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serving spoon spooning cornbread chili casserole out of a black cast iron skillet.

Cornbread Chili Casserole

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.8 from 44 reviews
  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: serves 8
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


In this hearty and satisfying dinner recipe, you can enjoy 2 in 1: cornbread served on top of turkey (or beef) chili. Everything is cooked in the same pan.


  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey (or ground chicken or beef)
  • 1 cup (130g) chopped yellow onion (1 medium onion)
  • 1 cup (130g) chopped bell pepper
  • 1/2 of a jalapeño, finely chopped (seeds and ribs removed)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (8-ounce/227g) cans tomato sauce (or use homemade)
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) chicken broth (or vegetable or beef broth)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce/411g) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (15.5-ounce/439g) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tablespoon (12g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Cornbread Topping

  • 1 cup (120g) fine cornmeal
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp; 113g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
  • optional: 1 cup (170g) corn (fresh, frozen, or canned & drained)
  • optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced jalapeños


  1. In a large ovenproof skillet that holds 3.5–4 quarts, such as this 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the ground turkey, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, and garlic. Sauté until meat has cooked through, breaking up with a spoon as it cooks, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rest of the chili ingredients, and then reduce to medium-low heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C).
  3. Whisk all of the cornbread ingredients together in a large bowl, including the optional corn. Remove the chili from heat and spread the cornbread batter on top.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 30–35 minutes or until the cornbread is golden on top and cooked through.
  5. Spoon into bowls or onto plates and serve warm with optional toppings.
  6. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. I usually spoon it all into a reusable container. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat, or in the microwave as desired.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: If you want to get started ahead of time, prepare the chili up to 24 hours in advance, cover, and refrigerate. Then, set it out at room temperature as you preheat the oven and prepare the cornbread batter. Spread cornbread batter on top and bake as directed. Baked and cooled casserole freezes well up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature, then cover and bake at 300°F (149°C) for 15-20 minutes or until warmed through.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): 12-inch SkilletGlass Mixing Bowl | Whisk
  3. Other Pan to Use: A 12-inch ovenproof skillet that holds about 3.5–4 quarts is the perfect size for this recipe. Here is the one I own and love. If you don’t have a skillet this size, simply cook the chili on the stove in a large pot or saucepan, and then transfer it to a lightly greased casserole dish that holds at least 3.5–4 quarts, such as a 9×13-inch baking dish. You could also cook the chili on the stove in a large dutch oven, spread the cornbread topping on, and bake right in the dutch oven.
  4. To Make Vegetarian: For a vegetarian option, replace the meat with a plant-based ground meat alternative, or skip this and add an extra can or two of beans when you add the kidney beans. And/or add 1 peeled and chopped sweet potato (about 1 cup) in step 1 when you add the bell pepper.
  5. Beans: I use red kidney beans in this recipe, but black beans, pinto beans, or cannellini beans work as well.
  6. Chicken Broth: Just 1/2 cup of broth keeps the chili from becoming too dry as it bakes in the oven. Feel free to use beef or vegetable broth instead, and if you don’t have either, water works (but you’ll lose a little flavor).
  7. Is This Spicy? Mildly spicy. But if you like super-spicy chili, a little more jalapeño and chili powder will do the trick. Taste as you go and adjust if desired.
  8. Inspired by Food Network