Crock-Perfected Cheddar Cornbread & Jam

Guest post from Outdoor Chef Emma Frisch

Cornbread is a quintessential cast iron dish, though it’s most commonly baked in a skillet in the home oven. To take this recipe outdoors, I created an oven effect with the footless Cast Iron Dutch Oven, which balances on a grill grate more firmly than a Dutch Oven Classic with legs. It’s especially fun and easy to make with little assistants, like my two-year old daughter Ayla, who loved stirring the batter and squealing, “I’m cooking! I’m cooking!” 

This gluten-free variation is light yet moist, and ideally lathered with butter and Cranberry-Orange & Maple Jam. 



Play with variations in the batter, such as adding fresh herbs or bacon bits. Try melting a cheese crust on top with a smoldering log, though it will be more for the novelty and show than effect. The quickest way to create a cheesy crust is by adding the cheese just topping before the cornbread is finished baking (instructions follow).



The simple cranberry accompaniment is a staple at our Friendsgiving potluck in Ithaca. It was introduced to the table by my wild plants teacher and kindred friend, Sarah Kelsen, who first took me to harvest wild cranberries from a nearby bog.



I had never seen cranberries in their natural habitat, and was mesmerized by the carpet of star-shaped moss in which ruby berries sprouted like gems. The bog extended in a crescent shape around the lake, with the last spray of red maple leaves reflecting in the water. 



Cranberries are a good source of Vitamin C year-round, and outside of Thanksgiving season, can be found frozen at nearly any market. I like their tart flavor, but for sweet-lovers, add more maple syrup to taste.


Photos by Allison Usavage


Recipe by: Emma Frisch

Crock-Perfected Cheddar Cornbread (Gluten Free)

Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 25 min 
Yield: 10-12 servings


  • 2 cups medium ground cornmeal
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 eggs
  • ⅔ cup whole corn kernels (or half 15.25-ounce can, drained), optional
  • 2½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter


Prep Ahead Of Time: Add almond flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt to a large ziplock bag. Shake to incorporate and smooth out chunks of almond flour. Store in the pantry for up to 5 days. In a large mason jar, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and optional corn kernels. Shake until yolks are broken and incorporated, and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

  1. Fire up the grill or campfire to medium-high heat and position the grill grate 6 inches above the coals.
  2. Add the cornmeal mixture to a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk mixture. Use a spatula to gently incorporate the dry and wet ingredients together until a batter forms. Fold in 2 cups of the shredded cheese and optional corn kernels.
  3. Place an 8-quart iron dutch oven on the grill directly over the coals. Add the butter and melt, tilting to coat the bottom and sides of the pot. Once the butter begins to foam (before it browns!), pour in the batter.
  4. Cover the dutch oven and use tongs to transfer an even layer of coals onto the lid.
  5. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, until the smell of cornbread fills the air. Remove the coals with the tongs and blow off the ash residue (away from people) so it doesn’t fall onto the cornbread when you lift the lid. Use a lid lifter, welding gloves, or thick towel to lift the lid. You can check for doneness visually—the edges and top will be browned—or if a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the cornbread needs more time, return the lid and coals, and continue baking for 5 minutes more.
  6. When finished, sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese over top and return the lid, allowing it to melt slightly. (If you have a nearby campfire, welding gloves, and sturdy tongs, try holding a smoldering log over the cheese to melt it and impart a smoky flavor.)
  7. Serve warm, directly from the pot, alongside Cranberry-Orange Jam. (Be sure to warn your fellow campers that the pot is hot!). Store leftovers in an airtight container at ambient temperature for up to 5 days.

NOTE: Bake at home in a 425°F oven, uncovered, for 25 minutes until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Add the remaining ½ cup cheddar on top and return to the oven. Broil on high for 1-2 minutes, until cheese is melted.


Recipe by: Emma Frisch

Cranberry-Orange & Maple Jam (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 20 min 
Yield: Heaping 1½ cups


  • 4 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen (see note)
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • ¼ cup maple syrup, or more as needed


  1. Add the cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, and maple syrup to a medium pot over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil, 3 to 5 minutes. When bubbling vigorously, uncover the pot and reduce to a simmer.
  2. Stir the cranberries with a wooden spoon, gently smashing them against the side of the pot. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes until the jam is thick. It should coat the back of a spoon and resist dropping off the spoon back into the pot.
  3. Transfer the jam to a small mason jar and seal tightly. Serve warm or cool with cornbread. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or freeze for up to 6 months.

NOTE: If using frozen cranberries, defrost in the refrigerator up to 24 hours prior to cooking.


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