Dutch Oven Chili and Cornbread

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Two of the biggest names in comfort food join forces in this Dutch oven chili & cornbread combo. True, chili and cornbread can be made in two separate pans. But by using a Dutch oven it becomes a one-pot meal. Light and fluffy cornbread layered on top of spicy chili with half the mess? Sign us up!

Serving vegetarian chili cooked in a Dutch oven on the campfire

Following in the proud tradition of shepherds pie, chicken & dumplings, and various cobblers, where something delicious is layered over something else delicious, the appeal of this cornbread and chili far exceeds the sum of its parts.

Fluffy, slightly sweet, cornbread pairs perfectly with the rich and hearty flavor of the chili. And when cooked together, you can just scoop out a big heaping spoonful and get the best of both worlds!

Why We Love It:
↠ Fluffy cornbread and hearty chili is the perfect flavor combination
↠ Why dirty two skillets when you could do it one?
↠ Perfect way to use the full potential of your Dutch oven

Man cooking over a campfire with a Dutch oven
Cooking beans and vegetables in a Dutch oven over a campfire for vegetarian chili

How to make Dutch oven chili and cornbread

Start by making your chili in the Dutch oven over the campfire. Saute the onions with a little olive oil before adding the beans, tomatoes, green chiles, tomato paste, and spices.

While that simmers away, you can turn your attention to making our cornbread batter. Our from-scratch recipe uses cornmeal, flour, milk, an egg, baking powder, and honey, but if it’s late in the season and you want to cut some corners, nobody will hold it against you if you use a store-bought mix!

Pouring cornbread batter over chili in a Dutch oven
Dutch oven cornbread and vegetarian chili on a campfire

Move the Dutch oven away from the direct heat to stop the chili from bubbling. Then, add the cornbread batter on top of the chili and cover it with the lid. Shovel some embers from the fire on top. Embers from softwood tend to lose their heat faster than those from hardwood, so if your embers start to cool, replace them with fresh ones. After roughly 20 minutes, uncover, check, and when the cornbread has cooked through and is ready, enjoy!

Pre-trip prep

Mix all the dry ingredients for the cornbread at home and store it in a sealed container.

You can make the chili at home if you really want to save some time. Store it in a container in your cooler until mealtime. Then, simply transfer the chili to your Dutch oven, top with the cornbread batter, and bake as instructed. By the time the cornbread is ready, the chili will have warmed up as well!

Dutch oven chili and cornbread in a bowl

GEAR SPOTLIGHT: Dutch Ovens

Hands down, the most versatile piece of camp cookware we own is a Dutch oven. This piece of equipment opens up a whole new world of cooking options: you can cook stews, bake lasagna, braise chicken, and of course, make this chili & cornbread meal! It can be used on a camp stove or directly over the fire. The short legs and rimmed lid allow you to place embers/coals on top as well as underneath, cooking your meal from both directions.

You can read all about Dutch oven cooking in this post!

Other Dutch oven recipes you’ll enjoy

Dutch Oven Enchiladas
Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese
Campfire Nachos
Dutch Oven Apple Cobbler

Serving chili and cornbread from a Dutch oven

A bowl of chili and cornbread on a tree stump

Vegetarian Dutch Oven Chili & Cornbread

Cornbread on top, chili on the bottom, this Dutch oven classic is the perfect one pot campfire meal to keep you warm and toasty all night long.
Author: Fresh Off The Grid
4.57 from 16 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
6 servings

Ingredients

For the Chili

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 teaspoons garlic powder)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

For the Cornbread Topper

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions

  • In a 10” / 4 qt Dutch oven over medium heat, saute the onion in oil until soft and just beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and saute for 1 minute. Add the beans, tomatoes, chiles, and tomato paste, stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened.
  • In the meantime, prepare the cornbread batter. Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add the milk, egg, and honey and mix until a batter forms.
  • Move Dutch oven over indirect heat to reduce bubbling. Pour the batter over the chili as evenly as possible, then cover the Dutch oven with a lid and shovel embers or coals onto the top. You’re going for a temperature of approx. 400-425F.
  • Bake until the cornbread has cooked through and is no longer wet in the center, about 20 minutes.
  • Serve with your favorite chili toppings & enjoy!

Notes

MAKE AHEAD + SHORTCUTS

The dry cornbread ingredients can be measured out at home and stored in a sealable container or bag. Alternatively, you could use a boxed version like Jiffy.
The chili could be made at home ahead of time and stored in a sealable container in your cooler. In camp, transfer the chili to the Dutch oven and start at step 2. Or, you could just bring along canned chili if you don't want to make it from scratch!

 

Nutrition (Per Serving)

Calories: 313kcal
*Nutrition is an estimate based on information provided by a third-party nutrition calculator
Main Course
American
camping food, dutch oven, fall

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23 Comments

  1. Reading your post makes me so hungry 🙂 I would love to try this sometimes. Love all the time you guys spend outdoors, its very inspiring.

  2. Salem Tobio says:

    Could this recipe be made at home? Chili in pot and then the Dutch oven put in the oven with the cornbread mix on top?

    1. Absolutely. Probably be a lot easier than out in the field too! Not sure what to set the oven, but 350 F seems like a good place to start.

  3. How would you make this differently on just a camp stove without coals to put on top?

    1. And will it work in a regular pot?

  4. Christy Perkins says:

    Made this on a camping trip this weekend! Added cayenne and ground beef. Just used the chili recipe part. We ate it so fast I didn’t even take a pic but it was soooo good! Definitely going to be a favorite.

  5. Stephanie says:

    Do we think the milk could be replaced with almond milk to make this recipe dairy free?

    1. I just made the cornbread in a skillet using almond milk…same 1 cup measure…..came out fantastic. Less calories, no lactose.5 stars

  6. I love this blog! So many great recipes! Your recommendation for Barebones Dutch oven, is great. I don’t have one yet and that’s the one I’m going to get. We have a trip to the Wallowa’s in late September. I’ll be making this chili recipe!

    1. That Barebone Dutch Oven is great, but you can also use spacers on a normal Dutch oven to help disperse some of the steam that can build up inside.

  7. How many servings is this recipe?

  8. kaci gundin says:

    how many people did this serve?

  9. Hi, Just wanted you to know that there is a super annoying, floating add right in the middle of the recipe box (overlaid on top). Tried to x it twice so I could see the recipe and it didn’t work. Might be something you want to look at. Maybe remove the ad unit? Otherwise, I love your website. Cheers, Emillie

    1. Thank you for bringing this to our attention! We see exactly what you’re talking about (and yes, ugh, so annoying!) and we have resolved the issue. Sorry about that!

  10. Thank you for taking the time to share your healthy, tasty, and simple recipes! This one was delish!5 stars

  11. Would this recipe work well in a 12 in dutch oven or would I need to scale up? Thanks for all the great recipes! We are planning a family camping trip and I am using many of your recipes 🙂

    1. For a 12″ Dutch oven, you will probably want to scale it up. A 12″ Dutch oven is typically 6 quarts, while a 10″ Dutch oven is typically 4 quarts. So you would want to scale this recipe up 1.5x

  12. Consistency was good. I cooked it in cast iron in the stove, and it turned out great EXCEPT that the cornbread was extremely salty. I couldn’t even eat it. 1.5 tsp is WAY too much. I wish I had listened to my instinct when cooking and only used 1/2 tsp.3 stars

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Jamie. I’m curious if you remember what type of salt you used – was it table salt?