Make Ahead

Our Favorite Chili

May  6, 2021
14 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

In the days when my sons played high school hockey, I made gallons of this chili. I would transport it to the snack bar at the rink in a slow cooker. It would sell out every time because it was the best way to warm up at our infamously cold rink! The recipe is originally from Epicurious, but I have tweaked and adjusted it over the years to make it our family favorite. Both my former hockey players know how to make it, and they do a great job! —Donna

Test Kitchen Notes

Adding this perfect bowl of chili to my repertoire! I really enjoyed how this chili recipe came together. The ingredients are easily accessible and economical. The prep time is minimal since only the onion and garlic require actual chopping time. The cook time of 1 1/4 hours, as stated in the recipe, was perfect for a consistency that doesn’t dribble off a spoon but has sufficient gravy for dipping tortilla chips. Adding the chipotle chili and adobo sauce at the end adds the perfect smoky depth for one’s palate, suggesting the chili cooked for a longer time to achieve such flavor. This is a nice addition to one’s recipe box! —Karen Ostler

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped white or yellow onion
  • 8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 3/4 cups low-sodium (or homemade) chicken stock
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 12-ounce bottle lager beer
  • 1 16-ounce can kidney beans, drained
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced canned chipotle chili
  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce, from the canned chipotle
  1. In a 7 to 8 quart, heavy Dutch oven or soup pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic, with a large pinch of kosher salt, and sauté until softened. Add the ground meats and stir, breaking up the meat and cooking until the meat is no longer pink. (At this point, you can spoon out a little of the extra fat from the pot, if you like).
  2. Add the spices, stir to coat the meat, and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste, beer, and the 3/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer the mixture for about 1 1/4 hours, or until the consistency is to your liking. Add the drained beans, the minced chipotles and adobo sauce, and adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cool and store in the refrigerator, or portion into freezer containers and freeze for future use. We like grated sharp shredded cheddar cheese, chopped red onions, and sour cream with our chili. It also makes great nachos, garnished with a little guacamole and cilantro. If you like a few more vegetables in your chili, feel free to add some chopped celery and bell pepper along with the onion and garlic. Adjust the spiciness with more or less chipotle chile.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lizzy Schweitzer
    Lizzy Schweitzer
  • Smaug
  • Jenna Groesch Sheingold
    Jenna Groesch Sheingold
  • brushjl

13 Reviews

brushjl February 28, 2023
Perfect chili, though I wonder about serving beer-based chili to high school boys.
Monica February 12, 2023
Good but needed a +little+ more spice, easy enough to add in. Also, it's a very easy recipe!
Lizzy S. March 28, 2022
Just did 2 lb of meat. I didn’t have chili powder so I did 3 tablespoons of paprika, 1 of cayenne, 1/2 tablespoon more cumin and 1/2 tablespoon of italian seasoning. I’m into it, it’s spicy but isn’t chili supposed to be? Still super yummy!!!
[email protected] February 5, 2022
Won 3 chili cook offs with this recipe.
Smaug January 26, 2022
I'm not sure what pop food writers have against using chiles in their chili, but it really sort of defines the dish. "Chili powder" is a very ill defined substance, usually with some powdered chili (which even when freshly ground loses a great deal of flavor by being dried enough to grind), some cumin and oregano, which writers usually add to so might as well supply all of from their cupboards, and a lot of junk like dried onion and garlic (commercial spice blends usually emphasize the cheaper ingredients) which are easily (and much preferably) added fresh.
Jaybird January 20, 2022
I followed the recipe as-is for a party last Sunday, and for myself and the some other adults it was the perfect amount of heat with 5 tbl of chili powder. However, overall the opinions were mixed. Some of the adults (all men) thought it could use more heat, whereas most of the kids ranging in age from 9 to 17 or so thought it was too spicy. On that note, I make sure all of my spices are fresh and in "full power" so if you have older chili powder it may not be as hot. Once I open one, it gets tossed after 2 years if not fully consumed before. Also where you store your spices makes a difference in longevity before turning to tasteless dust: heat and light kill them quicker once exposed to oxygen than stored somewhere cool and dark (like olive oil).

So next time, we'll do like a reviewer stated below and cut the chili powder by 30% to 3.5 tbl. I only use fresh chili powder. That said, I just finished off the final leftover serving yesterday and it did mellow out over the days in heat. I still gave it 5 stars because it is such an outstanding base chili to work with. if someone wants more heat in their own bowl, I'll gladly have a heat variety of chopped peppers from jalapeños to cayenne to habanero they can toss in.
L. C. November 11, 2021
I will no longer be trying new chili recipes because this recipe satisfies everything I'm looking for in a chili. I'll be serving it in a couple of weeks to a work party at my place. Great recipe.
Dale M. January 16, 2021
Love this recipe and 5TBL of Chili Powder is perfect for our family. Only thing I might change next time is to add one more can of beans. Otherwise this one is a keeper! Thanks
Alski101 August 19, 2020
I made this for the first time and followed the other suggestions to use less chili powder (I used 3.5 tablespoons) and thought it was the perfect amount. I also added about a half can of black beans to make it thicker. In the future I will probably use a bit less chicken broth. Otherwise a great recipe!!
estelle June 20, 2020
Good recipe but when I tasted it, I also thought 5 tablespoons of chili powder was too much. Next time I will make it with 3 1/2 tablespoons and see how that tastes. I subbed chicken stock for the beer and added a little extra broth so it had a bit more liquid.
estelle June 20, 2020
Good recipe but when I tasted it, I also thought 5 tablespoons of chili powder was too much. Next time I will make it with 3 1/2 tablespoons and see how that tastes. I subbed chicken stock for the beer and added a little extra broth so it had a bit more liquid.
mark F. October 26, 2019
Excellent chili and simple to make. I won a chili cook off with it.
Jenna G. January 27, 2019
Dang, this chili was beyond spicy. I thought 5 tablespoons of chili powder seemed heavy handed, so I double checked before putting it in. We love spicy food, but this turned out inedible. To cut the spice I added a tablespoon of sugar, the juice of an orange, 2 cups of sour cream, another can of beans as well as 2 cups of rice and now it is spicy but much more palatable.