Perfect Blueberry Cornbread with Salted Caramel Sauce Takes the Spotlight

As we thought about dishes to feature in the Kids’ Table section, we wanted to do something with blueberries that was a little out of the ordinary. We hit upon the idea of a blueberry cornbread, but we thought it needed a little something to make it extra special. We consulted one of our favorite books, The Flavor Matrix, and found out caramel pairs extremely well with both berries and corn. Since we knew our cornbread would be the northern sweet style, a lightly salted caramel sauce sounded like the perfect combination.

This is a perfect recipe for even young kids to help with; the perfect tool to mix the wet and dry ingredients together is nothing more than a fork (to make sure the batter doesn’t get over-mixed).

For older kids who are adventurous in the kitchen, learning how to make caramel sauce is a great skill to have. Of course, working with very hot boiling syrup can be dangerous, so make sure an adult is nearby to help.

Making caramel sauce has a few things to watch out for. First and foremost: don’t stir the sugar and water as the sugar melts. Any sugar that splashes up onto the side of the pan during cooking will crystallize and possibly make your finished sauce grainy.

Second, make sure to pay close attention after the syrup has been boiling about five minutes: as the caramel darkens, it can go from perfectly caramelized to burned in a matter of seconds. It’s ok to err slightly on the side of caution and turn off the heat while the syrup is a light honey color; the caramel won’t be as deeply flavored, but it will still taste great. But if you can take it to the edge before it burns, you’ll end up with a gorgeously deep caramel color and flavor.

Third, when the syrup has reached the desired color, turn the heat off and immediately whisk in the cream. It will bubble up dramatically and possibly feel like it’s seizing, but whisk vigorously and the bubbles will subside and the mixture will become smooth again. Whisk in the butter and salt, and then just let it cool to room temperature. It will thicken considerably as it cools.

A note about fresh vs. frozen blueberries: Using fresh blueberries is best for this recipe, but frozen blueberries can work perfectly with a little care: make sure to rinse and dry them thoroughly to keep them from bleeding too much. Just before using, toss the frozen berries in 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and place in the batter as instructed, taking care to not let the berries bleed too much as you sink them in.

A note about salt in the caramel sauce: the amount in the recipe gives it a nice hit of saltiness. If you want it to be more of a sweet caramel sauce, decrease the salt to 1/2 tsp.

Both the cornbread and sauce can be made a day ahead. If so, refrigerate both, covered tightly. If anything, the cornbread can be a little moister the next day. Bring the caramel sauce up to room temperature for easier drizzling. Any leftover caramel sauce can keep in the refrigerator for a week or two.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cooling Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 35 minutes
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Serves 24 people



  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups fresh blueberries see note on using frozen berries

Caramel Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt



  • Rinse and dry the blueberries. If using frozen blueberries, see note.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.
  • Grease a 9"x13" cake pan and insert a 13"x18" sheet of parchment so that the bottom and the two 13" sides of the cake pan are covered (the two 9" sides will still be exposed). Crease the paper along the bottom edges of the 13" sides of the pan and also fold and crease the 13" ends of the parchment so that the flaps overhang the outsie of the pan.
  • Melt the butter gently over low heat, turning off the heat just before the butter has completely melted. The residual heat will melt the rest of the butter.
  • Add the cornmeal, flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Add the buttermilk and eggs to a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle in the butter slowly and whisk to combine.
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid. Combine with a fork just until the dry ingredients have been completely incorporated into the liquid. The texture should be moist and gloppy, not liquid.
  • Add 2/3 of the batter to the cake pan and spread into a roughly even height, pressing into the corners. Sprinkle in half of the blueberries and distribute them evenly. Add the rest of the batter on top and spread to cover. Add the rest of the blueberries, distributing them evenly, and press down on the berries until they're just covered by the batter.
  • Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Take care to note that the top third is done; if the toothpick comes out clean but the top is still jiggling when you move the pan, give it a few more minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes. Run a butter knife along the edges of the cornbread that are touching the 9" sides of the pan to loosen the cornbread. Lift the cornbread using the parchment handles and move to a cooling rack. Remove the parchment from the bottom; if you can't slide it out easily, place a baking sheet on the top of the cornbread and carefully flip the sheet, cornbread, and cooling rack over, then take off the cooling rack and remove the parchment, then replace the cooling rack and flip the cornbread over again and remove the sheet.

Caramel Sauce

  • In a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add the 1 1/2 cups of sugar and shake gently to evenly distribute the sugar. Pour the water in gently so that it just wets all the sugar. DO NOT MIX.
  • Have a whisk and the cream, butter, and salt nearby (all separate from each other) but do not add yet.
  • Turn the stove on to medium heat. Be very careful not to stir during this part. The sugar will dissolve and start to boil. Start watching the boiling syrup after about five minutes.
  • After about 7-8 minutes the syrup will start to darken. It may darken more quickly along the edges; at this point you can gently swirl the pan to distribute the darker parts. When the syrup is a deep honey color, turn off the heat and immediately add the cream and whisk vigorously to combine. The mixture may feel like it's seizing up, but keep whisking and it will go back to liquid. When the mixture has calmed down, add the butter and salt and whisk until smooth.
  • Pour the caramel sauce into a heat-proof glass and let cool for a few hours. It will be runny to start but will thicken considerably as it cools.

Bringing to the party

  • Pour the caramel sauce into a decorative glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. For the cornbread, either return to the cake pan to be cut/arranged later, or cut and arrange on a plate or tray and cover with plastic wrap to transport. Have a spoon ready for guests to drizzle on the caramel sauce.


Calories: 281kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 277mg | Potassium: 143mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 388IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 1mg

Kids’ Table

Does your young chef want to help out? Here are some suggestions of ways they can contribute, based on their skill level.


Mix ingredients together


Measure the ingredients, melt the butter and crack the eggs


Make the caramel sauce (with supervision!)

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