These simple stir-ins make cornbread mix taste homemade.

Lisa Cericola

Even the most serious Southern cooks will admit to using store-bought cornbread mix at some point in their lives. (And if they won’t admit it, they are most likely lying to you.) While I’ll always prefer a piping hot wedge of our test kitchen’s best-ever Skillet Cornbread, when time is short and cornbread is a must, a store-bought mix is a handy thing.

Mixes are useful for a reason—they are practically foolproof. But that doesn’t mean you can’t doctor them up a little bit. You can also think of a cornbread mix as an easy way to experiment with new flavors and create your own recipe. So many ingredients pair well with cornmeal, and you can simply stir them right into the batter before the cornbread goes into the oven.

Cheesy Chile Cornbread

Drain an 11-ounce can of Southwest-style canned corn (the kind with diced Poblano and red peppers) and 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese and stir it into the cornbread batter. Bake according to package directions and top with diced fresh cilantro.

Broccoli-Cheddar Cornbread

Stir 1 cup chopped, blanched (fresh or frozen) broccoli and 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese into the cornbread batter. Bake according to package directions.

Caramelized Onion Cornbread

Stir 1 cup caramelized sweet onions (such as a Vidalia onion) and 1 teaspoon fresh thyme into the cornbread batter. Bake according to package directions.

Bacon-Chive Cornbread

Stir 1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon and 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives into the cornbread batter. Bake according to package directions.

Rosemary-Parmesan-Black Pepper Cornbread

Stir in 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper, and ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese into the cornbread batter. Sprinkle a little extra grated Parmesan on top of the cornbread before it goes into the oven. Bake according to package directions.