A Sweet and Jammy Blueberry Cornbread Cobbler Recipe Perfect for Summer

There’s nothing simpler than a fresh blueberry cobbler. In our version of this classic summer dessert, we pair a jammy blueberry filling with a sweet lemon-scented cornbread topping.

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Serious Eats/Jen Causey

There's nothing simpler than a fresh blueberry cobbler: Just a pinch of starch and sugar to bind and sweeten the best summer fruit—or frozen works just as well year round—all bubbly and thick beneath a golden cobbler crust, finished with maybe a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if you're lucky. It's one of the easiest desserts around and a great way to showcase fresh summer fruit, but there can be pitfalls along the way to watch out for. Too often, blueberry cobbler recipes have a filling that is too sweet, overspiced, or unappealingly thick, and a topping that is dried out and lacks flavor.

Lucky for us, our test kitchen colleague and seasoned recipe developer Anna Theoktisto resolved these issues with her blueberry cornbread cobbler recipe here. Through rounds of testing, she produced the perfect not-too-thin, not-too-thick filling, where the blueberry flavor is front and center. And instead of the basic all-purpose flour biscuit topping (the popular go-to for most cobbler recipes), she developed a sweet cornbread topping that pairs perfectly with the tart and floral blueberry filling. Read on for tips on making the best berry cobbler and for Theoktisto's full recipe.

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Serious Eats/Jen Causey

4 Tips for an Easy Blueberry Cornbread Cobbler

1. Highlight the blueberry flavor with just a hint of cinnamon and lemon. As noted above, we wanted the blueberry flavor to be front and center in this cobbler, but we also wanted it to be well rounded. To ensure this, just a modest 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon is added to highlight the blueberry’s delicate floral flavor, while the combination of lemon zest and lemon juice brightens the filling and makes the fresh blueberry flavor pop.

2. Thicken the filling with cornstarch, but not too much. Take a look at most fruit cobbler filling recipes, and you’ll see that they typically use some type of thickener, whether its all-purpose flour, cornstarch, potato starch, or tapioca starch. This is because most fruits used in cobblers (here blueberries, but also true for other berries, stone fruit, and even apples) hold water that’s released during the cooking process. Without a thickener, you’d end up with cooked blueberry soup, and not the jammy viscous filling a good cobbler should have. But the amount of thickener and type added is what guarantees the filling is perfectly set, and not soupy or gloppy.

Cornstarch tossed with the blueberries before baking was not only an easy way to incorporate a thickener, but when baked until bubbly, the cornstarch activates and is a foolproof way to thicken the blueberry filling. Just follow the recipe, and limit the amount of cornstarch to two tablespoons for a perfectly jammy filling. When the filling was tested with more, it turned into a thick sludge. 

3. Skip the traditional biscuit dough, and top your cobbler with cornbread. Depending on where you live or grew up, “cobbler” can be used to describe a variety of baked fruit desserts. It's a pretty big category of dishes, and, if you're interested, you should read Serious Eats’ guide to baked fruit desserts that gives an overview of the history of the cobbler, its many regional variations, and the common dough toppings used. For most of us here in the United States, "cobbler" refers to a casserole of baked, syrupy fruit with a pastry or dough topping of some sort. 

There are two main types of cobblers that are most common: the first has a fruit layer on the bottom and a topping made of sweetened biscuits; the other has a cake-like batter that starts out below the fruit, but rises to the top as it bakes. In this recipe, Theoktisto combines these two styles and makes a cornbread that has a tender and moist cake-like texture, a sweet, lemony flavor, and a pleasantly gritty texture from the cornmeal to counter the jammy filling. Instead of layering the cornbread cake below the fruit, she dollops it over the blueberry layer similar to how you would top a cobbler with a biscuit dough. Spooning the batter over the fruit filling, without smoothing the top, adds a nice texture and visual appeal to the top of the cobbler.

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Serious Eats/Jen Causey

4. Save some of the blueberries for topping the cobbler. Theoktisto found that while the cornbread topping was the perfect texture and flavor pairing for the filling, it also completely covered the jewel-toned blueberry filling. The cobbler looked a bit boring, and didn’t showcase its incredible fresh flavors. She solved this problem by setting aside a half cup of the fresh blueberries and using them as a topping for the cobbler. After the cobbler is partially baked for 10 minutes, stud the reserved fresh blueberries into the just-set cornbread topping before returning it to the oven to finish baking. The result is a blueberry cobbler that is just as gorgeous as it is delicious. We recommend serving it warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.

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Serious Eats/Jen Causey

For the filling: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (175ºC). In a large bowl, whisk sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt, to combine. Add 6 cups of the blueberries and the lemon juice and toss to combine; set aside.

SE blueberry cornbread cobbler step 1
Serious Eats/Jen Causey

For the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and lemon zest in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk 8 tablespoons melted butter, sour cream, and egg until smooth. Create a well in the dry ingredients. Gradually add sour cream mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined.

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Serious Eats/Jen Causey

Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over the bottom and sides of a 10-inch cast iron skillet or 9- by 13- inch glass baking dish, to coat. Add the blueberry mixture to the skillet. Using a large spoon, dollop the cornbread topping over blueberries. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

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Serious Eats/Jen Causey

Bake until the cornbread batter spreads into an even layer and is just beginning to set, about 10 minutes. Using oven mitts, carefully remove the skillet from the oven and top the cornbread with the remaining 1/2 cup blueberries, gently pressing the blueberries into the topping. Return to the oven and continue to bake until the blueberry filling is bubbling, the cornbread topping is golden-brown, and a knife inserted into the center of the cornbread layer comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. If needed, cover with foil to prevent excess browning towards the end of baking.

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Serious Eats/Jen Causey

Let cool at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

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Serious Eats/Jen Causey

Special Equipment

10-inch cast iron skillet or 9- by 13-inch glass baking dish

Make-Ahead and Storage

Store covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. To reheat leftovers, put the cobbler in a 350-degree oven until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.