Be the Cookout Hero with This Skillet Blueberry Cornbread

Fresh berries. Hot pan. Can’t lose.

Blueberry Cornbread in Cast Iron Skillet
Blueberry Cornbread in Cast Iron Skillet | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist
Blueberry Cornbread in Cast Iron Skillet | Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Hot dogs and burgers might be the usual cookout suspects. Grilling meat is, of course, a no-brainer at many al fresco gatherings. Sides get plenty of glory, too. But when I’m camping, picnicking, or otherwise cooking in the great outdoors, I like to kick things up a notch. And a snacky cake, like blueberry cornbread, is a perennial favorite.

The best thing is its adaptability. Don’t have blueberries? Use whatever berries or stone fruit you have on hand. I’ve chopped up plums, I’ve thrown in peaches, I’ve toted a smoothie packet of frozen mixed berries—this is an ever-riffable recipe, which is exactly what cooking-on-the-fly outside calls for. All you need is a trusty cast iron skillet, a heat source, and a little will power (no peeking until at least a half hour has passed).

Some cookery notes to be mindful of: If you have a fire-proof grate to place your cast iron pan on above hot coals, you can go ahead and use that. Do be sure you have enough hot coals underneath and make sure your skillet gets nice and warm first. Whereas, if you’re using a barbecue grill with a cover, you might want to cut down the cook time to about 30 minutes. It’s all relative! Keep an eye on it, but no need to babysit it.

Blueberry Cornbread in Cast Iron Skillet

Equipment: 8-, 9-, or 10-inch cast iron skillet, aluminum foil or cast iron lid.

• Butter, at least a few tablespoons, plus more for buttering the bread
• 2 cups self-rising cornmeal (or a combination of 1 ½ cups fine ground cornmeal, ½ cup flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, ¾ teaspoon salt)
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup of milk (oat milk is a good alternative)
• 2 tablespoons of sugar (optional)
• ¼ cup of vegetable oil
• ½ cup of blueberries

1. Preheat your skillet over warm embers for 10 minutes or so. Cozy up some coals around the exterior of the pan as well. Don’t cook over active flames; you’ll want a campfire that’s been going for at least 15-20 minutes, so you can separate some coals from the active fire.
2. As your pan warms, mix cornmeal, eggs, milk, sugar, and oil in a bowl. (You want to use premade cornbread? Go for it. We won’t tell everyone you’re smarter for doing it this way.) Then fold in berries.
3. Toss a pat or two of butter (about a tablespoon) into the skillet and coat the bottom and sides. Add more butter as needed.
4. Pour batter into the pan, and cover with a piece of aluminum foil (or a stainless steel or cast iron lid if you have one that fits well).
5. Here’s where it gets a little tricky. You can bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on what kind of heat you’ve got going. It might even take longer, especially if you’re in a cool environment. Bake until a cake tester or knife comes out clean. If it’s a little crispy, all good. If you want a browned top, flip out onto a clean surface and put it back inside the pan upside down for 5 minutes.
6. Eat with butter and a drizzle of honey—or cover it all with honey, there are no rules!

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Rosin Saez is the senior editor of Food & Drink at Thrillist.