Cowboy Cornbread Casserole

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Wrangle up the family and serve Cowboy Cornbread Casserole for dinner tonight! It's an easy skillet meal loaded with ground beef, veggies and bold spices, then topped off with homemade buttermilk cornbread!

Cowboy cornbread casserole with a fork cutting into it.
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A Meal Fit for a Cowboy!

  • Bold Flavor: make it as spicy or as mild as you like
  • Easy Recipe: make and bake in one cast iron skillet
  • Feeds a Crowd: hearty meal that feeds at least 8 people
  • Make Ahead: mix it together several days before
  • Simple Ingredients: most items may already be in your pantry!

Calling all cowboys and cowgirls! 🙂 Here's a spiced-up casserole to dig into after working all day on the range. Garnish it with jalapeños, red bell pepper and green onions for over-the-top flavor that's hearty and delicious!

If spice isn't your thing, it's easy to make substitutions to tone down the heat. Just switch out the tomatoes and use a milder chili seasoning if you need a gentler version. Either way, this tasty dish promises to tickle your taste buds!

Are you a one-dish lover? Try my Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole and Chicken Tater Tot Casserole that are also packed with flavor!

Cheesy cornbread casserole in skillet.

Ingredient Notes

This is an easy cornbread casserole that uses simple ingredients and is made in one cast iron skillet. Quantities can be found in the recipe card below.

The chili filling is the star of this recipe with lean ground beef, onions, garlic, and Rotel tomatoes. Add black beans and sweet corn for fiber and flavor.

Use a packet of mild chili seasoning and a small can of tomato paste to thicken the mixture. To make it even more delicious, add shredded sharp cheddar as a second layer.

The golden cornbead crust contains self-rising cornmeal mix and low-fat buttermilk. Simply mix the cornbread batter with a beaten egg and melted butter, spread it over the entire skillet, and pop it in the oven. The ultimate comfort food!

Ingredients needed for cowboy casserole.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a large 12-inch cast iron skillet, brown ground beef over medium-low heat with onions and garlic until meat is no longer pink. Sprinkle salt over meat and stir.
Ground beef, onions and garlic in a cast iron skillet.
  • Add Rotel tomatoes, tomato paste, and a packet of chili seasoning to skillet. Stir ingredients together over medium low heat.
Ground beef with tomatoes, seasoning and tomato paste.
  • Pour in cans of black beans and corn (both undrained). Stir ingredients for 10 minutes over medium-low heat until chili is thickened.
Chili mixed with corn and black beans.
  • Sprinkle cheese on top of thickened chili mixture in cast iron skillet.
Chili covered with cheese.
  • Mix cornbread mix with buttermilk and melted butter. Add 1 beaten egg and mix until slightly combined.
Buttermilk being poured into bowl with flour and egg.
  • Spread cornbread mixture over the top of chili and cheese in skillet to make topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until cornbread is golden brown and chili is bubbling underneath.
Cornbread batter spread on chili.
  • Let skillet cool for 15 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with optional garnishes like extra cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, green onions, and red bell pepper if desired.
Skillet filled with cornbread topping.

Make It Your Own!

  • Make your own chili seasoning with 1 teaspoon each of chili powder, garlic salt, onion powder, paprika and cumin. 
  • Ground turkey can be substituted for ground beef.
  • Pepper jack cheese can be used instead of cheddar.
  • Swap a can of diced tomatoes or mild salsa in place of Rotel tomatoes to turn down the heat.
  • Pintos or northern beans can be used instead of black beans if desired. 
  • Garnishes are totally optional but make a nice presentation and taste amazing!
Cornbread casserole with garnish on top.

What Goes With Cowboy Cornbread Casserole?

Expert Tips

  • If the cornbread crust isn't browned after 30 minutes, turn on the broiler and watch it carefully until the top is golden brown.
  • This recipe makes a large amount, so you'll need at least a 12" oven-safe skillet, or it can be transferred to a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish.

Storage Notes

Make Ahead - assemble the casserole ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator 2 days before baking.

Leftovers - store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Reheat in a 350ºF oven until bubbly.

Freezing - freeze leftovers up to 3 months in an airtight container.

Reheating - thaw frozen casserole in the refrigerator overnight, then bake at 350ºF until warmed throughout.

Cowboy cornbread casserole with garnish on plates.

Recipe FAQs

Why is it called a cowboy cornbread casserole?

It's been said that cowboys eat beans and canned food when they're out on the range. Since this casserole has both of those items, that's why it bears the cowboy name!

Is this cowboy casserole really spicy?

With the Rotel tomatoes, this casserole has a little kick. But, it's not over the top. If you add jalapeño peppers, it takes it to another level. It's easy to adjust this recipe to your liking by making substitutions.

Spoon digging into casserole.

More Hearty Meals

Love meals that stick to your ribs? Try these other main dishes that are sure to please!

Recipe Card

Cowboy Cornbread Casserole on a plate being sliced with a fork.

Cowboy Cornbread Casserole

Gather up the family and serve Cowboy Cornbread Casserole for dinner tonight! It's an easy skillet meal loaded with ground beef, veggies and bold spices, then topped off with homemade buttermilk cornbread!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Skillet Meals
Cuisine: American, Casserole
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings8
Calories: 575kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Equipment

Ingredients

Chili Filling

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 sweet onion (diced)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounce can Rotel diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 packet mild chili seasoning (1.25 ounces)
  • 15 ounce can black beans, undrained
  • 15 ounce can sweet corn, undrained
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)

Cornbread Topping

  • 2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix (I use Martha White)
  • cups buttermilk (low-fat)
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Optional Garnishes

  • sliced jalapenos
  • sour cream
  • green onions
  • diced red peppers

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a large 12 inch cast iron skillet, brown ground beef over medium-low heat with onions and garlic until meat is no longer pink. Sprinkle salt over meat and stir.
  • Add Rotel tomatoes, tomato paste, and a packet of chili seasoning to skillet. Stir ingredients together over medium low heat.
  • Pour in cans of black beans and corn (both undrained). Stir ingredients for 10 minutes over medium-low heat until chili is thickened.
  • Sprinkle cheese on top of thickened chili mixture in cast iron skillet.
  • Mix cornbread mix with buttermilk and melted butter. Add 1 beaten egg and mix until slightly combined.
  • Pour cornbread mixture over the top of chili and cheese in the skillet to make the topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until cornbread is golden brown and chili is bubbling underneath.
  • If cornbread isn't browned after 30 minutes, turn on the broiler and watch carefully until the top of cornbread is golden brown.
  • Let skillet cool for 15 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with optional garnishes like extra cheese, jalapeños, sour cream, green onions, and diced red peppers if desired.

Notes

  • Casserole can be transferred from a skillet to a 13x9 inch dish and baked as directed if desired. 
  • Don't have a packet of chili seasoning? You can make your own with 1 teaspoon each of chili powder, garlic salt, onion powder, paprika and cumin. 
  • Ground turkey can be substituted for ground beef.
  • Pepper jack cheese can be used instead of cheddar.
  • Diced tomatoes are a good substitute for Rotel if you want to tone down the spice level.
  • Any type of bean like pintos or northern beans can be used instead of black beans if desired. 
  • Garnishes are totally optional but make a nice presentation. 

Nutrition

Calories: 575kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 1057mg | Potassium: 969mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 425mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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5 from 1 vote

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