Dutch Oven Chili

4.67 from 6 votes
2 hours
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Dutch Oven Chili is smoky and spicy with layers of flavor and will soon become your go-to recipe for ground beef chili!  It makes plenty, so it’s perfect for a casual game day get-together or to enjoy some now and freeze some for later! Great with Mexican Sweet Potato Wedges!

One bowl of Game Day Chili with corn chips, cheese, sour cream jalapeno slices and cilantro in gray bowl.

Why is a Dutch Oven Good For Making Chili?

Chili is just one of those things, like a pot roast or beef short rib recipe that benefits from low and slow cooking. Chili works well in a slow cooker but doesn’t allow for evaporation and development of the flavor. The steam produced in a slow cooker can also water down flavor. A good, heavy Dutch oven will also keep the chili from burning on the bottom which is sure to ruin the flavor.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

I always get excited about chili and love making a big pot in our biggest Dutch oven every fall. This Dutch Oven Chili has all the classic beef chili elements with ground beef and beans but has layers of spicy flavor in various forms like fresh poblanos and chipotle chiles in adobo sauce and a combination of the best chili seasonings.

This is also award-winning chili!  No, not any big international or regional chili cooking contest, but a church chili cook-off where everyone agreed it was the BEST chili!

This Dutch Oven Chili recipe is:

  • Make-ahead! Cool it down, refrigerate it, and reheat it in the Dutch oven on the stovetop or a slow cooker on game day. Soups, stews, and chilis often taste better once the flavors have had a chance to meld.
  • Freezer-friendly! Enjoy some now, and freeze some for later!
  • Alcohol-free so everyone at your game day get-together can enjoy it.
  • Ready and waiting for all your favorite toppings for a delicious, over-the-top, award-winning chili!

Let’s make it!

Bowls of Game Day Chili with corn chips, cheese, sour cream jalapeno slices and cilantro in gray bowl.

How to Make the Best Dutch Oven Chili:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this Dutch oven chili recipe, along with how to prep the ingredients. It looks like a lot, but many ingredients are probably already in your pantry! See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredients for Game Day Chili in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Ground Beef: I like to use ground chuck for most recipes that call for ground beef. It’s 80% lean with 20% fat and comes from the shoulder area of the cow, which means it will have a higher fat content. However, that fat content contributes to taste, tenderness, and juiciness. Use a leaner 90/10 ratio to reduce fat, but it may not be as tender. You can use ground turkey or chicken in this recipe if you don’t consume beef.
  • Poblano Peppers: Poblano peppers are a mild variety of chile peppers believed to have originated in Puebla, Mexico, the town for which they are named. This mild pepper is used extensively in Mexico and the southwestern United States and has a deep, smoky flavor that is perfect in a recipe for ground beef chili.
  • Water From Tomatoes: This is simply a cup of water used to rinse out the various cans of tomatoes. I try not to waste anything!
  • Diced Tomatoes with Chiles: Also known as Ro-Tel, other brands of diced tomatoes with chiles are available.
  • Tomato Puree: Tomato puree is a canned product made from fresh tomatoes. The tomatoes are cooked and blended, making a smooth consistency thicker than conventional tomato sauce.
  • Crushed Tomatoes: Crushed tomatoes are made by peeling and seeding whole tomatoes and then grinding them.  They have a slightly chunkier texture than canned tomato sauce or purée and have fresh tomato flavor. Tomato puree is often added.
  • Chipotle Chiles: Chipotle chiles are smoked, dried jalapenos sold dried or canned in adobo sauce.
  • Chili Powder: Chili powder (with an “i”) is a combination of various spices such as chile powder (from dried chiles), paprika, garlic, cumin, and Mexican oregano. Use hot or mild–according to your taste and tolerance. Chile powder (with an “e”) is made from dried ground chiles with few if any, additives.
  • Mexican Oregano: Notes of citrus from Mexican Oregano brighten up this hearty Dutch oven chili. While Mexican oregano may share a name with other oreganos (Turkish or Greek), they are different herbs. Mexican oregano has citrusy undertones that are key to complimenting the other spices in this recipe. Other oreganos are not a good substitute. 
  • Beef Broth: Use beef broth or beef stock.
  • Beans: I like a combination of pinto beans and black beans, but you can use all pinto or all black beans. I’m not fond of kidney beans, but you can use them. Regardless of the type of canned beans you use, rinse and drain them well.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground chuck and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  • Brown well, breaking up the meat as you go until it is no longer pink. Drain off all excess fat. Set aside.
Browned ground beef in nonstick skillet.
  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until it softens.
  • Add the celery, Poblanos, and red bell pepper. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes or until softened.
  • Transfer the browned meat to the Dutch oven.
  • Sprinkle the spices and the garlic over the meat and stir well.
  • Add the beef broth, water from rinsing out the cans of tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, diced tomatoes with green chiles, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, and the beans.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Finished chili in red Dutch oven.
  • Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and a pinch of sugar if needed.
  • Stir in cilantro.

Deep, richly flavored Dutch oven award-winning chili!

Finished chili in red Dutch oven.
  • Serve with garnishes of choice: Cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, cilantro, jalapeno, avocado, red onion or scallion, and lime wedges.
Three bowls of Game Day Chili with corn chips, cheese, sour cream jalapeno slices and cilantro in gray bowl.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • I brown the meat separately for this Dutch oven chili recipe to remove all the excess fat/grease. If I cooked it with the onions, peppers, and celery, draining the meat would mean draining off the flavor of those vegetables. Remember, with chili, it’s vital to build layers of flavor. The meat will be adequately seasoned and flavored when the spices are added and from simmering with all the other ingredients.
  • Roasting the Poblanos adds another layer of flavor. Follow this method for How to Roast Hatch Green Chiles, then add them to your chili.
  • Dutch oven chili needs time for the flavors to come together. Collagen-rich ground chuck needs a good hour or two to break down and become tender. This recipe for ground beef chili calls for simmering for an hour, but don’t be afraid to simmer it longer.
One bowl of Game Day Chili with corn chips, cheese, sour cream jalapeno slices and cilantro in gray bowl.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the best beans for chili?

I like pinto and black beans with beef chili. Black beans are a staple in Mexican cuisine, and their structure and texture allow them to withstand the prolonged cooking process often required in dishes like Dutch oven chili. The rich flavor of black beans makes them an excellent complement to such recipes. Pinto beans are popular in Mexican and Spanish cuisines and have a creamy, soft texture with a subtle earthy flavor.

Can this recipe for ground beef chili be made in a seasoned cast iron Dutch oven?

Yes, but be cautious using a cast iron Dutch oven anyway because of the acidity in tomatoes. If you use unenameled cast iron, don’t let the chili sit in the cast iron Dutch oven. You’re always on the safe side using one that is enameled, such as Tramontina, and no seasoning or reseasoning is necessary.

Can a Dutch oven chili recipe be made ahead of time?

Absolutely! In fact, chili is always better the next day. If you use an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, you can store the chili in the Dutch oven and reheat it on the stovetop when you’re ready to serve. (Do not store in regular cast iron!). This Dutch oven chili can also be reheated in a slow cooker.

What are some uses for leftover chili?

Glad you asked! Leftover chili is even better the next day, so fix yourself another bowl! Otherwise, use it on taco salad, on baked sweet potatoes, a chili dog, frito pie, enchiladas or quesadilla.

Two bowls of Game Day Chili with corn chips, cheese, sour cream jalapeno slices and cilantro in gray bowl.

Storage:

  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze them in airtight containers for three to four months.

Serve with:

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One bowl of Dutch Oven Chili with corn chips, cheese, sour cream jalapeno slices and cilantro in gray bowl.

Dutch Oven Chili

4.67 from 6 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Dutch Oven Chili is smoky and spicy with layers of flavor and will soon become your go-to beef chili recipe!  It makes plenty, so it’s perfect for a casual game day get-together or to enjoy some now and freeze some for later!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Soups and Stews
Cuisine Southwestern / Mexican
Servings 10 -12
Calories 572 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 pounds ground chuck
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil - or another cooking oil
  • 2 large onions - chopped
  • 2 stalks celery - chopped
  • 4 large Poblano peppers - seeded and chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper - seeded and chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic - chopped
  • 1/4 cup chili powder - hot or mild, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 can (29-ounce) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (10.75-ounce) tomato puree - 10.75-ounce tomato puree
  • 1 can (10-ounce) diced tomatoes with green chiles - undrained
  • 1 cup water - for rinsing out the cans of tomatoes
  • 3-4 chipotle chiles canned in adobo sauce - plus 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce, chopped
  • 2 cans (15-ounce each) pinto beans - drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans (15-ounce each) black beans - drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro - plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon sugar - if needed and to taste
  • Cheese
  • Tortilla chips
  • Sour cream
  • Jalapeno
  • Avocado
  • Onion
  • Lime wedges

Instructions
 

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground chuck and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Brown well, breaking up the meat as you go until it is no longer pink. Drain off all excess fat. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 4-5 minutes or until beginning to soften.
  • Add the celery, Poblanos and red bell pepper. Cook for 6-7 minutes or until softened.
  • Transfer the browned meat to the Dutch oven. Sprinkle the spices and the garlic over the meat and stir well.
  • Add the beef broth, water from rinsing out the cans of tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, diced tomatoes with green chiles, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce and the beans.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Let stand for 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and a pinch of sugar if needed. Stir in cilantro.
  • Serve with garnishes of choice: Cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, cilantro, jalapeno, avocado, onion/scallion and lime wedges.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD:  Can be made ahead 1-2 days.  Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Cool and place in airtight containers in the number of servings as desired.  Freeze 1-2 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator.  Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 572kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 591mg | Potassium: 924mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2626IU | Vitamin C: 78mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 6mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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2 Comments

  1. This looks like the real deal chili recipe Carol. Can’t wait to gather the ingredients and make this one of these cold nights. Thanks for sharing.