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Award Winning Chili

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


a bowl of chili with made with ground beef, beans, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream

Can Never Have Enough Chili.

The Best Homemade Chili

With a serious (eight-hour) simmer time, this hearty homemade, award-winning chili recipe invites us to spend a cozy day in the kitchen, close to the stove. Stirring occasionally while the house fills up with heady, savory smells. 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, and maybe enter a chili cook-off while you're at it.

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

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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 four-time award-winning chili. In fact, given the opportunity, Natalie's dad (Bob) would gladly tell each and every one of you every detail of his chili competition wins. Be sure to try Bob’s other famous recipe, Homemade Spaghetti Sauce!

Cilantro, shredded cheese, avocado and sour cream

Homemade Chili Ingredients.

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. Our chili recipe calls for ½ cup of mild chili powder. You read that correctly! That’s one half cup of mild chili powder! It adds a bit of smokiness, but doesn’t add heat. All about the flavor, baby!

  • Tapatio. Because you know that red enchilada sauce 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 Natalie's 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, and Tapatio. Just a few teaspoons of sugar brings all of the ingredients into harmony with each other—don’t skip it!

Chili in a bowl topped with avocado, shredded cheese, cilantro and sour cream.

How to Make This Easy Chili Recipe.

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. Cook the ground beef and pork with the onions, peppers and garlic until the meat is browned.

  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.

Beef and pork chili in two bowls topped with cilantro, sour cream, cheese and avocado

What Is The Secret To Award Winning Chili?

You make award winning 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. Need a little more spice or smoke? Grab some chipotle or ancho chilies.

  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.

two bowls of award winning homemade chili recipe

Tools You Need

What to Serve with Homemade Chili?

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

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Award Winning Chili

  • Serves: 10
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  8 hrs
  • Calories: 376


  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (19-ounce) can red enchilada sauce, mild
  • ½ cup mild chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons Tapatio hot sauce (optional)

For Serving (optional)

  • Chopped cilantro
  • Chopped green onions
  • Sour cream
  • Grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • Avocado, pitted and sliced


  1. Heat a large Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef, pork, onion, peppers, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 8-10 minutes.

  2. Add the beans, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chili powder, cumin, bay leaves, sugar and cayenne and hot sauce, if using. Add in just enough water to cover beans (about 1 to 2 cups) and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 1-2 hours, up to 8 hours for the best flavor.

  3. Adjust salt to taste. Divide chili between bowls and garnish with cilantro, green onions, sour cream, cheese, and avocado, if using.

Slow Cooker Method:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef, pork, onions, peppers, garlic, salt, and pepper and cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 8-10 minutes.

  2. Transfer the meat mixture to a slow cooker. Add the beans, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chili powder, cumin, bay leaves, sugar, and cayenne and hot sauce if using. Stir to combine. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Adjust salt to taste. Divide chili between bowls and garnish with cilantro, green onions, sour cream, cheese, and avocado, if using.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories376
  • Protein25 g
  • Carbohydrates33 g
  • Total Fat17 g
  • Dietary Fiber10 g
  • Cholesterol61 mg
  • sodium681 mg
  • Total Sugars7 g

Award Winning Chili

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Allison

    I have a beef allergy. Can I do this with all pork (with the understanding that nothing will taste as good as chili with beef in it)? Substitute the beef portion with ground turkey? Ground chicken? Thanks in advance.

    Yes, feel free to sub whichever meat you like. Hope you enjoy Allison!

  • Evelyn Sosa

    Currently making this chili. Taste very good, I can still taste the chili powder too much (like taking a teaspoon of chili powder in my mouth). Will it go away once it has simmer for 4/8 hours? Also, how long can it be frozen for? Thank you!!

    It should dissolve in while it cooks, hope you enjoyed. You can freeze for up to 6 months.

  • Jessica Lundy

    I’ve made this recipe a few times - it’s delicious. But I haven’t been able to find “mild chili powder” so I’ve used Paprika instead. Just to clarify, is there a mild chili powder as a spice somewhere, or are you referring to the mild chili seasoning mix?

    Yes, it is mild. Fred Meyer, walmart and amazon all carry it. We have added an amazon link to it in the ingredient list so you can check it out.

  • Melissa

    Can you please specify which size Dutch oven you recommend? Thank you!!

    We use a 7 quart.

  • Camille O.

    Hi! I’ve done this recipe on a Dutch oven. But would like to try it with a slow cooker! Just to double check. Do not add water and slow cook with the lid ON?

    Because for the Dutch oven it’s with lid off. Thanks!

    Correct, no water and with the lid. Hope you enjoy Camille!

  • Kas

    Really loved this recipe though had to made a few adjustments.
    Enchilada sauce is unavailable to me so (Netherlands) I used a packet of Seasoning Mix for Enchilada and I didn't have enough chilli powder so I used what I had (~1-1.5 tbsp) and it was more than enough!
    Used both the pan & crockpot methods as I didn't have a way to fit it all, and both worked fine!

    Definitely will make this again.

    Thanks Kas, so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Laurie Barrett

    Chalk up another win with this recipe! It came in 1st out of 19 entries in our annual chili cookoff -- thanks!!

    AMAZING! So happy to hear that!

  • Lindsey S

    This chili is awesome! My husband confirmed it's the best one I have made yet. I used the crockpot method so it was as easy as can be. Didn't change a thing, it's perfect.

    I've made so many of your recipes and they have all been winners. Thank you for keeping things simple yet elevated!

    Thanks so much Lindsey, we are so happy you loved it!

  • Katie Byrne

    This is a fantasti chili recipe and the only one I use now!

    YAY! That is so great to hear. Thank you Katie!

  • Kristin Daigle

    Had a chili cookoff to attend and needed a winner...well, this recipe didn't disappoint and lived up to its name. Everyone loved it and of course it won! So delicious and just the right amount of spice.

    YES! That is so great! We are so happy you loved it and that you won!