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Gameday Chili

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Our gameday chili is a crowd-pleaser and perfect for those rival football match-ups during cold weather.

Gameday chili is perfect for college football Saturday, Super Bowl Sunday get-togethers, or just any cold winter day. Made with ground beef, tomatoes, spices, our own special chili base, and a couple of secret ingredients this chili is a sure crowd-pleaser. And yes, we do live in Texas and do put beans in this version of chili.

gameday chili topped with jalapeños, sour cream, and cheese

Let’s Talk Ingredients and Substitutions


While there is a long list of ingredients for our chili but also loads of flavor. With a few secret ingredients that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

The full ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.

  • Ground Beef – Coarse ground beef is the best for making chili; our Texas grocery store labels it as ‘Ground Angus Chuck Chili Meat’. Since it is a coarser grind it will not break down as much as a fine grind beef which will give the chili more texture. You can substitute regular ground beef or even turkey or chicken based on your preference.
  • Beans – There is a heated debate on whether real chili has beans. Personally, we think if you like beans in your chili then add them – if you don’t then skip them. We prefer a combo of red kidney beans and pinto beans but you can add or substitute any kind of bean. You can soak and cook your own or use canned.
  • Onion and Garlic – While we prefer to use fresh and not powdered, if all you have on hand is onion powder and garlic powder it will do. Approximately 1/2 tablespoon of onion powder is equivalent to 1/4 cup of raw onion and about 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder is equivalent to 2 cloves pressed garlic. Be careful not to use onion salt or garlic salt by mistake since this could make your chili taste too salty.
  • Tomatoes – You can use either whole peeled tomatoes or diced tomatoes (along with their juices) which tend to hold their shape better. We used whole peeled tomatoes that we lightly hand crushed for a richer tasting chili.
  • Beef Broth – Beef broth adds additional beef flavor to the chili but you can substitute chicken or vegetable broth if that is all you have just note that the final flavor will be different.
  • Spices – Our chili recipe only uses a little cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper since there is so much flavor coming from the ground beef and our secret ingredients.
ingredients for gameday chili

Secret Ingredients for Gameday Chili

Our three secret chili ingredients are dark beer, Worcestershire sauce, and our homemade chili base made from dried ancho and guajillo chiles.

  • Dark Beer – Why add beer to your chili instead of more stock? Beer gives chili a malty flavor and adds complexity; it also helps with the “reduction” process just like adding red wine does to your favorite beef dishes. We used Shiner Bock which is a darker lager style beer since it is local to San Antonio and is lightly hopped. The type of beer does matter – you will want to us a lager, porter or stout as these beers are lower on the hop scale (IBUs) and the flavor won’t mask the subtleties of the roasted chiles.
  • Worcestershire Sauce – Worcestershire sauce is a great umami amplifier, which is why it’s commonly added to Bloody Marys. Adding it to the chili helps to create a rich, savory base.
  • Homemade Chili Base – Typical chili recipes will call for chili powder which is a combination of chili peppers, spices (as in cumin and paprika), salt, and garlic. The actual ingredients will vary depending on the brand which is why we prefer to skip the powder and make our own chili base. Our chili base (or paste) uses dried ancho and guajillo chilies, beef broth, and tomato paste. Ancho chiles are sweet mild chiles and add lot of flavor to the chili with just a little heat. Guajillo chiles add a complex fruity flavor to the chili with a slightly more heat. Both chiles have become more readily available in grocery stores or online.
gameday chili topped with cheese, sour cream, jalapenos with a side of corn bread

Let’s Get Cooking


Are you ready to make Game Day Chili? This hearty chili is perfect for a big crowd and can be made in advance. You can keep it for up to 3-5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. As it sits in the refrigerator it will thicken so a few splashes of broth or water (or more beer) may need to be added to loosen it up a bit when you reheat it.

Pro-tip: Gameday chili freezes well so make a little extra to have on a cold day when you need a bowl to warm you up.

gameday chili process shots for steps 1-3

1. Toast the Chiles: In a medium saucepan warm the beef broth. Split and deseed dried chiles. Toast the chiles in a cast iron pan for approximately 20-30 seconds per side. Chiles will begin to have a fruity smell and darken. Be careful not to over toast.

2. Blend Chiles and Broth: Tear or cut chiles into 1-2 inch pieces and add them to the beef broth. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Let chiles and beef broth sit for 5-10 minutes. In a blender, blend the chiles and beef broth for approximately 2-3 minutes or until chiles have been broken down. Add tomato paste and blend until smooth.

3 Strain Chili Base: Use a spatula to work the chili mixture through a wire strainer to remove residual chili stems or seeds.

gameday chili process shots for steps 4-6

4. Cook Ground Beef, Onions, and Garlic: Cook ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Stir until meat crumbles and is no longer pink.  Drain well.

5. Combine Remaining Ingredients: Combine remaining ingredients with meat mixture and bring to a boil.

6. Simmer the Chili: Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours or until chili has thickened.

7. Let’s Eat: Serve hot and topped with your favorite garnishes or side.

gameday chili topped with jalapenos, sour cream, and cheese

Frequently Asked Questions


What makes a great chili?

Great chili will have a rich, complex chile flavor, and using dried chiles as the base for chili gives you a flavor that combines sweet, hot, fresh, and fruity elements.

How to reheat chile?

You can keep leftover chili for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will thicken as it sits in the refrigerator so a few splashes of broth or water may need to be added to loosen it up a bit when you reheat it.

Can I freeze leftover chili?

Yes! Once the chili has cooled store it in a freezer-safe container or gallons size freezer bag. Freeze bags are my preference since they can be placed flat in the freezer and stacked. The chili can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to reheat, just thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then heat in a saucepan or microwave until warmed through.

What can I serve with chili?

There are so many ways to serve chili. Some of our favorite toppings are diced white onion, diced radish, sliced avocado, cojita cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, jalapeños. You can serve it with corn chips or cornbread. It’s also great as a topping on a baked potato.

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Gameday Chili

Our gameday chili is a crowd-pleaser and perfect for those rival football match-ups during cold weather.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people
Calories 248 kcal

Equipment

  • Large Pot or Dutch Oven
  • Blender

Ingredients  

Homemade Chili Base

  • 5-6 large guajillo chiles dried
  • 4-5 large ancho chiles dried
  • 2 ½ cups beef broth
  • 1 6 ounce can of tomato paste

Game Day Chili

  • 1.5 – 2 pounds ground beef chili grind
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 15 ounce can of pinto beans
  • 1 15 ounce can of red kidney beans
  • 1 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 1 12 ounce bottle dark beer such as Shiner Bock
  • 1 4.5 ounce can of chopped green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons black pepper freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Optional Garnishes

  • shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
  • sour cream
  • green onions diced
  • jalapenos
  • avocado

Instructions 

Homemade Chili Base

  • In a medium saucepan warm the beef broth.
  • Split and deseed dried chiles.
  • Toast chiles in a cast iron pan for approximately 20-30 seconds per side. Chiles will begin to have a fruity smell and darken, resembling leather. Be careful not to over-toast.
  • Tear or cut chiles into 1-2 inch pieces and add chiles to broth. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat, letting sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Blend chilis and beef broth in a blender for approximately 2-3 minutes or until chiles have been broken down. Add tomato paste and then blend until smooth.
  • Using a spatula work the chili mixture through a wire strainer to remove residual chili stems or seeds.

Game Day Chili

  • Cook ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Stir until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain well.
  • Combine remaining ingredients including chili base and beer with meat mixture and bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours or until chili has thickened.
  • Serve hot and topped with with your favorite garnishes or side.

Notes

1. Chili base: Dried ancho and guajillo chiles are now more widely available in grocery stores or online. You can substitute other chilis but this will alter the flavor of the chili. You can also skip the toasting step and use 2 12-ounce cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce blended with the beef broth and tomato paste. 
2. Chili Powder Substitute: You can substitute 2-3 tablespoons of chili powder for the homemade chili base. Add the chili powder, beef broth, and tomato paste to the cooked ground beef when the other ingredients are added.
2. Beans: Pinto and red kidney beans are the classic choices for our Game Day Chili. You could use black, white, or cannellini in a pinch, but it would affect the taste of the final product.  
3. Garnishes: We’ve listed the classic garnishes for chili, but some other great choices include: diced white onion, diced radish, cojita cheese, saltine crackers, and of course corn chips.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 248 kcalCarbohydrates: 24 gProtein: 26 gFat: 3 gSaturated Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 34 mgSodium: 374 mgPotassium: 345 mgFiber: 8 gSugar: 3 gVitamin A: 8 IUVitamin C: 12 mgCalcium: 16 mgIron: 17 mg
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