Game day has never been more delicious than when this very best Dutch oven chili is on the menu. After slowly braising in a rich, spicy sauce, a chuck roast transforms into the most tender, succulent shredded beef to make one seriously loaded, meaty chili. Whether you serve this for your Super Bowl party, a chili cook-off or just a casual get-together with friends, you will look like a master chef when you share this recipe.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Chuck roast beats ground beef every time: Most chili recipes call for ground beef, and that’s fine if you don’t care about making the best chili. But for a truly show-stopping, blue-ribbon chili, we need a more flavorful cut of meat.
Chuck roast is beautifully marbled with fat that breaks down when it slowly cooks. The result is a shredded beef that’s much more tender and richer in flavor. You won’t go back to plain, old ground beef after tasting this chili.
Dried chile paste makes for a deeper flavor: Just like the best chili calls for a better cut of meat, it also needs a dried chili paste rather than powdered chili powder. Sounds like a lot of work? I promise it’s not, and the flavor payoff is well-worth the few extra minutes it takes.
Full of cozy flavors: Need some winter and fall comfort food? This chili has you covered. All those warm spices are just what your soul needs, especially during football season.
Perfect for parties: I just love serving chili for so many reasons — it’s always a crowd favorite, you have so many serving options, and you can make it well in advance of party time for easy entertaining.
Related: For more dutch oven recipes, you’ll also love my braised red wine short ribs.
Chuck roast: Look for a chuck roast that’s about 3 pounds in size. That gives us the perfect amount of meat.
Dried chiles: I like to use a combination of guajillo and chile de àrbol for a complex depth of flavor. With the guajillo chiles, we get fruity notes with a smoky backbone, and the chile de àrbol delivers just the right heat kick.
Chipotle chiles: A chipotle pepper is a smoked and dried jalapeño. While you can buy plain chipotle chiles, we want the canned variety in adobo sauce. The adobo sauce adds an extra touch of smoky flavor, and we use the sauce in our chile paste as well.
Spices and seasonings: This includes a combination of cocoa powder, dark brown sugar, ground cumin, smoked paprika, Mexican oregano, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.
Coffee: You’ll love how a strong cup of coffee adds some roasted notes to complement those warm spices. And, no, it doesn’t make the chili taste like your morning coffee.
Apple cider vinegar: This gives us a little zip to balance the spice. A little bit goes a long way here.
Beef stock: If you have homemade beef stock, that’s a great option, but I highly recommend Better Than Bouillon if you need a store-bought stock. Better Than Bouillon is made from a concentrated beef base, so it’s much more flavorful than those bland powdery cubes or even canned stock.
Cornstarch: When I typically make chili, I like to cover it with a crack open, which allows the broth to reduce and thicken. But since we’re braising the chili covered in the oven, this gives us that hearty, almost gravy-like texture.
Step 1: Preparing that flavor-making dried chiles paste is our first step. For this, we toast the dried chiles in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until they turn fragrant (photo 1). This will only take a couple minutes. Once we get a whiff of that wonderful chile scent, we add the beef broth and simmer until the chiles become pliable (photo 2).
Multitasking tip: As the chiles simmer in the stock, take this time to prepare the other ingredients. See? This step really doesn’t add much time.
Step 2: After simmering, we add both the dried chiles and beef stock to a blender or food processor with the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and purée until they turn into a smooth mixture like so (photo 3). For now, we set aside the dried chile paste.
Step 3: Now we sprinkle the chuck roast with salt and black pepper and dust it with flour (photo 4). The flour helps create a crust for a nice texture in the next step.
Step 4: We heat some olive oil in the Dutch oven, add the chuck roast and cook until it browns (photo 5). This should take about four to five minutes. Using tongs, we carefully flip the chuck roast, brown again on the other side and set it aside for the time being.
Step 5: From here, we add the onions and jalapeños and cook until they soften, about four minutes. In the last 30 seconds, we stir in some fresh garlic (photo 6).
Step 6: Now we pour in the remaining beef stock, strong coffee and dried chile paste. With a sturdy wooden spoon, we scrape up any browned bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the Dutch oven and then stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, cocoa powder, brown sugar and spices. When everything is well-combined, we place the chuck roast back in the pot (photo 7).
Step 7: For our next step, we increase the heat to boil the chili, cover and place it in a 275-degree F oven (photo 8). We let the chili braise until a fork can easily shred the meat. Every cut of beef is different, but this should take about three hours for a 3-pound roast.
Step 8: Once the chuck roast is perfectly tender, we place it on a cutting board and give it a few minutes to cool. Meanwhile, we stir the cornstarch with a splash of water to make a slurry and add it to the chili with the beans (photo 9). Now we let the chili simmer for about 10 minutes to activate the cornstarch slurry and heat the beans.
Step 9: Using two forks, we shred the chuck roast and add it back to the chili (photo 10).
All that’s left is to spoon that wonderful, flavorful chili into bowls, grab a spoon and enjoy. So good, right?
Bonus: For more chili recipes, don't miss this smoked chili.
Slow Cooker Method
Obviously, this chili was created with the Dutch oven in mind. But if you saw that meaty goodness and want to make this chili but don’t have a Dutch oven, you can prepare it in a slow cooker. Here’s how to do just that.
- Prepare the recipe through step 5 as directed.
- Transfer the yellow onion mixture to a large slow cooker, stir in all the liquids and seasonings and then add the chuck roast.
- Cook the chili on low for eight hours.
- Pour the cornstarch slurry into the slow cooker in the last 10 minutes of cooking with the beans. Shred the chuck roast as originally directed and add it back to the slow cooker.
- Devour this hearty meal — the best step of all.
Keep in mind, you do not want to let chili — or any food for that matter — sit on the Warm setting for more than two to four hours. Your slow cooker model should give specific time recommendations. If it sits for too long, not only can the meat’s texture change but bacteria can begin to form.
Favorite Toppings and Side Dishes
Of course, no bowl of chili is complete without plenty of toppings. These are a few of my favorite chili toppings, but feel free to get creative.
- Smoked cheddar cheese
- Sour cream or Mexican crema
- Guacamole or avocado slices
- Freshly squeezed lime juice
- Diced red onion or sliced green onions
- Hot sauce
- Fresh jalapeño slices
- Crushed tortilla chips
- Fresh cilantro
And then there are the side dishes. Don’t miss these tasty options.
- Jalapeño popper cornbread
- Fried tomatillos
- Dinner rolls
- Zucchini quesadillas
- Polenta fries
- South American cheese bread (pan de yuca)
How to Store and Use Leftovers
Let the chili cool completely and then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. With proper storage, it should last nicely for up to four days. When you’re ready to reheat it, you can warm it on the stove over medium heat or zap it in the microwave.
This beef chili also freezes nicely. Like refrigerator storage, we want to let the chili cool completely first and then store it in a freezer-safe container for about four to six months.
While you can still eat the chili after that time frame, the meat starts to degrade in quality. To thaw, place the chili in the refrigerator for 24 hours before serving or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
While you can certainly eat leftovers as a big bowl of chili, it’s also great in so many other recipes. These are some of my favorite ways to use up that leftover chili.
- Stirred into a meaty queso.
- Topped on burgers.
- Served as a loaded baked potato.
- Smothered on top of nachos.
- Used as a burrito filling.
- Spoon onto pasta to make chili mac.
- Made into the most epic Frito pie.
This chili certainly has a kick, but it won’t leave your tongue on fire. While heat is subjective, I consider this a medium-spice chili.
A recipe is only as good as its ingredients. That’s why the very best chili comes down to using chuck roast over ground beef and a dried chile paste instead of ho-hum chili powder. Don't skip these for best results.
Whether a chili should include beans depends on the type. Growing up in Texas, I can assure you that my real Texas chili doesn’t include beans, but for other types of chili recipes, like this one, beans are perfectly acceptable and add a nice heartiness.
There are two kinds of dutch ovens — an enamel-coated dutch oven and cast-iron Dutch oven. I like cooking this in my enameled Dutch oven, but you can also use one made from cast iron as long as it's well-seasoned. The acid from the tomatoes can corrode cast iron if it hasn’t been properly seasoned.
If you want to braise the chuck roast in the oven as directed, you need a Dutch oven. That said, you can cook this recipe on the stove with an adjustment. Simply simmer the chili until the chuck roast turns fork tender.
Variations and Substitutions
Like any recipe, you’re more than welcome to customize this to suit your taste. Here are just a few ways you can make tweaks to this Dutch oven chili recipe.
- Swap the black beans and pinto beans for another variety — red kidney beans and white beans are also great.
- Substitute guajillo chiles for dried New Mexico chiles or dried cayenne peppers for chile de àrbol.
- Adjust the heat level — amp up the spice with serrano or habanero peppers or tame the jalapeño pepper with a poblano chile or go even milder with one red bell pepper.
- Use a coffee stout instead of plain coffee. Beer makes a great addition to a spicy chili.
Remove excess fat: As you shred the chuck roast, you'll mostly yield delicious meat, but you will get a few fat chunks here and there. Discard those pieces.
Wear kitchen gloves: When handling the jalapeños, I highly recommend gloves to protect your skin and eyes. If you don’t have any gloves, wash your hands well after handling those spicy peppers.
Don’t forget to rinse the beans: We don’t want that starchy, salty liquid in our chili.
Save any extra shredded beef: I find a 3-pound roast is perfect here, but sometimes you have to work with what your grocery store offers. If your store only has a much larger roast, go ahead and use the entire roast, and you can use any extra meat to make some amazing shredded beef tacos.
Use chuck, not a top round roast: Chuck contains a higher fat content. That makes for a richer flavor and better shredded texture.
Plan ahead: Chili is even better the next day after it has time to allow the flavors to meld in the refrigerator. Plus, it makes hosting that much easier.
There’s nothing like a good homemade chili paired with a bold stout. The roasted malt works perfectly with those spices, and it has enough body to stand up to that thickened red gravy and shreds of chuck beef.
For the perfect wine pairing with chili, grab a zinfandel, pour yourself a glass and marvel at how the two work together. Zinfandel comes with some fruity notes as well as a touch of peppery spice to both contrast and complement the chili.
If you’re craving a cocktail, you can’t go wrong with this Texas margarita. A Texas margarita includes both lime and orange juices. You’ll love how the acidity from the lime adds a nice brightness, and the orange flavor is always wonderful with warm spices.
When you need the perfect comfort food, make a batch of this loaded Dutch oven chili. You will fall in love after the first spoonful.
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The Best Dutch Oven Chili
- Large Dutch oven about 7 quarts
- 8 dried guajillo chiles stemmed and seeds removed
- 1 dried chile de árbol stemmed and seeds removed
- 6 cups beef stock divided
- 4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce seeds left intact
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 3 pounds chuck roast not top round roast
- Salt and pepper
- Flour for dusting
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 yellow onions chopped
- 2 jalapeños seeded and chopped
- 6 garlic cloves minced or grated
- 1 cup strong coffee
- 2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Splash of water
- Favorite toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, red onions, jalapeños, lime, cilantro, tortilla chips, etc.
- Over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or stock pot, toast the dried chiles until fragrant, about two to three minutes. Add 2 cups beef stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chiles soften and are pliable.
- Add the chiles and beef stock used to simmer the chiles to a blender with the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Blend until smooth. Set aside the chile paste.
- Sprinkle the chuck roast with salt and pepper and then dust the chuck roast with flour.
- Turn the oven to 275 degrees F. Heat oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chuck roast and brown on one side, about four to five minutes. Carefully flip the chuck roast and brown on the other side. Remove the chuck roast from the Dutch oven and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion and jalapeños to the pot. Cook until softened, about four to five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Pour in remaining 4 cups of beef stock, strong coffee and reserved chile paste, scraping up the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, cocoa powder, brown sugar and spices. Place the chuck roast back in the Dutch oven.
- Bring the heat back to medium-high and boil the mixture. Once it boils, cover and place in the oven. Cook until the beef easily shreds with a fork, about three hours.
- Remove the chili from the oven. Carefully remove the chuck roast and place it on a cutting board and give it a few minutes to cool. Meanwhile, place the pot of chili back on the stove and turn the heat to medium to simmer. Whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Stir in the cornstarch slurry with the beans and let it simmer for about 10 minutes until it thickens.
- As the chili simmers, use two forks to shred the chuck roast. Discard any pieces of fat. Stir the shredded beef into the chili. Serve with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
- Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Alternatively, freeze it for up to four to six months.
- I prefer an enameled Dutch oven for this recipe, but you can use a cast-iron Dutch oven as long as it's well-seasoned.
- Wear kitchen gloves when handling the jalapeños to protect your skin and eyes.
- Plan ahead. Chili is even better if you can let it sit in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Of course, you can still serve it right away.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.