Ina Garten Adds This One Ingredient to Make Cornbread So Much Better

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As avid home cooks, we're constantly in search of new and interesting ways to make our favorite comfort foods. And it seems like the simplest things, like cornbread, are ripe for riffing.

For an extra savory cornbread, add bacon fat like in Dolly Parton's recipe. Prefer your cornbread on the sweeter side? Try Reba McEntire's rendition which uses honey as the sweetener to create the perfect moist-meets-crumbly texture.

Related: We Asked Dolly Parton For the Best Way to Upgrade a Boxed Cake Mix, and Her Answer Was Iconic

And if you happen to be a celebrity with a cornbread conundrum, there's a solution for you too. Jennifer Garner recently found that out when she went over to the house of her good pal, the one and only Ina Garten. During the first episode of the new season of "Be My Guest With Ina Garten," the actor wasted no time asking the Barefoot Contessa her burning cooking questions.

Related: Jennifer Garner and Ina Garten Made an Epic Meal on the Latest Episode of the 'Pretend Cooking Show'

One of her first requests was to improve upon her grandmother's cornbread recipe. "It's just not right," Garner says. "It's kind of flat, it's really dense. I need help." Ina comes to the rescue with her recipe for her brown butter skillet cornbread, which has a lot going for it. For starters, it uses more flour than cornmeal to make the cornbread light and fluffy. Second, a deeper flavor is developed thanks to rich, nutty brown butter. To bring everything together, there's the final, and perhaps most elemental, ingredient: a sprinkling of flaky sea salt. 

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What is Flaky Sea Salt?

Simply put, flaky sea salt is sea salt that comes in big flakes. Conventional salts, like table or Kosher salt, are more finely ground and fairly uniform in size, but flaky sea salt is sold in its original crystal shape. Because of its irregular shape, flaky sea salt is best used as a finishing salt, which means you should sprinkle it over a finished dish (think those fancy sea salt chocolate chip cookies you see at bakeries). You can find flaky sea salt at most major grocery stores. There are many different brands, but Maldon is the brand you'll find at most supermarkets.

Why Ina Garten Adds Flaky Salt to Cornbread (And You Should, Too!)

Flaky salt adds a delightful contrast of texture and flavor to cornbread. The salt also helps to balance the sweetness of the cornbread and also enhances the natural flavor of the cornmeal. On the less practical side, adding a little fancy salt to your cornbread also gives it a fun finishing touch and brings a little sparkle to the bread. Think of it as sprinkles—but savory.

How to Add Flaky Salt to Cornbread

All you need to do is bake Ina's cornbread (or your favorite recipe) and sprinkle a generous amount of flaky salt on top—that's it. The salt crystals will act as a crunchy, salty topping that provides a satisfying contrast with every bite.

Our Very Best Cornbread Recipes

Looking for a new cornbread recipe to try? We have a few thoughts.

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