Chili Cookoff

October 30, 2012

By Gabrielle.

I just received an email from my friend Laura, she used our Award Winning Chili Recipe for a chili cook-off last weekend — and she won! I told Ben Blair and the kids and we all cheered. I think we find this a bit humorous and surprising because we pretty much lucked into this recipe. (The long story is here.)

If it’s cold and stormy out where you live, this is the perfect no-fuss recipe for a cozy meal at home.

Do you have a winning recipe for chili or cookies or pie or jam or bread or potato casserole — or any other food that’s cook-off material? As I said, I feel like we lucked into ours. How did you find yours? I’d love to hear your stories!

Also, I posted the recipe years ago, but here it is again, in case you’d like to try it:

Three Bean Chili Deluxe

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 heaping tsp chopped garlic
3 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
2 16 oz. cans light kidney beans
2 16 oz. cans dark kidney beans
2 16 oz. cans black beans
1 entire packet of Ranch Dressing powdered mix
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder
1 t salt
2 spoonfuls of the secret ingredient (which is cream cheese)

Brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic. Drain the fat. Add the rest of the ingredients (don’t drain the beans) and simmer for 30 minutes. Or all day.

We like topping ours with sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions, and bacon if we have some on hand. Yum! This chili is also the perfect thickness to use for chili-cheese hotdogs (if you’re in to that, which I totally am).

Lastly, I do not have a image of our chili, so I’m using this pretty image by Martha Stewart.

P.S. — When readers and friends use this recipe and win a chili cook-off, they send me an email. This recipe has now been a winner 6 times!

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maria October 30, 2012 at 8:48 am

This looks great! My husband is pretty territorial about his chili, but I think I might make it for him anyway!


2 Robin October 30, 2012 at 8:49 am

I love this! I’ll have to try your secret ingredients! I’ve never won anything like this but a few months ago I almost won an ice cream contest on the food blog Food 52. I was a semi finalist but no prize.


3 Design Mom November 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Semi-finalist is nothing to sneeze at!


4 KelliK October 30, 2012 at 8:52 am

I needed this Friday! Next year, I’m determined to win. Thanks for sharing the secret! Also, Maude’s Apron is almost the same as Danny’s at A Blog About Love. Were you in the same Stake? I found her blog from you, now wondering if you were real life friends before!


5 Design Mom November 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm

We weren’t in the same stake, but we had Brooklynites that had moved from Brooklyn to Westchester. I’m guessing they brought the design along with the move. : )


6 Giulia October 30, 2012 at 9:24 am

We have a chilli cook-off in November here at work – maybe I have to try this one.


7 Amber October 30, 2012 at 9:26 am

That sounds yummy! My hubby also won a chili cook off this weekend–which is so funny because we’ve never won anything like that. Our secret was using ground sausage, 1 pound spicy and 1 pound sweet. Instead of completely cutting up the meat we left large bite size pieces of it in the mix. It was delicious I have to admit!


8 Design Mom November 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Congrats to your husband, Amber! 2 kinds of sausage sounds yum.


9 Maria @ Busy as a Bee in Paris October 30, 2012 at 9:47 am

yum! that does look good! we love to make homemade chili but ours have never won any awards! ;)


10 Jackie October 30, 2012 at 10:42 am

Chili sounds amazing right now. I’ve never won a cook off but the one chili contest I was in the person who won used hot dog as their secret ingredient!


11 Design Mom November 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Um. I love that hotdogs were the secret ingredient.


12 Becky Davidson, Eleven O'Clock Mom October 30, 2012 at 11:50 am

Num! Can’t wait to try this. We recently moved to Spain, where sausage reigns! I’ve been making homemade soups lately–carrot-ginger, green lentil, split pea, potato cheese, French onion . . . so my crew will be grateful for something with meat and zest! Time to heat up the cooktop! Provecho!


13 Megan M. October 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

My husband is about to participate in a chili cook-off! Sadly, he’s a weirdo who would be completely turned off by the ranch dressing and the beans. I, however, think it sounds delish.

Just to clarify – you DO NOT drain/rinse the black beans?


14 Design Mom November 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm

I know people have strong opinions on whether or not beans should be in chili, but I grew up on chili-with-beans, so for me it’s totally normal. : )

And that’s correct, we don’t rinse or drain the beans. We just dump them right in.


15 Caroline Perrin October 30, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Yum! I made this tonight, and my family loved it! I think this is one of the best chilis I’ve had. It’s been a cold and stormy day where I live, your timing was perfect, and the chili hit the spot!


16 Design Mom November 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Oh hooray! I’m so glad to hear it. Chili is the perfect cold weather food.


17 Bonnie October 31, 2012 at 6:55 am

Your chili recipe sounds delicious. The only thing I’ve won an award for has to be my chocolate chip cookies. They won first place at the state fair!


18 Joy G November 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Gabrielle, your chili sounds fantastic! Chili has been on our minds lately because I grew up in southern Ohio and my husband grew up in Southern Indiana. Chili was always served and eaten with peanut butter sandwiches for both of us–it was even part of school lunch! Most people dip the sandwich into the chili like you would with grilled cheese and tomato soup. We’ve recently moved to Chicagoland and no one has heard of this! Do you and your family eat Peanut Butter and Chili? How about anyone else?


19 Design Mom November 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm

What? That’s fantastic! I’ve never heard of such a thing. Now I want to write a post about regional foods.


20 Maria November 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm

When I was growing up (in central Illinois) we always ate peanut butter bread with our spaghetti! I always thought we were just weird…maybe it was quasi-normal??!!!


21 dervla @ The Curator November 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm

hmmm that really looks delicious. I pour beer into my chili but will have to try this one out next.


22 Andrea November 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I just have to say – bravo to your kids! And thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

I made this for Halloween night and we all loved it – My husband proclaimed it the best chili he had ever eaten! It will be a staple on our fall and winter menu.


23 Design Mom November 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm

High-five, Andrea! So glad the recipe received high marks at your house. It’s a good one.


24 Kimba November 4, 2012 at 10:23 am

hey gabrielle! quick question! do you add the cream cheese in with the rest of the ingredients if you let it simmer all day? throwing mine in the crock pot and i know recipes often have you add any dairy like that near the end.


25 Amy Hackworth November 5, 2012 at 7:29 am

Yum! I made this for dinner last night and it was a hit–everyone loved it! So easy and delicious! Thanks for sharing!


26 Rebecca November 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I want to try this for a party. Do you have a sense of how many people the recipe will feed? Should I double it? Thanks!


27 fina guio December 29, 2012 at 3:17 am

hi gabby! what is the standard packet size for ranch? i bought mine in the uk and i’m not sure if it will be the same size that you are working with. thanks!


28 Christy M. January 28, 2013 at 6:49 pm

Ok I have a cook-off at church Wednesday and Im gonna give it a try. I was looking for something different, and I think this is it! Ill let ya know


29 Meagan January 30, 2013 at 8:28 am

We have a chili cook-off coming up at work and this was the first recipe I thought of, totally going to give it a go! Fingers crossed!


30 Todd N February 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I made this recipe for a chili cook-off at church on Feb 10th. I didn’t omit or substitute anything, I just increased some of the quantities to suit my taste. Needless to say out of 40 entries, this one took first place. Thanks for posting the recipe.


31 Wendie Sanders March 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Just thought you’d like to know that I entered this chili in a Chili Cookoff last night. We won! It’s definitely not your average tomato-y chili, but it’s tasty. Thanks for helping me get bragging rights.


32 Rachael Lucas September 11, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Got a cook off this weekend! Am going to try this, wish me luck!


33 Emily October 12, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I used your recipe for a chili cook off tonight. There were about 12 chilis and it won!


34 Alex October 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm

I used this recipe for my family’s annual chili cook-off, there were 6 chilis and mine won unanimously, thanks!


35 Emily January 12, 2014 at 7:46 pm

I make it with ground turkey, a family favorite now. Since my son was born (now 7 months) I have learned only one recipe, this one, and it’s a lifesaver tonight as we prepare for a bunch of coworkers to come to our house for dinner. Many thanks!


36 Laken January 26, 2014 at 3:16 pm

My sister and I used this for our church Chili cook off and won! Thanks so much! It was delicious and rewarding. :)


37 Tania February 17, 2014 at 1:14 pm

This is such a good idea for a new series! Yay!
I love to cook and do it every day. AND I have been quite taken with my Dutch oven ever since I got it. My biggest challenge is cooking in big batches. I make something and think it will last for a few days, but then we have supper, I split the leftovers for the next day between my husband and myself… and it’s gone!
Not such a problem now with only two adults plus a breastfed baby, but potentially problematic with a bunch of hungry growing kids. :) That’s where I hope your designed-to-feed-a-family-of-eight recipes will help!


38 Christine October 25, 2014 at 8:12 pm

I noticed this post several years ago and tucked it away in the event of a future competition. We just moved to New Jersey where our ward hosts an annual Halloween Trunk-or-Treat and chili-cook off, so I turned to your recipe. It won; we are the proud keepers of the chili-cook off crown until next November. I thought you might like to know that your recipe is still a winner!


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