Having the ultimate chili recipe in your repertoire is pretty darn important! Chili competitions are a big deal and this recipe just may win you the coveted top prize. It did for me and hopefully you will come home with the bragging rights too.
The beauty of a simple bowl of chili is the infinite number of possibilities that make it anything but simple. Just set out some white bowls, fill them with Mexican cheeses, sour cream, cilantro, fresh lime, green onions, tortilla strips, and creamy avocado and you have a Texas sized chili bar that will please the masses.
This is the recipe that I used to win a few Chili Cook-Off Contests. It’s all about the secret ingredients that make the huge difference! Here is the proof….
When I go to Chipotle, I order the same thing every single time. I basically put everything (I mean everything) they offer in my fajita bowl and it becomes a huge masterpiece. When I go with my “picky” friend, I watch in bewilderment as she orders rice, chicken, and cheese. That’s it. This is where the beauty lies in a chili bar because your guests can pile it sky high with toppings or keep it simple.
This recipe has few MVP ingredients which sets it apart. Can you guess what makes this chili so unique and prize worthy? Well, I will share the secret….a big ol can of Dr. Pepper does the trick. Let all my soda lovers out there rejoice! You can also use Coke or Root Beer, if you can believe it. I have tried all 3 sodas in this chili recipe and they’ve all been successful but DP may be my personal favorite.
The other secret ingredient is definitely ranch dressing powder. It adds such a fresh and creamy flavor. It is a huge game changer!
It’s good hearty “man food” (don’t worry…ladies like it too) and is hands down one of my husband’s favorite meals and the perfect accompaniment to a cold winter’s day. The best news is that it not only tastes good, it’s lightning fast to put together.
The key to this recipe is to season as you go along. When you add salt and pepper to the ground beef as it’s cooking, it seals in the flavor so each component is savory. Feel free to taste away and add more spice if you can handle it! Spice is good.
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil (or any cooking oil)
- 1 Onion, diced
- 1 - 1½ lbs. Ground Beef
- Salt + Pepper
- 1 - 12 ounce can of Dr. Pepper
- 2 - 14½ ounce cans Tomato Sauce
- 1 - 14½ ounce can Chili Beans
- 1 - 14½ ounce can Petite Diced Tomatoes
- 3 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon Ancho Chili Powder (or any Chili Powder)
- 3 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing Powder
- 2 teaspoons Garlic Salt
- Chili Bar Toppings:
- Mexican Cheeses
- Sour Cream or Mexican Crema
- Fresh Limes
- Green Onions
- Tortilla Chips or Strips
- Heat pot over medium heat and add oil. Heat for 1 minute and add diced onions. Let cook for 2-3 minutes. Add ground beef and let brown, breaking up into small pieces as it is cooking. Generously season with salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat to medium low and add Dr. Pepper, tomato sauce, chili beans, diced tomatoes, taco seasoning, chili powder, ranch dressing mix, and garlic salt.
- Simmer for 20-30 minutes to let flavors intensify.
- Ladle into bowls and top with cheese, sour cream, green onions, cilantro, avocado, tortilla strips, and sprinkle with fresh lime.
Now go light a fire, snuggle in a blanket with your bowl of warm chili, and watch the big game with your friends and family. Oh…and bring home a big trophy at the next Chili Cook-Off too.