Just Good Chili

By • December 29, 2009 • 69 Comments

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Author Notes: I've been making this recipe for a few years now, basically an amalgam of chili recipes I have known and loved. This is truly a toss it all in type deal, but you can omit many of the ingredients except, IMHO, the beer, which gives the chili bite, and the spices and onions. Texans will be offended by the beans. Normal people would not add carrots; I do it because my husband likes them. I often use half the liquid recommended if I want a thicker brew. Another cheat is a can of fire roasted tomatoes, and no chili powder. I often make this with ground turkey meat only, and no sirloin at all. I know people who have made it into a vegetarian dish. Do as you like, and enjoy! Jestei

Serves many

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons oil (i prefer olive veg is fine)
  • 1 pound sirloin, cubed
  • 1 pound ground meat (I prefer buffalo; turkey or beef fine)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Bottle of beer (my choice is Fat Tire)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup coffee (strong is best)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 finely chopped chili of choice (i use seeded serrano)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heaping of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon heaping of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 15 ounce cans kidney beans
  • 1 15 ounce cans white beans
  • 5 large carrots, chopped into discs (OPTIONAL)
  1. In large stock pot or dutch oven, heat oil over med. flame and brown meat, sirloin chunks first then ground.
  2. When meat is lightly browned, throw on the onions.
  3. Take two large sips from the beer.
  4. Add remaining beer plus, tomatoes, coffee and tomato paste.
  5. Add sugar, spices and kidney beans. Reduce flame to low and let simmer for an hour.
  6. Add white beans and carrots simmer for another hour or two; longer will be better. Season as needed.
Jump to Comments (69)

Tags: Jennifer Steinhauer, Jenny, Jenny's in the Kitchen, jestei

Comments (69) Questions (3)


2 months ago Angie Schuster

I have been making chili with beer and mexican chocolate for years (my family has just always done it that way, and we are Irish-ha!). It is delicious and always a favorite. Never tried using cocoa powder but will next time.


2 months ago kzmccaff

I made this with just ground turkey because I'm not a meat eater, but this was delicious! I used diced tomatoes with green chilis, some chipotle in adobo since I had it on hand (chopped fine), and a little dark chili spice just for fun. I think this is a malleable and delicious chili recipe! Use what you have and edit it to your tastes. Yum!!


3 months ago Luc Marin

Made it last night in two versions - meat and vegetarian. Both tribes seemed to love it! Great recipe and you get to drink a few swigs of beer in the making. A keeper...


4 months ago erinrae

This was fabulous! The change I recommend most is something I learned from another food52 chili recipe--puree one of the cans of beans (I used one of the kidney beans) with some tomatoes), it adds a smooth thickness that makes this a little heartier with nothing extra. I love that this can be played with endlessly, depending on what you have. My variables: I used a 28 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes, upped the spices a bit, Greenman Porter, a jalapeno, no carrots, one heaping tablespoon of brown sugar, and Sriracha for chili paste. I didn't find it in the least sweet, it was all pretty perfect actually. The flavors were beautifully complex without being garish--coffee, beer, and cocoa were beautiful together. I also *love* the addition of cubed meat, it was so tender with the long simmer, and will probably add more in the future. Thanks for this!


5 months ago Deborah

Instead of ground beef/turkey, I substituted a pork loin I needed to use.
I cut it into med chunks, browned off in cuisinart and followed rest of recipe until the beans.....I had pink beans, white and black beans...they worked great.
The meat was so succulent. Lastly, I used Cafe du Mond coffee....the chicory
taste was not overwhelming, just right.
Thanks for your recipes☀️


5 months ago ann

Two questions: Do I drain and rinse the canned beans or not?
Simmer covered or uncovered?


5 months ago Whitney GB

Hi ann, I don't know that this is a right answer, but I always drain and rinse my canned beans because I find the liquid they sit in gooey and tasteless. Others may differ. Simmering covered or uncovered is something I judge based on the liquid in the recipe. I tend to like to simmer uncovered because the evaporation reduces the chili, helps caramelization, and intensifies the flavors. If you are worried that it will become to thick, add a bit more liquid - you can always cook it off. This particular recipe I feel really benefits from the reduction process. Just one other word to the wise on this one - I make this recipe with decaf coffee now. Learned that the hard way.


5 months ago lisavanin

I made this and OMG... omg omg. So good. Been up all night thinking of it. Thanks!


7 months ago Owen Shelton

That is not chili...It is a soup like chili....I have a recipe for chili that won the world championship many many years ago, forgot the date...It is so far above this there is no comparison and no cocoa..chili does not have cocoa, the meats the whole thing is for amateurs......................


about 1 month ago pestopasta

Any chance you're from Texas? All the chili fundamentalists I've met are. If you are willing to share it, please post this world championship recipe. Thanks.


about 1 month ago pestopasta

Any chance you're from Texas? All the chili fundamentalists I've met are. If you are willing to share it, please post this world championship recipe. Thanks.


about 1 year ago DeArmasA

WOW!!!! I admit, I was skeptical of the ingredient list, but this was a fantastic recipe! A few comments: a) I started with soaked dried beans, so I added a 14.5oz can of tomato sauce and a 14.5oz can of water b) I omitted the sirloin c) I added roasted corn. Thank you for sharing!!


about 1 year ago Geni

This was Delicious! I'd never used the cocoa, coffee, beer combo in chili before and my husband was prepared to not like it at all ("nobody makes chili THAT way"!). He then ate 2 very large bowls and said it was great! Had only 1 lb of ground beef so I tweaked the recipe. Since I kept adding more and more of the spices as well as the chili "holy trinity"(not the cajun/creole "holy trinity"), I probably ended up using close to the original amounts. I didn't have a chili to use, I used a whole can of tomatoes, 1 can of light red kidney beans, and because I'd had my 1 yo and 4 yo grand children for the entire day, I took several big swigs of the beer and added the rest. Forgot to add the cayenne, but will next time. Used a whole red bell pepper instead of carrots and about 2 Tb brown sugar. Will make again soon! Thanks so much for the recipe!


about 1 year ago Frank

How much beef stock?!


about 1 year ago Jestei

sorry: i took the beef stock out of the recipe because i decided it added too much liquid (i have been tweaking this recipe lately) but if you wanted to add stock i'd do 1/2 a cup


about 1 year ago Mini Irwin

I just made this recipe. I think it's horrible...way too sweet. Has no resemblance to chili at all.


about 1 year ago tanya

This is the ebt chili I've ever made! I had the chance to make it with ground moose and venison. Delish!


about 1 year ago Laurelb

Fabulous. Made it according to the recipe except the chili as use which I didn't have. Used cherry chipotle barbecue sauce instead.


about 1 year ago phyllis

Yes, indeed, congratulations!! I've made this chili a bunch of times and it's delicious. I'll try the others you have recipes for in the NYTimes as well.


about 1 year ago JK

Congratulations on being in the NYTimes! I immediately recognized the recipe when I saw it.
Love making this recipe of yours, especially when it's so cold here in NYC.


about 1 year ago SCalabretta

Truly delicious chili with real flavor complexity and depth. The only change I would make would be to the amount of brown sugar--I used 1/3 cup and still found it to be too sweet for my liking.


about 1 year ago Chef Carlos

Terrific chili recipe, I used crushed coriander seeds since I wasn't sure what the recipe was calling for, habanero chill sauce and cut back on the brown sugar and cayenne. It was still spicy but not too spicy, and was great with fresh juice margaritas. Sustained us for the Broncos victory dance.


over 1 year ago landseergirl

Omg, this is the best. Nice and thick. I didn't have coffee but used espresso powder instead. I decreased the brown sugar amount and used 2 cans of beans. The ground meat was pork. Excellent.


over 1 year ago Ellen Anderson

I made this for a chili cook-off at work (not a good idea for a first time recipe, but hey). I made a few changes: half an onion, subbed the chili sauce, cayenne and serrano for some canned chipotles in adobo sauce (because that's what I had and I don't like too spicy, added a good smokey flavor), subbed white beans for pinto, reduced brown sugar to 3T and bought a bag of shredded carrots which I sauteed with the onions (highly necessary in my opinion, they were still crunchy after 4hrs on low!). I wanted to use my crockpot for easy transport to work but when I doubled the recipe(though all the amounts I give are based the standard single recipe amount) I ran out of room (in a 7qt crockpot!) I had to haul out the LeCreuset and work half in the oven . By the end I wasn't really happy with it, it was very soupy and kind of bland (obviously it was missing some of the heat but it was more than just that). I almost abandoned ship but instead I buckled down and fixed it. I turned the heat up and cooked it down. I added another can of tomato paste because I like a thick sauce to coat everything. I added 1t more of salt, 1/2t of smoked paprika, 1/4t chili powder, 1/2t garlic powder (next time I would have used fresh garlic in with onions) and 1/2t onion powder. Then I was happy. I refrigerated it overnight and the next day I found that the sweetness had really intensified overnight. I would probably only use 1-2T of brown sugar next time. I think next time I would also marinate the steak with the spices ahead of time, it needed to absorb more flavor, the pieces were kind of bland. I would definitely try this again, it was different than my normal spice packet + ground beef chili. Worth the effort to say it was completely homemade and I loved the ground beef/steak combo!