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Awesome Jalapeño Cornbread Salad for Summer

Have you ever found a recipe that is just so good, so awesome that you make it over and over again? This recipe for Jalapeño Cornbread Salad is just such a dish. It’s part of my traditional Kentucky Derby party menu.

This is a recipe that your family will love, your friends will beg for it (O.K. that may be a bit of an exaggeration), and you can’t stop eating any leftovers. Jalapeño Cornbread Salad is also a wonderful side dish for the summer.

With so many parties, you need enough to feed a crowd and this salad definitely does that. As another bonus, you can make it ahead.

This truly is a great salad for large parties, picnics, or potlucks. Why?

  • You can half the recipe if you need less.
  • It holds up well in the refrigerator for leftovers.
  • It’s pretty and very impressive.
  • It’s sort of unique in that it doesn’t have any lettuce, but it is full of other vegetables.
  • It’s so flavorful and a perfect “salad” for a crowd.
  • It definitely has a southern vibe since cornbread is the foundation, but with a variety of peppers, red onion and cilantro.

Is that enough reasons to try this amazing dish? Yes!

Here’s how I was introduced to this salad: years ago when I worked in the culinary school at Sur La Table, one of our favorite guest instructors was Shannon. Although a pastry chef at the time in a few Dallas restaurants, my favorite recipe of his was Shannon’s Mother’s Jalapeño Cornbread Salad ~ and that’s what I’ve always called this dish.

Awesome Jalapeño Cornbread Salad for Summer

The first step for the Jalapeño Cornbread Salad is to make the Jalapeño Cornbread the day before you want to serve the salad.

Also, don’t worry about not having yeast handy. It’s not needed in this cornbread recipe. The cornbread is the foundation of the salad and it works best if it’s a little dry. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to let it sit out on the counter overnight.

Yeastless Jalapeño Cornbread recipe

After you’ve made your Jalapeño Cornbread, you will crumble it into a large bowl.


Next, you need to prepare all the vegetables to go in the salad.

For the salad, you need thinly sliced red and yellow bell peppers, jalapeño and poblano peppers, and red onions. You can already see why this Jalapeño Cornbread Salad is not only delicious but pretty too with a variety of colors.

You also need 1 1/2 ~ 2 pounds of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled. I always bake my bacon in the oven on a rack over a foil~lined sheet pan. No mess, no fuss, and the bacon stays nice and flat. Save the bacon grease to sauté the corn kernels for extra flavor.

Diced avocados, some chopped cilantro and sautéed corn kernels, 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup jalapeño or pepper jack cheese complete the salad.

The garlic clove needs to be finely chopped.

garlic and knife on cutting board


While the bacon is cooking, you can make the dressing. This delicious dressing is like a homemade buttermilk dressing (or Ranch as we call it in Texas) and can be used for any salad.

I don’t recommend using store~bought dressing. It’s too sweet and the flavor doesn’t come close to the homemade version. It makes about 3 cups but is easily halved.

Combine the mayonnaise and remaining ingredients in a deep bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside for one hour until you are ready to assemble the salad.


After all your ingredients are prepared, it’s just a matter of combining everything really well.

Then you can put the salad in your pretty party serving dish and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Place it in the fridge for up to three hours before serving.

I usually take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving. I like it best at room temperature because the flavors come out and it can sit out for a while.

This recipe makes a lot ~ enough for a big crowd. We have 35  ~ 50 people at our Kentucky Derby parties, everyone has some and we usually have leftovers. If you don’t want that much, use half of the cornbread and half the other ingredients.

Jalapeño Cornbread Salad

Jalapeño Cornbread Salad

Delicious and hearty salad with cornbread and vegetables.
Course Salad
Cuisine American
Keyword cornbread salad, make~ahead salad, Southern salad, summer salad, vegetable salad
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 12 servings



  • 1 recipe Jalapeño Cornbread Salad crumbled
  • 1 large red onion julienned
  • 1 large poblano pepper seeded and julienned
  • 1 large red bell pepper seeded and julienned
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper seeded and julienned
  • 5 small ripe avocados diced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves only
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/3 pound cheddar cheese grated
  • 1/3 pound jalapeño cheese grated
  • 1 large mango seeded and julienned
  • 2 pounds bacon cooked, drained and crumbled
  • For the Dressing:
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced


  • For the Dressing: Combine the mayonnaise and remaining ingredients in a deep bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside for 1 hour while preparing the rest of the salad.
  • Toss all the julienned vegetables with about half the dressing and set aside.
  • Toss the avocado with the lime juice, 1/4 cup of the cilantro, some salt and pepper, and set aside.
  • Sauté the corn kernels in a small amount of butter with one clove of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Toss 1/2 the remaining dressing with the cornbread right before assembling the salad.
  • In a large serving bowl, layer the soaked cornbread with the bacon, cheeses, avocado mixture, and vegetables. Toss gently to combine. Add more dressing as needed.

This Jalapeño Cornbread Salad is great for any upcoming summer holidays ~ Memorial Day, Fourth of July or Labor Day, for a picnic or pool party. Hopefully, we will be all be socializing in the summer months.

Need some more awesome recipes for a Kentucky Derby party? Try these.

Hope you love it. Be sure to PIN it. You don’t want to miss this fabulous recipe.

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  1. This looks so good, I love cornbread and I love any type of salad with southwestern flavors.
    One question–how much cornbread? I’ve got recipes for an 8×8 pan and a couple others that fill a 9×13.



    1. Jennifer, thanks so much. That cornbread recipe is the best. I always use my 8-inch cast iron skillet. So I would probably go with your 8 X 8-inch pan. The cornbread may be a little thicker and I would check for doneness the first time you make it. So glad you dropped by.

  2. Carol, I’ve made cornbread salad before but not jalapeno cornbread salad. Sounds delicious! I’m definitely going to make this.

    Thank you so much for joining Thoughts of Home. 🙂