Vidalia Onion Cornbread
Chopped Vidalia onions are inside this shortcut cornbread recipe. But wait-there’s more! Thin slices of Vidalia onions are arranged on the bottom of the skillet. When the cornbread is turned out, the Vidalia onion slices have caramelized and make an impressive design on top of this Vidalia Onion Cornbread.
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My husband bought a 10 pound bag of Vidalia onions from Vidalia, Georgia as part of a Civitan fundraiser this summer. I immediately started thinking of all the recipes I could make with Vidalia onions- Caramelized Onion Baked Dip, Fajitas, Onion Jam, Grilled Onion Salad, Onion Rings, Onion and Cucumber Salad, Sweet Heat Pickles and Onions, Heirloom Tomato, French Onion Soup, and Vidalia Onion and Tomato Quiche/Pie.
I made Vidalia onion rings the first night he brought them home. Next on the list was Vidalia Onion Cornbread. I developed a similar recipe for Christmas with Southern Living 1999 cookbook when I was the test kitchen director at Oxmoor House. It was called Sage and Onion Cornbread.
It looks impressive, simple to make, and tastes amazing! The shortcut here is using your favorite bag of cornmeal mix.
Yellow vs. white cornmeal
We eat with our eyes, ya know, so I prefer a yellow cornmeal mix for this recipe because I think the caramelized onion fans are so pretty contrasted with the yellow cornbread. Make sure to check the bag instructions to see if it requires additional flour. Martha White yellow mix does, but White Lily doesn’t.
Follow the package directions and add the technique of adding the onion and using a hot skillet.If White Lily white cornmeal is what you have in your pantry, I wouldn’t run out and buy more-I have that in my pantry, too. This is the frugal girl in me speaking.
If your package directions tell you to add additional flour, that’s fine, it will give you a more cake-like texture. It may not all fit in an 8-inch skillet if you add extra flour but will in a 9-inch skillet.
When I use this Martha White yellow cornmeal mix, I omit the flour and I love the texture it gives me without it. It may look like I left out an ingredient, but I like the texture like this.
Basically, you can take your favorite cornbread mix directions and prepare the batter according to the package directions. Just stir in the chopped onions and arrange the onion fans on the bottom of the skillet if you don’t have Martha White yellow cornmeal mix.
Slice the onion vertically to give you the fanned-out shape instead of slicing horizontally which will give you round slices or rings. Don’t cut off the bottom of the onion because that is what will hold the fans together.
The smaller Vidalia onions work best for this recipe so the fans will fit in the smaller skillet. You can double the recipe, use larger onions, and use a 10-inch skillet.
Arrange the onion slices/fans in the bottom of the cast iron or oven-proof skillet. I use a Lodge cast iron skillet that’s 23 years old. It was a wedding gift but you can buy them now preseasoned here. The skillet will be hot, so make sure you place it on a cutting board, trivet, or stop top. Work quickly so the skillet doesn’t cool down. The hot skillet will give the cornbread that sought after brown crust and help caramelize the onions.
Ta dah! Be sure and wait the 5 minutes after removing the cornbread from the oven before turning it out onto a cutting board or trivet. Otherwise, the cornbread may stick to the bottom of the skillet. Vidalia onions are only grown in 20 south Georgia counties and have a short peak season from April to August. All Vidalia onions are sweet but not all sweet onions are Vidalias. They are known by their unique flat shape and have a much higher water content than regular onions making them sweeter but more susceptible to bruising.
This one of my recipes in a series of Vidalia onion recipes I’ve made because my husband brought home a 10 lb bag of Vidalia onions as a fundraiser from the local Civitans. Here are the other four recipes:
If you prefer a more cake-like cornbread or already have another brand on hand, just follow the directions on the bag of any cornmeal mix bag (adding the chopped and sliced onion) and it will work fine for this recipe. I adjusted the recipe on the Martha White yellow cornmeal mix bag a little because I like to use half butter and half oil and omit the extra flour their recipe calls for because there is already a little flour in the mix and I like that texture. I also omitted the sugar and added another egg. I found that some batters made with the added flour in their directions makes slightly more batter than will fit in my 8-inch cast iron skillet. You can use a larger skillet or don't pour all of it in the pan-that seems wasteful but it beats running to the store for a specific brand.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil divided
- 1 small to medium Vidalia onion
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups milk whole or 2%
- 1/4 cup butter melted
- 2 cups white or yellow Cornmeal Mix
Brush 2 tablespoons vegetable oil on the bottom and sides of an 8- or 9-inch cast iron skillet and place in a cold oven.
Set the oven to 425 degrees with the skillet in the oven. Set a timer for 8 minutes. This should be enough time to preheat it plus a few minutes. It should take about 8 minutes to prepare onions and batter.
Meanwhile, remove papery outside skin from onion. Do not cut off the bottom of the onion yet. Slice the onion in half vertically. Slicing from top to bottom, cut 6 or 7 slices about 1/4-inch thick. Cut off the bottom of the remaining onion and other half of onion and dice it (about 3/4 cup).
Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl with a fork. Add milk, butter, and remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and stir with a fork. Add cornmeal mix and stir just until all ingredients are combined. (Or prepare just the batter according to your package directions). Let stand about 3 minutes to thicken slightly. This will help prevent the onions from sliding when you add the batter.
When the timer goes off, remove the hot skillet from the oven and place on the stovetop. Quickly arrange the onion slices on the bottom of the skillet around the outside edges of the pan.
With a large spoon, dollop batter over the onion slices. Pouring the batter tends to make the onion slices move around. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool on the stovetop for 5 minutes before turning out onto a cutting board or wire rack.
Shortcut: The shortcut for this recipe is using cornmeal mix. You can also use 3/4 cup frozen, chopped and thawed onion and omit the onion slices on the bottom.
Any yellow or white cornmeal mix will work for this recipe using 2 cups of the mix and the directions on the back of the bag.