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Cookin’ in Little Bear: Campfire Chili & Cornbread

Campfire Chili & Cornbread

Food that makes us happy.

It’s finally time to tackle a classic camp-meal: Chili! This has been a long time favorite of mine that I didn’t think could get better. But when I took the time to cook it over a campfire, both the chili and the experience were unbeatable. Take a look at our cookout, and then see the detailed recipe below.

Watch the Video:


Recipe: Campfire Chili


  1. 2 lbs. Meat (your choice of ground or cubed)

  2. 3 cans diced tomatoes

  3. 1 can kidney beans

  4. 1 can pinto beans

  5. 1 can black beans

  6. 2 cans diced chiles

  7. 1 onion

  8. 3 jalapeños (optional)

  9. 1 can corn (optional)


  1. Chopping knife

  2. Heat resistant spoon (I like bamboo)

  3. Can-opener

  4. 5 qt. Cast iron pot


  1. Salt

  2. Pepper

  3. Garlic (powder or minced)

  4. Chili powder


Dice 1 whole onion into cubes. Also dice jalapeños (or other peppers) depending on your spice preference. Remove seeds for less spice. I chose to add 3 peppers to mine which was a medium heat level.


The great thing about chili is how flexible it is! Traditionally, I like to use ground beef or ground turkey. But, if I find a cut of steak on sale at the store, it makes a wonderful chili! This week, I happened to find some beef on sale. It is also a great opportunity to use up some ingredients that might have been in your fridge or cupboard for awhile – in my case I found a turkey kielbasa that I decided to add as well.

Make sure all your meat is either ground or cut into small cubes.


Next, brown the meat along with the onion and jalapeño.

If you are cooking over a campfire, you’ll want to make sure to start your fire well before cooking to ensure you have hot coals. You’ll also want to let the cast-iron slowly heat up on the side of the fire until hot. I recommend using at least a 5 qt. pot for this recipe so it will all fit.

Make sure to use a spoon with a high heat rating. I like to use a bamboo spoon because it can resist the heat and won’t scratch your cast-iron.


Add the cans of diced tomatoes, beans, green chiles and corn. I chose to use black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans – but you can get creative here and use your favorites! I also added a can of corn that I had sitting around. I don’t always add the corn but it worked out really well!

We are ALL ABOUT saving space since we have so little of it! One of our favorite tips is to ditch that huge can opener, and instead use a small P-38 or P-51 opener.


Add chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. This will take some experimenting, but just keep tasting and adjusting.


There is no set time limit for this, but the longer you allow your chili to simmer, the more the flavors will cook into the ingredients and the more tender your meat will be. We allowed ours to sit for 2 hours before we could no longer stave off our hunger!

You’ll have to continually adjust your coals during this time, adding more when they cool or even less if it is boiling too hard. I also rotated the pot a quarter turn every 15 minutes or so to keep it evenly heated.

Continue to taste and add seasonings as necessary.


Okay, I know using a mix is “cheating” – and there are a million great recipes out there to make cornbread from scratch in a cast-iron. BUT, I am also super practical, and being a full-timer I like to keep it simple. We keep a couple small boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix. The tiny box just makes 6 muffins which is perfect for two people.

As you all know, we don’t have an oven in our T@B 400. I used the Omnia Stovetop Oven with the silicon muffin liner. It cooked them perfectly in about 30 minutes over medium heat. This was the perfect thing to do as our chili was simmering on the fire…


The only thing left to do.. eat! We like to serve our chili with a bit of shredded cheese – just sprinkle it on top and it should melt right in.

This recipe lasted the two of us 4 meals! We just threw it in a tupperware in the fridge. It is easy to reheat in a microwave or on the stove. And, in my honest opinion, the leftovers taste even better than the first batch!!


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#cornbread #easychili #chili #campmeals #cooking #campfire

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