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Chili on the Grill

Chili on the Grill
Andrea Behrends and Helene Dujardin
Cook Time:
1 hr 20 mins
Prep Time:
40 mins

Chef notes

There is chili, and then there is chili from the grill. Cooking the ingredients in a searing-hot cast-iron pan on a covered grill allows the ingredients to get both a flavorful browning without losing any natural juices to the flames and plenty of smoky flavor. The result is a complex, delicious chili. It is formidable on its own in a bowl with your preferred garnishes, or as the key component on a hot dog or brat.

Technique tip: If extra fat rises to the surface, remove by skimming with a spoon prior to serving.

Swap option: Use ground turkey, bison or venison in place of the ground beef.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium (8-ounce) yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • tablespoons minced garlic (from 4 medium cloves)
  • 2 pounds 80/20 lean ground beef
  • tablespoons chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar



Open the bottom vent of a charcoal grill completely. Light a charcoal chimney starter filled with charcoal. When the coals are covered with gray ash, pour them onto the bottom grate of the grill. Adjust the vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 400 450 F. (If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high, 400 to 450 F.)


Place a cast-iron Dutch oven on the unoiled grates. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up chunks with a wooden spoon, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the chile powder, salt, cumin, cinnamon, cocoa, allspice and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato sauce, water and vinegar, and allow the mixture to come to a simmer.


Adjust the vents as needed to reduce grill internal temperature to 250 to 300 F. (If using a gas grill, reduce temperature to low, 250 to 300 F.) Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 1 hour.