Dutch Oven Vegetarian Chili & Cornbread

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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.

Serving vegetarian chili cooked in a Dutch oven on the campfire

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!

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

Start by making your chili in the Dutch oven over the campfire. We sauteed our onions with a little olive oil, before adding our beans, tomatoes, green chiles, tomato paste, and spices. While that simmered away, we turned our 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 it from bubbling. Then add the batter on top of the chili and cover 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 undercover, check, and when the cornbread has cooked through and is ready, enjoy!

Serving chili and cornbread from a Dutch oven
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.

We have this Lodge version which can be found on Amazon or at REI, but the next one we buy will be this Barebones Dutch oven. The unique lid design allows you to control the steam inside, making it perfect for baking things like pizza!

Dutch Oven Vegetarian Chili & Cornbread

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Makes: 6 servings
Calories: 313 kcal
Author: Fresh Off the Grid
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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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Bake until the cornbread has cooked through and is no longer wet in the center, about 20 minutes.
  5. Serve with your favorite chili toppings & enjoy!

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!

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

Sharp knife & cutting board
Mixing bowl
Measuring cups & spoons
Whisk or spoon for mixing
Dutch oven with lid
Serving spoon, dishes, and utensils

 


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Fresh Off the Grid

Fresh Off the Grid is a culinary resource for the outdoor community. We offer a collection of recipes, how-to guides, and camp cooking gear to help elevate your outdoor experience through food and drink!

One Comment

  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.

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