What to Serve with Cornbread [10 Best Sides & Main Ideas]

Easy cornbread serving and side dish ideas, from hearty and warming chili to classic fried chicken. Discover what to serve with cornbread today.

southwest cheese buttermilk cornbread

A traditional southern staple with Native American roots, cornbread is known for its distinctly light and crumbly taste making it a perfect accompaniment for soaking up gravy or as a carbohydrate option for backyard barbecues. While the inclusion of coarse cornmeal results in a slightly gritty texture, the subtly sweet flavor means this humble quick bread is one of the best side dishes out there. 

Due to its versatility and slightly sweet-slightly savory nature, cornbread can complement a wide range of dishes, from thick and hearty stews to various types of barbecued, fried, and oven-baked meat.

These best cornbread side and serving ideas will complete your dinner or lunch spread, giving you enough options to satisfy everyone’s cravings. Discover what to serve with cornbread today.

Fried Chicken

fried chicken

Who doesn’t love fried chicken? A classic dish demolished by children and adults alike, fried chicken evokes decadence, with a crispy, golden-brown crunch giving way to incredibly juicy meat. While many fried chicken lovers will have their own spin on this classic recipe, it’s generally made by coating chicken pieces in seasoned flour and thick batter, before frying them until well done. 

And while there are many types of fried chicken to get your hands on (including Korean fried chicken and Japanese Karaage), nothing pairs as well with cornbread as Southern fried chicken. With a distinctly savory coating and crunch, you’ll want to balance the chicken with some sweetness, making cornbread and fried chicken a match made in heaven. 

Try This Recipe: This fried chicken recipe can be prepped and cooked in just 30 minutes. 


turkey chili recipe

No, we’re not referring to the spicy chili pepper! Chili is short for chili con carne, a lightly spiced stew that’s just like a hug in a bowl — making it perfect for the cooler months. Because it’s traditionally made with a large variety of spices and seasonings (including chili powder, cumin, garlic, and oregano), you won’t want any of the leftover stew to go to waste. 

Sure, adding a slice of plain bread to the side will do the trick, but there’s something so delicious about soaking up every last drop of your chili with a slice of freshly baked cornbread. Dip it in the stew, soak up all the goodness, and don’t be afraid if a few drops make it down your chin. 

Try This Recipe: This easy turkey chili is lighter and quicker than traditional beef chili recipes but has just as much flavor, making it perfect for busy weeknights. 

Pulled Pork

pulled pork

Juicy, packed with flavor, and so tender you won’t need to put that much effort into taking a bite, pulled pork is an American favorite. Apart from being used to top tacos, and burgers, pulled pork can be enjoyed as is — and with that distinct smoky and spiced flavor from the blend of seasonings, you’ll definitely want to make this the star of the meal. 

The unique slow-cooking process allows the fat to render and the flavors to meld, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth texture. To complement the rich flavors of the pork, many home cooks love to pair it with lighter sides, like crunchy coleslaw or homemade cornbread. 

Try This Recipe: This pulled pork has incredible depth of flavor due to the use of a slow cooker, so you can make this meal ahead of time or leave it on while you’re at work. 


homemade meatloaf

There’s something so comforting about a good meatloaf. Whether it reminds you of delicious school cafeteria lunches, or your mom’s weekend dinners, meatloaf is a nostalgic dish with a hearty and homey appeal. Apart from being a convenient way to pack in protein (especially for picky eaters), meatloaf is one of those dishes that are conveniently customizable. Prefer ground pork over beef? Substitute it in. Love a variety of spices? Add as many as you’d like. The choice is yours. 

Since meatloaf is, well, essentially a loaf of meat, the nutritional profile can be relatively one-dimensional. To make it a balanced meal, adding on a side of roast vegetables or carbohydrates is advised. And while you’re free to add on a simple roast potato or mash, why not make it an occasion and serve it with some cornbread? 

Try This Recipe: This easy meatloaf recipe oozes with flavor and moisture, with a caramelized glaze that ties the whole thing together. 


seafood gumbo with rice

Ask anyone in the state of Louisiana about gumbo, and you’re sure to hear nothing but praise. If you’re someone that loves the taste of complex, seafood-focused stews packed full of delicious ingredients, then serving gumbo with a side of cornbread should be a no-brainer. Traditionally a thick stew that encapsulates the diverse culinary influences of the region, gumbo is loved for its contrasting tastes — including the slight spice of andouille sausage, the root beer essence of sassafras leaves, and the rich flavor of the roux base.

Due to the complexity of tastes and textures, it makes sense to serve gumbo with dishes that are lighter in flavor and simpler to consume. Cornbread, with its slightly grainy yet fluffy interior, makes an excellent vehicle for scooping more of that gumbo into your mouth. 

Try This Recipe: This gumbo recipe has been passed down from a native New Orleanian and tastes exceptionally authentic due to the dark roux.  

Beef Stew

beef stew

Carrying on with the stew train, beef stew is another comforting stew that is perfect for cozying up on the couch with, on a cold winter’s evening. Unlike many other types of dishes, beef stew will only get tastier the longer it cooks down, which allows the flavors to meld beautifully and the harshness of individual ingredients (like red wine and garlic) to harmonize. 

Once seared in a saucepan, beef will develop slight charring and a rich caramelized flavor. Combine this with a variety of different spices, including thyme, rosemary, and pepper, and you’ve got a succulent beef stew with incredible depth of flavor. Because it’s so delicious, we certainly won’t blame you if you tuck into a bowl of beef stew on its own — but to balance out the salty flavor of the dish, add on a side of cornbread. 

Try This Recipe: This old-fashioned beef stew includes a generous helping of red wine for richness of flavor, and extra carrots and potatoes for satiety. 


Cajun Vegan Jambalaya Recipe

Often mistaken for paella, jambalaya is another vibrant Louisiana dish which has become a mainstay of Creole and Cajun cuisine, and enjoyed by foodies all over the world. While it traditionally contains similar ingredients to gumbo, like andouille sausage and generous amounts of broth, jambalaya is a one-pot meal meaning that it also contains rice.

If you love the combination of savory, smoky, and spicy flavors, you’ll love jambalaya. Since it comes with adequate amounts of protein, veggies, and rice in each mouthful, adding on sides isn’t necessary. However, jambalaya is one of those show-stopping dishes best pulled out at your next dinner party. And if you’re hosting a dinner, don’t forget that having entrees and side dishes (like cornbread) can help transform an everyday meal into an exceptional one. 

Try This Recipe: This easy jambalaya recipe is ready in just an hour and is customizable depending on your spice and protein preferences.  

Chicken Noodle Soup

chicken noodle soup

There’s a reason why you were always served chicken noodle soup when you were sick. Nutritious, delicious, yet completely light on your stomach, chicken noodle soup is one of the best mealtime options if you’re feeling under the weather or you just want to give your digestive system some TLC. And of course, it’s hailed as an ultimate comfort food — just like cornbread, which makes the combination of the two so irresistible. 

One of the best parts of chicken noodle soup is how simple it is to whip up. You’re likely to have the ingredients already in your fridge or at your local grocery store. No need for fancy ingredients here! 

Try This Recipe: This chicken noodle soup recipe can be whipped up in just 40 minutes and the inclusion of egg noodles makes it extra satisfying. 

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

mexican stuffed peppers

Also known as chiles rellenos, Mexican stuffed peppers are a dish that look as great as they taste. Made by stuffing bell peppers with a variety of savory fillings, these meal-prep friendly peppers can be made low-carb, low-fat, or even vegetarian. This is a dish you’ll want to keep on hand if you’ve got fussy eaters in your family.  

Best of all, Mexican stuffed peppers can make your next workday lunch or picnic outing more flavorful. Since they’re nicely packaged in a munchable pepper casing, you can bring these on the go, without being scared that they’ll disintegrate en route. Do you know what else can be eaten on the go? Cornbread! Pairing the two together makes for an easy and affordable meal. 

Try This Recipe: This simple yet robust Mexican stuffed peppers recipe is loaded with juicy spiced beef and rice. 

Sausage & Black Beans

sausage black bean feijoada

While it may seem simple, sausage with black beans is a protein-packed dish that is deceptively simple, but packs a flavor punch. Once links of hearty sausage is paired with earthy black beans, the slightly smoky and spicy taste means it’s the perfect pairing for a neutral carbohydrate, like cornbread. 

If you’re not a fan of black beans, simply substitute with a legume of your choice, like lentils or chickpeas. Or you can just skip the beans altogether and serve up the sausages with a generous helping of fresh herbs and veggies — we promise we won’t tell. 

Try This Recipe: This sausage and black bean recipe is a nutritious weeknight option that is gluten-free and low-carb.

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