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Firehouse Chili and Cornbread Casserole

Rated as 4.77 out of 5 Stars

"Everyone knows that firefighters make the best chili--many using a recipe very similar to this--and the only way I know how to make that chili even better is by topping it with a cheesy cornbread crust. The cornbread crust is relatively sweet, which of course pairs perfectly with that spicy, meaty, savory chili."
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2 h servings 523
Original recipe yields 10 servings


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  1. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat. Add onion, salt, and ground beef. Cook and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until meat is browned and crumbled into small pieces, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add poblano pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, and oregano; cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes. Measure water using the empty tomato cans and pour into the pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes before stirring in kidney beans. Continue simmering until bubbling and fragrant, about 30 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Place a deep 9x13-inch baking dish on a baking sheet. Transfer chili to the dish, being sure to leave at least 1 inch of space at the top. Stir to evenly distribute.
  5. Whisk corn muffin mix, 1/2 of the Cheddar cheese, eggs, and milk together in a bowl until smooth. Spoon evenly over chili until the surface is covered. Sprinkle with remaining Cheddar cheese.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until cornbread crust is browned and a toothpick inserted into the crust comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  7. Spoon or ladle into a dish and garnish with sour cream and cilantro.


  • Chef's Notes:
  • Personally, I go for the 85:15 lean-to-fat ratio for ground beef, but even something a little leaner would work here.
  • You can use any green pepper you like. You can use fire-roasted diced tomatoes with or without diced green chiles.
  • This recipe may make more than what fits into your baking dish, so reserve any leftovers for another use.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 523 calories; 24.6 47.2 28.7 114 1529 Full nutrition

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Looks great! Could you do this in a Dutch oven as well?

It was awesome!

I made it just as the recipe called for, and I honestly think there was...too much cornbread in the chili to cornbread ratio? Next time I will cut it back to one box worth... otherwise it was ...

Chef John you’re a cooking legend. This recipe was fire.

my girlfriends newest favorite. made it per the recipe and it is great. use lean (85 or 90%) or be prepared to ladle off some grease before putting it in the oven. i too used the larger 8.5 oz ...

There is a typo, I believe: I couldn't find 7.5oz Juffy corn muffin mix, only 8.5. The chili was missing...something. maybe my spices were smokey enough, or maybe next time I'll use smoked pa...

I have been making Chili...forever....however, I have never thought to add this amazing topping of cornmeal. The only thing we changed was, no poblano pepper and added a heaping tablespoon of s...

Mmm, this one's a winner. Wonderful combo. My grocery store didn't have cornbread muffin mix, so I had to make my own ('basic corn muffins' on this site). I lowered the cayenne by 1/2, but it co...

This was awesome! I cooked this exactly as written and it came out fantastic! My husband loved it. I will definitely be making this again.