Cast Iron Cookery: Dutch Oven Taco Cornbread

Cornbread in Dutch Oven

Editor’s Note: In celebration of the upcoming Dutch Oven Gathering at Lehman’s (in May), we’re sharing with you a savory Dutch oven recipe. Enjoy!

I struggled with what to call this meal. It is a bit of this and a bit of that. I was wanting to make a dinner from shelf-stable ingredients that could be cooked in a Dutch oven on top of the wood stove.

The only ingredient that is not accessible in a regular supermarket is canned ground beef. I can my own so I always have it in my pantry. You can also buy freeze-dried ground beef although it’s a bit expensive. I tried commercially canned ground beef and was pleasantly surprised by how tasty it was. It is also expensive but having the ability to feed my family no matter what is going in the outside world is priceless to me.

Here’s what you need in your pantry.

  • 1 can beans, rinsed and drained. They can be red, pink or black, it really doesn’t matter.
  • 1 jar salsa
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • Some ground beef (The amount is not that important. If you don’t want meat or don’t have it, add more beans. You could also add canned sausages.)

Brown the beef, pour off the fat and add everything else. If you have some onions getting soft or garlic, cook that with the beef. Spice it up with whatever suits you. The salsa I use is spicy so I don’t add anything but a bit more chili powder.

Lodge Double Dutch Ovens

Find a variety of Dutch ovens at

While that simmers in the stove top in an uncovered cast iron Dutch oven, make up your favorite cornbread recipe. You can use a box mix if you like but corn bread is easy.

In one bowl mix:

  • 2 ½ cups cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

In a second bowl mix:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups milk (I use raw milk that is starting to sour)
  • 5 tablespoons oil (I use melted lard but any oil will do)

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Don’t overmix. The mixture can be a little lumpy. Pour the cornbread batter over the bean/salsa/ground beef mixture. The Dutch oven must be very hot. The lid needs to be hot as well.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

This can be tricky. Your results will be much more predictable in regular oven set at 450 degrees but desperate times may mean your cornbread doesn’t brown well. That doesn’t mean it won’t be tasty. I find this to be pantry eating at its finest, even with pale cornbread.

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.

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