Everyone has their favorite food combinations. Peanut butter and jelly. Milk and cookies. Chili and... cinnamon rolls? While it may sound a little odd, the combo of chili and cinnamon rolls has been a popular pairing in Midwest school cafeterias for more than 70 years. According to the Instant Pot Community on Facebook (while you are on Facebook you should join our group, Supper's Almost Ready!) adding a cinnamon roll to your bowl of chili is the only way to go. Cornbread, eat your heart out, this comfort food pairing is sweet and savory in all the right ways.
History of Chili and Cinnamon Rolls
This lunchroom specialty had to start somewhere, right? According to Atlas Obsura, cinnamon was the key to this food mash-up. Said to have come from Logging camps where loggers made "logger's breakfast" with leftover chili and fresh cinnamon rolls, this pairing made its way into school lunch programs due to its easy preparation. School cooks in midwestern states such as South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, and Colorado.
Today the school lunch combo is far and few between in high schools and elementary schools due to changing policies regarding nutrition. Thankfully many midwesterners can order the combo at Runza restaurants, which are located in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa. The lunch ladies might not serve it anymore, but Runza does!
How to Make Chili and Cinnamon Rolls
Ready to make this chili recipe for your family and friends? All you need to do is whip up a batch of chili using your favorite recipe with lots of ground beef, chili powder, and cumin.
As for the cinnamon rolls, you can use Pillsbury, however, yeast-rolls and a homemade cinnamon rolls recipe is more fluffy and sop up the chili great. You can either make these homemade or buy buns from the bakery in your grocery store.
To Frost or Not to Frost
Frost it! The sweetness from the frosting pairs beautifully with the chili.
As for serving the chili over the cinnamon roll or on the side, that's completely up to you.
Products featured on Wide Open Eats are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.