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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 homemade 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

More Satisfying Dinner Recipes

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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


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 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


  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.


  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.

Keywords: cornbread skillet chili

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. can this chili be made vegetarian ? If so what do you suggest to replace meat? Additional vegetables, meat substitute crumbles? what side dishes would you serve with this? for a company meal?

    1. Yes, we do it all the time, Debi! For a vegetarian option, replace the meat with an extra can or 2 of kidney beans. You could also use cubed butternut squash. You don’t need a lot of extras but it’s great with a green salad if you wish.

  2. This meal was so delicious and easy. I’ll be making again for sure- may work some grated cheddar into the cornmeal topping.

  3. Delicious recipe but my cornbread too double the time to cook through. I used an 11×7 dish and the chili wasn’t refrigerated before I put the cornbread topping. I think next time I’d try a larger dish.

  4. Tried just the chili part before it went in the oven and it was awesome already!

    Two questions… Should the can of beans be drained? Is the chili powder you used, just chili or is it a combination of spices? My chili powder was a combination so I didn’t add the extra oregano and cumin.

    Thanks so much for all that you share!!

    1. Hi Sarah, we’re so glad you enjoyed this one! We do not drain the can of beans before adding to the chili. We use regular chili powder, but if you have a combination feel free to use that instead (and increase the amount if you’d like to cover the additional spices, too).