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Chipotle Beef Chili with Cheddar Cheese Sauce

A glass dish of beef chili topped with cheddar cheese sauce and a dollop of sour cream with a spoon resting inside.
This chipotle beef chili with Cheddar cheese sauce is sufficiently awesome to be award winning. Sassy, spicy, and smothered with a creamy cheese sauce. Ladle on burgers, potato skins, tortilla chips, spaghetti, or simply reach for a spoon. Here's how to make it.
Spike Mendelsohn

Prep 40 mins
Cook 1 hr
Total 1 hr 40 mins
6 servings


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
  • One 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 can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup cold water
  • Half 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.