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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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