Give a classic Southern staple a little more personality with these easy additions.

We love a simple pan of skillet cornbread, but sometimes it’s fun to mix things up a bit. Cornmeal pairs well with so many ingredients, making it a great blank canvas for experimentation. Here are three creative—and easy—ways to jazz up your favorite recipe.

Add Sweet Potatoes and Spice

Sweet potatoes add moisture, earthy flavor, and yes, sweetness to a pan of cornbread. But the surprise ingredient our Sweet Potato Cornbread is a pinch of pumpkin pie spice. This might sound like a strange addition, but trust us, it works. It reminds us of the warm spices used in a barbecue rub or sauce. Plenty of eggs and sour cream keep the cornbread from going into dessert territory.

Make it Sweet (Really!)

The debate over sugar in cornbread is a fierce one. We’re firmly in the “less is more” camp, but New Orleans chef Alex Harrell makes a good case for taking cornbread into dessert territory. In his recipe, called "Sweet Cornbread Is Cake,” he puts leftover crumbled savory cornbread in a batter to make a delicious cake flavored with vanilla, orange blossom water, and plenty of sugar. The rustic looking cake is topped with whipped cream and sliced strawberries. It’s completely unexpected and completely delicious.

Upgrade Your Butter

If you’re a purist and can’t abide these unusual variations, have a little fun with the butter that you serve alongside the cornbread. It’s easy to make a compound butter flavored with all sorts of ingredients—spices, honey, preserves, bacon, herbs, citrus zest, mustard, cheese, or nuts, to name a few. We recommend our Lemon-Thyme Butter, which tastes great slathered over a hot wedge of cornbread.