Smoky Beef & Bacon Chili

Chili was probably on last weekend's menu... and ours was no exception! My friends Josh and Suzanne hosted a fun Superbowl Party featuring a chili cook-off. It's amazing how many variations there are of chili and at this party we had 6 very different kinds to enjoy. My offering for the cook-off was this Smoky Beef & Bacon Chili. Bacon makes everything better, right?! Seasoned beef, kidney beans, tomatoes and a unique blend of spices are only highlighted by the smokiness of bacon in every bite of this chili. For those that want a flavorful bowl, you'll find it right in here...

There are so many kinds of flavors and textures one can incorporate in chili. At the chili cook-off, each pot was very different with their own distinct flavor. Spicy, sweet, chunky, smooth, with vegetables, without vegetables, even one with beer... they all were happily sampled. This chili offered a smoky flavor due to bacon that gave the dish a whole new depth. The best part is that this chili takes no time in putting together since it's slow cooked in a crockpot. Oh, and did I mention this is even better the next day after all the flavors have melded together?!

Smoky Beef & Bacon Chili
recipe adapted from My Recipes

2 slices thick-cut bacon, finely chopped 
1 large onion, finely chopped 
1 large garlic clove, minced 
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef 
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 can (14.5 oz.) crushed regular crushed tomatoes 
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce 
1 cup pilsner beer OR 1 cup chicken broth if gluten free
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 can (14.5 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained

Sour cream, sliced scallions, and/or grated cheddar for topping

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon, stirring until it just begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add onion, lower heat to medium, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 4 to 7 minutes. Uncover pan, stir in garlic, and cook 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a 6 quart crockpot.

In the same pan (without rinsing) over medium-high heat, add ground beef; break it up with a wooden spoon and stir gently until it loses its raw color, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in spices and salt. Transfer beef to crockpot.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer or chicken stock, Worcestershire and beans to crockpot, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours.

Season to taste with additional salt. Serve warm, with toppings on the side.


  1. BEAUTIFUL PHOTO! And you almost had me with the beans as the last ingredient. i do a few Chili Cook off contests. Bean recipes never win and it is a darn shame. What a terrific recipe. Cumin is a new "find" spice in my soups and chilis, going to save this one!


  2. Wow, this looks awesome! Perfect for the cold rainy weather today.

  3. Looks delicious! My daughter (who adores bacon)would absolutely LOVE this. Will have to try it this coming weekend. Thanks for posting!

  4. I love chili! But my husband is super picky, so I have trouble getting him to even try it. I never thought of putting bacon in it though. I don't think he would turn down trying anything made with bacon...I think I'll have to give this a try. This is perfect for our Chicago winter, right? :D