Award Winning Chili

Story by Natalie
Beef and pork chili in two bowls topped with cilantro, sour cream, cheese and avocado
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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. 

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, my 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 our family’s homemade 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 this one. 
  • 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, my 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! 

How Do You Make the Best Chili?

You make the best chili by making my Dad’s 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. 

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:  

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

Tools You Need. 

And On the Side? 

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

  • Or, you could use all that downtime to make these scene-stealing hasselback potatoes with garlic and herb butter. More is more, remember?

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 8

Ingredients

1 lb 80% lean ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 large garlic cloves, finely diced
1 lb black beans, cooked
1 lb kidney beans, cooked
1 lb pinto beans, cooked
1 20 oz can diced tomatoes
1 20 oz can red enchilada sauce
1/2 cup chili powder
2 tsp tapotio hot sauce
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro, green onions, sour cream, grated cheese, avocado for garnish

Method

  1. In a large dutch oven or non reactive pot, saute onions, peppers, garlic and meat with a tsp of each salt and pepper. Cook until meat is cooked through.
  2. Add the remainder of the ingredients and add with just enough water to cover beans. (About 1-2 cups.) Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to stew for 8 hrs, stirring often to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
  3. Adjust the taste to your likeness using salt, pepper and cayenne.
  4. Garnish with cilantro, green onions, sour cream, cheese and avocado.