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The Bomb Baked Chili

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 50 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chili
Author: Diana Butterfield


  • 3 lbs 90% lean ground beef
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 3 dried ancho chilies
  • 3 dried guajillo peppers
  • 1/3 cup masa (or 1 cup broken tortilla chips)
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1-3 tsp chipotles in adobo (or more if you like a really spicy chili)
  • 1 15 oz can pinto beans
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar


  • Preheat oven to 275° and place oven rack in the lower middle position.
  • Remove the stems and seeds form 3 Guajillo and 3 Ancho chili peppers and tear into one-inch pieces. Place in a dry pay and heat on medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Don’t allow the chilies to smoke, just toast enough to dry them out. After 5 minutes transfer the chilies to the bowl of a food processor and let them dry out and cool.
  • In a large bowl add 3 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 2 teaspoons of salt. Whisk together to dissolve the salt as much as possible. Add 3 pounds 90% lean ground beef to the bowl and mix it around so the soda, salt, and water mixture get absorbed into the meat. Leave to set for 15 minutes.
  • While the ground beef is resting finish preparing the chili powder. By now the chilies should be cooled and more brittle. Into the bowl of your food processor, add to the chilies, 1/3 cup masa (if you don’t have masa you can use about a cup of broken tortilla chips…they’ll grind down and thicken the chili just like the masa).
  • Additionally, add to the food processor, 2 tablespoons of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of ground coriander, 2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano), 2 teaspoons of ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon dried thyme. Pulse initially and then process for about 2 minutes, until finely ground.
  • Place a cast iron Dutch oven (or other heavy bottomed oven safe pot) over medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of veg or canola oil. Chop one onion (Or place in the food processor and pulse until chopped). Add the onions and into the oil and cook until softened, about 5 minutes or so. Add 3 cloves of finely minced (or pressed) garlic. Stir garlic and onions for about a minute and then add the beef. Keep stirring and breaking up the beef into small chunks until it’s all nice and browned and you get those nice browned bits on the bottom of your pan.
  • Add all the chili powder mixture and 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of diced chipotles in adobo (or more, depending on how spicy you like it) to the pot and stir until all the powder is moistened, a minute or two. Add 2 cups of water, one can of pinto beans and the liquid, a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Now bring to a simmer, cover it with a lid and put it in a 275° oven for 2 and a half hours, stirring about every 30-45 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is done let the pan sit uncovered for about 10-15 minutes. Stir in any fat that has risen to the surface and add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Taste and add a little salt if needed. Add your favorite toppings ... onion, cheese, cilantro, lime, sour cream, avocado, crackers, tortilla chips, crumbled cornbread … and enjoy!


When buying whole dried chilis, look for peppers that are still pliable, not dry and brittle.
A lesson learned from America’s Test Kitchen: Adding some baking soda to the meat helps it to brown. When cooking a large quantity of meat at one time, the meat has a tendency to steam. The addition of the baking soda allows the meat to remain moist while getting nicely browned.
This chili is very thick and meaty.  If you prefer a soupier chili feel free to add a little extra water.