Secret Ingredient Chili

The Best Chili Recipe

Everyone’s got a chili recipe they swear is the best.

Mine really is.

A bold claim, yes. But after sharing it with friends for the past 10 years, I thought it was time to share it with the wider world.

I don’t prepare the meat in a specific way, or scientifically measure out my spices. Instead, it’s a single, somewhat unexpected ingredient that gives my chili a depth and heartiness that has everyone reaching for seconds. And thirds.

Why am I finally sharing the recipe? Because I finally had time to shoot a pretty picture of it. Chili, while delicious, is one of the most ugly dishes to photograph. Ever.

Make a giant batch of it. You won’t be sorry.

Secret Ingredient Chili
serves 6 as an appetizer, 4 as an entree

1 small onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 jalapeños, sliced (leave seeded if you like it spicy)
1 lb of ground meat of your choice (I prefer turkey)
1 can of beans, rinsed (both black and pinto work great)
1 can of refried beans << the secret ingredient!
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 container of fresh spinach
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of cayenne and paprika each (add more if you like it spicy)
1 tablespoon of cumin
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Optional: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, avocado, cilantro

1) Heat up olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeños and cook until fragrant
2) Add meat to the pot and cook until browned
3) Add refried beans and cook until the mixture is softened
4) Bring heat to low. Add beans, tomatoes, and spices. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour
5) 10 minutes before serving, add the spinach and lemon juice.
6) Serve with optional garnishes. Enjoy!

For a slow cooker – follow step 1, and add all the ingredients (except for spinach and lemon juice) to the cooker and cook over low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. Add spinach and lemon juice 10 minutes before serving.

What’s the secret to your favorite chili recipe? COMMENT below and share the tasty knowledge with everyone.

  • Amber Burns

    Love a good chili recipe, especially during this (sometimes) winter weather on the east coast! My secret flavor is one that is definitely unexpected whenever I share a bowl with new friends: SWEET POTATO! The perfect dose of sweetness to soak up all of that savory spice. It’s honestly my secret weapon in SO many dishes, I eat it nearly everyday, but it is wonderful in chili :)

    • hithaonthego

      What a great tip! I’m going to try it the next time I whip up chili.

  • Jennifer

    Great idea! My secret is a spoonful of cocoa powder. Really deepens the flavor. (Deepens is a word, right?)

    • hithaonthego

      Deepen is totally a word, and cocoa is such a great tip! I love adding cocoa or coffee to my spice blend whenever I make beef or dark meat chicken.

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  • Michelle Zapalski

    Just made this for dinner – it’s a game changer!! Thank you, thank you!