beef · recipe

How to Make the Best Chili, on the Smoker or Grill

Cook Time: 80 Minutes, serves 6-8

On a cold, winter day, there is simply nothing better than a pot of chili cooking while football is on the tv, right? Growing up, chili in the winter was a staple in our house. Mom would simply put a pot on the stove, let it simmer nearly all day, and we would come and go with our bowls as we wanted to eat. Easy for mom, and easy for us as well.

Now I have begun cooking my chili on the smoker, which adds an even better flavor as all the flavors slowly cook together with a kiss of smokiness that makes it the best chili you could ever have. Making the best chili is simple, and even better and more fun when cooked on the smoker or grill!

Shopping List:

  • 1 Medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 Anaheim or poblano pepper, diced
  • 32 oz tomato juice can
  • 5 or so Roma tomato’s, or small can crushed tomato’s, I freeze garden tomato’s and use them all winter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • 2 oz chili powder
  • 1 lb gound beef
  • noodles of preference, or none
  • 1 can of chili beans
  • salt to preference
  • charcoal
  • hickory smoking wood chunks
  • Favorite Steak/ burger Seasoning

This is hard for me, as I have been making this for years, and never really pay attention to what all i’m adding. You may need to adjust to your flavor preferences, how salty or peppery you want it, and how spicy you want it. I don’t like sweet chili, so I lean toward a spicy balanced chili.

The Process

As always, warm your grill or smoker for indirect heat. I like to use hickory wood chips or chunks for my smoke. It gives the meat a classic smokey flavor, and doesn’t overpower since we aren’t smoking it long. If you need helping choosing a smoking wood, check out this article on how to choose a smoking wood.

You want this to cook at about 275-300 degrees.

This first step can be done right over a warmed up grill or smoker, or started inside on the stove. I start with enough olive oil to line the crock, cast iron dutch oven, or pot I’m cooking the chili in. Add in your onions and diced pepper, and let them cook down until the onions are translucent and softened. Add Garlic and let simmer for a minute, stir it up so no garlic sticks and burns. Add tomato’s , mashing them into your garlic, onion, pepper mix. Let the tomato’s cook down for a few minutes, and then add your chili beans.

added chili beans, pre tomato juice
Peppers, Tomatos, onion, garlic, beans simmering

I cook all this together , stirring it, only for a few moments while I’m opening my can of tomato juice. Pour in all the tomato juice, and let simmer for a few more minutes. Once I’ve done this, I want to get the flavors just right. Add your salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne. Stir the chili and let simmer for a few minutes.

While the chili is simmering, get your ground beef out. I like to lay it on a cutting board, and season it at once. Give it a good coat of your favorite steak seasonings. It could be as simple as salt and pepper, or a pre made mix. Whatever you like on a good steak, pour it on.

Next you want to mix this all together using your hands like you would meatloaf. Get the seasonings all mixed up and put it on a roasting rack, or whatever you are going to cook it on over top the chili on the grill or smoker.

This is Really Important ! Now that you’ve got the meat mixed I want you to go back to the chili base and taste it.

If it tastes like a nice mix of spices and tomato that you want in chili, you can add the chili powder.

Add a little chili powder at a time, stirring, otherwise it can clump up on your pot. Stir in the chili powder until you have the chili flavor you want. I like to add about 1.5 oz of chili powder. It seems like a lot, but it takes a lot to get the bold chili flavor we love in our house.

Smoker/ Grill Set Up

Obviously you can finish this out inside the house on the stove, but this is going to be a smoked recipe for our chili, so we are going to set our meat and chili out on the smoker.

To do this, you want to have a way to cook the meat overtop your chili, so all the wonderful juices can drip right into the chili base while your meat is getting an amazing smoky flavor. I like to steal my wife’s cooling rack and place it right on top of the dutch oven with the lid off. It gets me a even cook on the meat, while allowing the juices to simmer in my pot of chili.

This process won’t take long, as you are cooking the ground beef to an internal temp of 160 degrees. The meat won’t have a lot of fat to render out, so it goes pretty quick, about an hour or so. I like to stick a thermometer probe in so I know exactly what temp I’m cooking at, at all times. (from the couch watching football)

Once you hit an internal temperature of 160 degrees on the meat, its simply time to pull apart your ground beef and put it in the chili. Easy to do, just take a fork or use your gloved hands and mash it up! If you did it with actual steak, just cut it into bite size pieces. If you want to add the best steak to your chili, read this , how to grill the perfect steak

Mix the meat up into the chili, add your noodles, (or don’t), and your smoked chili is ready to eat!

I like to crush crackers, add shredded cheese, sour cream, and chives to make it an absolutely loaded smoked chili.

Change it Up!

One of the best things about smoked chili is just how versatile it is as a dish.

If you are not a big fan of spicy foods, tone down the heat by adding a bell pepper rather than an Anaheim, and cut out the cayenne.

Like sweet chili? Substitute brown sugar for the cayenne and red pepper flakes.

Want something different? Smother some baked potatoes for an awesome chili baked potato!

The possibilities for smoked chili are endless, and are a winter staple in our home, especially while watching the Colts get beaten on Sunday’s.

Chili on the smoker or grill is easy to do, doesn’t keep you in the kitchen all day, and is enjoyed by everyone I know.

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