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Slow cooker shredded beef chili with beans

Slow cooker shredded beef chili, topped with guacamole and lime. Sublime!

On a cold day a few weeks ago, my husband Ted and I had pre-theater dinner with our friends Mary and Mike at our favorite across-the-street-from-the-house restaurant. We shared an appetizer-sized portion of short rib chili, just a few heavenly rich and sweet bites for each of us. When I decided to make my own version, I knew I wanted something a bit leaner; after all, some of the amazingness of the chili came from the fatty short ribs. So, instead, I used my stand-by, brisket. Coffee and cocoa give this chili a deep Mexican mole undertone. A hit of fresh lime juice at the very end is an absolute must, and a blob of guacamole on top makes the dish just about perfect. The chili freezes well, so make the full recipe and you'll be all set for weeknight dinners or that upcoming big football game.

Slow cooker shredded beef chili with black beans, topped with guacamole and a hit of lime: so good!

Slow cooker shredded beef chili with beans

From the pantry, you'll need: dried chile peppers, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, ground cumin, ground cloves, instant espresso (or leftover brewed strong coffee), unsweetened cocoa powder, vegetable oil, onion, garlic, Mexican oregano, beer, canned chopped tomatoes, black beans, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, lime.

Inspired by a short rib chili I tasted at Picco Restaurant in Boston, and this recipe for beef short rib chili with beans. Serves 10-12; can be doubled if you make it on the stovetop in a very large pot.


5-6 dried chile peppers (I use a mix of guajillo, negro, and New Mexico red)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp instant espresso (or 4 Tbsp leftover brewed strong coffee)
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3 large garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
2 medium onions, sliced
2 2-lb pieces of flat-cut beef brisket, extra fat trimmed, each piece cut into 4 quarters
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
Vegetable oil (or other neutral oil: rice bran, grapeseed, canola, etc.)
1 12-oz bottle beer (dark ale, or your choice; I use O'Doul's nonalcholic beer)
14 oz canned chopped tomato
1 Tbsp Mexican oregano
1-1/2 cup cooked (or canned) black beans
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, to taste
2 limes, cut into wedges


Tear the dried chile peppers into several pieces, and discard most of the seeds. Add the pieces to a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat; then, turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let sit for 10 minutes until the peppers soften.

Transfer the peppers and liquid to a blender, along with the Worcestershire, cumin, cloves, espresso, cocoa powder, brown sugar, tomato paste and garlic cloves. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

In a nonstick frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil. Sprinkle the pieces of meat with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides. (Note: if you have a Ninja Cooking System or other slow cooker with a stovetop insert, you can do this right in the slow cooker.) Remove the meat to a bowl, and set aside.

To a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker, add the onions, meat, and the chile sauce from the blender. Pour in the beer, chopped tomato and Mexican oregano.

Cook on LOW for 6 hours.

Remove the meat to a large bowl, and shred each piece with 2 forks. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, and stir in the black beans and balsamic vinegar. Uncover the slow cooker, raise the heat to HIGH, and cook for 1 hour to bring all of the flavors together and reduce the liquid by half.

Taste, and adjust seasoning with more salt, black pepper, brown sugar or balsamic vinegar.

Serve hot with lime wedges on the side (don't skip the lime) and chopped avocado or guacamole on top, or let cool completely and refrigerate to serve the next day. Or, pack into airtight containers and freeze.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More football-game-worthy chili recipes:
Turkey mole chili, from The Perfect Pantry
President Obama's chili recipe, from The Perfect Pantry
Football season chili, from The Perfect Pantry
Cincinnati chili, from The Kitchn
Healthy one pot chili macaroni, from Oh, Sweet Basil

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


This sounds delicious; I love shredded beef in chili and the hint of lime and guacamole is the perfect finishing touch.

Kalyn, this is a great chili to make ahead and freeze (minus the hit of lime at the end). And guacamole makes it even better.

Good idea to stash some of this chili in the freezer for later. Whether it be for the game or just weekend meals.

Looks yummy and of course I love the cocoa!

Bellini, I'm a firm believer in always having some chili in the freezer. You know, just in case.

Alyce, the little bit of cocoa really makes a difference, and adds so much depth to the flavor.

Did it again! Messed around with a perfectly good recipe so this hungry vegetarian could enjoy all this wonderful flavor (except the brisket, of course). 1/2 the other ingredients for sauce and seasoning, full amount of (pinto) beans, and an almost 2 pound eggplant in short spears. (How much onion? - not in ingredients)
I enjoyed playing with my chile collection, and the outcome is tasty and worth coming back to.

Susan, eek! You're right. 2 medium onions, sliced. Thanks for the catch.

mm this sounds really good and something different to try. Thanks for sharing this recipe.


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