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+ servings

Chili Millet Bake

This dish was inspired by the chili cornbread bakes of my childhood, which were most often made with canned chili and boxes of Jiffy. In this more nutritious (and tasty!) version, a quick, homemade vegetable chili gets topped with cheddar-infused millet, and the whole thing is then baked until bubbly. If you haven't cooked with millet before, this is a great time to give it a try - it's highly nutritious and has a wonderful nutty, corn-like flavor. A touch of cocoa powder and cinnamon give the chili depth and sweetness. Be sure to finely dice the vegetables so that they cook quickly.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chili casserole, millet bake, vegetarian chili casserole
Servings: 4 -6 people
Author: Nicki Sizemore


Millet topping

  • 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
  • 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

For serving

  • 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.