Recipe: Beer Chili

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Just like that, 2016 is coming to a close. The holidays were here and gone in what felt like no time at all. We traveled to Casey and were fortunate enough to have nine different celebrations with dozens and dozens and dozens of our friends and loved ones. I hope all of you were able to enjoy making some new memories and embracing the reason for the season also.

Prior to leaving town for almost a whole week, I was on a mission to use up anything and everything perishable and therefore create the least food waste possible before heading out. I planned meals strategically to avoid buying any more groceries, and I got a little creative to use up what we had on hand. While the ingredients in this meal were creatively combined and resulted in a delicious dish, the creativity in the naming of this recipe has fallen a little short. Like, I can’t come up with a decent name to save my life on this one and am hoping you all will throw me a few recommendations here, short.

It was the week before Christmas and I was realizing I had some random odds and ends that needed used up, so I did what I do best in the kitchen – winged it. While I contemplated not sharing this recipe with you at all, because, well, the odds of you having all these same things lying around are slim, it was good enough that I actually would go buy all these ingredients again in the future to remake it. Or I’ll use this as a starting block for a series of “What on Earth is she making that stuff into?” Who knows. I just know it was tasty, it freezes well, it’s great as leftovers, and it accomplished the goal of cleaning out the fridge. Win. Win. Win. Win. And I had my fearless kitchen helpers underfoot to “help”, one of which is pictured.

So until one of you word geniuses come up with a clever name for me, this will simply be referred to as Beer Chili. Feel free to modify based on whatever it may be you are trying to use up in your kitchen. Personally, I would’ve added more produce, such as carrots, celery, and maybe even sweet potatoes, if I had them on hand. I’ve listed out the instructions for what I actually did, but have noted below a few other alternatives, should you choose to prepare in a different fashion. For example, I used dried beans that I cooked in the Instant Pot (tutorial here!) versus canned beans, simply because that’s what I had in the house. If the Instant Pot wasn’t busy cooking beans, I very easily could have cooked the whole chili in there instead of in the Crockpot, or you could do it on the stove top also. Totally up to you. Cooking is part science experiment, right? Have fun.

Beer Chili

Author Jordan Clapp - Organically Optimistic


  • 2 strips bacon
  • 1.25 lbs. ground beef (or other ground meat)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (any color is fine)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika (smoked or regular)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 28 oz. diced tomatoes (one large can; I prefer fire roasted)
  • 1 bottle beer (amber, pale ale, or blonde are best)
  • 1/2 c. dried black beans, prepared (or 1 can drained/rinsed)
  • 1/2 c. dried pinto beans, prepared (or 1 can drained/rinsed)
  • 1/2 c. dried chili beans, prepared (or 1 can drained/rinsed)
  • 3 quarts tomato juice


  1. In a large saute pan, brown the ground beef until cooked through. Strain or use paper towels to remove the excess grease when cooking is complete, then transfer the beef to a large Crockpot.

    2. While the beef is cooking, use another large saute pan to cook the diced bacon until crispy, then transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain of excess grease.

    3. Once the bacon has been removed, use the same pan to cook the diced onion in the bacon grease. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has taken on a nice caramelized color.

    4. As the onion cooks, you can add your bacon (crumbled), veggies, spices and beans to the Crockpot. Once the onion is finished caramelizing, add it in and top with the tomato juice and beer.

    5. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8. Serve with your favorite toppings or sides.

    **Stovetop instructions:
    Cook the beef as described above. Cook the bacon in a large stock pot, then remove and drain. Cook the onion in this same pot with the bacon grease, then add the veggies, spices, beans, beef, tomato juice and beer to the stock pot. Cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes - 1 hour.

    ** Instant Pot Instructions:
    Cook the beef as described above. Cook the bacon in the Instant Pot or Saute mode, then remove and drain. Cook the onion in the bacon grease on Saute mode, then turn off the machine. Add the veggies, spices, beans, beef, beer and HALF of the tomato juice. I would only add half of the tomato juice prior to cooking (as it may be too full once under pressure) and cook on the Bean/Chili function, which is pre-programmed for 30 minutes. Once the pressure has naturally released, evaluate whether to add more tomato juice (thinning the consistency) or keep as is.