Buttermilk Polenta Cornbread with Whipped Jalapeño Butter

I’ve been working on this recipe for so long. 4 homes and 5 years later, I have finally nailed the art of making fluffy, tender, almost as authentic as you can get American-style buttermilk cornbread at home, using British ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always support going as authentic as possible, but proper cornmeal is just not that easy to find around here, and just doing the direct switch of polenta for cornmeal in American recipes does not always lead to the best results. So, meet my Buttermilk Polenta Cornbread.

It’s quick to make in a cake tin (round or square, it’s up to you – because I know most of us Brit’s don’t just have a suitable cast iron skillet hanging around!), has a beautiful tender crumb, little flecks of green chilli (you can leave this out if you want but actually it adds flavour not heat) and freezes well in wedges to defrost the next time you’re making a big vat of my Slow Cooker Chilli Con Carne, or to serve with ribs, which is another of my favourite combos!

Something I think that always takes homemade cornbread to the next level is the addition of a good flavoured butter. Recently I’ve been smothering my cornbread with wild garlic butter because it is what I’ve got in the fridge, and I really want to try this honey chipotle butter, but the default I’ve learned to fall back on since trying it for the first time last autumn? Liberty Mendez’ recipe for whipped jalapeño butter I found in BBC Good Food. It’s bright, tangy and just that little bit spicy, so easy to make, and while it is best fresh, it also freezes quite well in slices to defrost alongside your frozen wedges of cornbread. So, naturally I’ve also included the recipe below!

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Buttermilk Polenta Cornbread with Whipped Jalapeño Butter

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Category: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This easy Buttermilk Polenta Cornbread is perfect to make in British kitchens, freezes well, and is delicious served with a light and tangy whipped jalapeño butter. 



For the Buttermilk Polenta Cornbread

  • 200g (7 oz) ground polenta
  • 160g (5 1/2 oz) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 green chillis
  • large pinch salt
  • 260ml (9 oz) buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 120ml (4 1/4 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled 

For the Whipped Jalapeño Butter

  • 150g (5 1/4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 25g (3/4 oz) pickled jalapeños, from a jar
  • 2 tbsp jalapeño pickling juice, from the jar  


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees (320 fahrenheit).To make the cornbread, stir together the polenta, flour, sugar, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl until combined.Deseed and finely chop the chillis and stir them into the mixture.
  2. Measure the buttermilk out into a large jug and beat in the eggs, followed by the melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until combined.
  3. Grease a large cake tin (square or round, whatever you’ve got) well and line the bottom with a piece of baking parchment. Spoon in the prepared batter and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top feels firm.
  4. Meanwhile, make the whipped jalapeño butter by blitzing all the ingredients in a mini chopper or food processor – it may feel like it is not coming together at first whipping liquid into fat, but suddenly it will just come together and have a beautifully light texture.
  5. Serve the cornbread warm with the whipped jalapeño butter on the side.