The Best Bold Beef Chili (Chili Cook Off Winner)

Big Pot of Bold Beef Chili in red Dutch Oven Pot with wooden spoon, rid lid in background on wooden board
Posted On: November 4, 2016
Last updated: November 19th, 2023

This bold beef chili recipe has developed over the last few years with some tweaking and adjusting.   I finally got the proportions just right to where everybody in our household loves it!  This hearty chili has become our family favorite chili now.  I’ve managed to tweak this recipe to the point where all 3 of our boys really enjoy it and so does my husband.  My goal over the last few years has been to make a classic delicious meaty chili my whole family could enjoy, not too spicy, not too sweet, but also not lacking flavor.  I finally achieved it with this Best Bold Beef Chili recipe and I hope you enjoy it as well!  If you prefer a vegetarian chili, I have that as well here.

Chili with beer and toppings, photo over top

Award-Winning Chili

This beef chili many will appreciate.  It was well received my 1st time presenting it to others.  I brought this chili to my first chili cook off party with neighbors and got 2nd place.  Apparently I was tied with the 1st place winner until someone toward the end of the tasting broke our tie.  I honestly wasn’t expecting to get that close because I thought the crowd wouldn’t enjoy this kind of bold flavor, so I was pleasantly surprised.

Bold Beef Chili in bowls with dutch oven and a beer

UPDATE: October 2017

I made some minor tweaks and now below is the final recipe. With this recipe, I got 1st place for this same bold beef chili at the annual chili cook-off; I was shocked.  I’m very pleased though and happy to see others can enjoy this bold beefy chili as well.

Family Chili Feast

You will see below that some ingredients are a bit unorthodox for a “family” type chili, but it’s those ingredients that make this the best chili recipe we’ve ever made.  I’ve got beer and coffee in the mix as you’ll see, I believe they help this chili stand out a flavor-wise.  I’m surprised that even my  5 year olds  like this chili since it’s got a different flavor than they’re used to. This bold beef chili works well for a family meal or a party on a cold day.  The adults won’t miss flavor and kids will enjoy a flavorful chili without whining about spiciness.  No more bland chili needed to make the whole crew happy!  Next time you make chili, you’ve got to try this one!

Step by step photos making chili

Chili Cooking

I only make this chili in my dutch oven now.  I just LOVE my dutch oven for making dishes like this chili.  It can absolutely be made in a standard big pot, but I love how the dutch oven browns the beef real nice, plus it has a great even heat.  Now be cautious if you also make it in a dutch oven to remember it holds in the heat a lot more than a standard pot so watch for burning and adjust your temperature as necessary.  Also, always be sure to use a wooden spoon. 

I have not ever made this recipe in the pressure cooker or slow cooker, so I can not guarantee it will come out the same,  I have always used the Dutch oven to slow cook and it turns out spectacular this way. 

Chili with sour cream, oyster crackers and green onion in bowls


Please give this bold beef chili a try and let me know what you think!  Try them with my cornbread muffins too.  YUM!

Beef Chili Ingredients

  • Tough Beef/Steak- Yes, you read that correctly.  There’s something about this chili being really good in the end with a tough steak that becomes tender at the end, yet doesn’t fully fall apart.  It stays just chewy enough, but not tough to be the perfect beef for this.
  • Ground Beef- We use 80/20 ground beef, but it’s fine with lean ground beef as well since you already have the steak in it as well. Now, I know some people prefer a different ground meat to beef, like ground turkey or ground chicken, but full disclosure here, it will not be the same recipe.  I mean, you do you, but this is a “beef” chili recipe.  I will not guarantee it will be as spectacular, but if you do try a different meat, let know in the comments below how it turned out for you.
  • Onions- White or sweet onions are great.
  • Canned Tomatoes– Fire-roasted canned diced tomatoes are great. In a pinch use regular diced tomatoes. Just try to use a quality brand.
  • Tomato Paste– Make sure you use concentrated paste and not sauce here. We really like to use double concentrated Italian tomato paste because it’s rich and think.
  • Peppers-  We use bell peppers for this chili, but you’re welcome to add some jalapeño peppers or poblano chile peppers if you want to heat it up a bit more.  We use bells so the kids can enjoy it.  They just woudn’t touch a really spicy chili. We would of course though. 
  • Beer– We like to use a hoppy beer like an IPA.  I would not call this a beer chili as it’s not all beer for the liquid.  It’s the beer and coffee together that make this chili what it is though. 
  • Coffee– I know it sounds crazy and you’re shaking your head possibly here, but there is no beef broth in this recipe.  That’s right, it’s just coffee and beer that are your liquids, besides the liquid from the canned tomatoes. I believe these are the best secret ingredients to make this chili great and stand out. We use coffee in place of cocoa powder which I know some people add to their chili.  Coffee will give that similar cocoa flavor, but more subtle. 
  • Red Kidney Beans– I like dark red kidney beans, but you’re fine with using whatever other kidney beans you have. 
  • White Beans– I use great northern beans here because they’re tender beans for this recipe.  I do not use black beans or pinto beans in this recipe and never have. 
  • Brown Sugar– Just a little sweet brown sugar balances things out real nice.
  • Worcestershire Sauce– Just a little does the trick.

Chili Spices

  • Chili powder- If you happen to have a smoked chili powder that’s even better, if not, just your standard preferred chili powder is great.  Just make sure it still have its essence and isn’t too old with lost flavor. 
  • Paprika- We love smoked paprika for this
  • Cumin- Ground cumin
  • Coriander- Ground coriander
  • Garlic- We like granulated garlic here.
  • Cayenne pepper- Just an eight of a teaspoon cayenne pepper is what we use. 
  • Sea salt- We like fine ground sea salt here. 

Beef Chili Toppings

  • Sour Cream- Just a little dollop will do you. Use the real stuff!
  • Green Onions- Some fresh spring onions are always perfect on chili.
  • Cheddar Cheese- Sharp cheddar cheese is the way to go, but I’ve used a Monterey jack as well.
  • Tortilla Chips- Why not? Who doesn’t like some crispy corn chips on a hot chili?!
  • Oyster Crackers- These are great for kids especially.
Big Pot of Bold Beef Chili in red Dutch Oven Pot with wooden spoon, rid lid in background on wooden board

The Best Bold Beef Chili (Chili Cook Off Winner)

This recipe makes about 10 cups of chili, a nice large pot for a crowd or just a hearty family meal and you can freeze leftovers if there’s anything left after a couple days.
Try this chili with my cornbread muffins too!
4.91 from 10 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course hot side, Main Course
Cuisine American, comfort food
Servings 10
Calories 361 kcal


  • 1-1 1/2 lb tough beef cut into 1/2″ cubes (we use beef brisket, flank or skirt steak)
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups white onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced (any color)
  • 1 Tbsp worcestershire
  • 1 bottle good strong hoppy beer we use microbrew IPA
  • 1 cup strong coffee cold is fine
  • 2 15- oz. cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 5 Tbsp tomato paste we use a double concentrated tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 2 15- ounce cans dark red kidney beans drained
  • 1 15- ounce can white beans drained (great northern are good)
  • *May substitute the 3 cans of beans for 1 bag of hydrated dried beans
  • 1/2-1 Tbsp Chili powder smoked preferred, reserved for last half hour of cooking

Dry Chili Spice Mixture (mix together ahead of time for ease)

  • 1 Tbsp chili powder I prefer to use smoked chili powder, but it is sometimes hard to find.
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt


  • Preheat a large Dutch oven (or pot) on medium high heat and grab a wooden spoon.  
  • Once your pot is nice and hot add cubed beef and brown, then remove from pot. (Be sure to drain out liquid from pot so the meat can actually brown well)
  • Brown ground beef now in the same pot and then return the cubed beef, adding the onions, bell pepper and Worcestershire.
  • Cook on medium low for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Now add your chili spice mixture and cook about 2 minutes allowing your spices to bloom, stirring constantly.
  • Now add the beer and scrape up all those browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Then add the coffee, brown sugar, tomatoes and tomato paste to the pot with the beef, onion and peppers.
  • Bring pot to a simmer, then cover and simmer on low for 1 hr, stirring occasionally.
  • Then add all the beans, another 1/2 Tbsp of chili powder and simmer for another 30-45 mins covered, stirring occasionally.
  • *Optional-If you have time you can simmer for another 30 minutes uncovered, only if you want to thicken it up a little more.
  • Taste chili and adjust your salt if you feel necessary, your call.


Serve with your favorite chili toppings and enjoy! Even better the next day as leftovers since the flavors get to meld even more overnight.  It’s great on it’s own or on baked potato.

Nutrition Disclaimer:

The nutritional information provided is only an estimate based on a third party nutritional plugin. Different online calculators may give different results depending on their own sources. The estimates may also change based on the ingredients you use. If you have dietary restrictions and need to accurately calculate the nutrition of this recipe, Whole Made Living recommends consulting a professional nutritionist.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 361kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 30gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 732mgPotassium: 913mgFiber: 7gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 1280IUVitamin C: 20mgCalcium: 113mgIron: 5mg
Keyword award winning, beef, Chili
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Bold Beef Chili Pinterest Collage


Comments are welcome & encouraged, however we have the right to refuse to publish it if it is hateful in nature and not constructive criticism. We ask that they be polite & stay on topic as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share via
Copy link