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Award Winning Chili

  • Serves: 10
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 8 hrs
  • Calories: 461
a bowl of chili with ground beef, beans, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream

Beef, pork, three kinds of beans and spices to spare conspire to make this hearty, stick-to-your-ribs chili your family’s new game day go-to.

The Best Homemade Chili

With a serious (eight-hour) simmer time, this hearty homemade, award-winning chili recipe invites us to spend the a day cozy in the kitchen, close to the stove. Don’t you just love when the universe conspires to allow you to spend a whole entire day, lazy at home? Stirring occasionally while the house fills up with heady, savory smells—with all of your favorite people nearby, under foot, on the couch, or helping in the kitchen.

And when that big, delicious pot of the best homemade chili you’ve ever tasted is finally done and everyone gathers around with their bowls at the ready? Just kick back, and let the compliments roll on in.

Large pot of homemade chili.
Award winning chili in a pot

Wait. Is This Really An Award-Winning Chili Recipe?

YES! This is not a case of “chili so good it deserves an award”. Oh no. This is legitimately a two-time award-winning chili. In fact, given the opportunity, Natalie's Dad would gladly tell each and every one of you all about every detail of both of his chili award wins. And rightly so! After all, it’s his recipe.

For those who are worried, yes! We definitely did ask his permission to share it, and got the official OK. However, he did request that none of you use it to enter any chili competitions. Dad is a world-traveler, and you never know where he—and his killer chili—might be a contestant.

topping for beef chili cilantro, shredded cheese, avocado and sour cream

What Ingredients Go in Homemade Chili?

Making the best chili from scratch requires the best chili ingredients—of course—and the approach here is MORE is MORE. Here are the eight ingredients that have made this family chili recipe an award-winner:

  • Pork. Lending a unique depth of flavor, pork anchors this chili with its savory richness.
  • Beef. Pork AND beef? Yep! Like we said earlier, our homemade chili recipe philosophy is basically that MORE is more.
  • Red enchilada sauce. A simple way to add lots of flavor, we always have enchilada sauce in the pantry. We especially love La Victoria brand.
  • Spices. A good dash of both cayenne and cumin—and, as always, be sure your ground spices are as fresh as can be.
  • Tapatio. Because you know that red enchilada isn’t enough. That sprinkle of cayenne? Still not quite enough. This little extra kick, friends, is how you take a regular chili recipe and make it an award-winning chili recipe. You could certainly use whatever hot sauce you have on hand, but my Dad swears by Tapatio, and we defer to his expertise—after all, he’s the award-winner.
  • Garlic. Four cloves! That long, slow simmer will soften garlic’s sharp pungency into a gorgeous, almost-sweetness that is one of the things that makes this chili recipe so ridiculously good.
  • Three kinds of beans. Black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans are a classic chili recipe trifecta. More is more is more!
  • Sugar. Sugar? Yep! Just a little bit of sugar, which both enhances and tempers all of the acidic ingredients—canned tomatoes, enchilada sauce, Tapatio. Just a few teaspoons of sugar brings all of the ingredients into harmony with each other—don’t skip it!
close up of award winning chili recipe

How Do You Make the Best Chili?

You make the best chili by making THIS recipe! Follow it to a T and it won’t let you down. Here are a few tricks for making sure it turns out perfectly every time:

  1. Take your time. Crazy-good, award-winning, show-stopping, homemade chili is not a recipe for a weeknight, and that’s OK! We love quick and easy weeknight meals as much as the next guy, but we also love when we have the chance to let cooking a meal be the thing that slows us down. This homemade chili is one of those meals. Let it slow you down.
  2. The best chili is always going to be the one that suits your own tastes, so after the chili has had its long simmer, adjust the seasonings as you please! Add a little more cayenne, or a dash more Tapatio.
  3. Garnish, garnish, garnish! A big warm bowl of slow-stewed, meaty, tomato-y chili just screams for bright, cooling, contrasting toppings like a dollop of sour cream, creamy avocado, or vibrant diced green onions. We like to offer a platter of toppings and let everyone make their own bowl into the chili of their dreams.
Beef and pork chili in two bowls topped with cilantro, sour cream, cheese and avocado

Why This Chili Recipe is Easy (Even Though it Takes Eight Hours)

We’ve talked a lot about how long this recipe takes, but we haven’t mentioned how easy it actually is! It takes eight hours of slow simmering to achieve perfection, but the active time—the time you actually spend dicing, slicing or sautéing—is really quite short. All you have to do is:

  1. Sauté the ground beef and pork with the onions, peppers and garlic until the meat is cooked through.
  2. Open all of the cans—tomatoes, beans, enchilada sauce.
  3. Add the canned ingredients and spices to the pot, and let that low, slow simmer do the rest.

Tools You Need.

two bowls of award winning homemade chili recipe

And On the Side?

A great pot of chili deserves some great side dishes. A few of our favorites:

Homemade beef chili in a bowl with avocados and cheese

Who Did You Win Over?

We really hope you make this award-winning chili and if you do, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to snap a photo, add it to your Instagram feed or stories and tag us @themodernproper and #themodernproper if you do. Also, feel free to leave a comment on the post and tell your friends where you discovered the recipe.

Award Winning Chili

  • Serves: 10
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 8 hrs
  • Calories: 461


  • 1 lb ground beef, 80/20
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can kidney beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can pinto beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (19 oz can) red enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup chili powder, milld
  • 2 tsp Tapatio hot sauce, optional
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne, optional
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • cilantro, chopped, optional
  • green onions, chopped, optional
  • sour cream, optional
  • grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese, optional
  • avocado, sliced optional


  1. In a large dutch oven (or soup pot) set over medium-high heat, cook the beef, pork, onion, peppers, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until meat is cooked through, 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add the beans, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chili powder, Tapatio, cumin, cayenne, bay leaves and sugar. Add in just enough water to cover beans. (About 1-2 cups.) stir to combine.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and allow simmer for 8 hours, stirring often to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.**
  4. Adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with cilantro, green onions, sour cream, cheese and avocado.

**Note: If you only have an hour, it's still delicious, but the more time the better!

Slow Cooker Method:

  1. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, cook the beef, pork, onions, peppers, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until meat is cooked through, 8-10 minutes.
  2. Transfer the meat mixture, along with the beans, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chili powder, Tapatio, cumin, cayenne, bay leaves and sugar to a large crock pot. Stir to combine. Set on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with cilantro, green onions, sour cream, cheese and avocado.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories 461
  • Protein 34 g
  • Carbohydrates 51 g
  • Total Fat 14 g
  • Dietary Fiber 15 g
  • Cholesterol 65 mg
  • sodium 627 mg
  • Total Sugars 8 g

Award Winning Chili

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Linda

    What about an instant pot version.//would love to see your suggestions for IP

    Hi Linda, we don't have instant pot instructions for this recipe at this time, perhaps in the future!

  • Brandon Arrigo

    Do you simmer covered or uncovered?

    Uncovered. Hope you enjoy it Brandon!

  • Merrie Beth Barton

    What brand of chili powder do you usually use for this recipe?


  • Nancy L Mooney

    What can I use in recipes to substitute for the added sugar that is called for?
    Thanks in advance

    If you are trying to stay away from sugar you can just omit the sugar or use whatever type of sugar substitute you like (stevia, monk fruit, coconut sugar, etc...)

  • Melissa James

    Do you drain the meat mixture after browning?

    Nope. I like to use 90/10 beef. If yours is really fatty, then you can drain it, but we don't!

  • Mitch

    This is the best chili I’ve made. I used a can of beer and a half cup of water for the added liquid. Also omitted the hot sauce and added a touch more cayenne pepper. Thanks so much for the recipe!

    Thank You Mitch, so happy to hear it's the best you've made! Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Gonsalez

    Absolute best chili! Agree on some of the comments to cut back on the cayenne pepper and have mild chili powder on hand, especially if you are planning to serve to littles. So delicious and will continue to make!

    We are so glad that you love it! Thank you!

  • Amanda

    This was super spicy to me. It was all I could really taste, but I think it would probably be good with less spice

    Hi Amanda, if you don't like the spice level you could half the Tapatio or omit it completely next time.

  • Merrie Beth Barton

    This was a great chili recipe~although I would advise against adding the full amount of cayenne pepper right at the beginning. As the chili cooks, the heat level rises. Also, be sure you have mild chili pepper on hand (a full 1/2 cup) as called for. I did not have quite that amount of mild and had to add a little medium. Between that and the cayenne, a little too much heat for us, BUT we still ate the entire pot with lots of garnishes. I also added more water and 2 extra cans of beans for a total 7-hour simmer. That helped lessen the heat. We will make this again!

    Thank you Merrie Beth, we are so happy you enjoyed it!

  • kathleen Grazioli

    Tell your Dad thank you! His award winning chili is soooo good. The depth of this chili is wonderful filled with all kinds of flavors. I cooked it in my Le Creuset dutch oven on stove for about 4 hours. I used El Paso brand sauce. kitchen smelled great while it cooked.

    Perfecto! Threw my chili recipe out.

    Thank you Kathleen! Dad will love to hear this! We are so happy it's become your new chili recipe!