I clear the shelves when I'm at the store.
I'm typically the first person to preach the merits of homemade anything over store-bought. When time allows, I make my own pizza dough, fresh pasta, and even sourdough bread. However, when there's a shortcut version of something that tastes just as good as from scratch, I'm also the first one to stock up. My husband laments the fact that I don't make tomato sauce all too often anymore since Rao's entered the scene (but I'm too busy making the meatballs!). And I rely on good ol' pancake mix nine times out of ten on Sunday mornings. So, of course when I tried a boxed cornbread mix that was actually better than what I could turn out on my own, it was the best of both worlds. Homemade taste, store-bought convenience.
The magical box I happened upon? Whole Foods Market's 365 Cornbread & Muffin Mix. Before discovering the 365 cornbread mix, I hadn't landed on the perfect cornbread recipe. Not to say that it doesn't exist, just that there wasn't one that fell into my personal sweet spot of texture, taste, and ease. Now, whenever I see 365 boxes on the shelf, I stock up—it seems to sell out quickly, and there are days my local Whole Foods doesn't have any. Whether it's two or four, I'm snagging them all to stock my pantry so we can make a batch weekly.
What Makes Whole Foods 365 Cornbread Mix So Good?
I don't know when or why I first grabbed this unassuming box of cornbread mix at the grocery store. I likely didn't have high hopes, considering the simplicity of the packaging and ingredients. In hindsight, though, it's the simplicity that made this exactly what I was looking for.
The package lists out the following ingredients: yellow cornmeal, enriched wheat flour, cane sugar, corn flour, leavening agents, and sea salt. Noticeably, cornmeal is first, meaning it's the most prevalent ingredient. The instructions have you add 2 eggs, 1 cup milk, and 1/3 cup vegetable oil, blend, and bake. While this amounts to a pretty simple batter (similar to this Golden Sweet Cornbread recipe, for example), it allows for the corn flavor to really stand out.
The crumb is lovely and moist, with just enough bite to hold together without crumbling, but light enough to gobble down the whole square (or three). The taste is wonderful too, highlighting the corn itself with supporting roles from sweet and savory undertones. The inside is fluffy, and the edges provide crunchy contrast.
I know I'm not alone in my love for this store-bought shortcut, which is probably why it can be hard to find. Reviews on the product page exclaim "This is the best mix I have ever tried. Great taste and appearance. Leaves Jiffy on the floor," and (similar to my initial reaction), "I didn’t expect to like it. I have always made cornbread from scratch. But this is really good and it is pretty simple to make. Moist and flavorful. It is foolproof and no one will guess it came out of a box." It's worth mentioning, the 365 mix also just took the top spot in another publication's cornbread taste test.
How to Make Whole Foods 365 Cornbread
The best part of this cornbread is how simple it is to throw together. Since I make it so frequently, it takes me less than five minutes to mix. The instructions on the box have you preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, grease a 9x9 pan, prepare the batter, and bake for 30-35 minutes. Because of the discrepancy I've experienced, I would advise you to watch your baking time carefully—it cooks in about 18-20 minutes in my oven. This mix also includes muffin-friendly modifications, and yields 18 muffins.
Ways To Upgrade Cornbread Mix
For a finishing touch, there is a bonus recipe on the package for jalapeño butter which call for whipping together 1/2 cup room temperature butter, 1 tablespoon water, 3 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons minced jalapeño, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until light and fluffy. I haven't tried this yet, but it sounds delightful.
To personalize the cornbread, the box also features this tip: Mix in 1 cup shredded Cheddar, 1 (4-ounce) drained can chopped green chiles, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne before baking for a zesty spin.
I personally follow the basic recipe, though I often swap out the oil for applesauce to get more nutrients into what has quickly become my kids' favorite dinnertime side (they never notice). I'll also use buttermilk in place of regular milk when I have it on hand.
How to Use a Box of Cornbread Mix
Not only can you use boxed cornbread mix to make a satisfying side to serve alongside your main meal, you can also make poppable muffins that are a nice change from dinner rolls or make a convenient breakfast or snack.
If you need cornbread for your holiday dressing, it couldn't be easier to use this mix to lighten the workload. But don't stop there. We have a full list of recipes that feature a box of cornbread mix for casseroles like Southwestern chicken pot pie, BBQ beef casserole, or a pulled pork tamale-inspired twist.
The baked cornbread keeps in the fridge for a few days, and heats up nicely in the toaster oven for breakfast with eggs, lunch with soup or salad, or dinner with pretty much anything. I encourage you to give it a try—that is, if you can find it at your local Whole Foods store. If you can't, it might be because I was just there.
Read the original article on All Recipes.