Chuck "The Chili Guy" Miller

Hey I'm Chuck "The Chili Guy" Miller. Chili is my passion so I have expertly crafted my list of tried and true award worthy chili recipes that will warm your soul. My gift to you from one chili connoisseur to another. - Chuck

What Secret Ingredient Will Deepen the Flavor of Your Chili?

When it comes to making an exceptional pot of chili, the secret lies in the ingredients you choose. While the basics like meat, spices, and tomatoes are essential, there are several other options you can add to change the entire flavor profile. Here are a few secret ingredients that can deepen the flavor of your chili:

  • Coffee or Espresso: A cup of coffee can add a rich, earthy depth to your chili. The subtle bitterness of coffee perfectly complements the savory elements of the dish, creating a complex flavor profile.
  • Cocoa Powder: Cocoa powder contributes a deep, dark richness that marries wonderfully with the spicy and savory notes of chili.
  • Beer: A can of beer can work wonders for your chili. It adds a malty, hoppy flavor that balances the heat and acidity, resulting in a well-rounded taste.
  • Cinnamon: A pinch of cinnamon may seem unconventional, but its warm and slightly sweet notes mix well with the chili’s heat.
  • Liquid Smoke: For a smoky twist, consider using liquid smoke. Just a few drops can impart that beloved outdoor barbecue essence to your chili.

What Is Considered Traditional Chili?

Since its creation in the 1800s, chili has evolved into a versatile meal that can take on many forms. There are vegan chili dishes, others with various types of meat, and some with unique ingredients like beer or cocoa powder. But what is considered traditional chili has largely remained the same.

  • Ingredients: Traditional chili typically starts with ground beef, although some regional variations use pork, chicken, or beans as the main protein. Chili also includes tomatoes, chili peppers, and a blend of spices. The specific spice mix can vary widely, with common ingredients being chili powder, cumin, paprika, and garlic powder.
  • Heat Level: Chili should have a spicy kick, but the intensity varies. Traditional chili leans towards a moderate amount of heat, allowing the flavors to shine without overwhelming the palate. However, chili enthusiasts often customize the heat to suit their preferences.
  • Beans: Beans are a debated topic when it comes to traditional chili. In Texas, chili purists argue that true chili contains no beans, while in other regions, beans, such as kidney or pinto beans, are a staple ingredient.

What Is the Best Bean Combination for Chili?

You can add just about any kind of bean to chili, and adding more than one kind can give your chili a more complex flavor and texture that really take it up a notch. Kidney beans and black beans are probably the most popular bean combination for chili, since their flavors complement each other nicely and they’re different sizes. But why stop at two beans? Throw kidney, black, and pinto beans into your pot and you’ll have a three-bean chili packed with flavor and protein.

Of course, you can use any beans you like in your chili. Cannellini beans work well, and so do great northern beans. Even chickpeas can work, if you really like them. The best bean combination for your chili can vary depending on the taste buds of whoever’s eating it. So go ahead and experiment: You just might hit on a killer combination!

Why Put Carrots in Chili?

You might not think of carrots when making a hearty and flavorful chili, but they can make a great addition. There are a few reasons why people put carrots in chili:

  1. They Add Sweetness: Carrots balance out the peppers’ spiciness and the acidity of the tomatoes while adding a natural sweetness to the chili. This sweet note can enhance the flavor profile, making your chili more appealing to a wider range of taste preferences.
  2. Carrots Boost Nutritional Value: Carrots are very nutritious, packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. They provide essential nutrients like vitamin A, which is crucial for eye health, and vitamin C, which supports your immune system. By including carrots, you’re not only making your chili tastier but also healthier.
  3. They Add Texture: If you add them closer to the end of the cooking time, carrots can provide a pleasant crunch in your chili.
  4. Carrots Thicken the Chili: Carrots release natural starches as they cook, helping to thicken the chili. This can be especially useful if you prefer a thicker, heartier chili.

Why Chili Causes Gas

While chili is a popular dish that people across the globe enjoy some variation of, it does have a reputation for causing gas in some people after consuming it. There are a few reasons why chili causes gas after eating it, including:

  • Being high in fiber: Dishes high in fiber, like chili, can be hard to digest, which can often cause gas.
  • Capsaicin: Red chilies and many of the spices commonly used in chili recipes contain capsaicin, which, while delicious, can cause problems like gas, heartburn, and even acid reflux, especially in those with sensitivity issues.
  • Tomato sauce: Adding tomato sauce to your chili can cause the stomach to release more acid, which can cause irritation and lead to gas.
  • Beans: Beans contain a type of sugar called oligosaccharides that the human body can’t digest, which can lead to gas.

If you have a sensitive stomach and often feel gassy, you don’t have to skip out on chili! Adding baking soda to your chili can help break down some of the sugars that cause gas while creating a thicker and more flavorful chili!

What Liquid Is Best for Chili?

Every chili recipe requires some kind of liquid, but before you start filling your pot from the kitchen sink, stop and consider what liquid is best for chili. If you’re going to add liquid, you might as well add flavor, too, so you’ll generally want to use broth, not water, as your liquid of choice. The best kind of broth can vary: For a traditional chili recipe, beef broth is best, but white chili is better with chicken broth. And of course, if you’re making a vegetarian chili, stick with vegetable broth instead.

If you don’t have any broth on hand, you could also add beer or wine to the pot. A little bit of wine can add extra richness, while a bit of beer lends a pleasant malty undertone. But stick with a half-cup or less; otherwise, it’ll overpower the chili.

Of course, if you have none of these options, water will work, but your chili won’t be as flavorful as it could have been. Then again, it’s still chili, and chili is always better than no chili.

What Makes Chili More Flavorful?

There’s nothing as satisfying as a steaming bowl of chili on a cold day. But that satisfaction can quickly turn to disappointment when you try it only to realize something is missing. After all, nobody likes bland chili! But what makes chili more flavorful? There are a few different ingredients you can try to get a more flavorful and satisfying chili:

  • Salt: This may be the most obvious choice. Salt is a crucial ingredient that enhances all the other flavors. Even if you’ve added some salt already, you may need to add more.
  • Spice: You may need more spices like cumin, paprika, chili powder, or cayenne pepper to enhance the flavor profile. You should season your chili early and do it several more times throughout the cooking process.
  • Acidic ingredients: Acidic ingredients like tomatoes, lime juice, or vinegar balance chili flavors. However, only add these in small increments because too much can overpower the other flavors.
  • Vegetables: If you think your chili is too thin or bland, add small pieces of vegetables like onions, potatoes, celery, or carrots to thicken your base and add an earthy flavor to your chili.
  • Fresh herbs: Cilantro, basil, and parsley add a unique flavor combination, especially when added at the end of its cooking time.
  • Flavorful liquids: You may want to add water to help cook the ingredients, but it’s better to add liquid ingredients with more flavor, such as beer, wine, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, or broth. These can all bring out different tastes that enhance your chili.
  • Alternate Spices: While many people will add spices like cumin, chili powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper, you can elevate the flavor by adding cocoa powder, bacon, ground coffee, cinnamon, or garam masala to add layered flavors to your chili.

What Is Different About Texas-Style Chili?

Texas is often credited as a birthplace of chili, but you might be surprised to learn that their chili isn’t the same as what you’ve probably been eating. What is different about Texas-style chili is that it doesn’t contain beans. Often, it doesn’t contain tomatoes, either. Texas chili also usually uses chunks of beef rather than ground beef.

So what do you get when you make chili without two of the most common ingredients in a traditional chili recipe? The result is a meaty stew that relies on chili peppers and other spices for its distinctive color and flavor.

What’s the Difference Between Cowboy Chili and Regular Chili?

Cowboy chili is a lot like regular chili, but it’s made to be hearty enough to satisfy a cowboy. The difference between cowboy chili and regular chili usually comes down to the amount of meat in it: Cowboy chili typically has at least two pounds of meat in it. It also contains beans, which add more protein and could help bulk up the chili during times when meat was hard to come by out on the range. After all, being a cowboy is hungry work! Regular chili, on the other hand, doesn’t need to have beans, though it’s a common addition.

What Cut of Beef Is Best for Chili?

You can use just about any kind of beef in chili, but the good news is that the cheaper kinds tend to be the best. The cut of beef that’s best for chili actually isn’t a real “cut” at all: It’s ground up. But any cut of beef that can be simmered in chili without getting tough is a good choice.

Ground Beef (80/20)

Ground beef with an 80/20 lean-to-fat ratio is a popular choice for chili. The higher fat content adds richness and depth to the flavor, making your chili irresistibly savory. The fat content ensures that the meat stays tender and juicy during the long cooking process, creating a hearty and comforting texture. It’s also cost-effective and readily available at most grocery stores.

Ground Sirloin (90/10)

Ground sirloin, with a 90/10 lean-to-fat ratio, is leaner and healthier while still providing a satisfying beefy flavor. While it may lack the richness of 80/20 beef, it’s a great option for those looking to cut down on their fat intake.


Brisket is a premium choice that’s ideal for special occasions or when you want to impress with a special chili. Brisket adds an intensely beefy flavor to the chili, and since it’s typically braised, it does well in a simmering pot of chili. Although it requires longer cooking times to become tender, the result is a melt-in-your-mouth texture.