Jar Lunch: Cornbread Topped Chili Leftovers

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

We make a pot of chili every two or three weeks. If I make a really big batch, Levi will sometimes complain about taking it as leftovers. This trick makes the leftovers a little more enticing for him, especially since we don’t eat a lot of bread around here. At dinnertime, vegetarian chili is usually served over quinoa or brown rice and comes with the works: a dollop of crema, chopped avocado, scallions, and cilantro. Here I’ve put some of the leftovers in a mason jar, topped it with cornbread batter, and baked it.

Use your favorite chili and cornbread recipes. Just put about a cup of chili in a wide mouth pint jar and top it with 1/3 cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon of cornbread batter. Use leftovers that are room temperature or still warm, as refrigerated chili could cause your batter not to bake throughout. As always, a jar funnel makes filling the jars easier. I found that baking time for these is about the same as baking a pan of cornbread. For the cornbread recipe shared below, that was 20-25 minutes at 425° F.

Our favorite online vegetarian chili recipes are Vegetarian Chili with Peanut Butter and Black Bean and Espresso Chili. I’ve included a cornbread recipe you can use below, which makes enough batter to top ten jars of chili. If you have too much batter for your leftovers, bake the rest in prepared muffin tins!

Jalapeño, Creamed Corn, & Cheddar Cornbread
adapted from Alton Brown

2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 cup creamed corn
1/3 cup grated onion
2 medium jalapeños, finely diced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425° F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, creamed corn, onion, and jalapeño. Once combined, add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir thoroughly. Finally, fold in the cheese.

Fill a wide mouth pint jar with about a cup of leftover chili (warm or room temperature). Scoop 1/3 cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon of cornbread batter on top of the chili. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Make sure to cool the jars completely before putting on the lid. Refrigerate enough leftovers to be used the next day. Freeze any additional leftovers to be used up later.


Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.


Filed under family

10 responses to “Jar Lunch: Cornbread Topped Chili Leftovers

  1. bookliness

    Brilliant. We would/will love this.

  2. Brilliant is the only word that comes to mind, but I’m certain there’s a better word!!

  3. Somer

    Such a great idea. I made your sushi jar lunch. So delicious. Mine didn’t end up nearly as pretty as yours though! You guys have some serious food skillz. This is definitely going on the menu this week and not likely to be made from leftovers! Thanks!

    • misterkrista

      I’m so glad the sushi jar tasted good! I actually made a double batch of chili when I did this, and we have eaten so many lunches. I also have some tucked away in the freezer for a night when I don’t feel like cooking.

      • Somer

        Brilliant. I freeze jam in the mason jars all the time, but for some crazy reason it hadn’t crossed my mind to freeze other foods in them! We eat a lot of leftovers around here too! It’s hard to eat a whole foods diet and always prepare everything from scratch. Gone are the days of pre-prepared microwave anything. Sigh.

        I made a California Not Roll Salad loosely based on your sushi post too. If I end up posting the salad recipe on my blog I will include a link to your original post ;)

  4. Jessica

    So, when you say to freeze leftovers, do you think that the jar with cornbread & chili in it could be frozen, thawed & warmed later? My husband doesn’t do cornbread, but I’d love to make a few of these up to enjoy at different times!

  5. Shannon

    Why do you say to let the chili/cornbread cool before putting the lid on? If you do it while it is still steaming hot the lid will seal & what is inside will keep well for a long time. It’s just like canning any other food.

    • misterkrista

      So the cornbread doesn’t get mushy. You wouldn’t can any food safely by putting hot food in a jar and letting it seal accidentally. I have only done a limited amount of canning but I am pretty sure chili would require pressure caning and I don’t think cornbread would work out using that method.

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