The Chili Roll: Nebraska native innovates iconic Midwest fusion

The Chili Roll: Nebraska native innovates iconic Midwest fusion
Rising City native Alexa Carter invented the Chili Roll.
February 9th, 2024 | Alex Makovicka

It’s a combination perhaps more iconic than Tom and Jerry, more delicious than peanut butter and jelly, and more impactful than Tommie Frazier and Brook Berringer in the 1994 national championship.

Nebraska native Alexa Carter has created the Midwest duo of a lifetime: the Chili Roll.

The Chili Roll is a one-dish take on Nebraska’s chili and cinnamon roll infatuation.

Crafted with the flaky, buttery dough of the cinnamon roll and filled with perfectly seasoned ground beef, onions, and peppers, the Chili Roll takes Midwest brilliance to a whole new level.

Carter recently joined the crew on Mornings in the Country to explain her creation and share a bite!


Carter, a native of Rising City, said the idea for the Chili Roll came from a summer camp experience when she was a senior in high school — the Nebraska Youth Beef Leadership Symposium (NYBLS).

“The whole concept of NYBLS is to find a beef product and create some sort of dish using beef so that it can be promoted,” Carter said.

The product they had to use was ground beef, so Carter decided to think outside the box and brainstorm dessert ideas.

“I bounced some ideas off the Kentucky kids because they had no idea what runzas were — the whole ‘chili and cinnamon roll’ thing,” she said. “I grabbed that idea and said ‘That’s exactly what we’re doing.’”

Carter said the Kentucky students were skeptical and even pushed back on the idea to do a savory-filled dessert. But she was adamant that it was going to work. And it did just that.

Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, was a judge for that competition, and Carter said she was instantly hooked.


Carter is a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in agriculture education. Among three of her minors, one is the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program.

“[Engler] is just a huge support system,” she said. “They want you to do well… I ended up serving this to them and got tons of feedback.”

Carter said Engler and others are helping her perfect the Chili Roll recipe.

Carter plans to someday become an agriculture teacher and FFA adviser, but she also hopes to pursue business opportunities on the side.


In addition to the Chili Roll’s conception at an agriculture-based summer camp, Carter said her agriculture background has helped in many other ways with this new venture.

For one, she’s developed a strong work ethic which has been amplified now that she has a small cattle herd of her own. The Chili Roll also features beef raised on her family’s operation.

“I’m very focused on beef and focused on local production,” she said.


Although she’s not selling batches of her Chili Rolls yet, Carter said her goal is to hone her business skills and create a great product that can be sold and enjoyed by Midwesterners of all types. Maybe you’ll see her Chili Rolls this fall at a Husker football tailgate.


© 2024 Nebraska Rural Radio Association. All rights reserved. Republishing, rebroadcasting, rewriting, redistributing prohibited. Copyright Information