Maple and Walnut Cornbread Recipe

Toasted walnuts give this tender, maple syrup-sweetened cornbread a nice crunch.

Cross-section view of maple walnut cornbread.

Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Why It Works

  • Preheating the pan and coating it with butter creates a dark crust with a light nutty flavor.
  • Using sour cream along with buttermilk increases the mild tanginess and overall flavor of the bread.
  • Adding a little oil to the batter results in a more cake-like moistness.

When I first crafted my recipe for Northern-style cornbread, one thing I didn't try out with my base cornbread recipe was other sweeteners. I had thought of using brown sugar, honey, and molasses, but I needed to keep some constants, and sticking to white sugar ended up being one of them. So, when I went back to the kitchen for further cornbread exploration, trying out maple syrup as the main sugar source was the first thing I wanted to do.

In addition to the syrup adjustment—I still used a little sugar to get the right level of sweetness—I added roughly chopped walnuts that I had toasted in the skillet prior to preheating it in the oven. With just those couple of changes to the recipe, I wound up with a bread that was really different.

The maple syrup leaves its distinctly sweet, sappy imprint on the cornbread, giving it a new depth that melds well with the sweet, grassy corn. The walnuts add a great nutty complement and some contrasting crunch. These are flavors that would be a welcome addition to almost any holiday table. 

And after you’ve cooked up the maple version, try orange cranberry, jalapeño, roasted red pepper, or cheddar bacon scallion.

November 2014

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 45 mins
Serves: 8 to 10 servings

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  • 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 cup sour cream

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

  • 2 large eggs

  • 3 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly, plus 1 additional tablespoon for pan

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Place walnuts in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and toast until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer walnuts to a bowl and place skillet in oven.

    Chopped walnuts toasting in cast-iron skillet.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, buttermilk, syrup, eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter, and canola oil. Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Stir in walnuts.

    Whisking maple cornbread batter.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

  3. Using pot holders, carefully remove hot pan from oven. Place 1 tablespoon butter in skillet and swirl to completely melt and coat inside of pan. Pour in cornbread batter and place in oven. Bake until skewer inserted into middle of cornbread comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out to wire rack and let cool an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Reheat any leftover cornbread before serving again.

    Just baked maple walnut cornbread in cast-iron skillet.

    Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Special Equipment

10-inch cast iron skillet

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
339 Calories
20g Fat
36g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 339
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 60mg 20%
Sodium 372mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 124mg 10%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 191mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)