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Your Next Batch Of Cornbread Needs A Boost From Old Bay Seasoning

Sliced cornbread in a pan
Sliced cornbread in a pan - Michelle Lee Photography/Shutterstock

It doesn't matter how drool-worthy your cornbread recipe is, a bit of Old Bay seasoning will make it better. Although it's probably not the first ingredient that comes to mind when fantasizing about the starchy side dish, the rusty-hued spice blend can give cornbread a serious makeover. Give it a try, and your tastebuds will surely agree that cornbread and Old Bay seasoning were made for one another.

The flavorful blend's recipe may be famously elusive, but Old Bay is generally understood to be a sweet, spicy, and savory combination of powdery spices. Alongside staples like salt and pepper, it boasts a host of ingredients including (but not limited to) warm nutmeg and cardamom, earthy celery seed and bay leaf, and a hint of paprika for color. Deeply nuanced, Old Bay seasoning can impart an incredible amount of complexity to any bland recipe. Yet, there's just something about cornbread that makes the spice sing.

Most cornbread tends to be predominantly sweet. Since Old Bay seasoning shares a warmly sweet quality, it can be a match for cornbread. However, it's the spice's level of zest, umami, and salt that makes the pairing so successful. Able to provide balance through this contrast of flavor, a single spoonful is all it takes for Old Bay seasoning to transform a batch of buttery cornbread into something full of flavor.

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The Best Ways To Customize And Serve Old Bay-Infused Cornbread

Old Bay seasoning on shelf
Old Bay seasoning on shelf - Bloomberg/Getty Images

A sprinkle of Old Bay is capable of elevating any cornbread recipe. However, to really boost flavor, feel free to introduce a few other additions. Turn up the heat with chopped jalapeños, a touch of mustard powder, or Cajun spice. Likewise, a cup of shredded cheese like aged cheddar or jack can also impart zest while adding richness. In contrast, to amplify savoriness, why not work in some garlic powder, caramelized onions, or smoked salt?

There's no denying that Old Bay-laced cornbread is delicious on its own. But, it really shines when served with certain dishes. Playing into its frequent use in seafood-based recipes, the cornbread is a wonderful accompaniment to a New England clambake just as much as it is a plate of Southern shrimp and grits. It also makes the ideal starch to sop up delicious stews like a hearty gumbo, fresh cioppino, creamy chowder, or lobster bisque. Alternatively, the cornbread could even be used as a base for sandwiches layered with anything from crab cakes to pulled pork.

Given the many ways to customize and serve the spiced cornbread, it might take you some time to determine exactly how to go about crafting the sweet and savory bread. The good news is that regardless of what you decide, a bit of Old Bay is sure to make any cornbread recipe tastier than you ever dreamed.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.