Sweet and Spicy Chili with Cornbread Topping


Sweet and Spicy Chili with Cornbread Topping is my go-to chili recipe. A little sweet mixed with a little heat!


Mason jars: not just for stiff drinks anymore! ;)

I saw this idea for cornbread topped chili baked in good ‘ol mason jars AGES ago on Pinterest, and have been waiting on pins and needles for the perfect moment in time to make it ever since.


It had to be a special day, of course. The first batch of chili for the season, topped with cornbread batter, then baked?! This was going to be epic!


The cold and drizzly weekend provided the perfect, chilly weather I’d been waiting for, so last night in between football games, I padded up to the kitchen in my squishy slipper socks and warm hoodie to whip up a big batch of my all time favorite chili recipe: Sweet & Spicy Chili.


Muwahaha! I thought to myself. I’ll be the envy of cold neighbors everywhere when my cozy chili is already made and all I’ll have to do tomorrow is ladle it into a mason jar, drizzle in some cornbread batter, bake, and devour under a warm blanket!


Obviously it ended up being 80 degrees and deliriously sunny today. RIGHT?!?! Gollee!


Well despite the fact that I was most certainly not enjoying this under a blanket, rather I was sweating bullets in shorts and a t-shirt, it was an absolute delight.


Since I made the chili last night, all I had to do today was ladle it into a mason jar then mix up a box of Krusteaz Fat-Free Honey Cornbread batter to dallop on top.


I entertained the idea of making homemade pumpkin cornbread, but it’s a Monday. ‘Nuff said.


After spooning in the batter, I baked the jar at 375 degrees for 25 minutes on a cookie sheet until it was golden brown on top.


After the squealing stopped, I dug in.


Sweet & Spicy Chili with Cornbread Topping

Serves 4-5


Sweet and Spicy Chili with Cornbread Topping is my go-to chili recipe. A little sweet mixed with a little heat!


  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1lb 90/10 ground beef
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-29oz can tomato sauce
  • 1-15oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1-16oz can Bush's Vegetarian Baked Beans
  • Chili powder
  • Cayenne powder
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Cumin
  • Brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 recipe cornbread batter (boxed or homemade)


  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and ground beef to the pot, season with salt & pepper, then cook, breaking up the ground beef, until no longer pink. Drain well and return to the pan.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium low and add in tomato sauce, black beans and baked beans. Season with chili powder and cayenne pepper to your tastes, then add in dashes of onion powder, garlic powder and cumin. Let the chili simmer for 5-10 minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Ladle chili into mason jars, then top with cornbread batter, leaving at least 2" clear at the top of the jar. Bake on a cookie sheet for 17-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.


Like I said – epic!!! My (actually this is my friend Lindsey’s recipe that she gave me years ago!) sweet & spicy chili is sweet from added baked beans, and spicy from loads of warm chili powder and hot cayenne pepper. It is magical when savored through a layer of honey cornbread.


I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to eat regular chili & cornbread again! ;)


Once again, thank you Pinterest! Ps I saw this on the boards the other day and laughed sooo hard. So sad. So true. ;)


How do you like your chili? Sweet, spicy, tomatoey, beany? What about the all important toppers?!

I actually hated all chili for years until I tried my friends recipe. I’m not a huge fan of the thin, tomatoey, kidney bean variety, but this thick, sweet & spicy kind is right up my alley. Topped with gobs of Fritos, if possible. :)

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  1. oh my gosh, that looks amazing. i cannot wait to give this a try!

  2. Brilliant idea! I will have to make this in the fall when things cool down. Love it! And, also love pinterest : ) UH-lot.

  3. Oddly enough, my first chili of the season is in the crockpot as I type this! i make making my first white chili… yum!

  4. Jill 09.19.2011

    I love that brand of cornbread its alittle more expensive but worth it in my book its soo sweet almost like a dessert!

  5. Looking forward to making this for my meat-eating fiance (I am vegetarian). I think this will be one recipe he won’t mind meatless!

  6. woah! adventurous for a monday, kristin!! this looks absolutely fantastic. i’m picky about chili and usually only like white chili, BUT i may have to give this a shot :)

  7. Lauren 09.19.2011

    This is the best idea ever!!! Seriously, genius! :)

  8. That. Is. Genius.

    I love thick, meaty, be any, spicy and a little bit sweet chili :)

  9. Oh my goodness, that is seriously an awesome idea!! Can’t wait to try it!!

  10. Brynne 09.19.2011

    Saw this and pinned it too! So glad I know it works :)

  11. Melissa 09.19.2011

    Epic sounds about right. Wow. So many insanely good recipes lately! I can’t make them fast enough!

    I love spicy chili–and it has to be THICK! This version looks pretty much perfect. I can’t have chili without cornbread.

    Feel better Ben!

  12. So, I’ve said it before, “I have to make this, it looks fabulous”…and this time I’m actually going to make this. What a great idea to use all those mason jars!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!

  13. JennyV 09.19.2011

    Definitely a fan of thick chili too! I can’t believe when I was a kid (or until I was about 19 or 20) I didn’t like beans, and therefore, really didn’t like chili. My fave recipe has banana peppers sliced into it!

    So thankful my husband introduced me to cornbread with chili when we were first married. I had always done cinnamon rolls with chili (thank you small town Iowa K-12!) but cornbread is fab too!

    • Bear 09.19.2011

      Thank you for saying that about the cinnamon rolls. Thanks to my up bringing and school lunches it has always been either grilled cheese sandwiches or cinn. rolls. For some reason the schools in BlackHawk county brainwashed everyone into having peanut butter sandwuches with chili :(

  14. Karen B. 09.19.2011

    Wow! That’s all I can say! That and if it’s spicy I will eat it. I just nailed my homemade sriracha/maple balsamic vinaigrette. An animal for spice!

  15. Sarah 09.19.2011

    Mmmm….I’ve also been dying to try out cooking with the jars. I’d love to make the cakes in them. I saw a red velvet one on notmartha that looked amazing.

    And, it’s totally chili season in Vermont. It was COLD this weekend! I like a spicy chili with a balance of beans and meat. It sounds weird but I like to eat a peanut butter sandwich with my chili. My dad does it….is it an Ohio thing? Or just weird perhaps…

  16. Lori 09.19.2011

    OMG Kristin – this looks amazing and so picturesque! What a great idea :)


  17. Anna 09.19.2011

    That looks so good! I’ve been craving chili too, even though it’s been a steady 80+ degrees here in South Carolina. Will def be trying that sweet & spicy chili recipe!

  18. Sarah 09.19.2011

    That looks amazing! I really have been craving chili and cornbread. I might have to make your pumpkin cornbread next time I go home. I really like my mom’s chili. Its thick and so good. <3. Another favorite is is sweet potato and black bean chili from Good Life Eats. Yum!

  19. Rachel 09.19.2011

    Being from Cincinnati, I will only eat Cincinnati-style chili (which is odd in & of itself, because I couldn’t stand the stuff until I moved away!), which means it’s served on top of spaghetti and topped with LOTS of cheddar cheese. I also don’t like beans in my chili, but that’s just my own weird quirk.

  20. Kate 09.19.2011

    So many of the recipes I make I found on Pinterest! I love it! And I’ll have to add this one to the list : )

    I love all kinds of chili, but I grew up with Cincinnati chili because that’s where my mom’s family is from. It’s definitely different and I see that Rachel above me explained it already. I think most people who try it don’t like it at first, but then it grows on them and they love it. It’s so good!

  21. Kristin from MN 09.19.2011

    What a great idea topping chili with cornbread! I love my chili with lotsa beans, ground beef, corn, onions and green peppers. I have a super easy recipe that my family loves! The best part is a jar of salsa instead of having to cut up veggies. It’s thick so I thin it with V8 juice… delicious! http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/slow-cooker-hearty-beef-chili-111270.aspx

  22. Wow!! This is amazing… Ok, so I should know this, but I’m surprised you don’t have to use a water bath with the mason jars. I didn’t know you could put them strait into the oven.

  23. I love my chili made with beer and topped with cheese. Yummmmm

  24. I am definitely a thick chili kind of girl. The addition of the baked beans sounds delicious! And everything looks so much cuter in a mason jar :)

  25. Holy God that looks delicious!! I’ve done a similar thing while car camping– just dump beans and tomatoes and corn and spices in a dutch oven, dollop cornbread batter over, and let it work its magic for a couple hours :) Looks like I’ll be doing a home recreation soon now!!

    I like my chili thick and spicy and bean-y :)

  26. MareMare 09.20.2011

    I worked at Wendy’s when I was younger and am OBSESSED with their spicy chili seasoning! Whenever I go there now I request extra so I can be sure to have some at home. A package or two of that, some crackers, cheese, and a bit of sour cream or ranch (I know it sounds odd but the spicy complements the cooling/creaminess!), mix master it all up and holy yum!

    I mentioned to my bf the other day that I should make chili and cornbread soon and he flipped! He’s so excited!

  27. Kidd 09.20.2011

    looks good but isn’t that messy to eat???

    • Iowa Girl Eats 09.20.2011

      No not at all actually! Since the cornbread puffs up, it creates a little air pocket, and the cornbread sinks back down into the jar when you break into it. :)

  28. Hope 09.20.2011

    This looks amazing! I can’t wait to make chili this fall. I’m definitely looking forward to that :)

  29. Jen 09.20.2011

    This ROCKS! Totally want to try this out! I love all your mason jar experiments. It puts a whole new meaning into reusing them again and again.

  30. Ashley 09.20.2011

    I have this saved on my Pinterest, too! Yours looks so good! Yum!

  31. Elyse 09.20.2011

    I love my chilli to be thick and spicy! But the most important thing is the cheese. Lots and LOTS of cheddar cheese with diced onions and a side of crackers :-) My favorite are the cute oyster crackers you can toss right into the bowl without having to crumble

  32. Darcy 09.20.2011

    That’s a great idea. We do something similar in our cast iron pan. We also like cheddar cheese and chili cheese fritos on our chili – Awesome!

  33. Emily 09.20.2011

    Absolutely adorable! This would be fantastic for low-key entertaining during football season.

  34. This looks absolutely wonderful! Chili and cornbread are probably one of my favorite fall combos! I love topping my chili with cheese and watching it melt.

  35. Michelle 09.20.2011

    I love making chili, and the spicier the better! It has to be thick and meaty (in the habit of using ground turkey and a chopped grilled steak, yum), no kidney beans, always black and white. Growing up my mom always served peanut butter and honey sandwiches with chili to cut the spice. I always have sharp cheddar on mine, but DYING to try the chopped apples and sharp white cheddar topping suggested by ‘1 Cup Awesome’!!

  36. Meg 09.20.2011

    How much of each of the spices did you add for this chilli recipe? Was it all to taste? This looks amazing! So excited to try!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 09.20.2011

      Yep it was all to taste, unfortunately! I would start with 1 Tablespoon chili powder and however much cayenne you like. Then heavy dashes of garlic & onion powder, and a lighter dash of cumin!

  37. Machelle 09.20.2011

    looks cute….also looks hard to eat outa that jar! i might like it better baked in oven proof bowls. i never liked my moms chili, to runny, big chunks of tomatoes, yuk! mine on the other hand is fab! i’ve nailed down 2nd place on three occasions in my neighborhood tavern chili contest. 1st place seems to always be just out of my reach! ha! mine is thick and a lil spicy and really very basic and simple. i serve it w/a few fritos original corn chips in the bottom of the bowl, laddle of chili, shredded cheese on top. WA-LA!

  38. Teresa K. 09.20.2011

    THIS looks Aahhmazing!

  39. Brenna 09.20.2011

    I LOVE chili, especially topped with cornbread! I’m usually a fan of slow cooker chili recipes because they smell up the house all day, but I’ll have to give this recipe a whirl. I’m a sucker for all things in mason jars. I’ve made your Mozzarella Bruschetta Turkey Burgers and Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls and both were huge hits :)

  40. kathy 09.20.2011

    I’m going to alter this just slightly to make it an appropriate topping for my pulled pork chili verde. thanks for the idea!!

  41. Emily 09.20.2011

    Oh my goodness. I am so interested in this new method of corn bread. I feel like it might be a crowd pleaser… well I guess only in certain crowds : )

  42. Madelyn 09.20.2011

    My favorite chili to make is a vegetarian hominy chili. It is delish and very easy to prepare in the crock pot!

    Instead of mason jar, could you use ramekins? It reminds me of tomato soup in ramekin with piece of puff pastry baked on top.

  43. Madelyn 09.20.2011

    Here’s my favorite chili recipe…

    Perfect Hominy White Bean Chili

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 small yellow onion, diced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 tablespoon chili powder, or more to taste
    1 jalapeno chile (optional), seeded and chopped
    One 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
    3 cups slow cooked or two 15.5 ounce cans navy or other white beans, drained and rinsed
    One 16 ounce can hominy, drained and rinsed
    1 1/2 cups water (I usually only use 1 cup)
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I never have cilantro on hand, so I have not used it in this recipe)

    1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and cook about 30 seconds longer.
    2. Transfer the mixture to a 4-6 quart slow cooker. Add the jalapeno, tomatoes, beans, hominy, water, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper; cover, and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.
    3. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro and taste to adjust the seasonings.

  44. This looks awesome! I really want to try it! I like my chili a little spicy with a little ground chicken or turkey, thick tomato sauce and a few beans. My best friend’s mom makes a really good white chicken chili that tastes great with tortilla chips, cheese and a spoon of sour cream. It is by far my favorite type of chili.

  45. Looks delicious! I love mason jars. Was it difficult to eat?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 09.22.2011

      Actually, no! The cornbread rises when it cooks and creates a little air pocket for the it to sink back down into when you dig in with a spoon. :)

  46. Kelsey 09.22.2011

    Thoughts on the chili being a crockpot recipe?

  47. […] Kristin is a genius. I dated a guy once who had never heard of having cornbread with chili and thought it was weird that I liked it. That was obviously a dealbreaker. […]

  48. Myra 09.25.2011

    Just made this with your pumpkin cornbread and it is amazing! Thank you for sharing!

  49. […] am so grateful for Iowa Girl Eats showing me this amazing combo, mason jar+soup+cornbread… she found it on the world’s most addictive website, Pinterest. Heard of it? Admit it, […]

  50. […] want a glass of cold milk.  I was recently inspired to combine the chili and cornbread by this post from Iowa Girl Eats and this one from How Sweet It Is.  Cornbread baked on top of the chili?  Um, […]

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