My Dad’s Contest Winning Chili

by Erin

This classic chili has won or at least placed in more than one chili cook-off. Tried and true over the years for good reason!

Pickleball Chili 3

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Awhile back I shared my dad’s chili which he and I have both entered into several chili cook-offs and either won or came in second place. For a recent cook-off with his pickleball crew, he entered a slightly altered version and won again (and hence the slug name of this version)! I then used it for a cook-off and came in second!

He is a master of his recipes, even when it comes to making changes and improvements, and as a result I trust his recipes/modifications before all others. Yet he claims that I am the cook and he just follows recipes. Such modesty.

Pickleball Chili 1

But anywho. My dad shared his newest chili recipe with me and I decided that the perfect time to make it was when my friends came to visit this past weekend. It helped that everyone was in a chili mood with fall all around us.

While lounging around and just spending quality time together on Saturday, this simmered away on the stove top until we couldn’t bear the teasing aromas any longer. Crammed around my dining room table, it pleased and satisfied everyone’s taste buds (don’t forget the homemade cornbread)! A couple people added a little hot sauce to theirs but that’s to be expected as everyone has different spicy preferences.

This is a pretty classic chili recipe with a tomato base and both beef and beans. There is some debate over whether real chili has beans in it or not, especially Texans, but my dad was on a chili team when we lived in Texas. Just saying…

Pickleball Chili 2

It was so great to have 5 of my favorite people in town for the weekend and was very sad to see them all leave yesterday. We had crazy conversations and nerdy-intellectual conversations, played games, watched movies, ate and cooked a lot of great food, went out to Beale street and just did what friends do best. Now back to the stinky norm of living 8+ hours away from them. Beware Memphis friends, I may be extra needy this week.

Welcome to our 2021 Chili Cook-Off! 

October is Chili Cook-Off Month! We have delicious recipes from across the country to get your chili making to the next level of deliciousness!

#ChiliCookOff is an annual blogging event that is hosted by Ashley from Cheese Curd In Paradise

Pickleball Chili

Post updated 10/21/21. Photo above is the original.

One year ago: Sweet Potato Pie Dip with Pie Crust Dippers

Three years ago: Devil’s Food Nutella Cake

Pickleball Chili 3


Yield: 6-8 servings Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat


  • Scant 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 lb. beef chuck, excess fat trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes*
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 bottle beer**
  • 2 (10.75 oz.) cans condensed tomato soup
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (12 oz) can tomato paste
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans hot chili beans
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping if desired
  • Preferred hot sauce (optional)


  1. In a large pot*** over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook until tender. Add meat and brown. Add all the seasonings and stir until evenly distributed. Add all remaining ingredients except beans, pepper, and cheese. Thoroughly mix and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 3 hours or until meat almost falls apart and mixture is thick.
  2. Add beans, pepper and cheese. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Add hot sauce if desired to taste. Serve with additional cheese on top and with crackers or cornbread.


*I sometimes do half chuck pieces and half ground. **I prefer an amber ale, but you can just use water if you prefer no beer. ***You could also prepare this in the slow cooker, just throw everything in from step 1 on low for 6-8 hours and then follow step 2 as directed.

Did You Make This Recipe?
I want to see! Tag me on Instagram at @TheSpiffyCookie and hashtag it #TheSpiffyCookie.

Source: Adapted slightly from my dad

Did you make this recipe? I want to see! Tag @THESPIFFYCOOKIE on Instagram and hashtag it #THESPIFFYCOOKIE

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Sheila Thigpen October 23, 2021 - 10:02 pm

Sounds like this chili has survived the test of time and chili cook offs! Looks fabulous!

Erin October 23, 2021 - 11:04 pm

Oh for sure! Minor tinkerings but tried and true!

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Tracey November 13, 2013 - 1:15 pm

Awwww I love that your dad left you a comment, so sweet! I’ve yet to meet a chili I didn’t like – it’s the perfect Sunday during football season food.

Vicki @ WITK November 12, 2013 - 2:29 pm

I love cooking things from family recipes, it makes me feel like I’m home :) I love chili, sadly the BF doesn’t. Maybe I’ll try to turn him!

Dad November 12, 2013 - 8:03 am

I am flattered. And I am glad you had a good time with your friends.

Christiane ~ Taking On Magazines November 12, 2013 - 7:52 am

How cool that your friends were able to visit and hang out with you like that. Boy though, that hole that’s left when they have to go back home is hard, isn’t it. Your dad sounds like a way cool person. I love that he and you have a corner on the chili contests up there. That’s awesome (as is that bowl of chili).


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