One-Pot Wonders

Just Good Chili

December 29, 2009
16 Ratings
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Serves Many
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

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • potstirrer
  • ifjuly
  • Chris DePaola
    Chris DePaola
  • Megan
  • Sarah Neale
    Sarah Neale

87 Reviews

Gloria February 11, 2023
Seriously love this recipe. It never fails. Love the combination of the beer, coffee an chocolate. One questions I have is about liquid…..i read reviews where comments were made about beef stock….I don’t see it in the recipe. I’ve never used it…but curious if it could be even better with it and if so how much?
Jestei February 11, 2023
Honestly I have stopped adding stock over the years because the beer + tomatoes really is fine. You could add a cup of ANY stock if you want more liquid. Or the other day I used larger beer!
NXL February 21, 2022
This is a very flavorful chili, but a little too spicy for me. I used half a jalapeno. Next time I think I'd leave out the cayenne.
potstirrer February 4, 2022
Love the comments congratulating @JESTEI for being in the NYT! Cover above the fold more often than food but I would definitely classify this as a No Recipe Recipe. I am partial to Texas style chili but my teenager wanted “ski mountain chili” on this cold weekend so here I went and so glad I did (and read the comments obv). Followed as written but switched up the order: browned ground and onions then added spices and tomato paste to that and let it do its thing then kind of deglazed with beer then added tomatoes and beans. So good. NB love directions that invite you to drink what you’re cooking with. So very Julia.
Gigi October 9, 2021
This is a fabulous recipe. My 3 favorite drinks, coffee, hot chocolate and beer are what drew me to this at first. I like how it is customizable. I did not add carrots. I did not have a chile (chili?) so used some chili powder. I had 1/2 bottle of chili sauce in fridge so used it all. I had fire roasted tomatoes, so used them. It is truly scrumptious.
ifjuly June 11, 2019
All the raves are spot on; this is hands down the best chili recipe I've found that is still easily doable (my other favorite, from Homesick Texan, takes literally the entire day and involves procuring 7 different whole dried chiles, doing the whole scorch and reconstitute jig, making nearly every component/ingredient from scratch, simmers something like 5 hours, etc...delicious but I can barely muster the energy to make it even once a year). For the relative ease this has a wonderful, distinguished depth of flavor. For something like a decade I've tried so many other chili recipes that swore they'd win any cookoff, generate diehard fanatics, etc., sometimes using the same ingredients and spices (coffee, cocoa, beer, cumin, etc.), sometimes more exotic stuff, sometimes a lot of complicated fixins, usually more of a hassle...and for some reason this one blows all of those out of the water--so many recipes include this delicious sounding stuff and then I can't really taste it in the finished chili, while this one delivers every element you put into it, and how. I love that yes it requires a somewhat lengthy simmer but frankly is in every other respect quite simple/straightforward. Flavors and flavor balance perfect. Thank you so much for my new go-to chili recipe!
Chris D. October 29, 2017
Really good base recipe that takes no more work then using a packet but tastes 100 x better.

Alterations I made....

Delete Beef Stock
Beer = Three Floyds Zombie Dust
Swap chili sauce with Frontera Guajillo Pepper Adobo Sauce (3 T)
Add Garlic, Red and Green Bell Pepper

Excellent stuff for sure!
Megan October 8, 2017
This is our go-to chili recipe and I have a pot of it simmering right now. We've been making this since it was originally posted (before Jetsei came back and made some tweaks). It used to have more sugar -- we use 1/3 c. brown sugar. I also always add at least 1 T, and usually more, of some kind of chile powder (often ancho). The long simmer is essential for letting all the flavors meld together. I've made this veg using a combo of partially pulverized chickpeas and smooshed lentils. Love this recipe!
Mel August 26, 2017
This is a fantastic recipe, and for all of the ingredients, it's a breeze to make. The seasoning is just perfect. Thank you, Jetsei! I used a Kona Lager and a teaspoon of instant coffee. I wasn't sure what chili sauce was, so I left it out and instead bought dice canned tomatoes with chili seasoning. I also added two cloves of garlic, because I couldn't help it.
Naomi S. November 7, 2016
I'm confused by the recipe and the comments. Too much liquid? I didn't have enough. Chili powder? I only see an ingredient listed as "chili sauce." Should the beans go straight from the can into the chili, or should they be rinsed. And is there stock in this? Don't see that either in the recipe. Help!
Chef C. November 8, 2016
My advice is to do what you think best. Chili sauce is open to interpretation, I used homemade chipotle salsa - no chili powder, the spices identifies are basically the same thing. Rinse or not the beans, I did because I always do. No stock, that's what the beer and coffee do. So just cook, Naomi!
Sarah N. January 22, 2016
Okay, hands down, the BEST chili I've ever had. Seriously amazing flavors. You can really taste the ale. I used less cocoa powder because I'm slightly terrified of cocoa flavors in my savory dishes. The two different kinds of meat were great as my boyfriend is always complaining about not enough meat in chili. I also only used 1 tablespoon of sugar after reading other comments. I didn't miss the other 3 tablespoons.
cookinalong October 22, 2015
This was good, if a bit soupy. If I make again, I'll cut down on some of the liquid, probably the stock, and definitely cut down on the sugar. Far too sweet. My husband loved it as is, but for me and our 2 sons, something less sugary & with a bit more heat. I don't know if I'd call it chili, but it's got potential!
Courtney W. July 5, 2015
This chili is amazing, love all of the complex flavors! So so easy and delicious!
Alex G. May 30, 2015
I love this recipe. It won our hometown chili contest a couple years ago.
anne_shelton_crute April 25, 2015
I've made this several times. It is excellen as written, balanced flavors. I have amended it once or twice of necessity, but I keep coming back to the recipe as it is. Delish!
Angie S. January 28, 2015
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.
kzmccaff January 28, 2015
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!!
Luc M. December 29, 2014
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...
erinrae November 17, 2014
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!
Deborah October 22, 2014
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☀️
ann October 21, 2014
Two questions: Do I drain and rinse the canned beans or not?
Simmer covered or uncovered?
Whitney G. October 21, 2014
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.