Fall Recipe Series: The ScholarNet Team Explores Regional Chili Customs

ScholarNet Blog Articles | October 27, 2020

The ScholarNet team’s fall recipe series presents recipes and surprising regional customs related to a fall favorite: Chili.

It’s chili time, according to the ScholarNet® team. In the second and final installment of our fall recipe series, members of the ScholarNet team – who live all around the country – share regional customs for how to cook, serve, and enjoy a fall favorite celebrated virtually everywhere in the country: Chili.

We had planned to deliver some recipes for hearty fall soups and yes, maybe a spicy chili, for this installment. Once the conversation turned to these unique regional chili traditions some of us shared, we just had to share them with you.

So first, before we reveal any recipes, let’s talk traditions. Most chili includes some sort of tomato-based sauce, spices (including chili pepper, whether dried or fresh), beans, and depending on your preference – meat.

In Wisconsin, where a few members of the ScholarNet team live, chili also includes elbow macaroni. Yes, the kind often used in macaroni and cheese. Susie McCormick has abandoned the starchier version of chili from her youth for a three-alarm Texas chili instead.

In Nebraska, chili is commonly eaten with cinnamon rolls, says our aficionado, Megan Gould. I need to specify that, for many Nebraskans, chili is not just served with cinnamon rolls. Megan insists that actually dipping the cinnamon roll in the chili is the way it should be done. Others may prefer theirs “on the side.” As the ScholarNet team was comparing notes on these strange traditions, southerner Biz Daniel’s response was especially notable: Just picture a giant laughing emoji with tears. (She was not alone.)

Amy Gerber grew up in Ohio, where chili was served as part of her school lunch, with peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches on the side. Says Amy: “To this day, we all dunk peanut butter sandwiches in our chili (hold the lettuce).” She adds that she doesn’t think she can get on board with the cinnamon roll and chili.

In Minnesota, Gwen Yancey reserved judgment on the cinnamon roll with chili and the pairing with peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches. She did, however, share this simple chili recipe she’s been eating since she was a child.

Gwen’s Chili


1 pound of hamburger

½ onion

2 15-1/2 oz. cans of kidney beans

4 cups of spaghetti sauce

1 1-1/4 oz. package of chili seasoning


Brown the hamburger and onion, and drain the grease. Add kidney beans, spaghetti sauce, and seasoning. Simmer until ready to serve.

In many parts of the country, cornbread or corn muffins are commonly served with chili. Dana Staats shared a cornbread casserole she makes to go with her chili.

Dana’s Cornbread Casserole


1 package (8-1/2 oz.) Jiffy Corn Muffin mix

½ cup margarine or butter, melted

1 can (8-3/4 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained

1 can (8-1/4 oz.) cream-style corn

1 cup sour cream

2 eggs


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish.

Mix butter, corn, and sour cream into a small bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, and then stir into casserole. Add muffin mix. Blend thoroughly. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until the center is firm.

If you enjoy these recipes and are interested in seeing more, check out the first installment in our Fall Recipe series. Maybe the weather’s still warm where you are, and you’re hanging onto summer. If so, check out recipes shared by our team in the first and second installments of the Summer Recipe series. But when you feel hungry for a hearty meal, we hope you enjoy some chili – however you like it – this fall to stay warm and stay well.

And now, we’re very curious. Does your office have a chili champion from past chili cook-offs? How did your family eat chili as you were growing up? What regional differences have you noticed? Would you try these strange combinations we mentioned? We invite you to share with us on LinkedIn.

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