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I am not really sure who invented boilermaker chili, but it is insanely popular and has been known to make award-winning appearances at chili cookoffs. It is also a staple at tailgate or home football parties.
This chili has everything but the kitchen sink in it. Don’t let that intimidate you. The ingredient list is long. Yet, it really isn’t all that complicated or time-consuming. Most of the time is spent just stirring the chili occasionally while it cooks down and develops flavors. You can opt to make this in a slow cooker overnight and not have to tend to it at all.
Boilermaker chili is very high in protein. It has beef, pork, and lots of beans. It is also high in dietary fiber from the veggies and legumes. The tomatoes add lycopene. Lycopene is found in fruits and vegetables of deep color. It is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. I don’t think this chili is a bad move in terms of nutrition. On top of that, it is comforting and filling.
I like serving chili with homemade cornbread or spooned over steaming hot brown rice. I will top it with cheddar cheese or plain Greek yogurt for even more protein.
My version of Boilermaker Chili is pretty close to the original recipe. I don’t use the canned chili beans that come in a sauce. The ingredient list in those beans is a bit much and I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to use beans that are already prepared in tomato sauce with spices when you are adding those ingredients anyway. I like to use a couple of different dried or canned organic beans, such as red kidney, black, pinto, and garbanzo. These beans add texture and color to the chili. You can choose which beans you like best.
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 lb ground beef preferably chuck
- ½ lb Italian sausage removed from its casing
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper more if desired
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 2 beef bouillon cubes
- 1/2 cup dark beer
- 1 can 15-ounces red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can 15-ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can 28 ounces diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 tsp raw sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Frito corn chips
- Sour Cream
- Diced avocado
- All ingredients ready? Let's begin!
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the ground beef and sausage, breaking the meat up with a large spoon. Cook until just browned. Pour off any excess fat.
- Add the onion, celery, bell peppers, and garlic to the pot. Stir well and sauté for approximately 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
- Stir in the chili powder, oregano, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Continue to sauté for another 2 minutes until the spices are aromatic.
- Stir in the tomato paste until well combined. Add the bouillon cubes and the beer. Stir and deglaze the pot and allow the beer to reduce for about 1 minute.
- Add the beans, tomatoes, and sugar to the pot. Allow this to come to a boil. Then, turn the heat down to a low simmer.
- Cover the pot and allow the chili to cook for at least 1 hour or until the consistency is at the thickness you desire, stirring occasionally.
- Taste the chili and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Serve while warm with toppings on the side.
Notes & Tips
- The longer you cook this chili, the more complex the flavors will be. If you don’t want to babysit the chili, you can brown the meat and then add everything to your slow cooker or crockpot and cook it on low overnight.
- If you are old school and using dried beans, it is best to soak them overnight and boil them before adding them to the chili. If you aren’t boiling the beans first, you will need to add extra liquid to the chili and cook it for much longer until the beans soften.
Substitutions & Variations
If you are from Texas, you know that chili does not have beans in it. Texas-style chili is made with chunks of stew meat, either beef or pork. Boilermaker chili is definitely a meat and beans chili. You could however use cubed chuck and cubed pork in this recipe to replace the ground beef and sausage. Italian sausage has some seasoning, so increase the spices and herbs a tiny bit to account for that if using cubed meats.
Many boilermaker chili recipes do call for cans of chili beans in a spicy tomato sauce. Feel free to use those if you prefer. I think the canned organic beans without any sauce work best for the texture of this chili.
If you want to leave the beer out of the recipe, especially if you are following a gluten-free diet, just substitute with some beef broth or water to deglaze the pot.
What To Serve with Chili?
As mentioned, I like to serve cornbread with my chili. It is a classic pairing. I also recommend some ice-cold beer and a pitcher of margaritas. Here are a few other sides to accompany your boilermaker chili:
- Crispy toaster oven quesadillas
- Quinoa salad with grilled avocado
- Rice with black mushrooms
- Quacamole and chips
- Mexican grilled corn