Cornbread and Chili Muffins are the perfect cozy, adorable bite-sized app for your next fall gathering. Sweet buttermilk cornbread muffins are hallowed out and stuffed with homemade chili, and topped with plenty of cheddar cheese and all your favorite chili toppings.
Cornbread and Chili Muffins
If you’re looking for the most adorable fall-worthy appetizer, look no further than cornbread and chili muffins. These guys are the perfect way to get your cornbread and chili fix without the spoons and bowls. Plus, cornbread and chili muffins are a great way to feed a crowd, and trust me, the crowd will love them.
Here’s what’s happening:
- Crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside buttermilk cornbread muffins.
- The easiest chili on the planet.
- Both cornbread and chili nestled together in one teeny tiny bite-sized package.
- Lots of sharp cheddar cheese and all your favorite chili toppings.
You could just eat a big bowl of chili and serve it with a side of cornbread, but WHY WOULD YOU when you can pop cornbread and chili muffins in your mouth like candy?
For the buttermilk cornbread muffins
Flour and corneal. I love texture in my cornbread, so I use a higher ratio of cornmeal to flour. Because there is a higher concentration of cornmeal, the outside and edges crisp up beautifully when baking.
Baking powder and baking soda.
Sugar. I typically like my cornbread on the savory side, but here, I love the juxtaposition of sweet cornbread to savory/spicy chili, so there is a somewhat heavy hand of sugar here. If you like your cornbread less sweet, start off with 1/4 cup, taste the batter and adjust from there.
Egg. One egg is all you need.
Buttermilk. I love the tanginess of buttermilk cornbread muffins. Again, it plays to the savory side of my palate, which I love. Because buttermilk is thick, I wouldn’t try to sub out milk for it.
Butter. Butter is the key to moist, crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside buttermilk cornbread muffins. You could swap out oil, but you’d lose that delicious buttery flavor you get in the end.
For the chili
Ground beef. I use a lean ground beef, but any kind will work. If you do use ground beef with a higher fat content, be sure to drain the grease before adding the beans and spices.
Onion and garlic. A must in a chili recipes.
Chili beans. You could use regular kidney or red beans, but I like using chili beans (low sodium) for added flavor and the moisture it adds to the chili.
Spices. Plenty of salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin.
How to make Cornbread and Chili Muffins
Make the cornbread
Dump and stir. Seriously throw everything in a bowl, stir until combined, done. The only thing I’d recommend is to whisk the eggs into the buttermilk before adding it to the bowl. This way you don’t over mix the batter while trying to incorporate the eggs.
Pour the batter into muffin tins and bake. Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Use a small ice cream scoop to fill the tins three-quarters full. Bake until golden brown and crisp on the edges.
Make the chili
Cook the beef, onion and garlic. Heat a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot to a medium-high heat. Add beef. Use a wooden spoon to break up the beef. Because the chili is going into the middle of the cornbread muffins, you want the pieces of beef to be small – use the spoon to break it up as much as possible.
Once the beef is about halfway done cooking, add the onion, garlic and a little bit of salt. Continue to cook until the beef is no longer pink and the onion and garlic are soft.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Add in remaining salt, beans, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer 5-6 minutes.
If the chili becomes too thick, add a few teaspoons of water to thin it out. Contrary to a typical chili, you want this to be super thick so it stays in the cornbread muffins.
Assemble the cornbread and chili muffins
Spoon the inside of the cornbread out. Use a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop out the inside of the cornbread. You only need enough room to scoop in a little of the chili on the inside, the rest will sit on top. Be gentle when scooping out the middle, because they are so small, the edges can easily break.
Nestle the chili in the cornbread. Use the same 1/2 teaspoon to gently spoon the chili in and on top of the cornbread muffins.
Garnish. I like to sprinkle with lots of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and a little bit of chopped parsley. I also like to use minced onion, crushed Fritos, and sliced green onion.
Ground turkey vs. ground beef
I like the traditional nature of beef chili here, but feel free to swap out lean ground turkey to make them a little bit healthier instead.
Can I make Cornbread and Chili Muffins vegetarian?
Absolutely! Omit the beef and add in an extra cup of your favorite beans.
Can I make these in advance?
Cornbread and chili muffins can definitely be made in advance. Make the cornbread, and cool completely. Scoop out the inside and then store in an airtight container. For the chili, make from start to finish, cool completely and then store in a separate airtight container in the fridge.
When you’re ready to serve, gently reheat the chili on the stove or in the microwave. Assemble as directed.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Grease your muffin tin VERY well. Because cornbread and chili muffins are so small, you don’t want to lose any of the crispy cornbread exterior.
- Be gentle when removing the inside of the cornbread, they break easily.
- For extra spicy chili, add in one chopped chipotle pepper in adobo or a little bit of cayenne pepper.
- Sprinkle with crushed Fritos for extra crunch
For the perfect football spread in addition to cornbread and chili muffins, check out these other recipes!
- These Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels are SO good and completely addictive, plus they’re only five ingredients. Prep ahead, cut just before serving.
- Cheeseburger Pull-Apart Sliders are one of my favorite appetizers on the planet. Sweet Hawaiian buns stuffed with mustard-infused ground beef studded with pickles and PLENTY of gooey cheese. These guys are awesome.
- Firecracker Chex mix is the perfect salty and spicy snack to have littered around your house when guests are over. Warning. This stuff is addictive.
- A game day gathering wouldn’t be complete without dip. This healthier take on French Onion Dip is one of my favorite dips we’ve ever made, and it’s studded with brown butter, so you know it’s good.
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 3/4 lb ground beef
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 14 oz chili beans
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- Large dutch oven
- Muffin tins
- Mixing bowl
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease two mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
- Add flour, cormeal, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda to a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add buttermilk to a liquid measuring cup. Add in egg. Whisk to combine. Add the buttermilk, egg, and butter to the dry ingredients. Whisk just until the mixture is combined. Use a small ice cream scoop to fill the muffins tins 3/4 full. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 10-12 minutes. Cool.
- While the muffins cook, make the chili. Heat a medium dutch oven or skillet to a medium-high heat. Add ground beef. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Once the beef is about halfway done cooking, add the onion, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook until the beef is no longer pink and the onion and garlic are soft.
- Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, chili beans, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin to the beef and onions. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 5-6 minutes. If the chili gets way too thick, add a few teaspons of water to loosen it up. (You do want it thick though, so it stays put in and on the buttermilk corbnread muffins.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Once the muffins are slightly cooled, remove from the muffin tin. Use a 1/2 teapsoon measuring spoon to scoop out the middle of the cornbread. Discard insides. Use the same 1/2 teaspoon to spoon as much chili as you can inside the cornbread. Spoon chili on top as well.
- Sprinkle with shredded cheese, parsley, green onions, or crushed fritos. Serve immediately.