The Secret Ingredient Dolly Parton Adds To Her Cornbread

Dolly Parton has proven time and time again that she is much more than an award-winning country singer-songwriter and a beloved actress. Her admirably long résumé also includes author, philanthropist, and as of 2022, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

In addition to all of the celebrated entertainment roles she has held, Dolly Parton is certainly no stranger to the culinary world. From her sweet collaborations with Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Duncan Hines, and Taco Bell to showing off her cooking and baking chops on "The Rachael Ray Show," "The Chew," and "Sunday Brunch" (via IMDb), she is an overt advocate of comfort foods.

Over the years, Parton has proudly shared a slew of her favorite Southern-inspired dishes, including pickle juice-infused coleslaw, mac and cheese with a side of fried apples, and of course, her famous chicken and dumplings. And when it comes to her go-to cornbread recipe, you can bet your bottom dollar Dolly has a secret up her sparkly sleeve.

Dolly Parton bakes her cornbread with bacon drippings

Cornbread has been a staple of Southern U.S. cuisine for generations — and for good reason. A popular barbecue side, cornbread offers a soft, crumbly, moist texture and a simultaneously sweet and savory flavor. It also just so happens to be one of Dolly Parton's specialties. And when Dolly whips up a batch of cornbread, she is always sure to include an element that creates an even more delectable bite: bacon drippings. According to insider, Dolly's cornbread recipe is as iconic as the woman herself.

Dolly's cornbread calls for just a few simple ingredients: self-rising corn meal mix, buttermilk, salt, and bacon drippings. That's it! The whole dish comes together in less than a half hour. Bacon dripping — literally the leftover fat that trickles off the strips of cured pork while they're cooked — is an ingredient pro chefs and home cooks swear by. The best ways you can use bacon grease is as an appetizing spread or soup base, to fry eggs, make stovetop popcorn, roast veggies, and countless other ideas.