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Chili is one of my favorites. It hits the spot, gives you a little spicy kick in the ass, and warms you up when it gets cool outside. Plus, how can we put up a delicious cornbread recipe and not have some chili to go with it?

Here, I will share with you my mother’s chili recipe – one she’s been making for years, since I was a little kid. She is easily the best cook, ever (although everyone probably says that about their own moms), but never writes down her recipes (silly woman!).

Well – I got her to write this down for me a few years ago, so I’m going to share it with you. This recipe has been vetted by two of my best friends and their young children – as well as my husband – all with rave reviews.

Yvonne’s Best Ever Chili

This makes a TON OF CHILI. Alex and I have enough of this to last us through both lunches and dinners for an entire week, or longer (I get bored with the same thing over and over, so it’s a good thing that this recipe also keeps and freezes well).

You will need either a giant crockpot (the mini versions will not work), a large dutch oven, or a big stock pot for this recipe.

I’ll also give you both versions of this recipe: the original version, and the easier, crock-pot version that I came up with. The original version takes more effort, but the crockpot version takes longer. You choose – the end result will be basically the same.


2 Yellow Onions, chopped
6 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes (I usually also add a full green bell pepper)
1 Stalk Celery, chopped
1-2 Fresh Jalapeños, seeded and chopped (we sometimes add 1 small habanero pepper if we want more spice)
1/4 C Chili Powder
1 T Ground Cumin
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 tsp Ground Coriander (I don’t use this, but I do add Chipotle Powder)
1/2-1 tsp Cayenne Pepper (depending on how hot you want it)
1 tsp Salt, split
1 tsp Dried Oregano
2 Bay Leaves
2 (28 oz) Cans Diced Tomatoes
1 (28 oz) Can Tomato Puree
2 (15 oz) Cans Dark Kidney Beans, drained
1 (15 oz) Can Pinto Beans, drained
2 (15 oz) Cans garbanzo beans – not drained
(you can also use black beans, not drained. I cannot eat them, so I take them out of all my recipes and substitute them with kidney or garbanzo beans, generally).
1/4 C Cacao Nibs (I don’t use these)
1 Tb brown sugar
2 Tb Gluten Free Soy Sauce
1 and 1/2 C Frozen Corn, thawed, or 1 (15oz) Can Corn, drained
1 and 1/2 to 2 lbs of either ground beef (no leaner than 85%) or ground turkey, browned in a separate pan

1. If you are using a stock pot/dutch oven, heat oil. Add onions, garlic, red bell pepper, celery, jalapeño/habanero peppers, chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, salt, oregano and bay leaves. Cook until onions are softened and lightly browned – about 10-15 minutes.

1A. If you want to use a crock pot – put all of the ingredients in #1 (you do not have to sauté or cook them beforehand if you don’t want to) and the already browned meat into the crock pot on High. Skip to step 3.

2. Turn the heat to medium-high and add half of your meat at this time. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add the remaining meat and cook until no longer pink, maybe 3-4 minutes.

3. Stir in diced tomatoes with their juice, and be sure to scrape up any browned bits out of the bottom of the pan (This if for flavor. If you’re using a crock pot, you won’t have these bits – sad).

4. Stir in tomato puree, beans, brown sugar, cacao nibs, soy sauce and 1/2 tsp salt.

5. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for 1 and 1/2 hours. If chili begins to stick to the bottom of your pan, add 1/2 C water and continue to simmer (Note: I have NEVER had this issue. If anything, I have too much liquid and end up siphoning some off).

5A. If you are using a crock pot, cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. You will probably need to take some liquid off as it rises to the top. Our crockpot was almost overflowing.

6. Add corn and continue to simmer uncooked for another 30 minutes.

6A. If you are using a crock pot, add corn and cook on low for another 1 and 1/2 hours, or until you think it’s done.

7. Adjust seasonings as necessary, you will usually need a bit more salt and/or pepper.

8. Serve with cornbread (we put honey on ours – it actually works very well with chili), sour cream, guacamole, cheese, and/or lime wedges.

I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe from my childhood, and let my mom’s chili (or the hot peppers, either way) warm your heart. 🙂