This old-fashioned recipe for a Southern salad is surprisingly delicious and veggie-filled. It’s a dish you would expect to see at a barbecue, family reunion, or potluck dinner – homey and satisfying. You know, the one you find yourself craving for days to come.
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This is one of those recipes that you can make everything from scratch or take shortcuts, and they’ll both be delicious. Making cornbread and ranch dressing allows you to control what goes into your food and customize it to suit your family’s tastes. But in a pinch, when you’re short on time, a boxed cornbread mix and bottled ranch dressing work just fine. I like to walk in the middle. I used a boxed cornbread mix and made my own ranch dressing.
My family’s favorite Southern-style backyard barbecue buffet not only includes this salad but also Classic Pimento Cheese, Tropical Beet Salad, Pickled Deviled Eggs, Spicy Grilled Jerk Chicken, Vinegar Based Cole Slaw, and a no-churn Sweet Georgia Peach Ice Cream.
Northern Versus Southern Cornbread – Battle Of The Cornbread
This is a ‘tale as old as time’…the war of sweet (Northern) cornbread versus unsweetened (Southern) cornbread.
I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy cornbread from New York City to Houston, Texas, and have to say that I’ve had both types in most places. I believe that the type of cornbread is quite subjective to the tastes of the baker rather than regional. But that’s just me.
Cornbread has been a Southern staple long before biscuits became popular. Since corn was so plentiful and wheat didn’t store well in the heat, bread made from cornmeal was consumed daily.
White corn was ground into a meal, combined with water, and baked over an open fire until the early 1800s when buttermilk, eggs, leavening, and pig products were added to improve the texture and flavor.
Fast forward to the 1900s and the second industrial revolution, when grain mills began using steel rollers to grind the corn. The heat from the rollers stripped much of the quality and flavor of the corn. This resulted in bakers adding sugar and wheat flour to the cornmeal.
Southern cornbread is thought to be made with stone-ground white cornmeal, salt, buttermilk, and sometimes an egg. It’s baked in a screaming hot cast iron skillet with melted butter, drippings, or lard, producing a dense, crumbly, dry, flat cornbread with a crispy, crunchy crust.
Northern or ‘Yankee’ cornbread is sweeter, lighter, higher, and more cake-like. It’s typically made with yellow cornmeal, milk, sugar, wheat flour, and baking soda. It’s then baked in a lightly greased baking dish.
What Is In A Southern Cornbread Salad?
The star in this show is the cornbread. I like the sweeter kind because it gives the salad a nice balance. A simple box of Jiffy mix, which we all have in our pantries today, is perfect and easy. However, use whatever cornbread you enjoy most.
The next component is the dressing. You could use bottled ranch dressing, but I like using the powdered mix and adding sour cream and mayonnaise. Then, mix in about a tablespoon of bacon fat just for added flavor. It makes such a difference.
Finally, toss in your favorite type of canned beans. I like using black beans, along with shredded cheddar cheese, and vegetables such as red bell pepper, jalapeno, corn, scallions, and tomato for the colors and textures. Then crumble in some bacon, which makes everything better.
Toss, chill, and devour. This isn’t a pretty dish, but one bite, and you won’t care about what it looks like.
Tips And Notes
- The cornbread can be made up to two days in advance.
- The dressing can be made one day in advance.
- This is the best recipe to use leftover cornbread or buy a pan of cornbread in your grocery’s bakery section. Bakery corn muffins would work as well!
- Hate cooking bacon? Precooked bacon or even real bacon bits in the jar would work, but you won’t have the luscious bacon fat to add to the dressing.
- Add some bacon grease to your dressing – just a tablespoon. It amps up the flavor in a huge way.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Variations On This Recipe
- Give it a barbecue flavor by adding some barbecue sauce to the dressing, kidney beans, and maybe a can of diced green chiles.
- Play with the veggies. Broccoli, crunchy celery, or shredded carrots would work well.
- Try different cheeses. A smoky provolone or salty feta would give it a different flavor.
- I’ve seen this dish layered in a trifle bowl and then ‘iced’ with the dressing on top. It looks beautiful when presented this way.
Here Are A Few More Side Dish Ideas:
- Southwest Quinoa Salad With Spicy Lime Vinaigrette
- Creamy Broccoli Salad
- Texas Pea Salad
- Southern Style Coleslaw
This old fashioned recipe for a classic Southern salad is an unexpected and delicious treat. Cornbread, black beans, bacon, cheese, and a bevy of chopped vegetables are dressed with a homemade ranch dressing. Not a pretty salad, but one that your family will adore.
- 1 box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- 2 large ears fresh corn or 1 cup frozen corn
- ½ large red bell pepper, minced
- 1 large jalapeno pepper, minced
- 2 scallions, minced (both white and green parts)
- 2 Plum tomatoes, seeded and minced
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 5 slices bacon, cooked crisp and grease reserved
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 ½ packets buttermilk ranch dressing mix
- 1 tablespoon reserved bacon grease
Make the cornbread.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Whisk together the cornbread mix, egg, and milk in a medium bowl. Spoon into the prepared dish and bake until golden brown – about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
When cool, crumble or cut into small ½-inch cubes and spoon into a large mixing bowl. Set aside, uncovered, to dry out for at least 4 hours.
For the salad:
Cook the ears of corn until tender crisp – about 15 minutes. Drain well. Cut the kernels off of the cob and slide into the bowl with the cornbread.
Add the bell pepper, jalapeno, minced tomatoes, black beans, cheese, and crumbled bacon.
Make the dressing:
Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, ranch mix, and bacon grease in a small bowl until fully combined.
Spoon onto the salad and toss until all of the dressing is combined with the cornbread, beans, and veggies.
Cover tightly and chill for at least 1 hour.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Toss
- Cuisine: Southern
Keywords: old fashioned recipe, Southern salad, Southern recipes, cornbread, side dish recipes, side dish