The Beef Chili Files – Part 2: Secrets from World Champs

Make your beef chili shine with not-so-obvious recipe hints from the masters.

Autumn’s in full swing in New England. The trees are vibrantly colorful, Tom Brady is back, and we’ve got beef chili on the brain. In our first installment of the Chili Files, we talked chili basics. Today, we’re spilling the beans (sorry) and revealing not-so-obvious secrets from World Champion chili makers.

Chili for a Cause

Every year, the International Chili Society hosts officially sanctioned contests around the world. Their sole purpose is “to promote, develop, and improve the preparation and appreciation of true chili.” They’re no joke, either: as the largest food contest festival organization in the world, their 200 annual cook-offs have raised over $86 million dollars for charities and nonprofit organizations.

beef chiliSince 1967, the ICS has crowned a World Chili Champion in their annual marquee event. Champs take home a $25,000 check and a place in the annals of chili history. This year’s event takes place this weekend, promising unprecedented thrills with the Champion of Champions tournament.

What makes world champion chili? Fortunately, the ICS publishes a list of their champs alongside their winning chili recipes. Their recipes are far from simple – they’ve been crafted over years – but these unexpected themes are easy to incorporate into your own home cooked chili.

Simple Chili Tips from the Pros

Ground beef isn’t always best

We noticed that the past eight winners don’t use ground beef – a staple in most home cooked chili. Instead, they use quarter inch diced tri tip or top butt (sirloin). Adding extra beefy flavor, sirloin breaks down in the long cooking process and becomes tender. While chuck or ground beef can get mushy after a few hours, these steak cuts create a nice bite.

Stages are key

To get depth, variety, and complex, layered flavor, add spices to your chili at different stages of cooking. Depending on when they’re added, chili powders can mellow. Experiment to see which chili powders to use at Various kinds of spiceswhich stages of cooking.

Use multiple types of chili powder


These pros use as many as six or seven types of chili powder in their winning recipes, adding depth of flavor and a kick that’s specific to the formula. Don’t be shy when it comes to your repertoire.

Don’t forget the wild cards

To evoke a “What’s your secret?!” reaction from chili eaters, try a non-traditional ingredient. Canned chipotle or harissa chilies in liquid, Mexican or dark chocolate, and Mexican oregano are a few of our favorites.

Ready to take these tips for a spin? Try cooking a healthier, tastier chili with Verde Farms grass-fed beef: our organic diced tri-tip, sold as a stir fry cut, is perfect to take your chili to the next level. You still have a season’s worth of time to get your chili ready for the Super Bowl.

Got more ideas for grass-fed beef or chili recipes? Let us know!



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