Mike’s Chili

Man oh man. Fall in Michigan sure feels a whole lot like winter in Arizona. Winter at night in Arizona. Winter at night after you just jumped in the Colorado River. It’s October and I’ve been wearing long-johns for two weeks already. I’m including this recipe in fall and winter because it’s just one of those great recipes to come home and warm you up after a cold day. And there seem to be a whole lot more here than I’m used to, so we’re already bringing out the winter recipes. Plus, I feel like it’s kinda Michael week since his birthday was on Monday. šŸ™‚

I call this Mike’s Chili because he found it online. We were just married and I was freaking out about how I was going to be a wife when I had no idea what I was doing in the kitchen. I hadn’t been cooking long enough to know what “sounded good” when I read a recipe and he seemed to be better at everything which included reading a recipe and knowing whether or not we’d like it. I remember we were both working up at Northern Arizona University in the Cline Library. Well, okay, he was working and I was looking at recipes at one of the computer stations while the snow fell outside. I had found a few different versions of chili, but I was having trouble deciding which to use. This is the one he picked and it has been a go-to in our house ever since. It’s super easy, which was lucky for me back then because at that point it took me about two hours to make lasagna and it seemed I spent more nights crying in the kitchen because I spilled something that ruined dinner, or crying at the dinner table because I had slaved away at a dish that turned out to not be edible (which I’m sure was my fault, not the recipe). Don’t let the ease of this fool you though, it’s delicious. The jalapeƱo gives this a bit of a kick, so if you’re not sure about the heat you can always remove the ribs and seeds. I always make a double batch of this so we can freeze some for later. It’s especially good with corn bread and honey to have some sweet to chase the spiciness of the chili.

My family argues over which is better, this chili or my version of Chile Blanco. So far, I think it’s a tie. What matters though, is that both of our grandfathers have approved of this recipe. I made this for Michael’s family when they came up to see us one Thanksgiving while we lived in Salt Lake City. Believe me, I was extremely nervous about hosting his family because I wanted them to approve of my house and my cooking…you know how that goes. After his first helping Mike’s grandpa said, “I think I’ll take some more of those chili beans.” Phew! He’ll never know how happy that made me. The other compliment I got with this dish is that it is the only thing my grandpa has ever let someone else plan and make at the gulf. Growing up our family always went down to Mexico to go camping for a week on the beach. My grandpa was the chef for the entire trip. He planned the meals, bought and transported the food, and then spent his days cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner while we were there. On one of our last trips I was able to meet him in Yuma and help him shop and get things ready before the trip down the beach. I convinced him to let me make just one meal while we were down there so he could go fishing. He approved and lucky for me, so did everyone else. We even made the cornbread in a dutch oven over the campfire coals!

Mike's Chili


  • 2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeƱo, diced
  • 2 15 oz cans red kidney beans with liquid (make sure these are labeled No Salt Added)
  • 2 14.5 oz can peeled petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese (garnish)
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced (garnish)


  • Cook ground beef in a large pot and drain off fat.
  • Saute onion and jalapeƱo pepper with the meat for about two minutes. Add about half the fresh cracked pepper with the meat.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Garnish with cheddar cheese and green onions. Serve with warm cornbread drizzled with extra honey. šŸ™‚

Serves 4-6

Recipe by Life’s Sweet Seasons


One response to “Mike’s Chili

  1. Pingback: Chili Blanco | Life's Sweet Seasons·

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