Chili Beans and Cornbread Casserole

Welcome to one stop on the November 2011 SideCar Series for Kitchen PLAY, featuring Bush’s Beans!

Kitchen PLAY is like the online version of Iron Chef, which I love. It’s fun to find out what ingredient you get to work with, especially when it’s something like beans.

Cooking with beans is something I do regularly. They’re healthy, quick, and add a nice punch of protein to whatever dish you toss them in. For weeknight meals or a long-simmering chili on the weekend, beans are a main staple in our diet.

When I was given “Family Favorites” for this challenge, I knew exactly what kind of dish I wanted to create.

If there’s one thing that Nick requests for dinner, it’s casseroles. It doesn’t matter what’s in them – he just really likes casseroles. And so do I! But it’s sometimes hard coming up with casseroles that will fill him up as a one-pot dish.

Thankfully, we both love chili and cornbread – especially when they’re served together.











I decided to try to merge two of our favorite fall dishes, chili and the flavor from a typical baked bean dish, and top the mixture with a spicy, cheesy cornbread.

The normal spices of the chili (chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika) balance the sweetness from the molasses. The tang of the vinegar and mustard give you a kick. I also used a mix of Bush’s Beans in this dish because I love the texture that all three give to the chili! Pinto beans are creamy, cannellini beans are soft and smooth, and the kidney beans have that familiar texture that’s in just about every chili recipe you can find.

The jalapeno was a bit spicy, so you could definitely cut down to just half a pepper if kids will be eating the casserole.

Instead of ground beef, I used a pound of local ground buffalo from a farm just 30 miles from our house. Buffalo meat is much leaner than beef but still has a great flavor that can stand in for ground beef in any recipe.
Either way, the mix of sweet and spicy chili beans and the cheesy cornbread is a match made in cool-weather heaven.

Chili Beans and Cheesy Cornbread Casserole

Makes: 8 – 10 servings


Chili Beans:

  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground buffalo or ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can Bush’s Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Bush’s Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can Bush’s Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed

Cheesy Cornbread Topping:

  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup masa harina
  • ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and ½ cups buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. In a large pot, cook the bacon on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes until the bacon is starting to crisp up and it has rendered its fat.
  2. Add the onion to the bacon and cook for 5 minutes, letting the onions soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
  3. Crumble the beef or buffalo into the pot with the bacon and onion and cook, stirring to break up the meat while it browns. Let the meat cook for 6-7 minutes until the juices are running clear and the meat is browned.
  4. Stir the tomato paste into the meat and cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. You’ll be able to smell the tomato paste cooking into the meat and vegetables.
  5. Add the chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to the pot and stir the seasonings into the meat. Let this cook for another 3-4 minutes until you can smell the spices.
  6. Pour the apple cider vinegar, molasses, Dijon mustard, and crushed tomatoes into the pot and stir together. Stir the kidney, pinto, and cannellini beans into the chili.
  7. Let the chili beans mixture simmer on low while you mix together the cornbread topping.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and pour the cornmeal, masa harina, and whole wheat pastry flour into a medium bowl.
  9. Stir the honey, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the cornmeal mixture until the honey is combined.
  10. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with buttermilk and the oil and pour the wet mixture into the cornmeal.
  11. Fold the diced jalapeno and shredded cheese into the cornbread batter.
  12. Grease a 9×13 pan and pour the chili beans mixture into the bottom the pan. Scoop the cornmeal batter over the chili beans mixture and spread out to cover as much of the chili beans mixture as you can.
  13. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes until the chili is bubbling around the edges and the cornbread is golden brown.

Make sure to check out Bush’s Beans on Facebook and Twitter (@BushsBeans) for more recipe ideas and family favorites to try this season.

This post was sponsored by Kitchen PLAY and Bush’s Beans, but all opinions, flavors, and the recipe are my own.


  1. love the idea of cheesy cornbread! yummm

  2. I am loving this cornbread topped chili idea!! Totally trying this out.

  3. Wow! What a great bake! If this doesnt scream fall comfort food than i dont know what does! Cornbread is delicious.

  4. Casseroles are definitely one of my favorite comfort foods also, which is weird because other than lasagna, my mother never made any! And you topped it with cornbread…you are my hero.

  5. YUM, this is one of my favorite kinds of dinner! Looks great :)

  6. So good! I’ve been wanting to try a casserole like this for a while now! Perfect for a Fall Sunday :)

  7. I had a family member that always made a recipe similar to this. I loved it! I’ve been looking for the recipe for years! I will make this for dinner this week. Thanks!

  8. This sounds like the perfect comfort meal and I love that you used buffalo meat for a leaner option. I’m happy to be doing this Kitchen Play SideCar series with you!

  9. ooh, this sounds perfect :) why dirty another dish when you’re going to have it with cornbread anyways!!

  10. This is a favorite meal of mine! Yours looks delicious, woman.

  11. This sounds fabulous! Chili and cornbread go together almost as good as peanut butter and chocolate! :-P

  12. Yum. I have always wanted to make a similar dish. Chili and cornbread together sound so good.

    P.S. I’m curious about kitchenplay, but the link doesn’t seem to be working.

Comments are closed.