Three-Bean Beef Chili with Honey Cornbread

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At least three times a week, I like to put my and my husband’s taste buds to the test at the dinner table and introduce a new dish. It’s fun to incorporate something new into our nightly meal together because, like everyone, I’ve been in a rut before where I fell back on cooking the same seven dishes over and over again. So, I try to keep things lively and fresh, but for every two dishes that send our palates over the moon with pleasure, there’s always one that is deemed simply “interesting” and vowed to never be tried again.

Instead of acting disappointed when the new food is a total flop, though, I look at it as an opportunity to go back to the recipes I know by heart and try to improve them even more. This incredibly tasty, three-bean beef chili is one of those recipes. Even though I couldn’t tell you where the recipe originated or why the leftovers magically vanish the day after it’s made, I can tell you that I’ve been making it every few months for about six years, and a lot of people have gone back for seconds and thirds.

The three beans – dark and light kidney beans, and white beans – and tender ground beef give the chili a hearty texture and flavor, and the fresh California vegetables and herbs – red and green bell peppers, jalapeno, onion, garlic, lime and cilantro – lighten up the flavors and combine to create this irresistible summer, and winter, favorite. Served with a side of oh-so-simple honey cornbread, this amazing chili is sure to be a hit for weeknight dinners, parties and backyard barbecues for you, too!

Three-Bean Beef Chili with Honey Cornbread

Servings 8 to 12 / Cornbread serves 9-10

Ingredients

For the Chili:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 28- ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), snipped into small pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can dark kidney beans rinsed
  • 1 can light kidney beans rinsed
  • 1 can white beans rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

For the Cornbread:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour

Instructions

For the Chili:

  • Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef. Season beef with salt, pepper and seasonings, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 2 to 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add bell peppers and onions; cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, jalapenos, and more seasonings, as desired. Stir until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
  • Add diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and bay leaves. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
  • Add beans; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until chili has thickened, 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and other seasoning and spices, as desired.
  • Top with sour cream, chopped scallions, and cheddar cheese (optional).

For the Cornbread:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, stir sugar, honey and butter together. Whisk in eggs. Whisk in baking soda and buttermilk. Add salt, cornmeal, and flour. Do not overmix. As soon as the flour disappears, stop mixing.
  • Add batter to a greased 8-inch baking dish and smooth out the batter. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Prick the center with a toothpick and make sure it comes out clean. If not clean, bake for about 5 more minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Join the Conversation

  1. Totally know what you mean about being stuck in a rut. For me it’s more of being stuck in a time rut. I wish I had more time to spend on making delicious and exotic meals but with work and everything else I just don’t have the time and end up making whatever I can as quickly as possible w as little ingredients as possible.

    This chili looks delicious though! i have a get together on sunday for the playoff game and now I’m thinking I’ll bring chili!

  2. Oh! The food rut! I am in it right now… it’s so expensive and risky to try new, new things… and sometimes Ryan and I want to try very different things. Like, I want to try to do a lemon and caper Snapper dish, and he wants more cheese…

    But this is lovely, and reminds me of a really good and hearty dinner I’ve needed in the past few weeks! I am so glad you posted something… perhaps it will inspire me to get that healthier blueberry coffee cake out of my imagination and onto the cooling rack!

    TGIF!!

    – Lauren, Lauren’s Little Kitchen

  3. This looks like a beautiful and nutritious dish…and honey cornbread? I’m salivating! And yes…I get stuck in food ruts quite often. I find something I like and I don’t have the energy or desire to be creative. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you so much Roxan, Lauren and Monet for your thoughtful comments, I’m floored! It’s good to know I’m not alone in sometimes falling into ruts, but I suppose it happens to all of us at some point.

    Lauren – I want you to share that blueberry coffee cake post so that I can start making it! I did a strawberry coffee cake I think you’d like, too.

    Thanks again for stopping by and letting me know what you think!

  5. The chili looks wonderful, and I’m sure I’d go back for seconds on the cornbread!

  6. Thank you, Deborah!

  7. it is a great way to change things up a bit! Your chili looks like it was a sure winner and your cornbread…oh my just perfect!

  8. this looks fabulous, i can’t wait to try it!

  9. Thank you, Dennis!

    Emma – You’re going to love this chili! I’d love to know how it turns out if you give a try!

  10. That cornbread sound fabulous! YUM!

  11. oh man, these both sound heavenly!

  12. The chili looks wonderful, and I’m sure I’d go back for seconds on the cornbread!

  13. oh man, these both sound heavenly!

  14. Thank you, Dennis!

    Emma – You’re going to love this chili! I’d love to know how it turns out if you give a try!

  15. this looks fabulous, i can’t wait to try it!

  16. That cornbread sound fabulous! YUM!

  17. Thank you, Deborah!

  18. This looks like a beautiful and nutritious dish…and honey cornbread? I’m salivating! And yes…I get stuck in food ruts quite often. I find something I like and I don’t have the energy or desire to be creative. Thanks for sharing!

  19. it is a great way to change things up a bit! Your chili looks like it was a sure winner and your cornbread…oh my just perfect!

  20. Oh! The food rut! I am in it right now… it’s so expensive and risky to try new, new things… and sometimes Ryan and I want to try very different things. Like, I want to try to do a lemon and caper Snapper dish, and he wants more cheese…

    But this is lovely, and reminds me of a really good and hearty dinner I’ve needed in the past few weeks! I am so glad you posted something… perhaps it will inspire me to get that healthier blueberry coffee cake out of my imagination and onto the cooling rack!

    TGIF!!

    – Lauren, Lauren’s Little Kitchen

  21. Totally know what you mean about being stuck in a rut. For me it’s more of being stuck in a time rut. I wish I had more time to spend on making delicious and exotic meals but with work and everything else I just don’t have the time and end up making whatever I can as quickly as possible w as little ingredients as possible.

    This chili looks delicious though! i have a get together on sunday for the playoff game and now I’m thinking I’ll bring chili!

  22. Anonymous says:

    I made this today for dinner…so easy! I substituted turkey for the beef and it still came out great. I loved all the spices. Thank you!

  23. Do you put the entirety of the seasons in with the meat, or should i be measuring it out?

  24. Add all the seasonings to the meat. If you prefer to season more later in the cooking process, go right ahead!

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