Camping Chili with Cornbread

Chili with Cornbread in a Dutch Oven

Chili is one of our favorite foods to eat. In fact, we love it so much we serve three varieties of it every year at the kid’s birthday party in a chili bar. It tastes great as is or as a topping on a multitude of things. Our camping chili with cornbread is a great meal to make early in a longer trip because the leftovers, stored safely, can be used to top hot dogs, French fries, and baked potatoes at the week goes by.

While it can be intimidating to cook over a campfire in a Dutch oven at first, once you know how to do so it will become a favorite method. This versatile tool offers the ability to roast, simmer, bake, and fry all while enjoying the outdoors. You will want to change your coal placement depending on what type of cooking you are doing. A quick explanation is as follows: Baking is 3:1 (three times as many coals on top as on bottom), Roasting is 1:1 (equal number of coals top and bottom), Simmering/Stewing is 4:1 (four times as many coals underneath as on top), and Frying is No Ratio (all the coals on the bottom to concentrate the heat).

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Who doesn’t love food cooked over a campfire? Actually, we know a lot of people who don’t and we just have to feel sorry for them. Because we love to cook over a campfire, especially in our Dutch oven. This tool is so flexible in allowing one to cook in a variety of methods. And it allows us to create all sorts of tasty meals while camping.

What we love about Camping Chili with Cornbread:

  • Made from canned goods
  • Can be mild or spicy
  • Plenty of leftovers for another meal

The Ingredients for Camping Chili with Cornbread:

  • Salsa (choose your heat level)
  • Canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted if your group likes spicy)
  • Canned chilis (we stick with mild for the kid)
  • Canned beans (a variety, any types you choose)
  • Canned corn (plain or with tomatoes)
  • Chili powder (for seasoning)
  • Cornbread mix (for your topping)
  • Egg (to make the cornbread)
  • Clean water (for both the chili and the cornbread)
  • Assorted toppings (such as cheese, sour cream, scallions, etc.)
chili ingredients in cast iron dutch oven
dutch oven chili with cornbread dollups
dutch oven with coals baking
camping chili with cornbread plated with toppings

The Process:

  1. Start your charcoal so the flames have died out by the time you are ready to cook. We are looking for a medium-high heat and we will need plenty of coals once the dish is prepared. How do you know a medium-high heat? It is at the correct temperature when you can hold your hand about 2 inches above the heat for only 2 to 3 seconds.
  2. In the Dutch oven, pour in your salsa. Then add your tomatoes and chilis. Next add the beans and corn, drained but not rinsed. Sprinkle your chili powder across the top. Add 1 ¼ cup water and stir everything to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine your cornbread mix with the egg and 1/3 cup water. You want a thick batter. Dollup the cornbread batter across the top of your chili mixture. Cover it with the lid.
  4. Arrange enough of your coals in a circle to surround the Dutch oven without being touched by them. Carefully place your oven in the middle of the circle being careful to not swing the pot too much as you move it.
  5. With grilling tongs or a shovel, place a number of coals on the surface of the oven. Because we only need to heat the chili and we are trying to bake the cornbread we want to use the 3:1 ratio considered best for baking in a Dutch oven. This means we want three times as many coals on the lid as we need circling around the oven.
  6. Cook chili with the coals for about 40 minutes, rotating the pot occasionally. Then remove the coals from the lid and the pot away from the heat. Let sit, covered, for about 20 minutes before servings with your desired toppings.

FAQ & How to Customize:

Q. Do I have to use canned goods?

A. Nope! We like to use the canned goods for convenience while camping but at home we make this with fresh veggies and dry beans that we have cooked ourselves. If you have the facilities to do so, we say go for it!

Q. We like meat in our chili. Can we do that?

A. Again we make this vegetarian while camping because of food safety concerns. However, if you want to bring along some already cooked meat or can cook it while camping, we approve. I would say that with this flavor profile we would go with beef instead of chicken but either way it should be tasty.

Equipment needed:

  • Dutch oven: You will want a cast iron one intended for use outdoors over the fire, not an enameled one intended for use inside a kitchen. This recipe is intended for one that holds five to six quarts. We love our Lodge cast iron Dutch oven with built in tripod.
  • Mixing bowl and spoon: Any mixing bowl and utensil will do as long as it is large enough to hold your batter. We have used a variety of things from a coffee cup to a paper bowl to a traditional mixing bowl.
  • Liquid measuring cup: If you don’t have one of these you can guesstimate how much liquid is needed by using your cans, but we like to keep one in our camp kitchen kit.
  • Heat resistant gloves: If you are going to be working around a fire, at some point you will probably get burned. These gloves can help prevent that.

Recipes to Enjoy with the Leftovers:

  • Baked Potatoes with Chili
  • Chili Cheese French Fries
  • Chili Covered Hot Dogs

Camping Chili with Cornbread

Enjoy a tasty dinner camping of chili with cornbread cooked over coals in a Dutch oven with this easy to make recipe using mostly canned goods.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Resting Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: camping, cast iron, convenience products, Dutch oven, vegetarian
Servings: 16 servings

Equipment

  • Dutch oven
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Heat Resistant Gloves

Ingredients

  • 16 oz salsa mild, medium, or hot
  • 14.5 oz canned tomatoes fire roasted is good!
  • 4 oz can diced green chiles
  • (3) 15 oz canned beans (a variety such as kidney, pinto, and black) drained, but not rinsed
  • 15 oz canned corn drained, but not rinsed
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • water
  • 1 pouch cornbread mix
  • 1 egg
  • assorted toppings shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions, etc

Instructions

  • Start your charcoal so the flames have died out by the time you are ready to cook. We are looking for a medium-high heat and we will need plenty of coals once the dish is prepared. How do you know a medium-high heat? It is at the correct temperature when you can hold your hand about 2 inches above the heat for only 2 to 3 seconds.
  • In the Dutch oven, pour in your salsa. Then add your tomatoes and chilis. Next add the beans and corn, drained but not rinsed. Sprinkle your chili powder across the top. Add 1 ¼ cup water and stir everything to combine.
  • Ina separate bowl, combine your cornbread mix with the egg and 1/3 cup water. You want a thick batter. Dollup the cornbread batter across the top of your chili mixture. Cover it with the lid.
  • Arrange enough of your coals in a circle to surround the Dutch oven without being touched by them. Carefully place your oven in the middle of the circle being careful to not swing the pot too much as you move it.
  • With grilling tongs or a shovel, place a number of coals on the surface of the oven. Because we only need to heat the chili and we are trying to bake the cornbread we want to use the 3:1 ratio considered best for baking in a Dutch oven. This means we want three times as many coals on the lid as we need circling around the oven.
  • Cook chili with the coals for about 40 minutes, rotating the pot occasionally. Then remove the coals from the lid and the pot away from the heat. Let sit, covered,for about 20 minutes before servings with your desired toppings.

If you make this, tag us on Instagram @campinganswer and show us a photo of your camping chili!

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