Don’t be fooled by the dainty appearance of this game day chili. It’s actually a robust beef- and bean-laden chili that is not for the delicate or the faint of heart.

Who doesn’t love a homemade bowl of warming, stick-to-your ribs chili? I like to make this recipe on a Saturday or Sunday during football season when the air turns crisp. A big pot of chili makes for a great tailgating menu item. When serving it at home, I like to set out little bowls of toppings so my guests can make their own creations.–Whitney Miller

LC Girling It Up With Game Day Chili Note

No one needs to tell you that chili is hardly just guy food. But it can seem even girlier, er, more ladylike than you’d ever imagined when you serve in diminutive, floral tea cups, just as in the photo above. We like to do this when serving it to guys, just to see if they’ll raise their pinkies as they tuck into it. Hee hee hee.

A pretty saucer and teacup filled with game day chili, and topped with scallions, Cheddar, and sour cream.

Game Day Chili

5 / 3 votes
Don’t be fooled by the dainty appearance of this game day chili. It’s actually a robust beef- and bean-laden chili that is not for the delicate or the faint of heart.
Servings6 servings
Calories511 kcal
Prep Time35 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 50 minutes


For the chili

  • 3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
  • 1 pound beef stew meat cut into 1-inch (24-mm) cubes
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 green bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 small onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • Salt if desired
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • One (15-ounce) can kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • One (15-ounce) can black beans rinsed and drained
  • One (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce thinly sliced, or less to taste

For the toppings

  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 bunch scallions thinly sliced
  • One (16-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves (optional)


Make the chili

  • In a large soup pot, heat the canola oil over medium-low heat. Dredge the meat in 2 tablespoons of the flour. Add to the pot and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and simmer until the beef is almost tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the bell pepper and onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic, and salt, if desired, and cook 1 minute longer. (Here’s the deal with the salt: The chili arguably doesn’t need any, given all the chile and spice, though if you’re sort of a salt whore, you’ll miss its presence if you do without.)
  • Add the ground beef to the pan and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Spoon the fat from the pan and discard.
  • When the stew meat has cooked for 30 minutes, add the ground beef and vegetables. Add both kinds of beans, the diced tomatoes and their juices, and the chipotle peppers. Gently simmer on low heat for 45 minutes to meld the flavors. Stir occasionally to make sure the chili doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Assemble the toppings

  • Place all of the toppings in individual bowls to pass at the table. Ladle the chili into bowls or mugs and let everyone help themselves to the toppings.
Modern Hospitality

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 511 kcalCarbohydrates: 32 gProtein: 41 gFat: 25 gSaturated Fat: 8 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 12 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 101 mgSodium: 922 mgPotassium: 1215 mgFiber: 11 gSugar: 4 gVitamin A: 897 IUVitamin C: 18 mgCalcium: 117 mgIron: 7 mg

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Whitney Miller. Photo © 2011 Ellen Silverman. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Texas-style chili con carne (chunks of beef, no beans, and no tomatoes, according to a Texan I know) met mainstream chili (ground beef, beans and tomatoes) in the middle and shook hands peacefully. Game Day Chili doesn’t take sides—maybe the name is appropriate—every player matters!

I enjoyed the beefy smoky flavor without too much tomato. Be sure to use beef stock, not broth, as the former gives you a much deeper flavor.

It is the time of year for football…and chili. Like many people, I have a chili recipe that I always run to during the colder months, but I was very interested in testing this recipe for one main reason: I loved the idea of using both stew meat and ground beef in this chili recipe. What a nice texture to have both in one pot.

I was surprised to be told not to add any additional salt or pepper to this chili, but you really didn’t need it. Between the canned tomatoes and the fabulous, spicy flavor from the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, the overall flavor was deep and smoky, which we enjoyed.

We used all of the toppings recommended, which were a nice cool and crisp addition to the warm bowls of chili. Overall, we loved this chili recipe and the way it looked—very colorful!

A good basic chili recipe that works as written, but could be easily changed to your particular taste. All of the ingredients add to the dish’s flavor, and I liked the different types of beans instead of just one. Also, it was nice to see a recipe with meat cut into cubes as well as ground meat, which I do for my own chili recipe.

Tips and hints: three chipotle peppers is a lot. Modify it if you don’t like super-hot food; you can always add some if it’s not hot enough. I don’t think the step of flouring the beef cubes for browning is necessary — the meat will brown without it even better, the flour doesn’t end up burning on the bottom of the pan, and if you leave it out, the dish is gluten-free. Season the meat with salt and pepper when browning and don’t crowd the pan. Love all the toppings, don’t skimp on these!

This is an involved recipe but really, really worth it.

I did substitute an organic chili bean mix and used organic tomatoes. I removed the seeds from the chipotle peppers before slicing. Also, I used a red pepper rather than a green one. If I were now re-making this dish, I would use the whole onion and the whole pepper—it’s so wasteful to just use half.

With the exception of adding a large pinch of salt during step three, I wouldn’t change a thing about this chili. I could see reducing the number of chipotle chiles for less heat, but the smokiness really adds to the two kinds of beef.

I might cut some of the large pieces of stew meat for more even browning and simmering. Definitely making this recipe again! (Would also consider re-jiggering the steps to try to make this a one-pot meal!)

Originally published January 1, 2012

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
    Made this a few days ago and love it. I had a chunk of shoulder meat so cubed it and thought I might have to simmer lots longer, but only a little 45 minutes.
    And then I needed to use up a large cubanelle pepper and it was great.
    Thought the tomatoes might not be enough but perfect.
    Made with the need for leftovers later in the weekly plan, and also excellent heated after a couple days.

  2. 5 stars
    This is a great recipe, but, of course, I made some changes. I used a 20 oz can of tomatoes, 2 bell peppers, and 1 whole large onion. Then, I needed extra spice. I added 6 more tablespoons of chili powder (I think it was weak), 2 tablespoons of cumin, and 2 more chipotle peppers with 2 tablespoons of the sauce from the can. I served it with jalapeno cheddar cornbread waffles. It was the best chili I have ever had!!!!!!

    1. Terrific, Melissa! Love how you made the recipe your own, tweaking it to your personal preference. Can’t wait to hear what other recipes on the site you try soon…

  3. Think I’ll make this tomorrow since it’ll be in the LOW 50’s in Hotlanta! What’s up with that?

    1. Oof, Marilee, I got a chill just reading about the low 50s. Shudder. Here’s hoping the chili does the trick….

  4. 5 stars
    Great chili recipe – we loved the smokey chipotle chili flavor and the cubed and ground meat. I would probably add an additional chili as it wasn’t hot enough for us, but had decent heat if making for others. Also, next time I would double or even triple the recipe so there would be a lot more leftovers – my batch made only 5 servings. But a definite keeper.

    1. Perhaps the truest test of whether a recipe is a keeper is when you’re left wanting more leftovers! Many thanks, Marilyn, it’s terrific to hear how much you like the recipe. And thanks for the tip about doubling or tripling it. So many uses for chili, whether straight up in a bowl, scooped up with chips or soft tortillas, spooned over eggs, glopped atop baked potatoes, or simply as an excuse to dice up an avocado. I’m missing dozens more reasons, I know, but you know, just for starters…

      1. Chili Mac! How could you forget Chili Mac??? 😉 Or Chili Dogs/Burgers? Taco Salad! Heck, everything goes great with chili.

        I also love it on polenta/grits. LOL! Your spell checker marks polenta as a spelling error. What does it suggest as an alternative? TADPOLE! Gotta wonder who programs these things. ;)))

        1. I’m seeing a real pattern here, Ruthie. Polenta, polenta and more polenta, or tadpole, as the case may be.

  5. Cincinnati, Ohio, is famous for its Chili Parlors. The most famous “chain” is Skyline Chili, owned and operated by, believe it or not, Greeks. Though the recipe is kept under lock and key by Greek grandmothers, it is well known that one of the “secret” ingredients is chocolate. Skyline doesn’t serve its chili in tea cups, though. What a great idea!

    1. Christine, we couldn’t agree more about the tea cups! And I know Skyline Chili well. A dear friend–actually, an ex-boyfriend–once lured me to Cincinnati with tales of Skyline’s secret recipe. It worked–sort of. I went to visit, and although I came away with a note of relief and finality in his and my relationship, I certainly was not disappointed by the chili! Worth the trip just to have experienced it…

    2. Chronis, well, the Greeks (along side the Portuguese) basically discovered everything! What kind of chocolate, do you know? Unsweetened?

      1. David – Saveur published its version of “Cincinnati Chili” (which I have yet to try). It calls for unsweetened cocoa powder.

        1. Being the good friend, excellent cook, and wonderful food writer that you are, I know you’ll make it and invite The One and me over….

    3. Oh Renee, we’ll have to talk Cincinnati (where I wandered for 34 years before arriving in the Promised Land of New York), and chili sometime. Folks seem to fall into only two camps when it comes to Skyline– love it/hate it. Three-ways, four-ways and five-ways fall into the category of food that I call “vulgar,” as in “from the vulgate” meaning the vernacular. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love them!

      1. Hello David, glad you liked the idea about adding chocolate. But you can also revert this when making a hot chocolate drink and add a pinch of chili powder.

        1. Willy, yes, I’ve done that to great effect. But chocolate in chili is certainly on my to-cook list….

  6. I have a giant collection of that Kath Kidston porcelain. Looks like instead of tea or coffee, chili needs to be served! Happy new year 🙂

    1. Indeed, Maria! The versatility of that lovely collection knows no bounds…happy, happy new year to you, too!

  7. Okay, we will assume that we are talking about rugby…and now I have to ask my husband to make me chili. Girly or he-man, we love it! Happy New Year!

    1. And a happy new year to you, Jamie. Yup, few things are both girly or he-man, this chili definitely ranks toward the top of the short list. (Methinks loaded nachos and potato skins and a proper rib eye are up there, too…)