When it comes to comfort food, nothing beats our smoked chili! We’ve taken the classic chili you love, added notes of hickory smoke and raised the bar on comfort foods!
Is there anything more comfortable than a bowl of chili? Chili is probably number one on the list of comfort foods for most people. Is there anything that could possibly make it better? You know something, I’m glad you asked! This recipe takes your classic, comforting chili recipe and ups to the next level by adding some of that wonderful smokey flavor to it.
Packed with 2 types of beans, smoked ground beef and of course some bacon, this chili will be the show stopper at your BBQ. It might take a little while getting there, but once this chili is ready, it’s well worth it.
One of the other unique talents chili has to offer is that it’s almost an entire meal in a bowl. Unless you feel the need, sides are almost rendered pointless with this dish. That being the case, lets finish this meal off right with some delicious BBQ deserts. Try our grilled peaches or smoked apple crisp to finish of this meal in a bowl, you just can’t go wrong!
How to Make Smoked Chili
Now for the full disclosure. While this is a smoked chili, elements of this dish will be prepared both in the smoker and on the stove top. Cooking a chili entirely in the smoker is difficult due to the range of temperatures you need for some aspects of the recipe.
Now with that out of the way, let me tell you this. This chili will be so packed with smokey goodness that your guests will never know that it wasn’t cooked entirely in the smoker.
Lets get down to business!
Preparing the Ground Beef
Ground Beef – Everybody has their own preference for the leanness of their ground beef. Some people prefer an 80/20 mix for a little more fat which tends to offer more flavor while others prefer a leaner mix of 90/10. We like to draw on a compromise between the two and go with a 85/15 mix.
Prepare your smoker as needed and preheat it to the temperature of 225°. For this dish we’ll be using a stronger wood in hickory. Hickory will give you that nice strong smokey flavor you are looking for.
Once you have your ground beef out of the package, press it down so that it is just about an inch thick. This will allow a great surface area to be impacted by the smoke. Smoke will also be able to penetrate the meat more evenly and in a shorter amount of time.
With your smoker now at 225°, pop your ground beef in. Smoke the beef for about 2 hours. This step isn’t to completely cook your beef, so don’t worry if it still looks raw after the 2 hours. This step allows the meat to infuse with the smoke. We’ll be cooking it the rest of the way on the stove top.
After the 2 hours are up, remove the beef from the smoker. Make sure you have the smoker maintaining the 225°, will come back to it in a few steps.
Preparing the Chili
1. Sear the bacon and ground beef. Using a large pot, sear diced bacon first, until it’s mostly done and add your smoked ground beef. Beak it up as much as you can and mix and cook until most of the meat had turned dark. Take it all out of the pot and set aside.
2. Sauté veggies. Add a little more oil if needed and sauté onions and peppers until mostly softened. Once softened, make room for minced garlic and sauté until garlic is fragrant.
3. Mix everything and add back the meats.
4. Beans, tomatoes, and seasoning. Drain beans and add them to the pot. Add can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and all the seasoning. Mix everything very well and stir in the beef stock.
5. Cook! Bring the chili to a low boil and then lower the heat to low. Cover with a lid but leave a small crack for the steam to escape. Cook on low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remember to stir from time to time!
5. SMOKE! With your chili done cooking on the stove, it’s time once again to incorporate the most important ingredient, smoke! Transfer your done chili into a heat resistant pan, we’ll be using an aluminum pan. Smoke your chili for an additional hour. This last hour will infuse that delicious smokey goodness you have been waiting for!
Tip and Tricks For The Best Results
There are a few things you can add to make your chili taste great.
- First of all, the chili seasoning. Chili seasoning is basically the spices and herbs that go into chili. Be generous with chili powder and make sure to add cumin, oregano, and paprika. I recommend smoked paprika for a smoky taste in chili.
- To help regulate spice level in chili, you can add jalapenos or other spicy chili peppers. Adding spicier chili peppers can increase the spice level dramatically and if you add seeds from those peppers, that will bring up the heat even more.
- I prefer to make chili ahead of time and eat it the next day. It really does taste best when it gets a chance to sit in the fridge overnight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! After chili is cooked, you will want to cool it as quickly as possible if you plan to freeze it. This will give bacteria less chance to build and extend the shelf life of food. The best way to cool chili quickly is to place the pot of chili into a larger container filled with ice and make sure to stir it from time to time as it cools.
Once it cools, portion it into smaller freezer bags, let all the air out, and close it well. Remember to label and date. Lay the bags flat on the cutting board and freeze. Chili can be frozen for up to 6 months.
To Thaw: Make sure to slow-thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Of course! The best thing about chili is that it is completely customizable! Make it the way you like it. You can use just ground beef or mix ground beef and ground pork. You can also go for a leaner meat and just use ground turkey.
Love it spicy? Use spicier peppers like serrano or habanero. Your chili will also be spicier if you keep the seeds in jalapenos or other peppers.
How to Server Smoked Chili
Being the Chili is almost a meal unto itself, you may only want to think about how finish off your BBQ. Some of these deserts may do the trick though. Try some delicious Grilled Peaches or even this Blueberry Cobbler.
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 8 oz raw bacon
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 bell pepper
- 2-3 jalapeno peppers
- 2 tomatoes
- 4-6 large garlic cloves
- 14 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 4 oz tomato paste
- 16 oz low sodium pinto beans
- 16 oz low sodium kidney beans
- 1 cup beef stock
- 2 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp ancho chili powder
- 1 tbsp salt more or less to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Pre-Smoking The Ground Beef
- Prepare your smoker as needed and preheat it to the temperature of 225°. For this dish we’ll be using a stronger wood in hickory.
- Remove the ground beef from the package and press it down so that it is just about an inch thick.
- Place the ground beef on a rack while in a heat resistant pan allowing the air to circulate.
- Smoke for 2 hours.
Preparing the Chili
- Using a large pot, sear diced bacon first, until it’s mostly done and add your smoked ground beef. Beak it up as much as you can and mix and cook until most of the meat had turned dark. Take it all out of the pot and set aside.
- Add a little more oil if needed and sauté onions and peppers until mostly softened. Once softened, make room for minced garlic and sauté until garlic is fragrant.
- Mix everything and add back in the meats.
- Drain beans and add them to the pot. Add can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and all the seasoning. Mix everything very well and stir in the beef stock.
- Bring the chili to a low boil and then lower the heat to low. Cover with a lid but leave a small crack for the steam to escape. Cook on low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remember to stir from time to time!
- Transfer your cooked chili into a heat resistant panand smoke your chili for an additional hour to infuse more smoke.