Southern Cooking

Grandpa's Second-Place Chili

Grandpa's Second-Place Chili

Grandpa's Second-Place Chili

This chili recipe has been a long-time family favorite, passed down from my wife’s grandfather. Though it never won first place in any chili cook-off, it consistently took second place. If you happen to use this recipe and win a cook-off, please let us know!



  • 4 lbs ground chuck
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 banana pepper
  • 5 packs of Buena Vida chili powder or 1 cup of your favorite chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt, plus extra for sautéing
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ounces of beer


  • 2 cans of beans, if desired


  1. Brown the Beef: In a large six-quart Dutch oven, brown the ground chuck. Once browned, remove the beef and place it in a colander over a bowl to drain.
  2. Sauté Vegetables: Using 3 tablespoons of the reserved beef fat, sauté the diced green peppers and onions with a pinch of salt for about 8 minutes.
  3. Add Garlic: Add minced garlic to the vegetable mixture and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Combine Beef and Spices: Return the browned beef to the Dutch oven. Add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, cardamom, coriander, and 1 tsp salt. Stir to combine.
  5. Activate Spices: Cook the beef and spice mixture over medium heat for a couple of minutes to enhance the flavors.
  6. Add Tomatoes and Liquids: Pour in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beer, bay leaves, and banana pepper. Mix thoroughly to integrate all the components.
  7. Simmer: Cover and let the chili simmer over medium-low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
  8. Optional Bean Addition: If you like beans in your chili, add two cans along with their juice when you add the tomatoes.
  9. Final Touch: Before serving, make sure to remove the bay leaves.

One Comment

  1. I just made it, and it’s first place with me! Added some jalapeños for heat, but other than that followed everything. One good part - only calls for 3 ounces of beer, so I drank the rest!

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