When it comes to comfort foods that I can't live without, this chili millet bake is at the top of the list! It reminds me of the chili cornbread casseroles that I used to love as a kid growing up in the Midwest. But this version is packed with vegetables, and instead of using a cornbread mix, it gets topped with a cheesy layer of millet. If you've never tried millet, this is the perfect place to start! It's an incredibly nutritious gluten-free whole grain with a nutty, corn-like flavor that pairs perfectly with the chili. (Don't miss the VIDEO below!)
Vegetarian chili casserole
Cooking the millet couldn't be easier. The grains are simply simmered in salted water until tender and creamy. Cheddar cheese and butter are added at the end for flavor. The creamy millet gets spread over a quick vegetarian chili (more on that below) with a bit more cheese. The whole thing is then baked until bubbly. The result is a healthful and DELICIOUS alternative to a traditional chili casserole!
The chili gets made right in a skillet and is delicious in its own right, even with out the millet topping. It's rich with vegetables and beans, with a warm depth of flavor from raw cacao powder and a touch of cinnamon (my two secret ingredients!). It comes together in only about 20 minutes but tastes like it simmered all day.
That being said, you can use this concept with any chili—from beef to turkey to bean (it's a fantastic use for leftovers!). Simply pour the chili into a cast iron skillet or baking dish, top it with the millet and cheese, and bake.
I know the ingredient list looks long, but don’t let it intimidate you! Once you get going, much of the work can be done while waiting for something else to cook. The chili gets started while the millet cooks; the garlic can be chopped while the vegetables sizzle; etc.
How do you serve the chili millet bake?
Serve this chili millet bake with all your favorite fixings, such as sour cream (or Greek yogurt), avocado, toasted pepitas and hot sauce. It's a fun, soul-satisfying dinner that's perfect for weeknights, game days and casual parties!
Other millet recipes to try:
Get the recipe!
Chili Millet Bake
- 1 cup millet
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 small carrot, finely diced
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small zucchini, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 14.5- oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups or 1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ lime
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt, diced avocados, pumpkin seeds, cilantro and/or hot sauce for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
Cook the millet
- In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add the salt and millet. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and millet is tender. Stir in the butter along with ½ cup of the cheese. Season to taste with additional salt, if needed. Cover and keep warm.
Make the chili
- While the millet cooks, start the chili. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cacao powder, cumin, oregano and cinnamon; set the spice mix aside.
- In a 10-inch (preferably cast iron) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add the zucchini, garlic and another pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, followed by the spice mix. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring. Add the tomatoes with their liquid, along with 1 cup of water and the drained pinto beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a hearty simmer. Cook 5 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and squeeze in the juice from ¼ lime. Taste and season the chili with salt and pepper as needed.
- Dollop the millet over the chili and spread it out in a smooth layer. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top. Cover with foil and bake 10-20 minutes, or until heated through and bubbling around the edges. Let cool 5 minutes.
- Spoon the chili into wide bowls and garnish with sour cream or yogurt, diced avocado, pumpkin seeds, a sprinkle of cilantro and hot sauce, if desired.
- This chili is best right out of the oven, but leftovers are delicious the next day (reheat them in the microwave or oven)!
- This recipe calls for a 10-inch cast iron skillet. If you don't have a cast iron skillet you can use a regular 10-inch skillet instead.
- You can find millet at most grocery stores or online here.
- A small offset spatula works well for spreading the millet mixture over the chili.
- I use cacao powder instead of regular cocoa powder for an extra nutritional boost (it's higher in vitamins and minerals with a deeper flavor), but cocoa powder works fine. The cacao powder and cinnamon provide a subtly sweet warmth that make the chili taste like it's been simmering all day.