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mom’s award winning chili recipe

Mom’s award winning chili recipe is an easy, one pot dinner that is perfectly cozy for cold weather months! Make a big batch for dinner, top with your favorite toppings, and repurpose it for a different meal later in the week before freezing your leftovers!

mom's award winning chili recipe single bowl

I’m sitting on my couch right now; the fire place is on, the Christmas tree is flickering, Bodie is snoozing right beside me, Pheebs is cuddled behind my neck, and The Nutcracker  is crooning in the background.

PS: It’s Monday.

Pretty perfect, right? Snow days are the best.

I realized earlier today that I first shared my mom’s award winning chili recipe with y’all three years ago, also on a snow day.

Mom’s award winning chili recipe is one of my favorite recipes: it features a ton of pantry staples, it’s so easy to throw together (one pot FTW), and just simmers away on the stove all day (it basically cooks itself).

And it has bacon. (I add a little extra bacon to mine because a little extra bacon never hurt anybody.)

Mom’s award winning chili recipe is on repeat in our house all winter long.

mom's award winning chili recipe with sour cream and cheese

It’s so cozy and warming for dreary, cold days (we love to make comfort foods like soups, stews and chilis like tuscan white bean soup, tomato soup, or CrockPot green chile chicken) on cold days  so it’s in our regular meal rotation (plus…it’s really easy to repurpose for meals throughout the week. I usually make it on a Sunday and then we have it on top of potatoes later in the week, enjoy the leftovers for lunch, and freeze the rest.)

So it makes total sense that I have a hankering to talk chili with y’all when it’s cold and slushy outside.


So while mom’s award winning chili already lived on Off the Eaten Path, I decided I wanted to re share the recipe in a new post, rather than dealing with/editing the old one, for a couple of reasons.

mom's award winning chili recipe with shredded cheese

First, omg the photos. Don’t go look at them, but if you do, prepare to be terrified.

It’s incredible how far my food photography has come in three years! Definitely investing in a camera (thank you for the Christmas gift, AJ!), learning how to use my camera (thank you SkillPop), learning more about styling and light, investing in a food photography course at the beginning of this year, and practicing, practicing, and more practicing has helped me improve so much.

(I remember taking those photos three years ago and being super proud of them…ugh!)

Second, because mom’s award winning chili recipe got a photo refresh, I thought it deserved to have it’s moment in the spotlight. I wanted to give it a chance to show off, new photos and all.

Third, mom’s award winning chili recipe was featured in an e-cookbook! Earlier this fall, when I asked by a friend if I wanted to contribute a recipe to an e-cookbook that would be sold to help raise money for Hurricane Florence relief in Eastern North Carolina, the answer was an obvious yes.

The e-cookbook, As Country As Conbread, was inspired by the fundraiser started by Vivian Howard (of Chef & the Farmer and A Chef’s Life), where she sold limited edition “As Country As Cornbread” t-shirts on her site and donated the proceeds to the North Carolina Community Foundation to help people in Jones County, NC rebuilding after Hurricane Florence.

It features cornbread recipes and recipes we love to serve with cornbread from chefs, writers, bloggers, restaurateurs, and food writers from across the Carolinas.

It costs $14.95 (all proceeds go directly to the North Carolina Community Foundation) and there are 21 recipes in total: ho cakes, corn fritters, cornbread muffins, collards, chili, frijoles borrachas, soups and even a hush puppy salad! (um yes please).

Mom’s award winning chili was of course, a perfect fit. Especially since we’ve been eating it with cornbread our entire lives.

And fourth, snow (okay, okay ice and slush) days deserve chili!

two bowls of mom's award winning chili recipe


All you need for the recipe is one pot! (Yay!) You’ll start by cooking your meat on medium to medium high, first fry up the bacon and then brown the ground beef.

Chop the veggies while the beef is browning, and then into the pot they’ll go, followed by garlic.

Then, will come the canned goods (diced tomatoes, beans and tomato sauce) and then the spices. (including a package of taco mix!)

The finishing touch is a beer, and then you bring it all to a boil before letting it simmer away on the stove for three hours or more.

mom's award winning chili recipe


This recipe makes a huge batch, and while we eat a lot of it as leftovers or repurpose it as something else later in the week (loaded baked potatoes with chili are my fave) we always have way more than we can eat.

So freezing comes in handy, and luckily mom’s award wining chili recipe is super easy to freeze.

Let your chili batch cool down to room temperature and then spoon into ziploc bags (I like to portion it out, so usually freeze 2-3 bags of chili).

Press out all of the air and store flat in the freezer for 2-3 months.

(PS: Ziploc bags are the best way for freezing recipes because they are such a space saver in your freezer!)

When you’re ready to eat, defrost in your fridge and then heat up the chili in a saucepan!


mom's award winning chili recipe with sour cream

Cornbread of course!

As for toppings, I think anything goes when it comes to chili. Some of my favorites include shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, green onions, red onions, tortilla chips or Fritos!

(Mom and Dad are team anti-sour cream when it comes to chili but I am pro, so I say, to each her own!)


Beef Brisket Bolognese

Baba’s Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

May Williams’ Swedish Meatballs

Crock Pot Creamy Tomato Soup


my mom's award winning chili recipe is one of the best comfort food meals! it's so easy to make just using one pot, and has tons of yummy flavors with the addition of bacon and pinto beans. you can add as much chili powder as you want to make it as spicy as you like! plus, the post includes tips on how to use up the leftovers and how to freeze!

mom's award winning chili recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 55 minutes


  • 1/2 to 3/4 lb. bacon
  • 3.5 to 4.5 lbs. ground beef
  • 2 onions
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 cans Rotel-diced tomatoes & green chilis
  • 1 package taco mix
  • 4 to 6 tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • sprinkle each of oregano, black pepper
  • 2+ cloves garlic (I use 4)
  • 16 oz. (or 2 small cans) tomato sauce
  • 2 cans pinto beans
  • 1 tbs. cumin.
  • 1 tsp. dried cilantro
  • 1 beer


  1. Cut up the bacon & start frying it up in the bottom of a deep pot.
  2. When the bacon looks about ready, add the ground beef gradually, so it can brown, too.
  3. In the meantime, cut up the veggies & add them to the pot, stirring the whole mixture up several times.
  4. Then add the canned goods and the spices. Stir everything together.
  5. Finally, add the beer and about 4 Rotel cans of water (these are Mom's instructions and she's the expert, but my chili pot is not big enough for that much water. I add about one, and maybe one later in the cooking process).
  6. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 3 hours.
  7. If you want to cook it longer, just keep adding water. But not too much...there's nothing worse than watery chili!
  8. Serve with chopped onions, sour cream, shredded cheese on top. Accompany by a mean mess o' corn bread, if desired.

Did you make this recipe?

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