Strawberry Corn Muffins with Poppy Seeds

A uses a fork to scoop up a strawberry corn muffin.

A Taste of Wild - Blue Ridge Mountains

Jon and Aubrey return back east to visit Jon's family in North Carolina, cooking up all of his favorite Southern-inspired meals from his time growing up in the South.

Strawberry Corn Muffins with Poppy Seeds

Fall is bittersweet. While we welcome the transition to cooler weather and the beauty of vibrant foliage, it also means saying goodbye to the fruits of summer. Au revior, fresh-picked berries.

But we had one more box of farmers’ market strawberries hiding in the refrigerator. What better way to embrace the changing of the seasons than mixing a summer staple with a delicious fall classic?

Cornbread is one of those foods that has the power to tie a meal together, but it’s versatile enough to customize to your heart’s delight. A classic cornbread goes equally well with cold-weather chili and stews as it does with summer barbeque. I’ve seen it dressed up with all manner of other ingredients––jalapeños, black beans, maple syrup and bacon. I even once came across a bakery serving cornbread muffins with entire hard boiled eggs inside, a well-rounded breakfast ready to travel.

The origins of cornbread are clear. Native Americans have been cooking with corn (or maize, as they taught us in school) for thousands of years, well before European settlers came to America. European immigrants who settled the South learned from Native tribes like the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek how to cook traditional recipes with corn and cornmeal. Then they set about trying to use cornmeal to adapt the bread recipes they brought with them from their countries of origin.

Cornmeal is such an adaptable ingredient, and can be used to create both leavened and unleavened bread products. Cornbread is leavened by the addition of baking soda or powder, but unleavened adaptations include hush puppies, johnny cakes and cornpone, all delicious in  their variety. Even among recipes just for cornbread, you’ll find regional differences that create slightly different textures and flavors depending on where you are in the U.S.

While it’s easy to find store bought mixes for cornbread, I’ll let you in on a secret: making cornbread from scratch doesn’t really add much additional time or effort than grabbing a boxed  mix, and the results taste better. Any time you have cornmeal, flour, baking soda or powder and a bit of milk, you have everything you need to make cornbread that will take your meal to the next level. In this recipe, we’re serving up cornbread with a twist in the form of fresh, sweet strawberries and a bit of poppy seeds for crunch, baked in muffin tins for both portability and because the strawberries add a little extra moisture. Make them the night before and you’ll have an incredible way to start the day––with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and a strawberry corn muffin in the other.

Strawberry Corn Muffins with Poppy Seeds

Strawberry Corn Muffins with Poppy Seeds

Yield: 12 Servings

Strawberry Corn Muffins with Poppy Seeds

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups strawberries, diced small
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 can whipped cream (optional)
  • Extra flour for dusting pan

Cooking Tools

  • Medium bowl
  • Small bowl
  • Dutch oven
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle/spoon
  • Grater
  • Measuring cups and spoons


  1. Light a campfire and let it burn down until it’s mostly hot coals.
  2. Combine diced strawberries with ¼ cup sugar. Set aside for 15-30 minutes or until sugar has dissolved and the water from the strawberries has released.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
  4. Grate the butter, and then toss in with the dry ingredients. Add lemon zest.
  5. Add in ½ cup of the sugared strawberries with the dry ingredients, but make sure the juices have been drained and left with the remaining half of the strawberries. 
  6. Add milk and egg and combine but don’t over-mix.
  7. Line a Dutch oven with aluminum foil. Spray with oil or use a stick of butter to grease the foil. Pour in the batter, then cover with the lid propped slightly up, so the steam can escape during baking. Place over hot coals in a fire pit, then carefully add coals on top of the lid. When you place or adjust it in the fire, make sure to temporarily close the lid so that you don’t get any embers inside. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Serve with the leftover strawberry sauce and some whipped cream.  

Jon and Aubrey made their latest trip in a Thor Motor Coach Class B.

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