Browned-Butter Zucchini Cornbread

I’m not going to go on about zucchini; how its mild flavor is so compatible with other vegetables, how it imparts moisture to baked goods, how healthy it is, how easy to grow, and… you know the rest.  The truth is, I do not like zucchini, much in the same way I dislike watermelon. It’s water, mostly.  But I have found a way to use zucchini in a savory quick bread that is amazingly good, and I am quite surprised by the results.  I think that the addition of browned butter, sharp cheddar cheese, and fresh herbs goes a long way toward making this a terrific bread.  The cornmeal adds that distinctive little crunch of texture, but the bread is still quite tender and moist (of course, there is zucchini in it, after all).  It’s an easy way to have fresh, warm bread for dinner.

Browned-Butter Zucchini Cornbread
(makes one 9×5 loaf to serve about 8-10)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large zucchini, about 10 ounces
1 heaping teaspoon finely chopped fresh marjoram*
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)
1/2 cup of coarsely shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese**
Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.  Melt the 1/2 cup of butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Continue cooking until the butter solids at the bottom of the pan turn golden brown, about 3 or 4 minutes.  Scrape the butter (and all the brown bits) into a medium bowl.  Set aside to cool.  Whisk in the eggs and the buttermilk.  Trim the zucchini ends.  Thinly slice 5 1/8 inch rounds from one end of the zucchini and set aside for garnish.  Coarsely grate the remaining zucchini.  Add it to the bowl with the butter mixture and stir to combine well.  Mix in the chopped marjoram.  Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl.  Whisk in the cornmeal.  Add the grated cheese and toss with a fork.  Add the zucchini mixture to the dry ingredients and fold gently just until evenly moist and there are no pockets of dry flour mixture.  The batter will be thick.  Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Arrange the reserved zucchini slices atop the batter, down the center in a single layer.  Bake the bread until golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
* You may want to substitute another fresh herb, such as basil, dill, or parsley
**Other assertively-flavored cheese can be used, such as pepper jack or smoked mozzarella
(adapted from Epicurious)




  • Renee

    I love the idea of a savoury quick bread using zucchini…a nice change up from the one loaded with chocolate!

  • Jennifer

    This turned out so tasty, and even with my gluten-free flour! However, I would love a general idea of how long to bake it for. It never really got done because I kept checking it and pulling it out. I didn’t even know what to aim for. Your thoughts on that would be great!
    Thanks for the lovely recipe!

  • The Devil's Food Advocate

    Thank you Jennifer,
    I went back to the Epicurious website (the source of the recipe)and found that the baking times ranged from 40 to 80 minutes for some of the reviewers. I would start checking at 60 minutes, if your oven temp. is accurate. Here’s another little trick to avoid the garnish adding moisture and prolonging the baking time: set the garnish zucchini slices on a plate and sprinkle them with salt. Let them sit while you prepare the batter. Rinse and pat them dry before you place them atop the loaf. They will be a little drier and cooked when the loaf is done. I hope this helps and thank you again for your thoughtful comment!

  • Sam

    Love the look of the recipe…what’s your thoughts on adding jalapenos to the recipe? I love jalapeno cornbread, and think it might add a nice kick.

    • donna

      Hi Sam, Thanks for your kind comment. I think the addition of jalapenos would be a great idea. If you try it, let me know how it turns out, okay?

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