Cornbread Topped Skillet Chili

This cornbread topped skillet chili combines homemade cornbread with a hearty homemade and soul-warming chili. Both are fantastic on their own, but they’re even better when paired up… like Sunday mornings and cinnamon rolls!

chili in a skillet topped with cornbread with a serving spoon

This cornbread topped skillet chili recipe hits the spot in MANY WAYS. I was inspired by Trisha Yearwood’s cornbread-chilli casserole, but I put my spin on things by combining a chili base with a buttery homemade cornbread topping. This dish is thick, rich, and hearty which I know you’ll appreciate– especially in autumn or winter when you crave something warm and nourishing.


Tell Me About this Cornbread Topped Skillet Chili

  • Texture: Expect a lot of texture in each serving. We’ve got ground turkey (or beef), tender bits of sweet bell pepper and onion, and satisfying kidney beans. A slightly toasted cornbread layer tops it off– literally. The optional corn in the cornbread adds extra texture, and I highly suggest it.
  • Flavor: With the buttery cornbread topping, this is truly a deluxe version of your traditional chili.
  • Ease: If you want to prep things ahead of time, you can make the chili the day before and store it in the refrigerator. Then, 30 minutes before dinner, place it into your skillet, throw the cornbread batter on top, and bake.
  • Time: 1 hour.

serving of cornbread topped skillet chili in a teal bowl with shredded cheese on top with a spoon

Choosing the Right Ingredients for Cornbread Topped Chili

Besides its taste, what you’ll love most about this cornbread chili is that it’s customizable. This recipe has the hallmarks of traditional chili, but you can change it up to suit your taste preferences, desired heat level, and dietary requirements.

You can create a delicious chili with your favorite ingredients or whatever you have on hand. Replace the ground turkey with beef or chicken, swap kidney beans for another type (or combine them), and experiment with spices. You just want to be sure to include the key spices: oregano, cumin, and chili powder. 

  • Protein: I like to use 94% lean ground turkey, but you can use other proteins such as ground chicken or ground beef instead. For a vegetarian option, replace the meat with an extra can or 2 of kidney beans. You could also use cubed butternut squash.
  • Beans: I enjoy classic kidney beans in this recipe, but you could also use black beans or even chickpeas.
  • Herbs and spices: Dried oregano, chili powder, and cumin create that ultimate chili flavor. This recipe is perfect for those of us who enjoy a teeny kick of fire in their chili. But, if you like super spicy chili, a little more jalapeño and chili powder can be added for additional heat. Taste as you go and adjust to your preferences.
  • Brown sugar: This ingredient is a MUST and takes the chili to the next level. A little sweetness brings out the flavors. Pure maple syrup also works in its place if you’d like a bit of maple flavor. (Very good paired with cornbread.)

Best Pan to Use for Skillet Topped Cornbread Chili

In this recipe, you’ll cook the chili on the stove before topping with your cornbread mixture and baking. You just need 1 dish from the stove to the oven, so make sure you’re using an oven-safe skillet. A 12-inch ovenproof skillet is the perfect size for this recipe. Here is the one I own and love. If you don’t have a skillet this size, don’t worry. Simply spread the cooked chili and then the cornbread batter into a casserole dish instead.

It’s completely approachable, cozy, and perfect for weeknights or weekends when you want a satisfying meal to warm you up. Let me know if you try it!

ground turkey, peppers, and onions sautéing in a skillet

cornbread batter in a glass bowl

spreading cornbread batter onto chili in a skillet

chili in a skillet topped with cornbread with a serving spoon

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chili in a skillet topped with cornbread with a serving spoon

Cornbread-Topped Skillet Chili

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: serves 8
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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.


Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey or ground beef (I use 94% lean but anything works)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper (or any color)
  • 1/2 of a jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Cornbread Topping

  • 1 cup (120g) cornmeal
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) 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 corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • optional for serving: shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. In a large oven-proof skillet (12 inches like this one) over medium heat, heat the oil for 1 minute. Add the ground turkey, onion, peppers, jalapeño, and garlic. Sauté until browned and cooked through, breaking up with a spoon as you go– about 10 minutes. Stir in the rest of the chili ingredients, then reduce to medium-low heat. Cover and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C).
  3. Also meanwhile, 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 for 30 minutes or until the cornbread is golden on top and cooked through. Serve warm. We enjoy each serving with shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: If you want to get started ahead of time, prepare the chili the day before, cover, and store in the fridge. Then, 30 minutes before dinner, place into your skillet, throw the cornbread batter on top, and bake as directed.
  2. Special Tools: 12-inch Skillet and Glass Mixing Bowls
  3. No Skillet? No Problem: If you do not have a large enough oven-proof skillet, simply prepare the chili on the stove in a pot then spread into an 11×7 (or similar size) casserole dish, then top with cornbread batter and bake.
  4. Inspired by Food Network.

88 Comments

  1. I made this last night and we really enjoyed it!  I did not have chillies, so I used chilie flakes and cayenne instead. Will make again. 

    1. That sounds like it would add the perfect amount of kick! Glad you liked it!

  2. This was so good and such a breeze to make! Do you think it would also freeze well? 36 weeks pregnant and prepping the freezer with post-baby meals…

    1. I’d say so! I’ve actually never attempted it before. I’d let it thaw overnight in the fridge before heating. Congratulations!

  3. This is the most incredible chili recipe Sally! Putting the cornbread on top is genius. I made this last week and could not get enough so I’m making it again today 🙂 New favourite dinner recipe ❤️

  4. one cup is not 120 g!  which is correct?

    1. Hi Barbara! 1 cup of cornmeal is 120g, yes.

  5. Oh my goodness, Sally! I made this last night and I thought, “my husband is going to really like this” because he loves pretty much anything with corn in it. And he did really like it but I was surprised how much I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!! It was seriously so good. I can’t wait to get home and eat leftovers. 🙂

    1. What a compliment!! I’m happy the skillet cornbread chili was a hit.

  6. Making this now.  Smells amazing.  I had some leftover chipotle with adobo sauce which went in.  Also had 2 leftover cooked hot Italian sausages which I chopped up and cooked with ground beef.  The recipe as is is wonderful, but the additions of leftovers didn’t hurt it.  Corn bread idea on top is totally next level.  Thank you. 
    Note – I made this earlier in the day – looked too thick to add cornbread batter to,so added some broth to thin it out before batter went on.

  7. Is there a way to make this recipe dairy-free? (Without the milk in the cornbread)

  8. Lisset Gutierrez says:

    Looks like substituting the flour in the cornbread topping will make this gluten free. Unless I’m overlooking something….? Sounds and looks amazing, I can’t wait to make it. 

  9. Kristin White says:

    Hi Sally! Making this for the first time. It is cooking in the oven as I type this! My husband has already told me it smells delicious! I am concerned about one thing. I didn’t drain the diced tomatoes and I’m thinking I should have. When I spread the cornbread on top it was a little difficult because the chili was a bit soupy. Really hoping this still turns out! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂 

    1. It should thicken in the oven. How did it taste?

      1. Kristin White says:

        It was absolutely delicious!! The cornbread didn’t turn out pictured like yours but it was still tasty! So maybe next time I’ll try drained the tomatoes just to see how it turns out. Awesome recipe! Thank you!!!

  10. Sooo good! I ended up making this in a pot and then transferring the chili over to a 12 inch round pan for baking. Worked out well. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. Megan Henry Grindley says:

    Can this recipe be modified for a crock pot?

    1. Hi Megan! I’m sure it can, but I haven’t tried it. Let me know if you do!

  12. Let me start out by saying that all of Sally’s recipes are flawless. I’d never made chilli before but this was a perfect. I did add to it, an extra can of beans, a little extra brown sugar, a very small amount of red pepper flakes, and some sriracha. Needless to say I’ve already been asked when I’m making it again. Thank you so much for making my family think I’m a natural!!

  13. Can I use boxed cornbread mix instead making it myself?

    1. Absolutely!

  14. Bethany Brummitt says:

    I was really excited to try this, and the flavor is great, but even after almost an hour in the oven the cornbread never completely firmed up and solidified. Is this normal? The chili had been cooled in the fridge first, would that make a difference?

    1. Hi Bethany! I assume the cold chili prevented the cornbread topping from cooking properly. Let me know if you try the recipe again.

  15. This is AahhhMazing!! Thanks!

  16. What a great recipe! I think the one thing I changed up was that I used one can of tomato sauce, and two cans of diced tomatoes; one of the cans of diced tomatoes I drained the liquid off. This recipe would be great with ground goat, too.

  17. Just want to say THANK YOU for such a yummy and easy recipe. This one has been added to my “Awesomeness” recipe book. 🙂

  18. This recipe is OUT OF THIS WORLD!! and I mean out of this world delicious!! I couldn’t stop eating!!
    Please do try this ASAP!!!

  19. Trish Vanaria says:

    May I bake the cornbread recipe separately if I’m not feeling like the combo? If so, what pan size/ oven temp / time (I can figure out lol).
    Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Absolutely! See this recipe for Honey Skillet Cornbread.

  20. Hey Sally,

    We’ve done this recipe a bunch of times, and its a favorite in our home. However, I could’ve sworn this used to be for 6 servings before. Did any of the ingredient quantities change?

    Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Camila, We are so happy this has been a hit in your home! The recipe hasn’t been updated since 2016 – we say it yields 8 servings but if your servings are larger it could certainly be for 6.

      1. Thank you for the super fast response! I don’t know how we ended up thinking it was for 6. Regardless, we’ll continue to enjoy it! Thanks again

  21. Wendy Neugebauer says:

    This recipe is amazing and my family loves it! Before I bake it, I dot the cornbread mix with some chopped jalapenos and red peppers. It makes it look so pretty and gives the cornbread a slight bite.

  22. This was incredible!! Highly recommend! We made ours in a 11×7 instead of skillet and it worked great. Sally, your chili recipe is the best!

  23. Just wanted to comment and say I’ve successfully made this twice with gluten free flour (cup4cup once and a homemade blend once) and both times it came out great! It’s such a good chili and cornbread recipe. Thank you!

  24. Came out better than I thought it would. So delicious. the cornbread topping is the best. Next time I will dollup it over the chili like a cobbler for for aesthetics. Thanks for sharing.

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