Mealie Bread is a super-moist cornbread with a rich flavorful taste. I added some basil and smoked paprika to it and leveled up the flavor of this popular African and Southern bread. Truly indulgent in every bite!
Most people think of cornbread as a southern thing. Not quite, though. Cornbread and baking with corn are also popular in many other countries around the world, especially in the Caribbean and Africa.
In many parts of Africa, fresh corn is used to make puddings and tamales like this Koki Corn. This steamed corn pudding is really popular in Cameroon and some parts of Nigeria.
My Mealie Bread recipe is my South African take on the recognizable cornbread that is famous here in the United States. It is super-moist, with a rich flavorful taste. I made sure not to puree the corn kernels to add a nice texture and sweet flavor to this bread. It really does the trick!
A classic South African bread that makes use of mealie (or maize) as its main ingredient, thus the name “Mealie Bread”. This traditional street food is made by transferring the mealie batter into an empty cocoa can (very resourceful, eh?), then it is steamed until it’s cooked. Just like making rice cakes! It gives more of a pudding-like texture compared to the baked version that’s more of a crusty-bread side.
- Fresh Corn – you’ll get the best flavor when it’s fresh, just like how delicious this cornbread is with the use of fresh corn kernels.
- All-purpose Flour – aside from that, it’s a commonly used type of flour; it also gives the shape of the mealie bread.
- Cornmeal – it helps give a dense mealie bread and gives it a nice puffy bread texture too!
- Baking Powder – since cornmeal can make the batter to be dense, baking powder here will balance that out by expanding the batter, thus adding volume to it.
- Baking Soda – it will help leaven or raise the batter as it reacts with the addition of an acidic ingredient (e.g, sour cream). Plus, it also neutralizes the sour taste because of the same chemical reaction that makes the batter rise.
- Sugar – add it for sweetness and to get a soft bread.
- Smoked Paprika – it’s an optional ingredient. I love to add flavor and some extra ingredients to a dish, you know… Immaculate Bites version.
- Salt – the ultimate flavor enhancer! It also helps balance the sweetness of mealie bread.
- Sour Cream – adds moisture to the bread and helps activate the baking soda and baking powder.
- Milk – gives rich, moist, and soft textured bread, plus it helps give a nice brown color to any bread recipe you add it to. You can have this as a drink with mealie bread; check out “What Goes With Mealie Bread?” to find out more.
- Eggs – eggs act as a binder and leavening agent in making this mealie bread. See how you can substitute it in this Egg Substitutes post.
- Unsalted Butter – add it to the mixture after melting. It also contributes to dense and soft bread. Don’t forget that butterlicious flavor, though!
- Fresh Basil – I chopped it before adding it to the batter to really get the most out of its savory and sweet flavors.
How To Make Mealie Bread
- Preheat the oven and prepare the cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Butter and flour a 10-inch cake pan and set aside.
- Shuck the corn and strip kernels from the cob. Remove husk from corn and, using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cob from top to bottom and gather the kernels with their juices in a large bowl. Use the back of a knife to scrape the residual corn from the cobs. Repeat with the remaining corn. (Photo 1)
- Coarsely ground corn kernels. Using a food processor or blender, pulse the corn without water until it is coarsely ground. You do not want to puree the corn. (Photo 2)
Making The Batter
- Mix the dry ingredients together. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, smoked paprika, and salt. (Photo 3)
- Add the other wet ingredients. Whisk in sour cream, milk, and lightly beaten eggs until well combined. (Photo 4)
- Add the remaining ingredients to the batter. Then, add corn mixture, melted butter, and basil. (Photo 5)
- Transfer the batter, then bake. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. If there is any leftover corn, place it on top of the cake batter. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Photo 6)
- Canned Corn Kernels – use them if you don’t have fresh corn available or simply just for convenience.
- Buttermilk – use it in place of sour cream: it should also work with the baking powder and baking soda in the recipe. Thus, contributing to a moist and soft mealie bread.
- Greek Yogurt – substitute it for sour cream and use equal proportion as called for in the recipe. Don’t worry! It will give the same effect as the sour cream does to the bread.
- Corn Grits. Use this as an alternative for cornmeal. Corn grits would likely give you a similar texture and taste as cornmeal.
Tips and Tricks
- Let it cool for a while before cutting. Resting it after baking lets the bread relax and keep its form.
- You can steam it. You read it right! Steaming the mealie bread batter is actually the traditional way of cooking it. It yields a moist and sort of pudding-like texture.
- Cheesy Mealie Bread. Simply add some freshly grated parmesan or cheddar cheese to give a more distinct cheesy flavor to this bread. A nice sweet and salty combination!
- Smoked Ham – if you want a meaty and smokey flavor minus the paprika (or if you don’t have any on hand), then you can add chopped smoked ham into the batter and then bake.
- Creamed Corn – you know I said not to puree the corn kernels because I want my mealie bread to have a little bit of texture, but if you prefer a smoother texture then please do process the corn as you would like it.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
- Refrigerator: transfer the mealie bread into an airtight container or wrap it with foil, then refrigerate for 7 days.
- Freezer: transfer the mealie bread into an airtight freezer-safe container or wrap it with foil and cling wrap before freezing it for 4 months.
- Room temp: transfer the mealie bread into an airtight container or wrap it with foil, then keep it in a cool and dark place for 2 days, away from direct sunlight.
- Microwave: transfer it to a microwave-safe container, then cover it with a damp paper towel, and set it to bake for 30 seconds. Done!
- Oven method: Preheat the oven to 350℉, then arrange the cornbread slices on the baking sheet, cover it with foil and bake for 15 minutes or until hot. Serve.
This recipe of mine is tried and tested, but things could happen, and you could still get crumbly cornbread. That could be because you might have overmixed the batter or the baking temperature is too high that it could dry the mealie bread. Try to use an oven thermometer to know the accurate temperature of your oven.
In this recipe of mine, I didn’t boil the mielies before cutting them off the cob. That’s because I used fresh corn, and it easily cooks when it’s fresh.
Using creamy-style corn will give a richer and creamier texture that will help with the structure of mealie bread, though you might have to reduce the amount of other liquid ingredients in this recipe, like milk, to make the right consistency of the batter.
What Goes With Mealie Bread?
- The earthy flavors of vegetables like endives, Sauteed Brussel Sprouts, and even Kale Salad go well with the sweetness of the corn and also for a variety of textures as a side dish.
- It also goes well with meaty, saucy, and spicy dishes like Chicken Enchiladas, savory and comforting Cajun Corn Shrimp Soup, and Caribbean Jerk Barbecue Ribs.
- Have it as a snack with your favorite hot and cold beverages like coffee, tea, and even milk. Or you can try making this chilled Homemade Eggnog. Enjoy!
More Easy Bread Recipes
Mealie Corn Bread
- 2-3 fresh corn, about 2 cups
- 1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (95g) cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (115g) sour cream
- 1/2 cup (120ml) milk
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons fresh basil, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch cake pan and set aside.
- Remove husks from corn and, using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cob from top to bottom and gather them with their juices in a large bowl. Use the back of a knife to scrape the residual corn from the cobs. Repeat with the remaining corn.
- Using a food processor or blender, pulse the corn without water until it is coarsely ground. You do not want to puree the corn.
- Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, smoked paprika, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Whisk in sour cream, milk, and lightly beaten eggs until well combined
- Then, add corn mixture, melted butter and basil. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. If there is any leftover corn place it on top of the cake batter.
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
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