If anyone in this business could make money out of a stone, it was Uncle Denny. He had a club called the Blue Angel, which had a lab downstairs where he mixed bootleg liquor with legal liquor. He knew how to get the absolute most out of anything. He’s been credited with watering down mustard, not giving lids or straws on cups, and telling people he’s out of napkins when he had a whole supply stashed away. But his absolute best was whenever a cook was ready to pitch something, he’d look at it and say, “Put it in the chili!” It became a family joke, so how could we not name it after Uncle D!–Spike Mendelsohn

LC (Urp) Note

Unlike most chilis, this intensely flavored chili with a mellow chipotle kick isn’t exactly intended to be served on its own, but rather with Cheddar cheese and sour cream to mellow its rich, sweetly spicy heat. We also swoon to it spooned on a burger, glopped on a baked potato, slathered over fries, even dumped on spaghetti or white rice. Just pass the napkins.

A glass dish of beef chili topped with cheddar cheese sauce and a dollop of sour cream with a spoon resting inside.

Chipotle Beef Chili with Cheddar Cheese Sauce

5 from 1 vote
This chipotle beef chili with Cheddar cheese sauce is sufficiently awesome to be award-winning. Sassy, spicy, and smothered with a creamy cheese sauce.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories670 kcal
Prep Time40 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 40 minutes


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • One (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • One (30-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cold water
  • Half (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 2 cups sweet, mild barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese Sauce
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  • In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the beef, stirring and breaking it up until it’s browned. Drain off the fat.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in another large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and green pepper and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent and both onion and pepper are softened, about 10 minutes. Add the beans, cumin, paprika, chili powder, and black pepper. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the browned beef to the spice mixture and continue cooking and stirring until well mixed. Add the tomato sauce and water, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, about 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, purée the chipotles in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add the barbecue sauce, ketchup, vinegar, and molasses. Puree until smooth. Strain. You should have about 3 cups. Cover and refrigerate 2 cups of the sauce and use as a mildly hot barbecue sauce.
  • Stir the remaining 1 cup of the chipotle mixture into the chili. Season the chili with salt to taste. Ladle into bowls and top each with a some Cheddar Cheese Sauce and sour cream. The chili gets even better when left in the refrigerator for a day.
Good Stuff Cookbook

Adapted From

The Good Stuff Cookbook

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 670 kcalCarbohydrates: 56 gProtein: 32 gFat: 36 gSaturated Fat: 12 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 14 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 116 mgSodium: 1462 mgPotassium: 987 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 42 gVitamin A: 2178 IUVitamin C: 20 mgCalcium: 131 mgIron: 6 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2010 Spike Mendelsohn. Photo © 2010 Joe Shymanski. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This chipotle beef chili is a very good, sweet chili with a strong after-kick from the chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. I reheated it the next day and, like almost all chilis I’ve made, the overnight sitting melds the flavors and makes it even better. So, what can I say? The day after? Even better!

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Well… after looking at this recipe almost all week finally made it this evening and it was really awesome 🙂

    Still trying to figure out what to use the leftovers with tomorrow… hoping it is just as good then!

    1. Excellent, Beth! If it were me, I’d do leftovers on nachos, on baked potatoes, or on potato skins. Or all three. But that’s just me…

  2. Boy this sounds amazing. I love chili and love making it. I won a recipe contest a few years ago for a chili recipe so I think I know good chili. I can’t wait to try this. I have been wanting this book. This makes me want it more.

  3. Cheddar Cheese? This recipe struck some familiar notes. I’ve been smearing N. African harissa paste on the most pedestrian cheddar cheese possible — leftover yellow bricks from a family BBQ. Mostly on pitas but suitable for any flat, edible surface. Fifteen seconds in the microwave — what a transformation. Heating the harissa seems to unleash it. But you can’t really eat a bowl of chili paste like you could with this recipe. To save time I’d omit the green pepper, red onion (I don’t think you need ’em), just get some kick-ass chilis. Everything below “chipotles in adobo sauce” –follow your bliss, time permitting.