Dutch Oven Chili is sweet, savory, and just a little spicy! Ground beef, black beans, and sweet potatoes are slowly simmered on the stovetop into a thick and hearty stew. This recipe is sure to warm your belly on a cold night!
Homemade chili is the perfect Sunday dinner, especially in the fall and winter. Chili is hearty, filling, and will easily feed a crowd. Whether you're having a big family dinner or throwing a super bowl party, you can't go wrong with beef chili.
This easy Dutch Oven Chili recipe is made with ground beef, sweet potatoes, beans, red bell peppers, and tomatoes. I add in ground cinnamon, cocoa powder, and brown sugar for a sweet and savory twist!
Dutch oven recipes are one of my specialties. After you make my Dutch Oven Chili, you need to make my Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken, Dutch Oven Beef Stew, Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese, and Dutch Oven Chicken Noodle Soup!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Easy to prep: Chili only involves minimal chopping because so many ingredients are canned pantry staples!
- Cooks quickly: Compared to cooking chili in a crock pot slow cooker, cooking chili in your Dutch Oven is much faster! All you need is a one-hour simmer.
- Affordable: I have three kids so I am all about affordable, budget-friendly recipes! This recipe calls for a lot of inexpensive canned ingredients and only 1 pound of ground beef, making it a very cheap dinner!
- Large quantity: This recipe for chili in the Dutch oven makes 10, 1 cup servings!
- Healthy: Every bite contains vegetables, protein, and fiber! This is a beef, sweet potato, and black bean chili that is loaded with plant-based nutrition!
Beef: I recommend choosing 85-90% lean ground beef. I recommend lean ground beef because we aren't draining any fat out of the Dutch Oven after we sear the meat. Grass-fed, locally sourced-ground beef is also a great choice!
Beans: My recipe calls for kidney beans and black beans. I choose canned beans for ease and convenience. Just make sure you drain the liquid out of the cans and give the beans a good rinse!
Vegetables: Sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, fresh garlic, canned diced tomatoes (okay to use crushed tomatoes), and yellow onions give this recipe flavor, bulk, and lots of fiber-filled nutrition!
Flavor enhancers: Tomato sauce, tomato paste, extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, brown sugar, chili powder, smoked paprika, ground cinnamon, cocoa powder, and beef broth bring layers of sweet and savory flavor to this chili recipe.
- Dutch oven with a lid - I use an enameled 6-quart Dutch Oven made by Lodge. I prefer to use enameled cast iron, but a non-enameled cast iron Dutch oven will also work. Amazon Basics, Staub, and Le Creuset also make enameled cast iron Dutch ovens.
- Cutting board, chopping knife, measuring cups, and measuring spoons
- Silicone spoon, spatula, or bowl scraper - You MUST use silicone cooking utensils when cooking in an enameled Dutch Oven so that you don't scratch the enamel coating.
How to make Dutch Oven Chili
Step 1: Heat the olive oil in a 6-quart enameled Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add the chopped red peppers, onions, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
Step 2: Add the ground beef to the Dutch Oven and season with additional salt and pepper. Brown the outside of the ground beef for about 3 minutes.
*Don't worry about fully-cooking the ground beef during this step. The beef will have plenty of time to finish cooking during the hour-long simmer on the stovetop!
Step 3: Mix in the tomato paste, brown sugar, chili powder, smoked paprika, ground cinnamon and cocoa powder. Cook for about 1 minute.
*Adding the spices before we add any liquid, and allowing them to cook for a minute over medium heat, "blooms" the spices. Blooming releases oils in the spices, bringing out maximum flavor.
Step 4: Add the tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, peeled and chopped sweet potatoes, drained and rinsed canned beans, and beef broth. Give the chili a good stir, increase the heat to high and bring it to a boil.
Step 5: Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the Dutch Oven with a tight-fitting lid, and cook on the stovetop for 1 hour. After 1 hour remove the beef and sweet potato chili from the heat, let cool and serve!
Variations and substitutions
One of the reasons I love making chili is because it is so versatile and easy to substitute different ingredients in.
Meat: You can absolutely substitute ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground pork for ground beef.
Vegetables: Butternut squash can be substituted for sweet potatoes. Green bell peppers or yellow bell peppers can be used in place of red bell peppers. You can add in yellow corn, chopped zucchini, chopped eggplant, or diced carrots!
Special diets: Simply eliminate the meat to make this a vegetarian and vegan recipe (you'll want to increase the veggies if you do this). This chili recipe is gluten-free exactly as it is written. Eliminate the beans and brown sugar to make this recipe Whole30-approved (check out my Whole30-approved pulled pork). Eliminate all beans and sweet potatoes for a low-carb chili!
Sides to serve with
Cornbread, cornbread muffins, and fresh salad are also popular sides for chili!
Don't forget to top your chili with sour cream, bacon bits, Fritos, tortilla chips, crackers, diced chili peppers, chipotle peppers, or jarred jalapeno peppers.
Fresh herb toppings include chives, cilantro, and green onions.
Cheese toppings like shredded cheddar cheese, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and shredded pepper jack cheese are all yummy!
Don't forget... Chili makes a great topping in itself! Cook up some extra whole sweet potatoes and TOP your baked sweet potatoes with this sweet potato chili!
Storage, freezing, and reheating
How to store: When you're ready to put your chili away, remove it from the Dutch Oven and transfer it to a glass, air-tight container with a lid. Store the cooled chili in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Repurpose leftover chili and make chili mac and cheese, chili cheese dogs, or chili nachos!
How to freeze: Allow the chili to cool completely. Transfer the chili to airtight freezer-safe containers or freezer bags. If using freezer bags, lay the bags flat in the freezer for easier storage and stacking once they're frozen. Freeze chili for up to 6 months.
How to reheat: Reheat chili from the refrigerator on the stovetop in a small saucepan over low heat. Let frozen chili thaw in the refrigerator and then reheat the thawed chili on the stovetop. The microwave also works if you're in a hurry!
Frequently asked questions
If your chili has a bitter taste, balance out the bitter with more sweet, salty or sour. For this recipe you could add a splash of apple cider vinegar, another tablespoon of brown sugar, or more salt.
Chili powder blends can vary from brand to brand. They usually contain a mix of ground dried chiles, cayenne pepper, cumin, basil, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, black pepper and onion powder.
Yes, you can make chili in a cast iron Dutch oven. However, if you are not using enameled cast iron Dutch oven then you need to make sure that your cast iron Dutch oven is seasoned very, very well. The acidity from the tomatoes can eat away at the cast iron. Using enameled cast iron prevents possible corrosion from the acid in the tomatoes.
I regularly make chili both ways! A Dutch oven will develop deeper flavors because you're able to brown the meat and use high heat to bring out flavors in the seasonings. Slow-cooker chili is still delicious though and is a great hands-off way to make chili!
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