Hot, flavorful, and smoky, with a kick of spice, this smoked chili is the perfect meal to warm you up on a cold day. Top it with cheese or sour cream to cut back the heat and add a little creaminess to the dish.
When we think of making chili, we often think of slowly adding a bunch of ingredients and slowly cooking them to allow the flavors to combine.
So how do we make smoked chili?
The answer is that we start by smoking all of our ingredients. In our home, we love smoked vegetables. This chili could easily be made using previously smoked onions, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers. But for the purpose of this recipe, we will smoke all of our ingredients together. Once everything has smoked for about an hour, we will finish preparing everything and start to combine all of the smoked items into a pot to come together in with a delicious smoky flavor. Smoked Chili tastes delicious and you will have everyone asking for more.
Ingredients for Smoked Chili Recipe
Ground Beef - I use ground chuck roast beef. It is full of flavor. Smoking it before you put it into the chili pot, allows some of the excess grease to melt away. You could also go with ground turkey if you are a little more health conscious. Either way, this will produce a great-tasting chili.
Tomatoes - Just quarter your whole tomatoes. Cut any smaller, they will shrink and could fall through the grill grates on your smoker as they cook. We will dice them up nicely after they are smoked.
Onions - Onions add great flavor and texture to any soup, stew, or chili. Halve or quarter the onions to allow for easy smoking.
Sweet Bell Peppers - The sweet bell pepper is a delicious and nutritious vegetable that can be enjoyed in many different ways. Remove the stems and seeds. If you are using large sweet peppers, cut them into quarters. Small sweet peppers can be halved.
Fresh Garlic - When it comes to garlic, fresh is the best! Smoked garlic is delicious. It has several of the characteristics that I love from roasted garlic but adds a smoky flair.
Seasoning - I use a simple chili seasoning made up of chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
Beef Broth - Beef broth is made by simmering beef and beef bones in water. It is used as a base for soups, stews, and sauces. The beef broth has a rich, savory flavor and is a good source of protein, minerals, and vitamins. You can also get beef broth bullion to make this easier.
Black Beans - Black beans are a type of legume that is often used in chili. They are a good source of protein and fiber, and they can help to make chili more filling and satisfying. Black beans can also help to give chili a richer flavor and texture. You can also use red kidney beans or a combination of them. Beans are a required ingredient for a classic chili.
Tomato Paste - Tomato paste in chili is a great way to add depth of flavor to your dish. The acidity of the tomato paste helps to balance out the spice of the chili, while the sweetness of the tomato paste complements the other flavors in the dish.
Chipotle(optional) - If you are looking for spicy chili, blend canned chipotle peppers in your food processor to make a paste and add the heat to your flavor preference. I add three tablespoons for a nice kick of heat. You can easily go with one or two if you want the meal to be kid friendly.
How to Make Smoked Chili
Step One - Use the seasoning to season your meat and veggies. Form the beef into large patties or meatballs. Place beef, onions, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes onto the smoker. Smoke at 200°F for 60 to 75 minutes. The goal here is to flavor these ingredients, build a light bark on the beef and slowly break down the vegetables. You don't want the beef to get much higher than 125ºF.
What type of smoker is best for making smoked chili?
In order to impart good smoke flavor, we first smoke the ingredients at low heat. You want a smoker that can maintain a steady temp around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is a pellet grill, it is easy to set the dial and it will hold it steady. If you are using a charcoal smoker, you will have to adjust the vents to control airflow to hold the temperature steady. Once the ingredients are smoked, you will combine them into a dutch oven and simmer over medium heat. You can do that on the smoker if you can increase temperature, or use a grill, or even a stovetop.
Step Two - Remove meat and vegetables from the smoker. Cut the vegetables into a large dice. Cut them on a cutting board that will allow you to retain the juice. You want to make sure that all of that flavor makes it into the chili.
Step Three - Heat up a cast iron dutch oven on your grill, or use a large stock pot on your stove. Give it a quick coat with olive oil and place the smoked beef into the dutch oven. Break up the beef with a spoon and finish browning it. Then add diced vegetables and juices and the remaining ingredients. Give it a good stir and then cover and allow it to simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step Four - Adjust the seasoning to taste. You may need more heat, or a little more salt depending on the broth you used. Once the flavors are all well incorporated, you are done. Serve the chili with shredded cheddar cheese, and or some sour cream if you have some guests that want to cut the heat a little.
Beans - Swap out the black beans for white northern beans or red kidney beans. Or use a combination of 2-3 different types of beans.
Veggies - Chili is a great dish to sneak some extra veggies into. Add corn, chopped zucchini, or even spinach.
Spices - Want more of a Mexican vibe? Add cumin and oregano. Add cayenne pepper for more heat. To boost the onion flavor add onion powder. Want it more garlicy? Add some garlic powder. The options are endless.
Meat - Use steak or even sausage to change up the taste of the smoked chili.
How to serve Smoked Chili?
Smoked Chili is most easily served in a bowl as a hearty stew on a cold day. You can also use it as a flavorful topping for a baked potato, Top chili with cheese, sour cream, fresh cilantro, or diced tomatoes with red chili flakes.
The best side dishes for Smoked Chili are Cornbread Casserole or Smoked Cornbread. You can also serve it with Potato Fritters or serve it over Mashed Potatoes. Or you can serve it with tortilla chips for an easy appetizer or turn it into Smoked Nachos by adding less broth.
What can I do with leftover smoked chili?
Smoked chili is easy to reheat. It will stay well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. You can also put it in a resealable bag once it is cool and freeze it for an easy future meal. This will keep well in the freezer for 12 months.
- Traeger Grill or other smoker
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 2 onions
- 2 tomatoes
- 5 mini sweet peppers (or one large sweet pepper)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1-2 tablespoon salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 teaspoon black pepper
- 30 oz black beans (2 cans)
- 2 tablespoon chipotle puree ***
- 3 cups beef broth
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- Cut onions, tomatoes, and peppers into halves or quarters. Peel the cloves of garlic. Form beef into two large patties. Season with salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder.
- Place seasoned vegetables and meat onto your preheated smoker and smoke at 200°F for about an hour.
- Remove beef and veggies from smoker. Place beef into a heated dutch oven and cook until browned. Cut up veggies into a large dice reserving any juices that come from the veggies. Add the veggies, juice, and all remaining ingredients into the pot and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Season to taste and serve. Top chili with shredded cheddar or sour cream.