Home ยป 12th Annual Chili Contest: Entry #1 – The Best Classic Chili

12th Annual Chili Contest: Entry #1 – The Best Classic Chili

Ahhh…September, the time of year I become completely torn between gripping onto summer with every fiber in my being and lusting for more of fall. Basically, I’m smitten with both summer and fall, but the rest of the year, meh. It’s just not for me. I could more-or-less do without November through April.

I know, the holidays are kind of great, but the time of year is cold and dark and there’s just not enough happening for my liking. Summer has all the things and fall has all the food…plus football.

Like every year, the football season snuck up on me. And like every year, I hope for a strong Illini team. Generally, I’m let down and so all the more reason to enjoy the food! 😉 And this being my 12th annual chili contest – it’s the time of year I look forward to in the kitchen. The warm weather is no longer luring me from the house and out to play, and the comfort foods of fall take over.

If you ask me, chili is the world’s perfect food. It’s completely balanced, packed with flavor, and generally made in one pot. It also has ENDLESS adaptations and is by and large quite nutritious. Who wouldn’t benefit from more beans in their life?! Most chilis are packed with fiber and for that reason, I love them all the more.

I must have rubbed off on my kids in some ways because while they don’t love, or even like a lot of the foods I make and enjoy, they LOOOOOOVE chili. Both of them have been REQUESTING chili for dinner all summer long. To which I’ve politely asked them to be patient and save all of their wishes for fall because now…they will be met.

Chili entry #1 this year is a popular one according to the world wide web. With over 1,500 reviews, it has nearly 5 stars. It’s made in one pot, has beans and beef, and is heavy on the chili powder, cumin, and tomatoes – YES! It also has sugar – I’m a fan. I might dial back the sugar just a bit the next time, but I thoroughly enjoyed this recipe! Kathryn submitted the recipe as is (below), but she notes to have reduced the salt and doubled the recipe from the original source. Wise, wise moves – it’s delicious!! Year 12 is off to a strong start chili-wise…and the Illini are 1-1 with no well-formed predictions on my end as to how the season will go!

The Best Classic Chili

The Best Classic Chili

Yield: 9 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

This chili is slightly sweet with bold, traditional flavors and textures!


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 lbs 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 1/4 cup ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper*
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 (15 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 (15 oz) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking up into a crumble as it cooks, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add chili powder, cumin, sugar, tomato paste, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne; stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, beans, and tomato sauce; stir well and bring to a simmer.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving with desired toppings.


Recipe from The Wholesome Dish submitted by Kathryn C.

*reduce or omit for less heat

Did you make this recipe?

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Looking for more GREAT chili? These have been some killer chili contest submissions of the past!

Be well,

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