Firecracker Chili | Best Chili Recipe Ever (2024)

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This unique, spicy (but not hot) Cinnamon Chili recipe is the perfect chilly night meal! Cinnamon chili is an award-winning family and neighbor favorite!It is the best chili recipe ever. Stovetop or crockpot directions.

While this Firecracker Cinnamon chili sounds hot, it is NOT! Wow, this is a great chili! A great make-ahead meal for Halloween, football games, fall dinners or anytime you need a BIG OL POT OF GOODNESS!

You should try our other favorite crockpot recipes, like this Olive Garden 3 Ingredient Chicken, Easy Crockpot Butter Chicken (or Stovetop), Healthy Crack Chicken {Instant Pot or Slow Cooker}.

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Secret Ingredient for Cinnamon Chili

So what is this secret ingredient, or ingredients? It’s CINNAMON and cloves! Yes, putting cinnamon in your chili enhances it in tremendous ways.

Much like adding chili powder and other common chili spices, cinnamon is a super versatile spice that adds warmth without the heat to Firecracker chili.

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I enjoy giving precise details in my recipe posts to lead my readers through any questions. If you’re just here for the printable recipe, use the Jump to Recipe to head straight there!

On a chilly day, after a long day of skiing, trick-or-treating, relaxing, sledding, or working…there is nothing like a crock pot hanging out doing it’s thang, filling the air with amazing spices like this unique, warming chili.

I’ve added all sorts of things to Firecracker chili; try adding pumpkin puree, shredded zucchini and shredded carrots — sneaking in some healthy veggies, or make it with ground chicken, turkey, elk or my favorite bison!

Why You Will Love this Awesome Chili Recipe

  • Comes together quickly.
  • Sneaky vegetables hidden inside!
  • Great flavor, but not spicy hot, unless you want it to be!

What Makes this the best Chili Recipe Ever?

The ultimatechilishould:

  1. Have a rich, complexchiliflavor that combines sweet, bitter, hot, fresh, and fruity elements in balance.
  2. Have a robust, meaty, beefy flavor.
  3. Assuming that it contains beans, have beans that are tender, creamy, and intact.
  4. Be bound together by a thick, deep-red sauce. (source)
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Simple Ingredients

These are the main ingredients for the best chili recipe ever, the printable recipe card is at the end of the post.

  • Ground Beef | I also love to use ground bison, turkey, venison and chicken for this recipe.
  • Beans | I sometimes change it up from regular kidney beans to tri-color beans or all black beans.
  • Tomatoes | You’ll need both diced tomatoes and tomato sauce for this yummy recipe.
  • Parsley | The fresh kind, adds wonderful flavor and nutrients.
  • Spices | like all chili recipes, there are yummy spices, like chili powder, bay leaf, oregano, cumin, and the secret ingredients, cinnamon sticks and cloves.
  • Black Olives | my other secret ingredient, adds a lovely touch to the chili recipe.
  • Optional Addition | Shredded or grated zucchini, carrots and a can of pumpkin puree, talk about nutrition!

How to Make Firecracker Chili

Heat a good sized pan nice and hot (about medium-high) and toss in your ground beef. Love my cast iron pans!

Break it up using a heavy duty wooden spoon, or try one of these nifty tools; or a strong wooden spoon or spatula will do the trick!

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While your meat is browning, open your cans of beans and pour into a colander in the sink, rinsing them well. You can use traditional kidney beans or a mixture of beans as I have done here. I favor black beans over kidney beans.

Place drained and rinsed beans in crock or soup pot.

And yes, that is an electric can opener...when I have a lot of cans to open, I pull that puppy out of the cupboard.

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Once your meat has browned, drain any large amounts of fat and then place cooked meat in crockpot or large soup pot.

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In the same pan you browned your meat in, add 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Once melted, toss chopped onion and sauté for several (6-8) minutes until soft and a nice caramel color, once soft, add your garlic stirring until fragrant about a minute.

Fresh Tip

  • Depending on my mood, I will first brown my onions and garlic, adding the spices to bloom and THEN brown my beef in the same pan! So it soaks up all those yummy flavors!

While your onions are sautéing, pour your can of diced tomatoes (regular, unsalted, roasted, whatever you have in your pantry!) into the crockpot.

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And then tomato sauce…

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Also while your onions are sautéing, measure the spices in a small bowl, adjust your seasonings up or down based on taste.

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Next add paprika (I LOOOOVEEE smoked paprika), sea salt, cumin and oregano.

Adjust the spices to your tastes, I’m not a huge fan of cumin, so I tend to put a scant teaspoon in, whereas, I love paprika so it’s quite a few shakes for me! Mix it all around and add the spices to your soft and caramelized onions, stirring over low heat for a minute. This really “blooms” the spices allowing the flavors to come alive!

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Now add those cinnamon sticks, yep, cinnamon sticks. Isn’t it beautiful!? Okay, I admit I get a bit strange about these things.

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Take all of that goodness and pour it over your meat in the crockpot, scraping the pan to get every last beautiful morsel.

Next add fresh parsley. Don’t have fresh? don’t worry just toss in a small handful of dried.

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For me, this is the best part of the chili, a can of black olives with their liquid!

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What Veggies Are Good to Add to Chili?

These next few items are optional, but they sure do add some great nutrition and fiber to your chili, sneaking some nutrient veggies in for picky eaters! The great part is they will not see or taste them as it cooks into the chili.

  • We’ll start with zucchini, I grated one medium sized zucchini.
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Oh and don’t forget the bay leaf, I somehow missed taking a picture of that, but it’s in there! Just one!

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That’s it, now stir it all around and place the lid on the crock pot or soup pot, set the crockpot on low for 4-6 hours (it can go longer if needed; just add a ½ cup of additional water before covering it). You may also cook on high for 4 hours.

Variations & Substitutions for Cinnamon Chili Recipe

Sneak in those veggies; add shredded carrots, zucchini, butternut squash and up to 1 can of pumpkin.

Substitute the meat with ground chicken, ground pork, or even make it vegetarian by using plant-based meat alternatives like tofu or textured vegetable protein (TVP).

Stovetop Cinnamon Chili Instructions

Does not matter; either way, works stovetop or crockpot! Simmer on low for 3-4 hours, if it starts drying out, add ½ cup of hot water and stir it in.

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I love this Slow Cooker, the insert can go from stovetop to Slow Cooker!

I had some leftover barbecue brisket, added that too! So many options, make it your way!

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Place that lid on top and don’t lift it until it’s done!

Coming home after a long day of school “Fall” parties, wrangling 30 sugar-high, excited and squirmy kids for a game of pumpkin bowling or decorating their own pumpkin sugar cookie is exhausting…not joking, it truly is.

The exotic smell of chili is both warm and comforting, with a full meal all ready to tackle the busy school night, Halloween night, snowy night, or relaxed weekend night…you get the idea.

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Once it’s finished, give it a good stir, taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.

Storage Tips

Store leftover chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freeze it for longer storage.

Reheat it on the stovetop or microwave, adding a bit of water or broth if needed to maintain the desired consistency.

Can I Freeze Cinnamon Chili?

Yes! I freeze our leftovers all the time. A few suggestions.

  • Cool completely before freezing, if still warm, condensation builds, causing ice; ice and frozen foods = freezer burn!
  • Freeze in individual sized portions, they make great microwavable portions.
  • Freeze in freezer baggie, laying flat for optimum freezer space.
  • Thaw overnight in fridge, heat on stovetop or even on low for an hour or so in slow cooker.
  • Or line your slow cooker, then freeze directly in the insert. Remove after solid and wrap well, then when ready to reheat, remove liner and plunk back into crockpot and heat on low 2-4 hours.
  • Lasts in freezer up to 3-4 months!

Sure to warm you from the inside out!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cinnamon chili, and how does it differ from regular chili?

Cinnamon chili is a unique variation of traditional chili that incorporates ground cinnamon or in this case cinnamon sticks as a key ingredient. The cinnamon adds a warm, slightly sweet, and aromatic flavor to the chili, making it distinct from traditional chili.

What toppings can I add to cinnamon chili?

Common toppings include shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped green onions, cilantro, avocado slices, chopped onions (red or yellow), Fritos and a sprinkle of additional ground cinnamon for a delightful finishing touch.

How do I store and reheat cinnamon chili leftovers?

Store leftover chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freeze it for longer storage. Reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding a bit of water or broth if needed to maintain the desired consistency.

Can I make cinnamon chili in advance for a party or event?

Cinnamon chili can be adapted for various dietary needs. You can make it gluten-free by using gluten-free ingredients and ensure it’s vegetarian or vegan by choosing plant-based protein options. Adjust seasonings to match your dietary preferences.

Scoop into bowls and top with your favorite toppings. We love sour cream, corn chips, and a little shredded cheese. And don’t forget the cornbread, like this Sweet Buttermilk Corn Bread or these 2 ingredient biscuits.

What to Serve with Cinnamon Chili

In the midwest, it’s a classic combination to serve chili with cinnamon rolls, yes cinnamon rolls. I have tried it and must say I LIKE IT! Give one of these cinnamon roll recipes a try!

  • Breakfast Cinnamon Roll Casserole Recipe (canned rolls)
  • Best Crock Pot Cinnamon Roll Casserole Recipe
  • Best Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

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Don’t forget to give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating and leave a comment below the recipe!

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Best Cinnamon Chili Recipe (Firecracker Chili)

This unique, spicy (but not hot) Cinnamon Chili recipe is the perfect chilly night meal! Cinnamon chili is an award-winning family and neighbor favorite!It is the best chili recipe ever. Stovetop or crockpot directions.

4.80 from 25 votes

Click stars to rate now!

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Prep Time: 20 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours hours

Total Time: 6 hours hours 20 minutes minutes

Servings: 8 -10 servings

Calories: 217kcal

Author: Kathleen Pope

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ -2 lbs ground beef try bison, turkey or ground chicken
  • 3 cans beans I like kidney, black and pinto, drained and rinsed (sometimes I use more ground beef and one less can of beans) (15 oz)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes with juice
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley minced (or heaping tablespoon dried)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder to taste, I use scant tablespoons, use more if you like more heat, less if you want really mild
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano dried
  • 1 teaspoon cumin I used scant, again to desired flavor
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks 2 -4 inch or replace with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 shakes red pepper flakes crushed red pepper (again to taste, less if you desire less heat)
  • 3-5 dashes paprika smoked paprika is delicious
  • dash Cayenne pepper if desired
  • 1 can pitted black olives with liquid (optional, but add ½ cup water if not using)

Optional Add Ins

  • 1 zucchini grated fine (optional)
  • 3 carrots grated fine (optional)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree up to the whole can (15 ounces) optional

TOPPING SUGGESTIONS

  • Shredded Cheese 3 cheese Mexican is our favorite
  • Green onions chopped
  • Sour Cream
  • Fritos Corn Chips
  • avocado

US CustomaryMetric

Instructions

  • Drain and rinse beans, add to crockpot or large soup pot. Brown and drain ground meat, add to crock or soup pot.

  • While meat is browning, measure out all spices and place in small bowl, stirring to blend. Set aside. Pour diced tomatoes and tomato sauce over brown meat and beans. In same pan you browned meat, over medium heat; add butter, once melted add diced onions and sauté until soft and caramel colored. About 6-7 minutes. Or swap and brown your onions and spices ahead of the beef, cooking the beef in the spices.

  • Add garlic and sauté 1 minute until fragrant. Add bowl of spices to the browned onions and garlic, stir around until spices are fragrant. Toss in bay leaf and cinnamon sticks and stir around, remove from heat and pour onion and spice mixture on top of tomatoes. If using, add shredded zucchini, carrots and/or pumpkin puree, mix in well. Empty can of olives into crock along with juices.

  • Cover and cook on low for 4-8 hours (if longer needed, stir in ½ cup water) or high 4 hours (be sure to add a little extra water). Serve hot with desired toppings. On stovetop, bring to simmer, cover and simmer on low for 2-4 hours.

Last step! Leave a RatingRate this recipe here. This helps other readers and helps support this website.

Video

Notes

Sneak veggies into your dinner by adding shredded zucchini, carrots and even a can of pumpkin, stir it in and nobody will know it’s there!

Substitutions | Use ground bison, elk, turkey or chicken in place of ground beef.

How to Freeze Chili

  • Cool completely before freezing, if still warm, condensation builds, causing ice, ice and frozen foods = freezer burn!
  • Freeze in individual sized portions, they make great microwavable portions.
  • Freeze in freezer baggie, laying flat for optimum freezer space.
  • Thaw overnight in fridge, heat on stovetop or even on low for an hour or so in slow cooker.
  • Or line your slow cooker, then freeze directly in the insert. Remove after solid and wrap well, then when ready to reheat, remove liner and plunk back into crockpot and heat on low 2-4 hours.
  • Lasts in freezer up to 3-4 months!

Serving suggestion | Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread with Honey and Butter

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 217kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 649mg | Potassium: 519mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1401IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 3mg

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