Homemade Smoked Chili Recipe

Nothing says comfort food like a bowl of homemade chili. And our homemade smoked chili recipe is no exception.

Bowl of chili topped with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheese with a half baguette resting on the side of the bowl


Nothing Says Comfort Food Like A Bowl Of Chili

When it comes to comfort foods, especially in the fall, chili tops our list. It is the perfect accompaniment for tailgating or watching Sunday football. Chili is also a great warm-me-up dish for lunch or dinner on a cool autumn day.

We have been making this chili for over 15 years. The recipe has gone through a few changes over the years, but the main ingredients remain the same. And even after years of serving this chili, it is still our most requested fall comfort food recipe.

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Beans or No Beans In Chili?

Beans are one ingredient that is debated, depending on where you live. Places like Texas are definitely against beans in chili.

This recipe does have beans. We do have another chili recipe without beans that we use for topping burgers and hot dogs. It is also great on nachos, but so is this recipe with beans.

What is in a Homemade Smoked Chili Recipe?

The ingredients for homemade chili are simple. To make this recipe for Smoked Chili, you will need a few easy-to-find ingredients.

Ground Meat

This is one ingredient that has changed from our original recipe. Lean ground beef was used in the original and can still be used in this chili recipe. We switched to ground pork one year, but now we use a combination of ground beef and ground pork.

A 50/50 blend that we found at a local shop is our go-to meat for this dish. The pork adds a little extra fat that adds to the overall flavour of the chili.

Diced Tomatoes

Canned diced tomatoes are the base of this homemade chili. This chili is smoked and then slow-cooked for hours, and the tomatoes will break down when cooking to create a delicious base for the chili.

No salt added or low sodium tomatoes are usually what we use. If using tomatoes with salt, the amount of salt in the recipe may need to be adjusted.


This is one ingredient that is debated, depending on where you live. Places like Texas are definitely against beans in chili. We do have another chili recipe without beans

There is a combination of three types of beans in this recipe: Red kidney beans, black beans, and white beans. Mostly we use three different beans to add a variety of colour but the black beans do add a different flavour to the chili.

Fresh Ingredients

Fresh onions and garlic are added to this recipe for flavour. Every savoury dish needs onions and garlic. They add a depth that cannot be created by any other ingredient or combination of ingredients like these two together.

Diced jalapenos are an optional ingredient but they are very good to add a little heat.

Should Beans Be Drained? Yes! For any recipe we make, we always drain and rinse the beans before adding them to the recipe. The liquid inside the cans usually where all the salt is and we like to be able to control the salt in any of our recipes.


No chili is complete without chili powder. It is essential to the overall flavour. It also gives the chili its colour.

There is also cumin powder, paprika, and Mexican oregano, along with salt and pepper.

All these spices add to the savoury flavour of a pot of chili.


Bacon is the last ingredient to be added. It is used as a topping while the chili smokes. It will melt into the other ingredients adding a smoky, salty flavour.

What To Cook Chili In On a BBQ or Smoker?

Your best cookware or indoor pots are not the best options for cooking on the BBQ or Smoker. We learned that over the years when we used our pots on the BBQ and burnt a couple. So now we use cast iron, roast pans, or aluminum foil pans. These types of pans hold up to the heat of the BBQ and smoker.

Aluminum pans are our favourite when cooking for a crowd because there is less clean up. They go right into the recycling when we are done with them.

How to Serve Chili

Homemade Smoked Chili can be served in shallow bowls with a number of different toppings. Or it can be served on its own. It is best when it is served hot out of the pan.

Toppings for chili include:

  • Shredded cheese. This can be cheddar, Monterey, Tex-Mex Mex, or any other kind of semi-hard cheese. Cheese helps to balance out the spiciness of the dish.
  • Sour Cream. Again this dairy product helps to balance the flavours. It can be low-fat, non-fat, or full-fat, the choice is yours.
  • Plain yogurt. Like sour cream, this is another topping for balancing out the flavours.
  • Pickled jalapenos.
  • Tortilla or corn chips. Perfect for adding a bit of crunch to the chili, along with a bit of saltiness.
  • Hot Sauce. If you like your chili hot but everyone else likes it milder, hot sauce is perfect for adding a bit of spice individually.

Can This Chili Be Used In Other Ways?

There are a number of ways to serve chili that is not in a bowl. We use chili in so many ways and these are just a few examples of how you can use chili.

  • Chili Fries. This is a favourite in our house. It is like a poutine but without the gravy. Top fresh cooked fries with chili and some shredded cheese to make chili fries. Or use a cheese sauce like our Velveeta Nacho Cheese Sauce instead of shredded cheese.
  • Chili Nachos. Instead of topping nachos with salsa, use chili instead.
  • Burritos. Chili is perfect inside a burrito. Scoop chili onto a tortilla, and add some cheese. Fold the wrap like a burrito and heat.
  • Burgers. Topping a burger with homemade chili is a great way to level up a burger.
  • Hot Dogs. Again this is a great way to take a plain hot dog to the next level.
  • Baked Potato. Top a baked potato with chili and cheese and you have a meal!
  • Mac and Cheese. Add chili to homemade mac and cheese.
  • Stuffed Peppers. Fill hollowed-out peppers with chili. Top with cheese and heat through before serving.
  • Pasta Sauce. We have served this on top of spaghetti as a sauce. Not to be confused with Cinncinati Chili, because that is something else. But chili can make a good pasta sauce.

Equipment Needed for This Recipe

This recipe is made on the smoker or charcoal kettle grill. We like to make it on our Weber. Charcoal, along with wood chunks, adds a smoky flavour to the finished dish.

When it comes to smoke, we like to use hickory wood chunks.

Can Smoked Chili be Made Without a Smoker?

Yes, this recipe can be made in a slow cooker. It will still cook slowly but without the smoke. Liquid smoke can be used in the chili to add a touch of smoke flavour. If adding liquid smoke, only add a little. When it comes to liquid smoke, a little goes a long way, and adding too much can ruin a dish very quickly.

We have also experimented with adding smoke using a smoker gun. This is a little difficult to do with a large pot of chili, but it does work on individual bowls using a cloche.

Pot of chili

Storing Leftover Chili

Any leftover chili should be stored in air-tight containers in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in a pot on the stove or in a bowl in the microwave.

Since this recipe makes a large pot that may be too much to consume within a few days, it can be frozen. Place in air-tight containers and freeze for up to three months. thaw in the fridge.

When it comes to making this chili, we have been making double and triple batches for years. We freeze it in single-serving containers so we have some for lunches or a quick dinner. Single servings are also perfect for use as a topping for other dishes.

We also freeze some in larger containers for game day. Homemade Smoked Chili is perfect for Sunday Football games.

Bowl of chili topped with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheese with a half baguette resting on the side of the bowl

Homemade Smoked Chili Recipe

Homemade Smoked Chili is a great warm-me-up dish for lunch or dinner on a cool autumn day.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Course Comfort Food, Main Course
Cuisine American


  • Smoker
  • wood chunks or pellets


  • 3 pounds ground beef and pork mix*
  • 2 medium-sized onions, diced
  • 1 bulb of garlic, minced
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes, no sodium (796 ml each)
  • 1 can red kidney beans (540 ml), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans (540 ml), drained and rinsed
  • 1 can white kidney beans (540 ml), drained and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced, optional
  • ½ cup chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp cumin
  • 3 Tbsp paprika
  • 3 Tbsp Mexican Oregano
  • 3 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pound bacon


  • In a large skillet, brown the meat with onion and garlic. Breaking the meat into crumbles as it cooks.
  • Preheat smoker to 250℉ and add wood chunks.
  • In a large roast pan or foil pan, add canned tomatoes, beans, jalapeno (if using) and spices.
  • Drain fat from meat and add meat to roast pan.
  • Stir to combine. Place bacon strips on top.
  • Place pan in smoker, uncovered.
  • Allow to smoke for one hour, maintaining the heat at 250℉ and adding wood as needed.
  • After one hour, cover the pan with aluminum foil and allow to simmer at 300℉ for 3 hours.
  • Stir every 30 minutes.
  • Chili is ready when it is thick and tomatoes have broken down.
  • Remove from heat and serve with favourite toppings.
  • Store leftovers in air-tight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days.


* Beef or pork can be used in place of the combination of the two meats
Keyword Comfort Food


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