Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (2024)

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This Award-Winning Chili recipe is the best chili you’ll ever have. If you're tired of one-note chili recipes, this is the flavorful, cook-off-winning chili you've been dreaming of, complete with a secret ingredient that sets it apart from the rest.

Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (1)

The secret to the best chili lies in my award-winning recipe, a hit at a cook-off in my Northwestern Indian hometown. With its wonderful flavor and countless positive reviews, this is a go-to recipe that I can't recommend enough.

If you're a fan of this Award-Winning Chili recipe, you'll also love my best Vegan Chili, packed with chickpeas and sweet potatoes. It's a healthy, easy, and kid-approved alternative that's sure to satisfy.

And for those who enjoy the convenience of a slow cooker, I've adapted this recipe for a crockpot chili recipe to deliver the same incredible taste and flavor with minimal effort.

Jump to:
  • Why This Is The Best Award-Winning Chili Recipe
  • Key Ingredients
  • How to Make Award-Winning Chili
  • Tips For Making the Best Award-Winning Chili
  • Serving Suggestions
  • Recipe Variation Ideas
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • How to Store Leftovers
  • Similar Recipes
  • Recipe
Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (2)

Why This Is The Best Award-Winning Chili Recipe

  • Quick and Easy: This award-winning chili recipe is straightforward and simple to make. With easy-to-follow steps, you'll have a delicious meal ready in no time.
  • Unique and Irresistible: The unique blend of spices, including cocoa powder, gives this chili an unforgettable flavor. It’s a flavor combination that will amaze you and have you coming back for seconds.
  • Classic Flavors: This recipe sticks to the classic chili ingredients like ground turkey, beans, and tomatoes, ensuring a familiar and comforting taste and that’s why it won a chili cook-off!
  • Family Favorite: This chili is a hit with the whole family. It is a hearty, satisfying meal that everyone will love.
  • Crowd Pleaser: Whether you're hosting a party or a family gathering, this chili is sure to please. It is a dish that's always met with rave reviews, like the numerous incredible reviews under my Chili pin on Pinterest.
  • Comfort Food: There's nothing quite like a bowl of warm, hearty chili on a cold day. This recipe is the epitome of comfort food.

Key Ingredients

Here's an overview of some key ingredients for this recipe. For the full list of ingredients and measurements, please scroll to the recipe card below.

  • Ground turkey thighs: This ingredient adds a rich, meaty flavor to the chili.
  • Ground turkey breast: This leaner cut of turkey adds additional protein without the extra fat.
  • Beans: We’ll be adding white beans and kidney beans to our delicious chili. Kidney beans add a hearty element and are a great source of fiber, while white beans add a creamy texture and are also a good source of protein.
  • Cocoa powder: This unusual ingredient adds a depth of flavor and a hint of bitterness that will everyone asking what the secret to this incredible award-winning chili is.
  • Sharp Cheddar: Shredded and served on top, it adds a creamy, tangy finish.
  • Sour cream: This is served on top to add a cool, creamy contrast to the spicy chili.

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How to Make Award-Winning Chili

This best award-winning Chili is really easy to make. If you want to speed up the cooking process, you can cook everything in one pot. First, brown the turkey and then cook the veggies.

Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (3)
  1. In alarge Dutch Ovenheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and sauté on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (4)
  1. In a medium sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add ground turkey thighs and breast.
Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (5)
  1. Add cooked meat to a pot with an onion and pepper mixture.
Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (6)
  1. Dilute tomato paste with 1 cup of chicken broth and add it to a pot. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, cumin, brown sugar, cocoa powder, the remaining chicken broth, and ½ teaspoon of salt.
Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (7)
  1. Add garlic and both types of peppers and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (8)
  1. Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up the big chunks with a fork, until the liquid evaporates and the meat is thoroughly cooked and slightly brown, about 7-10 minutes.
Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (9)
  1. Pour in the diced tomatoes and beans.
Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (10)
  1. Give everything a good stir and bring the chili to a boil. Cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to low. If the soup becomes too thick, add ½ cup of chicken broth. Simmer for 1 hour.
Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (11)
  1. Adjust the seasoning and serve the best Award-Winning Chili immediately with shredded Cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

Tips For Making the Best Award-Winning Chili

  • Use a Dutch Oven: For the best chili recipe, use a Dutch oven. It distributes heat evenly and keeps the chili at a steady simmer, which is key for developing deep, rich flavors.
  • Trust the Cocoa Powder: The unusual combination of spices that I put in my award-winning chili makes it super delicious. I bet you never added cocoa powder to your Chili. But trust me, it works and makes this hearty homemade soup grand prize-worthy.
  • Choose the Right Meat: This recipe uses ground turkey, but you can also use ground beef or Italian sausage for a different flavor. The secret ingredient is to use a combination of meats to add depth to the taste.
  • Don't Rush the Cooking: Allow the chili to simmer for at least an hour. This slow cook-off allows the flavors to meld together and the sauce to thicken, creating a hearty comfort food.
  • Top it Off: Serve your homemade chili recipes with shredded cheese, sour cream, and green onions. For a crunch, add corn chips or tortilla chips. These toppings add a variety of textures and flavors that make the chili even more delicious.

Serving Suggestions

  • Add any of your favorite toppings to this contest-winning chili, such as shredded cheese like sharp cheddar, Monterey, or pepper Jack.
  • For a hearty dinner, serve this award-winning chili recipe over a bed of baked potatoes and top it off with a generous sprinkle of sharp cheddar cheese. The soft, fluffy potatoes perfectly complement the robust flavors of the chili.
  • Looking for a fun twist? Try serving this chili atop a pile of crispy tortilla chips for a homemade chili mac. The crunch of the chips adds an exciting texture to the dish.
  • For a lighter option, serve this chili with a side of fresh, diced tomatoes and green onions. The freshness of the vegetables balances the rich, deep flavors of the chili.
  • For a true comfort food experience, serve this chili with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese. The creaminess of the sour cream and the sharpness of the cheese enhance the flavor of the chili, making it a dish to remember.

Recipe Variation Ideas

  • Texas Style: If you're a fan of the traditional Texas "Bowl O'Red", this variation is for you. Simply omit the kidney beans and tomatoes from the recipe. Instead, increase the amount of ground turkey and add a bit more chili powder for that authentic Texas flavor.
  • Cincinnati Style: For those who prefer a sweeter chili, this variation is a must-try. Add spices like cinnamon, cloves, or all-spice to the chili pot. This will give your chili a unique, sweet flavor that's reminiscent of Cincinnati's famous chili.
  • Meat Lovers: If you love a meaty chili, feel free to substitute the ground turkey with ground beef, pork, venison, or bison. You can also use a combination of meats and/or Italian sausage. In addition, you can use beef broth instead of chicken broth for a deeper, richer flavor.
  • Bean Variation: If you don't have kidney beans or white beans on hand, no worries. Replace them with black beans or navy beans. This will give your chili a different texture and flavor, but it will still be delicious.
  • Tomato Twist: If you're out of tomato paste, tomato sauce can be used instead. Use about 1 ½ cups to maintain the right consistency and flavor in your chili.
  • Pepper Mix: If you want to mix things up, try using different types of bell peppers. You can use red, orange, or a combination of peppers. This will add a pop of color and a slightly different flavor to your chili.

Frequently Asked Questions

If my chili is too spicy, what should I do?

Don't worry if your chili has a bit more spice than you'd like. You can easily adjust the heat by reducing the amount of cayenne pepper you add. If it is already too spicy, a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche can help cut through the heat. Adding more toppings like cheese, avocado, or tomatoes can also help balance the flavors.

What are the best beans to add to Chili?

Beans that have a firmer skin, such as kidney beans, cannellini beans, or black beans, are ideal for chili as they retain their shape during the long cooking process. It is best to avoid softer beans like butter beans, which can become mushy.

What is the secret to award-winning chili?

The secret to award-winning chili lies in the balance of spices. The right amount will highlight the individual ingredients without overpowering them. This allows each flavor to shine through, creating a rich and complex chili that's sure to impress.

What can you add to Chili for more flavor?

If your chili is lacking in flavor, consider adding more smoked paprika and ground cumin. These spices can really enhance the overall taste of your chili. Plus, a touch of sugar can help cut through the acidity of the tomatoes, creating a more balanced flavor profile.

How to Store Leftovers

Refrigerator: To ensure your leftover chili maintains its flavor, store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This comfort food can be kept fresh for 2-3 days. When you're ready to serve, simply reheat the chili in a microwave or saucepan.

Freezing: This best chili recipe is freezer-friendly. After allowing it to cool to room temperature, place the chili in an airtight sealed container or freezer bag. It can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.

Thawing: Thaw your homemade chili by transferring it from the freezer to the refrigerator. Allow it to thaw for approximately 24 hours. Once thawed, transfer the chili to a saucepan and reheat until it begins to simmer.

Reheat Instructions: If the chili has been stored in the refrigerator, reheat it over medium heat on the stovetop until it starts to simmer. For the best taste, serve immediately after reheating.

Similar Recipes

  • Mushroom Chili Recipe - Ultimate Vegan Chili
  • Vegan Butternut Squash Chili {Easy Slow Cooker Recipe}
  • White Chili With Ground Chicken And Sour Cream Recipe
  • Crockpot Chili Recipe

If you make this recipe, please leave me a comment below and rate it. I always appreciate the feedback. Also, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Recipe

Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (16)

Award Winning Chili Recipe

This Award-Winning Chili recipe is the best chili you’ll ever have. If you're tired of one-note chili recipes, this is the flavorful, cook-off-winning chili you've been dreaming of, complete with a secret ingredient that sets it apart from the rest.

4.18 from 202 votes

Print Pin Rate

Course: Soup

Cuisine: Tex-Mex

Prep Time: 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour hour 20 minutes minutes

Total Time: 1 hour hour 35 minutes minutes

Servings: 8

Calories: 414kcal

Author: Iryna Bychkiv

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In alarge Dutch Ovenheat 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onion and sauté on a medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and both types of peppers and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.

    Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (17)

  • In a medium sauté pan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add ground turkey thighs and breast. Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up the big chunks with a fork until the liquid evaporates and meat is thoroughly cooked and slightly brown, about 7-10 minutes.

    Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (18)

  • Add cooked meat into a pot with an onion and pepper mixture.

    Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (19)

  • Pour in diced tomatoes and beans.

    Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (20)

  • Dilute tomato paste with 1 cup of chicken broth and add into a pot.

  • Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, cumin, brown sugar, cocoa powder, the remaining chicken broth and ½ teaspoon of salt.

    Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (21)

  • Give everything a good stir and bring Chili to a boil. Cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. If the soup becomes too thick, add ½ cup of chicken broth.

    Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (22)

  • Simmer for 1 hour.

  • Adjust the seasoning and serve immediately with shredded Cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

    Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (23)

Video

Notes

Meat. Feel free to substitute ground turkey for ground beef, pork, venison or bison. You can also use a combination of meats and/or an Italian sausage. In addition, feel free to use beef broth instead of chicken broth.

Beans. If you don't have kidney beans and/or white beans, replace them with black beans or navy beans.

Tomato paste. Tomato sauce can be used instead. 1 ½ c should be enough.

Bell pepper. Here I used green bell pepper, however, you can use red bell pepper, orange or a combination of peppers.

Chili is too spicy? Adjust the heat by reducing the amount of cayenne pepper you add. If it is already too spicy, a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche can help cut through the heat.

Trust the cocoa powder. The unusual combination of spices that I put in my award-winning chili makes it super delicious. I bet you never added cocoa powder to your Chili. But trust me, it works and makes this hearty homemade soup grand prize-worthy.

Refrigerator: To ensure your leftover chili maintains its flavor, store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This comfort food can be kept fresh for 2-3 days. When you're ready to serve, reheat the chili in a microwave or saucepan.

Freezing: This best chili recipe is freezer-friendly. After allowing it to cool to room temperature, place the chili in an airtight, sealed container or freezer bag. (I recommend these BPA-free double-zipper bags) and lay flat in the freezer. It can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.

Thawing: Thaw your homemade chili by transferring it from the freezer to the refrigerator. Allow it to thaw for approximately 24 hours. Once thawed, transfer the chili to a saucepan and reheat until it simmers.

Reheat Instructions: If the chili has been stored in the refrigerator, reheat it over medium heat on the stovetop until it starts to simmer. For the best taste, serve immediately after reheating.

Nutrition

Calories: 414kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 104mg | Sodium: 1268mg | Potassium: 761mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2373IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 268mg | Iron: 3mg

Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @Lavender.And.Macarons or tag #lavenderandmacarons!

Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (24)

If you don't have a good cast iron Dutch Oven in the kitchen, now is the time! It's one of those kitchen items that will last you a lifetime and is so versatile. From cooking soups, stews, braising meat to frying and baking bread, this Le Creuset Dutch Oven can do it all. I own one and can't recommend it enough!

Iryna Bychkiv

Website

Iryna Bychkiv is the founder and writer of the culinary website Lavender & Macarons, where she shares clean, European-inspired recipes that are delicious, easy to prepare, and made with wholesome ingredients. Iryna loves creating meals that are simple yet healthy and unique, including vegan and vegetarian recipes.
Iryna is also a freelance writer for MSN and Associated Press Wire.

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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Meg says

    I need to make 3 gallons for a cook off - how many servings should I shoot for for 3 gallons you think?

    Reply

    • Iryna Bychkiv says

      I would say 3 gallons will give you roughly 40-45 servings, depending on the serving size.

      Reply

  2. Carol DiFilippo Accetta says

    Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (29)
    I am forever trying chili recipes because I have never been happy with any I have tried until now! This chili was worth the effort. I did it just as printed, except for one small change. I only added three cups of chicken broth because I like it a little thick. It makes a big pot so now I feel comfortable giving a big container of it to my adult children. This is a keeper for me.

    Reply

    • Iryna Bychkiv says

      Carol, thank you so much for your comment and 5-star rating! I'm so happy you enjoyed this Chili recipe:)

      Reply

  3. Adored says

    Can't wait to try this. I found a beef chili recipe on yourlighterside.com about 10 years back with cocoa powder in it and I've been using it ever since. Genius.

    Reply

    • Iryna says

      Adored, I hope you'll give this Chili a try. It's very delicious:)

      Reply

  4. Agnes Williams says

    Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (30)
    Hi Iryna, I made ur chilli today and it tasted really good. Thank you for sharing ur recipe with all of us.

    Reply

    • Iryna says

      Agnes, thank you so much for your comment and a 5-star rating! I'm so glad you enjoyed this recipe!

      Reply

  5. Danny886 says

    Where in the name of God do you find ground turkey thighs?

    Reply

    • Iryna says

      Danny886, turkey thighs are probably easier to find around Thanksgiving time, but you can substitute with ground chicken thighs.

      Reply

      • Chad says

        So, you're saying you buy the thighs and grind them yourself, I take it. But I don't have a grinder, so I will just have to stick to whatever part of the turkey is used in the ground turkey I find at the grocery store.

      • Iryna says

        Yes, any type of ground meat works in this recipe.

  6. Lauren says

    That seems like an awful lot of calories and fat for a turkey chili. Does that include sour cream and cheese? And what is the serving size that corresponds with the nutrition estimates? Thanks!

    Reply

  7. Danny says

    Where in the world do you find ground chicken thighs?

    Reply

    • Jean Jenkins says

      Maybe buy boneless chicken thighs and have the butcher grind them.

      Reply

  8. Barbara Petoskey says

    Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (31)
    Wonderful flavor! Just the right amount of spice! Added corn and mushrooms! Will definitely be making it again.

    Reply

    • Iryna says

      Barbara, thank you for your comment and a 5-star rating! I'm happy you enjoyed this recipe! Adding corn and mushrooms sounds like a delicious addition to the soup.

      Reply

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Award Winning Chili Recipe (The BEST Chili You'll Ever Have) (2024)

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