My Chili Recipe

Posted on Nov 5, 2022

I’ve had a few friends ask me for my chili recipe recently. Instead of spewing a bunch of thoughts at them about how I make it, I decided to write it down so that I could share it with people.

The Night Before: Soaking the Beans

I like to use dried beans. They’re hella cheap & easy to buy in bulk. I’d recommend getting anywhere between 12 and 14 ounces of kidney beans. For some reason those can be hard to find in bulk, in which case pinto beans also work fine.

Anyways, throw your beans into a dutch oven with a copious amount of water and salt. I like to throw a bay leaf and dried peppers in there with it. You’ll want a lot of water in there: the beans are thirsty and will soak up lots of water.

The Puree

You’ll want to get 3 kinds of dried chili peppers.

  • Ancho
  • Red California
  • Uhhh some third one that I’ve forgotten

Remove the seeds, tear them into 1" squares, and toast them in your dutch oven. Give it a few minutes on decently high heat, but if you see wisps of smoke, take it off the heat immediately. Go ahead and dump that straight into a blender.

Next, toast some spices in the dutch oven:

  • 1 Star anise
  • 2-4 cloves
  • Cumin seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Black peppercorns

Give those maybe a minute, again make sure you don’t burn them. Pour them out into a spice grinder or mortar & pestle, and then grind them into a fine powder. Put that powder into the blender with the toasted chili peppers.

Finally, throw some extra fun bits into the blender:

  • Some soy sauce (just a little)
  • Marmite
  • 2 Anchovies
  • Worcestire sauce

Finally, add water. You want enough water in there that your blender can do it’s thing on very very high speed. Don’t be stingy with the water, you can always cook it off later. Blend that on high for a few minutes. You want to go until it’s smooth, and there’s no little bits left in it.

Note: if you’ve got it, use stock instead of water.

The Vegetables

Chop up:

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2-4 red bell peppers
  • 2 carrots
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • 1 Poblano pepper
  • 1-2 Jalepeno pepper

Pour some oil into the pan, get it nice and hot, and throw the onion in. Give it some salt as well.

Note: if you’ve got beef tallow, use that instead of oil.

Once the onion is nice and cooked, throw in your meat (if you’re using it). I like using 1-2lbs of 80/20 ground beef, but I’ve also used Beyond Meat & it works great. Cook that with the onions; make sure to break it up as you cook it.

Once the beef has been cooked, throw in the rest of the vegetables (peppers, carrots, celery).

The Long Cook

Get a big can of whole tomatoes. I like to splurge for the fancy San Marzano tomatoes here, but you can go for one of the cheaper options. The main thing I’d look for is that the tomatoes are in a tomato puree, not tomato juice. Take each tomato out of the can, crush it with your hands (this is the fun part), and add it to the chili. Once you’ve crushed all the tomatoes, also pour that lovely tomato puree in the can into the chili as well.

If all goes well, the puree in the can will magically add enough liquid so that you can add your beans (which you should do here) and have them covered so they can cook. If not, feel free to add some extra water or stock.

Time to cook! You have two goals:

  1. The beans MUST be cooked. This requires decently high heat for an hour or two.
  2. The chili should be at your desired thickness.

The current state of your chili will inform what you choose to do here. If you want to cook off a lot of water, give it some heat and leave off the lid. If the chili is already at your desired thickness, put the lid on and reduce the heat. Trust the dutch oven, learn how it works, and use it.

The End

Ok. Your beans are cooked. The chili is nice and thick. But it… tastes like shit?? That’s because we’re not done yet. Let’s add our last bit of spices:

  • Tomato paste. You want a LOT of this. More than you think. Buy one of the big cans of it.
  • Cocoa powder. Like… 2 teaspoons worth.
  • Brown sugar. Barely any, use with caution (~1 tbsp).
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. Also use with caution (~1 oz).
  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper, but you might forego this if it’s already spicy enough.
  • Salt. Salt salt salt.

Add all of the above to taste. I would recommend getting someone very cute and named Kristin to help do the tasting at this step.


And there you have it! A wonderful chili, with enough to have leftovers for a long time. I like using Fritos or goldfish as a topping, and I’d recommend making some rice to have with it.