Cornbread Cakes with Balsamic Tomato Salad

Savory cornbread cakes layered with sour cream and tangy, flavorful balsamic tomato salad. This mouth-watering combination is great for a light lunch or appetizer!

I’m showing you this recipe today in the hopes that you’ll try it.

It’s hard for me to explain in words (and even in pictures) how good this combination of cornbread, sour cream, and tomatoes in balsamic and fresh herbs tastes.

To quote the internet: It’s life-changing.

2 savory cornbread cakes stacked on top of each other layered with sour cream and balsamic tomato salad.

Cornbread Cakes

The cornbread cakes are soft and chewy, not gritty. They are strong enough to support the short stacks of balsamic salad without overpowering it.

I baked them in a muffin tin so they are reading in 12 minutes or so. Just pop them out and slice them in half lengthwise. If the tops puff up, you can trim them off so the cakes lay flat.

Balsamic Tomato Salad

Meanwhile, mix up a simple salad of juicy ripe tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and lots of fresh herbs. Marinate in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper: Just the basics.

An overhead square photo of 2 savory cornbread cakes stacked on top of each other layered with sour cream and balsamic tomato salad.

Assemble the Stacks

To arrange the cakes, place a cake top (cut side UP) on a plate. Spread with sour cream, then top with the Balsamic Tomato Salad. Repeat with the remaining cake half, another dollop of sour cream, and more salad. Growling tummy over here.

If you’re serving these for lunch, I’d suggest 2 cake per person.

Or if you’re having lunch with me, perhaps you may have 2 and I’ll have 10?

Save this Cornbread Cakes with Balsamic Tomato Salad to your “Side Dishes” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

A square photo of 2 savory cornbread cakes stacked on top of each other layered with sour cream and balsamic tomato salad.
5 from 4 votes

Cornbread Cakes with Balsamic Tomato Salad

Savory cornbread cakes layered with sour cream and tangy, flavorful balsamic tomato salad. Serves 6 as a light lunch or first course (2 stacks/4 halves each) or 12 as an appetizer (1 stack/2 halves each).

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 418 kcal


For the Cornbread Cakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup milk

For the Balsamic Tomato Salad:

  • 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup hot house cucumbers quartered lengthwise and finely chopped
  • 3 scallions sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely sliced fresh basil (chiffonade)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Assemble:

  • 8 ounces sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners if desired.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the flour mixture and add egg, oil, and milk. Stir until just combined and the batter is moistened, being careful not to over-mix.

  3. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin tin cups. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven.

  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, scallions, basil, parsley, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss until evenly coated. 

  5. To serve, cut each cake in half lengthwise. Spread 1 tablespoon sour cream on each half. Place one half on a plate and top with some Balsamic Tomato Salad. Add another cake half with sour cream, then top with additional salad.

  6. Repeat with remaining cakes and salad. Serves 6 as a main course or 12 as an appetizer.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook.

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  1. I’ve never had cornbread shortcakes, but I do love cornbread so I’ll love these. The topping of the fresh salad is a great addition, what a lovely appetizer.

  2. This sounds absolutely delicious. I might opt to put in a little mesquite flour, which I always put into my corn bread, which makes it really special. Even without the mesquite these will be wonderful.

    • Thank you, Susan! So I’m guessing that mesquite flour adds some kind of smokey flavor? I really have no idea. I’ve never even HEARD of mesquite flour, but it sounds like something I should get familiar with! Thanks for the tip. :)

    • Meggan, mesquite adds a sweet flavor to things, which is unique and very nice. The flavor reminds me a bit of snicker doodle cookies. I believe you can buy mesquite flour/powder online that is from Argentina. It is rather expensive, but I can tell you that at least for me, making that flour is labor intensive. If you buy some the two things you need to know are 1) store it in the freezer in an airtight container (it absorbs moisture) and 2) you can substitute 20-25% of regular flour with mesquite. I’ll be happy to share more information if you would like.

    • I really appreciate this information Susan. It looks like they have a few options on It is expensive compared to other flours, but not expensive overall, so I think I can swing it. I can’t wait to try it out! Is there any other way you regularly use it besides your cornbread? Thanks again, you are an amazing lady!

  3. OMG I love this!! It’s basically polenta cakes with tomatoes!!! YUM!

  4. Oh how I love this savory shortbread goodness right here!

  5. I never thought to use cornbread in something like this! Great colors and flavors!

  6. Meggan, I love this savory spin on cornbread shortcakes!!! gorgeous and delicious!

  7. I’ve never had cornbread shortcakes, but these look gorgeous! I’ve been making a similar tomato salad and I love it! Pinned of course!

  8. Oh my gosh, these are GORGEOUS! And the flavors sound amazing. I am totally drooling! What a fabulous idea!

  9. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you put a savory spin on shortcakes. This looks amazing, Meggan!

  10. Holy smokes, Meggan! These sound AMAZING, and totally perfect for our summery SoCal weather we’ve been having lately. And your pictures are gorgeous–is it that new lens that’s treating you so well? :)

  11. Definitely learnt something new today, Meggan! I’ve never heard of cornbread shortcakes but they look like the perfect receptacle for such a beautiful salad as this! This would be a perfect spring or summer appetizer or lunch for a gang!

  12. Holy deliciousness, Batman! I don’t even know where to start with this shortcakes, Meggan! As a southern boy, I definitely love cornbread…but then you took it up like 47 notches with that balsamic tomato salad. Remember that whole loving my job because I get to stare at food all day thing? Yeah, that applies to this post. Pinned!

  13. Milk and oil are listed in the directions for the cakes but not in the ingredients.  How much of each?

    • So sorry about that typo! It’s 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 cup milk. I’ve corrected the recipe. Sorry again about that and thanks for noticing it.

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