Chili in a Homemade Cornbread Bowl

Yes I know, cornbread bowls do not typically exist.  And I imagine because they don’t have a hard exterior like a sourdough bread bowl, but thats just unfair.  I am obsessed with breadbowls, ok maybe that’s a bit extreme but I love clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl or really anything in a sourdough bread bowl, it just has an extra factor that puts the meal over the top.  So when I recently took a trip to disneyland with some friends we decided that for dinner we were going to have gumbo in a bread bowl…yes please! I think that was when this bread bowl kick started because it was the week after that I made this chili and decided to attempt a bread bowl with the cornbread.  Now, presentation wise it looks great and of course it tastes great too but the tricky part is scooping enough out to put the chili in but also leaving enough to enjoy it with the chili.  The other thing is that you have to have pyrex dishes that are small enough to bake the cornbread in so that you can actually make a bowl.  Well I happen to have a few thanks to my roommate so I decided to give it a go.

On another note about chili, everyone has their particular way of loving chili. Some people love big chunks of meat (not for me), others like every type of bean known to man in their chili (I like some variation), some like their chili topped with sour cream, cheddar cheese and green onion (yea that would be nice, but I didnt’t have any). So feel free to modify this recipe as you need to in order to create your chili, I sort of looked at about 10 different chili recipes before I came up with this one.  Essentially the recipe is the same, just the ingredients might differ.

Now, this cornbread recipe that I use is my great grandmothers recipe and let me tell you, she knew her stuff.  It’s the same cornbread that we use in our thanksgiving cornbread dressing (stuffing for all you non-southern familiars), and I absolutely love it.  The smell and taste of fresh cornbread just cannot be beat sometimes.  Now, because 1. this recipe is old and 2. she was from the south there are some variations I have made.  For instance, I just do not stock buttermilk on a regular basis so instead I substitute yogurt (see below).  Also, the original recipe calls for bacon grease in the pie pan.  I also don’t make bacon regularly and do not have bacon grease on hand when the cornbread cravings hit so instead I just regular cooking oil.  I think what I love about this recipe (as you will see) is that it tells you to heat the oil before putting the batter in the pan.  What this does is create a delicious crispy crust to the cornbread when you add the batter.  You can even see the batter instantly cooking when you add it to the hot oil! So my point is…do not skip this step, it really makes or breaks the cornbread. =)

Ground Beef Chili with White Kidney Beans and Black Beans 


  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 3 sticks celery chopped
  • 1 can white kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1/2 tbl minced garlic
  • 1 tbl cumin
  • 1 tbl chili powder
  • 1/2 tbl cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 c water


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat
  2. Chop the onion (see picture below for tips), celery, and garlic. Add to heated oil and stir around until onion is opaque.
  3. Add the seasonings into the pot and stir around.
  4. Add the ground beef and cook until the meat starts to brown, use a wooden spoon to break it up to your liking (less for bigger meat chunks, more for smaller ones)
  5. Add the tomato sauce, fire roasted tomatoes, and water.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 40 minutes.
  6. Add the beans in and stir.
  7. Check periodically to break up the meat and stir around so that the flavors infuse evenly.
  8. after 40 minutes if the chili is too thick for your taste, you can add a bit of water.  If it is too liquid-y you can just remove some of the liquid from the top with a ladle or large spoon.

Nana’s cornbread recipe 


  • 1c cornmeal
  • 1/2c flour
  • 1tbl baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1c low fat milk
  • 1/4c plain yogurt (the milk and yogurt is in place of buttermilk which I just don’t regularly stock)
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. In a pie dish, add 1-2 tbl cooking oil and place in oven to heat up while you mix the cornbread batter.
  3. Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl
  4. Add in the milk, yogurt, and egg to the dry mixture and stir until combined.
  5. Pour mixture into pie dish with hot oil (or bacon fat if you happen to have it)
  6. Bake the cornbread for about 20 min.  Check for done-ness with a toothpick. ENJOY

{This is a great onion cutting tip.  Place the onion flat side down, then make cuts across but don’t cut all the way to the end.  Then go back and cut perpendicular to the first cuts to get a good dice.  This way the onion stays together while you are cutting!}

{Post bread bowl making, I just ran a knife around the edge and cut at an angle into the center.  Make sure not to cut so deep that you puncture the bowl and the chili leaks out}

{The finished product}


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