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Chili for a Crowd

This chili for a crowd was handed down to me by my aunt, who said she got it from a "grizzled Montana mountain man." I added some zesty ingredients to come up with the final version. Hot food is something that my husband's family isn't accustomed to, so I adjust the spices for them. In fact, with a few simple alterations to the "heat" index, I can serve this chili to anyone. —Lisa Humphreys, Wasilla, Alaska
  • Total Time
    Prep: 25 min. Cook: 1 hour
  • Makes
    24 servings (6 quarts)


  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans or 4 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans or black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pound smoked kielbasa, sliced and halved
  • 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
  • 2/3 cup hickory-flavored barbecue sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 fresh banana peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme and sage
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced


  • In an 8-qt. kettle or Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.
  • Stir in the remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Test Kitchen Tips
  • It’s important to drain and rinse canned beans because the thick, cloudy liquid inside often contains excess sodium and starch. Doing this can improve the taste, texture and nutritional content of a dish.
  • Chili powder is a seasoning blend made primarily from dried chili peppers. Other ingredients commonly include garlic, onion, salt, oregano, cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon and even cocoa powder.
  • Find more contest-winning soups, stews and chili recipes here.
  • Nutrition Facts
    1 cup: 207 calories, 11g fat (4g saturated fat), 40mg cholesterol, 422mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 3g fiber), 15g protein.

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    Average Rating:
    • Devan
      Jan 4, 2021

      I’ve been trying so many chili recipes to find one that we love. This one finally did it. We loved it. Has fantastic flavour, not the standard bland chili like so many other recipes. This one is a keeper. I halved the recipe and it’s perfect for two full meals for two men. Serve with garlic toast. It’s awesome.

    • dilbert098
      Dec 8, 2019

      My group really liked it. They also noted the sweetness but I don't think they were opposed to it.

    • Gerry
      Nov 11, 2019

      Interesting flavors and well received by group but very sweet. I will make again but leave out the brown sugar.

    • Karen
      Apr 6, 2019

      No comment left

    • Terry
      Feb 14, 2019

      The absolute best and easiest to make recipe for chili I have ever tried. It is now my most requested recipe!

    • Rick
      Jan 16, 2019

      No comment left

    • foodiedude
      Jul 5, 2016

      Great recipe. Tried it when needing to cook for a large group of college students. Varied it up by subbing salami for kielbasa, pre-cooked soy beans for canned kidney beans, a pint of stout beer for water, doubled the coffee, tripled the cayenne pepper and added 1 heaping tbsp chili powder in place of pepper flakes. Turned out sweeter than I expected but it was enjoyed by all.Only recommendation would be to change serving size. For a group of college kids I'd say this'd feed maybe 10-15 comfortably. Adding loaves of bread on the side, 1.5x this recipe should be enough for 20 people. Still, great recipe, thanks Lisa!

    • ASGOOD
      Nov 19, 2015

      I looked for a chili recipe for a large crowd and found this one. Made it for a group of 32 men. I received very good compliments on this chili, so it is definitely a keeper.I doubled the recipe for this group and it wasn't quite enough. Guys like "seconds" and though several guys got seconds, more would have had there been more chili. The serving size of 1 cup is too small, in my opinion. It takes 2 cups to have a nice bowlful.We enjoyed this recipe just as it is and will make it again, but next time will be more careful to make enough. Thanks Lisa for sharing this recipe.

    • LeanneBosch
      Feb 5, 2015

      Made this recipe for an open house over a year ago....We are hosting another one and people are asking if I'll be making that chili again. Definately a keeper and more then enough to go around!

    • Patty
      Feb 26, 2013

      No comment left