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Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Every year when the local chili cook-off comes around, my kids remind me that I could win with this recipe. I find that very difficult to believe because it's just so simple. But I have tried a lot of chili in my time and I agree that I like mine best. Topped with sour cream, cheese, green onions, Fritos, oyster crackers - or just plain - it can't be beat!

I started out using a packaged seasoning mix (which would immediately disqualify me from winning the chili cook-off - I know, I know!), but that seasoning is sometimes hard to find and getting more expensive along with everything else. I prefer to try to make my own and get it as close to the flavor we have all come to know and love. I think I've gotten it pretty close - close enough that no one complains. :-)


1/1/2 - 2 pounds ground meat - I use ground beef but you can choose whatever you prefer

1 can Rotelle original tomatoes

1 can petite diced tomatoes

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 onion, chopped

2 cans light red kidney beans

Chicken base and water (optional)

Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit or use the Seasoning blend included on recipe card.


Brown the ground beef and onion, drain.

Add Rotelle tomatoes, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and kidney beans. Stir well.

If you want your chili a little more soupy, add 1-2 cups chicken base dissolved in water (to make broth) until it reaches the consistency you want.

Add the seasoning packet OR the DIY Seasoning blend, stir well.

This is the thing - I never, ever use any of the rest of the kit. The chicken base makes it salty enough, I don’t like it too spicy, and the Rotelle tomatoes makes it spicy enough. I only add the masa if the chili is being used for chili dogs or serving others who prefer a thicker consistency.

Let simmer on low for a few hours, stirring from the bottom often so it doesn’t stick.  It can simmer for an entire day, or you can refrigerate it and heat it up the next day. It takes several hours of simmering to cook the beans as soft as we like them.

Chili isn’t chili without corn bread, or so says PaPa :-) I say cheddar biscuits might be just as good ;-)  You can also serve with corn chips, oyster crackers (I don’t know why they call them oyster crackers - there’s no oysters in them - just sayin’), sour cream, green onions, cheddar cheese. Eat it your way. LOL

Freezes well.


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