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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 ground beef, beans, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream

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. 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, and maybe enter a chili cook-off while you're at it.

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

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 would gladly tell each and every one of you every detail of his chili competition wins. And rightly so! After all, it’s a darn good recipe.

topping for beef chili 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!

close up of award winning chili recipe

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.

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

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:

  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.

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

Show Us Your Gold Medal!

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: 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 pepper freshly cracked black
  • 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
  • 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.

  • Lisa Dell

    Does any oil go into the skillet to brown the meat or just a dry skillet?i

    Just a dry skillet, the meat will release enough fat juices that oil isn't necessary.

  • Tori Bergstrom

    Can you double this recipe on the stove in a large soup pot? If so, would I need to add any broth?

    Doubling should be fine, hope you enjoy!

  • Robin Sells

    I’m totally making this this week since we have a lot of rain coming. What is “mild” chili powder? How do you determine what is mild in the spice aisle? TIA

    Any regular chili powder will do. Just make sure it is not labeled "dark or spicy." Hope you enjoy!

  • Lee

    Where I live (TX) La Victoria enchilada sauce comes in a 10 oz. can. I didn't pay attention until I started prep & then noticed I only had half the sauce I needed for the recipe. Just a note to others out there who may make the same mistake & purchase one can without looking.

    Good tip Lee!

  • Caroline

    Can you freeze leftovers?


  • 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!

  • Jessica Reese

    I’ll admit the enchilada sauce threw me, but you’ve never led me astray so I trusted the process and am so glad that I did. 10/10, 5 stars, so so good. Everyone raved, I’ll never make another chili. Not sure how you two always do it! Thanks!!

    WOW! Thanks so much Jessica, we are so glad you gave it a try and loved it!