Homemade Chili with Bacon

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Homemade chili is not my kid’s favorite dish in the whole wide world. They don’t really like the beans. BUT, Francis loves homemade chili, so I make it for him. We usually freeze the leftovers since I don’t know how to make a small pot of chili.

I do make my kids eat a “thank you bite” – or in the case of last night – a “thank you spoonful”. Nathan asked me why he had to have some when he doesn’t like chili and I told him that he wouldn’t love spaghetti if I hadn’t made him keep trying it. Two baby bites later he asked me if he had finished – ummmm, NO.

Things You’ll Need –

  • Large Stock/Soup pot, dutch oven or slow cooker
  • 3 cans of beans – sm. red beans, black beans, pinto beans
  • 2 cans tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
  • 1/2 Onion
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Hamburger
  • 4 – 6 slices bacon (secret ingredient)

This is a recipe that works great in a slow cooker or on the stove. I cooked this batch on the stove, since I didn’t have time to start it earlier in the day. I cooked mine for a couple of hours since I like my beans even more tender than they are in the can – and they pick up more of the flavor.

I tend to make my chunks small since my kids can be a little picky about bigger chunks. I get the petite diced tomatoes, I cut my onion into small pieces, I used pre-crushed garlic.

Chop your bacon into small pieces and brown in a pan. Save the bacon AND the bacon fat. (You’ll need them later!)

Dice the onion and saute it in a pan with the garlic and a Tbsp. of butter. Cook the onion until it’s translucent and a little soft. This helps bring out the flavor of the onion and garlic. Toss in the raw hamburger and brown it. Drain off the fat. If you use hamburger that is a little fatty (15% or so) it gives it really good flavor and you can dump the fat before you use the hamburger. Try not to lose too many of your onions when you drain the hamburger.

Start adding your stuff to the soup pot or crock pot – drain and rinse your beans and add them to the pot, DO NOT drain your tomatoes before you add them, add the large can of tomato paste. Mix it together and see how thick it is. It should be pretty thick since the only real liquid you have is from the tomatoes.

Add your spices – I added salt, chili powder, cayenne pepper, crushed chili peppers, garlic powder and onion powder.

Toss the hamburger with the onions and garlic into the pot or slow cooker. Add the bacon AND bacon fat.

Add UP TO 3 cups of water. The beans and the hamburger absorb some liquid when you cook the chili so you want a little extra liquid, but you don’t want to make soup.

Mix together and simmer for a couple of hours or longer in the slow cooker.


  • 1½ lbs. Ground Beef
  • 3 – 15 oz. cans Beans (any kind you like – I used small red, black and pinto beans)
  • 2 – 15 oz. cans Diced Tomatoes (I used petite diced for smaller pieces of tomato)
  • 1 – 15 oz. can Tomato Paste
  • 4-6 slices Cooked Bacon (this is the secret ingredient)
  • ½ Onion (diced)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh Garlic
  • 2½ Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp. Salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • ¼ tsp. Crushed Red Peppers
  • 2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp. Beef Base or Beef Bouillon
  • up to 3 C. Water


Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook over medium heat until brown. DO NOT discard the fat.

Cut the onion into small pieces and saute them in a Tbsp. of butter with the garlic.

Add the hamburger to the onions and garlic and cook until done. Drain well.

In a large pot or slow cooker add the – beans (well drained), tomatoes with their juice, tomato paste. Stir together.

Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, crushed red peppers, garlic powder and onion powder. Stir together.

Heat over medium heat and add the hamburger and onion mixture and the bacon AND bacon fat (yes, you want the fat). Stir together.

Taste to see how salty it is.

Add some more salt if needed. The beans are bland so some salt is essential.

Add some beef base for a little more salt and to add depth to the beef flavor.

Add the water until the consistency is saucy – but not soup. I added 1 cup of water at a time until I liked the consistency. You can always add more water later if it gets too thick.

Simmer, covered for a couple of hours, stirring frequently.

Serve this easy homemade chili with some homemade cornbread. This is a mildly spicy version of chili – I call it kid-friendly. Feel free to spice it up if you want .

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