Spooktacular Beef and Italian Sausage Chili


It’s cool and blustery in the south, the pumpkin is carved and it’s looking very Halloweeny around here, indeed. And for me, Halloween and trick or treating always means having some spicy and spooky chili on hand to enjoy while treating the kids.

It’s a busy day, so I’ll keep this short and sweet…this chili is out of this world, muaaahaaahaaahaaa!

Some wonderful moments from one of my all time favorite “scary” movies!

As you may already know, I’m a chili-hound and this one is my new favorite chili. For a fantastic non-beef chili you can see my Holy Mole Turkey Chili right here. Or for a vegan chili, check out this Vegetarian Black Bean Chili right here. Have a safe and Happy Halloween, y’all!

A quick note to send wishes for a speedy recovery to all of my readers and their families who have or are suffering from the hurricane in the northeastern U.S. and Canada. I hope you and yours are well and safe.

Spooktacular Beef and Italian Sausage Chili
Makes 10-12 Servings

1 3/4 lbs. ground beef, preferably 90/10 ratio of lean to fat
1 lb. high quality hot italian pork sausage, removed from casings (I used our local Pine Street Market)
1 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced
1 large red onion, peeled and diced
1 each medium red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers, seeded and diced (or use an available equivalent)
12 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
2 large chipotle chilies in 2 teaspoons of adobo sauce, finely minced (you could substitute a fresh red or green jalapeno for the chipotle if you can’t find them, it just won’t give you the smoky flavor of chipotle)
2 fresh or dried whole bay leaves
5 heaping Tablespoons of chili powder
1 Tablespoon of ancho chili powder
2 heaping teaspoons of ground cumin
1/2 Tablespoon each of dried basil, oregano and fresh black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of chinese five spice powder
1/4 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes
3 teaspoons of kosher salt
2 cans of black beans, no salt added, drained and rinsed
1 can of red kidney beans, no salt added, drained and rinsed
1 28 oz can of whole, peeled plum tomatoes with juice, low sodium
2-14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes, low sodium, with juice
1 generous cup of dry red wine (chianti is very nice)
1 1/2 cups of water
2 Tablespoons of semi sweet chocolate chips

Grated extra sharp cheddar cheese for serving

Brown the ground beef in a large, heavy bottomed stock pot over medium to medium high heat. Drain the beef with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Set aside. Pour the fat and water out of the stock pot, and brown the sausage over medium to medium high heat. Remove the sausage from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving the fat from the sausage.

Add the olive oil to the pot with the sausage drippings and heat over medium high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic and chipotes to the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent. Add the bay leaves, chili powder, ancho chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano, black pepper, chinese five spice powder, dried red pepper flakes and kosher salt to the pot, and stir for about 1-2 minutes to cook the spices…don’t allow them to burn, keep them moving! Add the tomatoes, water, wine, beans, beef and sausage to the pot and stir well, then add the chocolate chips. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30-45 minutes, or until the chili is thick and all the flavors have blended. Fish out the bay leaves and throw them away. Serve with grated extra sharp cheddar cheese, or your favorite toppings and a little cornbread on the side. As with all chili, this is even better the next day, and it freezes well!


56 thoughts on “Spooktacular Beef and Italian Sausage Chili

  1. What great looking Jack-O-Lanterns, Betsy! I do love a slow cooker chili and your recipe with the ghost garnish is fantastic. Thanks for your kind wishes, we finally got our power back on, and only had a few things to chuck from the fridge, the freezer was off for less than 24 hours and unopened, so it all is good! The Eastern Sea Board got hit very badly and NYC looks terrible. We’re expecting rain until at least Saturday, but at least we have electricity back. One of my friends on the East side of town still doesn’t have electricity and it’s a bit BRRRRR!


    • Thank you so much, Norma, on both accounts. I love freehand carving pumpkins, I must admit. I think I’ll add a pic of him lit…he’s kinda scary! The chili lent itself to the ghoul…he just appeared in the cheese. 🙂


  2. What a fun Hallowe’en series of photos and a great recipe, Betsy! I love that you’ve made a little ghost in your chili:D I have never heard of putting chocolate chips in a chili, it would be awesome!! I’m just catching up on reading and hope everyone in our blogging world is ok!


    • Hi Barb, and glad you liked the images. I’ve just added our Jack now Lit! I have to say that adding chocolate to chili has become the norm for me. I love it in the turkey chili, which has a lot of it, and this chili, which has just a touch. You can also add a little Dijon mustard to temper it, but this chili didn’t really need that. I know…I’m hoping all are safe and well. 🙂 Happy Halloween!


  3. “Spooktaculat” is right, Betsy! That ghost rising above the chili is fantastic. What a great idea and fun post! Love your Jack-o-Lantern. “Young Frankenstein” is a favorite and I have Madeline’ Kahn’s arrival at the mansion recorded. It’s always good for a laugh when I need one. Above all else, though, this chili recipe sounds perfect, just right for these chilly nights. You’ve really packed it with flavor and I bet it’s delicious!


    • Hi John, and I’m glad you like the ghost in the chili…I notice you’re avoiding the spiders! 😉 I never get tired of watching Young Frankenstein and all the gags in it are such classics now. I always laugh when the Car Guys mention Frau Brueker! I’ve got to make some more of this chili. We’re having friends over for it next weekend, so I’m having to keep myself from making it sooner than that! Hope you had a good Halloween.


    • Thanks Charlie! I’m the chief pumpkin carver around here. My husband has started hollowing them out for me, then I take my trusty kitchen knife and freehand carve. Last year was cats so this year was a spooky face.


  4. I had to come back and tell you, Betsy, that dinner tonight was your Spooktacular Chili. YUM!!!
    I’ve been thinking about making chili, now that the weather’s changed, and your recipe was right on time. I followed your recipe almost to a “T”. (I forgot to buy jalapeños and added a couple more chipotle instead.) I had feared it would be too spicy for me but it wasn’t and I really enjoyed my dinner tonight. Best of all, I’ve got a few quart containers cooling — out of Max’s reach — that will be headed for the freezer before I head to bed. There will definitely be more of your chili in my future. Thanks, Betsy!


    • Oh, I’m so thrilled, John! I always use chipotles and never jalapenos, but so many folks around the world can’t find chipotles, so I put that in as an option instead of chipotles…since they begin as the same pepper and jalapenos would be good in this, too. But personally, I like chipotles best, and don’t find their heat to be too spicy for me ever by comparison to a jalapeno. We’ve been eating some of this chili frozen (and thawed) and it really freezes so well…still great. Thank you so much for letting me know that you tried it…sounds like you did follow it to a “T” and I tend to lean on the side of extra chipotle myself! 😉


  5. I’m a chili lover too Betsy (and it’s typical around our house at Halloween too, though somehow I messed up and went out to dinner this year. What was I thinking??) I’m off to check out your non-beefy ones, though I do love how you adorned this one!! Terrifying! 🙂


    • Thank you, Sawsan! It is a really flavorful chili, and one that gets better as it blends…like most chili. I’m so glad you liked my pumpkins. I usually carve cat face pumpkins, but decided to go for a scary face this year. 🙂


  6. This chili looks like it has a good kick to it Betsy. I’m intrigued by the chinese five spice powder you’ve slipped in there as well. My mom was here visiting last week and I gave her my ipad so that she could look at the various posts on Facebook. She just loved your chili photo with the ghost-shaped sour cream. It really was adorable (and creative)!


    • Thank you for that great feedback, Barb! I’m so glad your mom liked my little ghost. He just seemed to want to be there, you know? Plus, I love Halloween and become a total kid that day! 🙂 I put Chinese Five Spice in this chili and my turkey chili. It really rounds out the chipotles and the touch of chocolate adds a lot of depth. The result is a really deep and flavorful chili…and you can’t quite figure out what’s in it! Hope you and the ponytails had a happy halloween!


  7. This is so darn cute and clever Betsy! And looks so delish! Wow! Love the fabulous ingredients in this dish. Yum! I think my Bennett Crew would love this. 🙂 Have a fabulous week!


    • Oh I’m sorry he doesn’t like beans in chili, but I can understand that. I used to not like kidney beans in my chili at all, but found that mixing them with black beans did the trick for me! 🙂 Thanks for your great comment and glad you like the looks of this chili.


  8. Hi Betsy – I love the presentation of the chili!! Well, of course, I’m sure the taste was fantastic as well, but I can’t get over how cool it looks, with the little ghost on top – so awesome :D. It sounds lovely though – a perfect seasonal meal, and that’s a fab pumpkin you’ve got there 🙂


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