Homemade Chili Corn Bread Casserole with a Secret Ingredient

Homemade Chili Corn Bread Casserole with a Secret Ingredient

Healthy homemade chili with ground sirloin, kidney beans, and tons of veggies topped with corn bread.

This chili recipe is so simple and flavorful and although the corn bread takes a little ahead of time prep, it's super easy to make!

So far none the ingredients mentioned sound very secret do they?

What if we told you there are raisins in this chili? Yep, raisins...sounds strange we know, but, Val told us about this idea a while ago and we just had to try it. The verdict is: winner! The raisins add the perfect amount of sweetness to offset the heat of the jalapenos.

We also added a dark flavorful beer to add more depth, but you can easily leave that out if you prefer. Same with the ground sirloin -- that can be omitted as well for a tasty vegetarian feast.

For another chili recipe, check out our "Damn Good" Turkey Chili, from which this recipe is an adaptation and/or for a vegan-twist, you've got to see Angela's Pumpkin Maple Baked Bean Cornbread Casserole (what inspired us to create our own take on chili corn bread casserole).

Corn bread adapted from recipe in The Bread Bakers Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.


Corn Bread Ingredients

  • 1 cup (6 oz) coarse cornmeal (also packaged as "polenta")
  • 2 cups (16 oz) low-fat buttermilk
  • 1-3/4 cups (8 oz) whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/2 tbsp (.75 oz) baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp (.05 oz) baking soda
  • 1 tsp (.25 oz) salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp (1.5 oz) honey
  • 2 tbsp (1 oz) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2-1/2 cups (16 oz) grilled corn kernels (grilled on the cob separately)

Chili Ingredients

  • 1 tsp oil (coconut, macadamia nut, olive)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 pound ground sirloin (ground turkey breast, bison, chicken, or omit for vegan)
  • 2-1/2 cups kidney beans, soaked
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, roasted, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic, smashed
  • 12 oz dark, flavorful beer (optional - we used Stone Brewing Co. Oaked Arrogant Bastard)
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes
  • 1 -1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flake
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • cooking spray


  • Green onion, finely chopped
  • Fresh cilantro, leaves or chopped
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream

Corn Bread Instructions - Part 1 (the night before)

The night before making the corn bread, soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

Chili Instructions

  1. In a large heavy pot over medium heat, add oil and then cook onion, carrots, and mushrooms until onions are translucent.
  2. Add ground sirloin, stirring and breaking down meat until it has browned.
  3. Pour off any liquid.
  4. Stir in beans, raisins, jalapeno, garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes, salt, and the rest of the spices.
  5. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 1-2 hours, until flavors are well blended. Can transfer to a crock pot if you’d like.

Corn Bread Instructions - Part 2

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs.
  4. Dissolve the honey into the melted butter and then stir the warm honey-butter mixture into the eggs.
  5. Add the honey-butter-egg mixture to the soaked cornmeal mixture.
  6. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a large spatula until the ingredients are evenly distributed and the batter is smooth, like the consistency of pancake batter.
  7. Stir in the corn kernels.

Assembly Instructions

  1. Pour the chili into a 9x13 glass baking dish.
  2. Spray the parts of the glass baking dish that are still showing with cooking spray (so the corn bread doesn't stick).
  3. Spread the grated cheddar cheese in a layer over the chili.
  4. Pour the corn bread mixture over the chili and cheese, and spread so it is evenly distributed.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the corn bread is firm and springy and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before digging in.
  7. Serve and garnish with Greek yogurt, finely chopped green onion, and fresh cilantro.


Be sure to check out our recipe page for tons of healthy and simple favorites!

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