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This recipe—from our church cookbook—makes the best chili bar none. The secret ingredients are sugar and bay leaf.—Sue Norem, Ellsworth, Iowa
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 45 min. Cook: 1-1/2 hours
MAKES:45 servings
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 45 min. Cook: 1-1/2 hours
MAKES: 45 servings


  • 10 pounds ground beef
  • 5 large onions, chopped
  • 5 quarts tomato juice
  • 4 cups water
  • 5 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 bunch celery with leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 bay leaves

Nutritional Facts

1 cup: 241 calories, 13g fat (5g saturated fat), 67mg cholesterol, 626mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 2g fiber), 22g protein.


  1. In several large soup kettles, cook beef and onions over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Add the tomato juice, water, beans, sugar, chili powder and salt. Cut leaves off celery and set aside. Chop celery; add to soup. Chop celery leaves; place in cheesecloth with the garlic and bay leaves. Tie with string and place in soup. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Remove spice bag before serving. Yield: about 45 (1-cup) servings.
Originally published as Meaty Chili in Taste of Home February/March 1999, p54

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