Little arms reaching toward the shelves for the sweetest, most colorful box of cereal. Two-year-old tantrums when I won’t purchase another bag of chips. A cart loaded with cookies, donuts, and other “extras” that we definitely don’t need. Let’s face it: grocery shopping with kids just isn’t easy…and that’s why I do my best to avoid it as much as possible!
Sometimes my lack of grocery store motivation results in chicken nuggets for dinner, or buttered noodles with frozen broccoli. Hey, it happens to the best of us! But other times, an attempt to delay the necessary shopping trip spawns great creativity and I end up with a pantry meal that we all devour. Those are the pleasant surprises that really make me happy…
This Barbecue Chicken Cornbread Casserole was the latter – a last-minute easy dinner that I threw together when I was looking into a very bare refrigerator with 3 very hungry little boys staring at me across the counter. I literally pulled together each of these ingredients from my cabinets, freezer, or refrigerator and dinner was in our bellies about 45 minutes later. Can’t beat that!
Best of all, the Cornbread Casserole is a complete meal in one pan. You don’t have to scramble to pull together a side dish or veggies at the last minute, since the filling is loaded with plenty of bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and corn. A small amount of leftover (or rotisserie) chicken goes a long way and adds a protein boost; or you can substitute a can of beans for the meat and create a vegetarian option. It’s cheesy, it’s sweet, it’s tangy, it’s filling, it’s comforting, and it’s finished with a delicious cornbread crust!
I hope that your family enjoys this supper as much as mine does, and I hope that it saves you from at least one stressful trip to the grocery store!
Barbecue Chicken Cornbread Casserole
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- ¾ cup barbecue sauce
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels (you do NOT need to thaw the corn in advance)
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, NOT drained
- 9 ounces (about 1 ¾ cup) cooked, diced chicken
- 1 cup (4 ounces) grated cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 (8.5 ounce) box cornbread mix (I used Jiffy), plus ingredients called for on the box
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion and bell pepper just until tender (about 3 minutes). Reduce heat to low, add barbecue sauce, and simmer until thickens slightly (about 1-2 minutes). Stir in frozen corn, tomatoes, chicken, and ½ cup of the cheddar cheese.
- Transfer chicken mixture to prepared baking dish.
- In a separate bowl, prepare cornbread batter according to package instructions. Stir in remaining ½ cup of cheese.
- Spread cornbread batter over chicken mixture. I like to do this by using a large spoon to dollop the batter all over the top of the casserole. Then use the back of the spoon to gently spread it around until it covers most of dish.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cooked through.