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Award Winning Beef and Bean Chili

There's a reason this chili won a local chili cook-off! I've kept my recipe closely guarded for years, but today I'm finally spilling the beans about my award winning chili.

award winning chili

If you asked me what my signature dish is, I would have to say it's my beef and bean chili. I started making "my chili" about 15 years ago, and it's consistently received rave reviews from family and friends.

It even won 1st place in a local chili cook-off, for which I received a lovely prize of a bottle of tequila, a plaque, and our team name permanently added to the walls of Baja Cantina in Marina del Rey, California.

my chili cookoff award

For years I kept my recipe closely guarded, holding onto the dream that I might one day enter one of those big chili cook-offs where you can win actual money and other exciting prizes.

But...since nearly 10 years have passed and I've yet to do so, it's time to share my secrets.

The key to my award winning chili:

  • Bold spice (but not too spicy unless you want it to be)
  • Beefy flavor (not overly tomato-y as some chili can be), and
  • My secret ingredient, which I'll get to in just a minute. ;)

When I'm making this chili recipe on a lazy Sunday afternoon, I like to experiment and take my time. I'll often use sauteed onions, diced garlic, roasted peppers, fresh jalapenos, and a variety of spices and seasonings.

I'll let it simmer on the stovetop for hours, stirring, tasting, adding a pinch of this and a dash of that, and letting the flavors mingle until we're ready to eat.

But I don't always have the time or patience for that.

Sometimes I just want to make a batch of chili on a busy Tuesday night. And that is the recipe I'm sharing today.

This chili recipe can go from stovetop to dinner table in 30 minutes, and uses basic ingredients that you can keep stored in your pantry.

OK, now for the secret ingredient in my award winning chili...

Are you ready?

garbanzo beans -- my secret award winning chili ingredient


I originally used only kidney beans in the chili, but one day I forgot to buy them and resorted to using garbanzos from my pantry as a substitute. We were immediately hooked, and I've been using a combination of kidney beans and garbanzos ever since.

The garbanzo beans add a texture that's uniquely satisfying, especially when combined with white rice and shredded cheese, which is how we insist on eating it at our house.

If you love chili, I am confident you'll love this recipe. And if you win any chili cook-offs with it, you totally owe me a bottle of tequila.

winning chili recipe

Adjusting the salt

I like my chili fairly salty, so I add about one additional teaspoon in addition to what I included in the recipe. If you don't like things salty or you need to limit your salt for health reasons, add the salt little by little until you get it just right.

Best chili powder to use

The type of chili powder you use may affect the overall heat and flavor of the chili. I'm not partial to any particular brand, but I used McCormick in this recipe.

like your chili spicy?

If you like your chili spicy, my favorite way to heat it up is to use chipotle powder. If you prefer it more mild, just leave it out. If you can't find chipotle powder, you can always add a little bit of cayenne or red pepper flakes instead.

Thickening the Chili

If you find that the chili is a little too watery, and you don't have time to let it simmer down, you can thicken it with a cornstarch slurry.

Just place some of the warm chili liquid into a bowl and whisk in a teaspoon of cornstarch. When it's evenly combined, return the mixture to the chili and stir. You can repeat this until you achieve the desired consistency.

Award Winning Chili

My award-winning chili recipe, simplified for easy weeknight cooking.
4.93 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 448kcal
Author: Kate


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 32 oz beef broth
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 4 oz can diced green chiles
  • 15 oz can garbanzo beans drained
  • 15 oz can kidney beans drained
  • 3 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder only if you like it spicy!!
  • cooked white rice for serving
  • shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese for serving


  • Brown ground beef in a soup pot over medium heat. Drain any fat. Add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a slight simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until ready to serve (the longer you simmer the more it will thicken). Serve over white rice and top with shredded cheese.


Optional toppings and add-ins include: fresh cilantro, red onion, sliced fresh jalapeno or pickled jalapenos.


Calories: 448kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 2902mg | Potassium: 1151mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1995IU | Vitamin C: 17.5mg | Calcium: 164mg | Iron: 8.3mg
Recipe Rating

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Thursday 25th of March 2021

Too salty for me, I would use half the salt. And I would add another can of beans. Otherwise, really good!


Tuesday 24th of September 2019

I can see why it's award winning! I love beans in my chili!

Haley D. Williams

Tuesday 24th of September 2019

Spilling the beans... I'm a sucker for puns! But in all seriousness this recipe is amazing.


Tuesday 24th of September 2019

This looks like an award winning chili for sure! Looks delicious!

Kelly Anthony

Tuesday 24th of September 2019

I like your idea of adding chipotle powder to make it more spicy because I like a hot chili! I've also never had chili with garbanzo beans so I'm excited to try something new.

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