- Prepare this dish at least an hour before serving.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.