BBQ Chili with Homemade Cornbread

Who doesn’t like a warm bowl of chili on a brisk fall or winter day?  After a hike in the woods, or a day sledding or skiing, there is nothing better than coming home to a pot of chili simmering on the stove.

I used to think chili was pretty much a universal recipe until a few years ago when Mr. Mother Thyme and I along with a few friends went to a chili cook-off while still living in Fredericksburg.  I could not believe all the variations of chili there were.  Some were spicy, some were sweet.  Some were thick and some were soupy.  There was pumpkin chili (which was unbelievable) to beer chili.  If you were a chili connoisseur, this was the place for you.  

I have a classic chili recipe that I have used for years.  I wanted to put a twist on my original recipe to change the flavors a bit so I decided to add in hickory and brown sugar barbecue sauce and it really gives it a nice flavor.  

If you really want to give it that ultimate barbecue feel, substitute ground beef for pulled pork  lightly tossed in barbecue sauce (you don’t want to drench it in barbecue sauce as you just want a hint of the barbecue) and add it to the chili.  This can also be done in the crockpot making for a simple and delicious meal. 

If you are looking for a simple chili recipe, try this recipe omitting the barbecue sauce.  If you have a go to chili recipe that you love to use, try adding a little barbecue sauce to it to see how it changes the flavor or try this entire recipe.  

This is a thick and hearty chili.  Like some soups, this is a good one that the longer it simmers the better it gets.  I also like making this a day ahead.  

What goes better with BBQ than a side of cornbread.  I adapted this cornbread recipe from some time ago and it is excellent.  It has amazing reviews, and after trying it you’ll see why.  If you have never made homemade cornbread before and are used to buying those little boxes of it, you need to try this.  It is super easy and you’ll never buy that little box of cornbread again.  

BBQ Chili

Serves 6-8


2 pounds ground beef

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 teaspoon pepper, divided

1 teaspoon chili powder, divided

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons hickory and brown sugar BBQ Sauce

4 tablespoons butter

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium red pepper, diced (about ¾ cup)

1 medium green pepper, diced (about ¾ cup)

1 small onion, diced (about ½ cup)

3 28oz cans (or 84oz) crushed tomatoes (this recipe used Contadina)

40.5oz can of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained  (this recipe used Hanover)

1 tablespoon brown sugar


Season ground beef with ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon chili powder and cook ground beef over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Stir in 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce.  Set ground beef aside.

In a large pot melt butter.  Add peppers, onion, garlic and cook until slightly tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, ground beef, remaining BBQ sauce, brown sugar, remaining salt, pepper, chili powder and kidney beans.  Bring to a low boil and turn to low and simmer for 2-3 hours.  

Serve with homemade cornbread.


Substitute ground beef, for shredded pork for BBQ Pulled Pork Chili.  

Increase or decrease amount of chili powder based on desired taste.

Homemade Cornbread

Recipe adapted from


½ cup butter

½ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 8” pan with cooking spray.

In a large skillet melt butter. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, followed by eggs.  Stir well until well combined.  Combine baking soda with buttermilk and pour into pan followed by cornmeal, flour and salt.    Stir until well combined.  Pour in to prepared pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until tester inserted in to center comes out clean.   Cool on a wire rack.  

Freshly chopped peppers, onion and garlic.
Dark red kidney beans rinsed and drained.  
Ground beef combined with peppers, onion and garlic.
After combining remaining ingredients, let chili simmer for a few hours.
Nothing beats homemade cornbread.  Stir in buttermilk to butter, sugar and eggs.  
Mix in flour, sugar, and salt. 
Pour into 8″ pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. 
Pull up a chair and enjoy!

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