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Smoked Brisket Chili

Smoked brisket chili bowls

Warm up a big bowl of this award-winning Smoked Brisket Chili, the ultimate comfort food using your favorite BBQ. This recipe is spicy, savory, smoky, and so simple to prepare. Now you have another excuse to smoke too much brisket. Or is it just enough?

Smoked Texas brisket chili topped with shredded cheddar and chives

This recipe for smoked brisket chili is handy to have on hand, especially for those times you need an easy meal for the family. BBQ flavors come alive inside the house with minimal effort and maximum flavors.

I know, it’s probably against the rules to have leftover brisket on hand but come on, we all do, secretly. If nothing else, it’s an excuse to smoke a LARGER brisket, knowing you’re going to make this amazing brisket chili.

Serve this alongside a batch of Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits OR Green Chile Cornbread for the ultimate comfort meal!

Leftover brisket chili with different options for topping combinations.

You’ll Love Smoked Brisket Chili

Smoked brisket flat is ideal for making brisket chili

Key Ingredients for brisket chili

Important Tips

  • Have everything prepped before you start. The involvement of your cooking is really only about 10 minutes of your time, but everything happens back to back. Dicing the vegetables is the hardest part.
  • Pour the beer into a glass or deli container ahead of time. This will agitate the beer and allow it to go flat. Fully carbonated beer can foam like crazy when it hits a hot pan. It also helps to have the beer at room temperature, rather than cold out of the fridge. Adding a cold beer to a hot pan will drastically reduce the temperature and can alter your cooking time.
  • Trim excess fat off the edges of the brisket flat. There’s a fat cap that is typically left on the top of the brisket. The smoked fat won’t render down in the chili, instead, it will make the chili somewhat greasy. Trust me, you won’t be sacrificing flavor.
  • Toast the spices for a couple of minutes with the meat and veggies before adding liquids. This is a trick I’ve learned from making Indian cuisine, which really opens up the flavors of the chili powder and other spices. The oils are released which intensify the flavors. 
  • Serve the smoked brisket chili the following day! I feel like this is an absolute rule, as the flavors really do develop overnight.
Have all of your ingredients ready to go before you start cooking the brisket chlii

How to make smoked brisket chili

Step 1: Crisp up the Bacon

Take your chopped bacon and add it into a Dutch oven on medium heat. Bacon renders down well if you add it into a pan as it’s warming up, which slowly renders out the fat rather than simply searing the bacon. You will have crispier bacon if you do this.

Cook the diced bacon until it’s crispy, which can take about 5-6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate. Leave the bacon fat in the pot.

Slowly crisp up the bacon then remove it, leaving the bacon fat behind.

Step 2: Add the Aromatics

Once the bacon has been removed there should be enough bacon grease to saute the vegetables. Add in the diced onion and jalapenos to let them soften and sweat for a few minutes first. Stir to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom.

Add in the minced garlic and chopped chipotle peppers next. Stir, and allow them to cook for about 2 minutes. You’ll start to smell some amazing flavors pretty quickly.

Add the jalapenos and onions to the bacon fat, then the chopped chipotles.

Step 3: Toasting Spices with Brisket

The leftover brisket chili is going to start coming alive. Add in the cubed brisket along with all of the spices at once. Dump them in and stir to coat all of the pieces. Stir frequently to allow the meat and spices to toast on the bottom of the pot.

You’ll start to notice that the spices and fats are sticking to the bottom of the pot. That’s fine, the next step will deglaze the bottom and you’ll scrape all of that back into the brisket chili.

Cook the spiced brisket for about 2-3 minutes until you notice most of the liquid is gone.

Step 4: Add in the Beer

Hopefully, you read the tips and are using a room-temperature beer, otherwise, you’ll have another 5-6 minutes extra to wait for it all to heat back up.

I like to add the beer before the other ingredients to deglaze the pot while burning off some of the initial alcohol as well. Once the beer is poured in, scrape the bottom of the pot to release all of the flavors that were stuck on the bottom. Let the beer come up to a low simmer for a few minutes.

Deglaze the pot with room temperature beer and bring to a simmer to cook off some of the alcohol.

Step 5: Add in the Liquids and Tomatoes

You’re at the finish line, now it’s time to add in the rest of the liquids, plus the fire-roasted tomatoes.

Pour in the black coffee, the juicy tomatoes, bacon, and beef broth. Bring the liquids to a low simmer. Stir everything together and make sure the sides are scraped down.

Add all of the liquids into the pot and bring to a simmer.

Braise and Season

Sit back and wait impatiently, because you’re pretty much done. Just a couple of hours away from delicious smoked brisket chili!

Place the lid on the Dutch oven and keep it at a low simmer for about 60 minutes at a minimum.

After the time passes lift off the lid and check it, stir, taste, and season. Most likely if you add anything, it might be a touch of salt. The recipe below does NOT include salt as a default because of the beef broth, bacon, and salty smoked brisket. Don’t forget about the seasonings on that bark!

After simmering for a few hours, the brisket chili thickens up quite a bit.

Variations for Brisket Chili

  • Starting with raw beef. Many chilis start out by searing beef in the pot and then braising for an extended period of time, such as my Gochujang chili con carne. You can use the same method if you don’t have leftover smoked brisket available. Use either brisket flat or chuck roast, and follow the searing steps in the chili con carne recipe I just referenced.
  • Skip the beer. There’s alcohol, but not much. Beer typically has far less alcohol than any spirit you’d be cooking with. It takes a little over 2 hours to fully cook out all of the alcohol, but thankfully this chili happens to braise for that long. Swap out the amount for additional beef broth instead. Adding a little extra coffee also helps to deepen the flavors.
  • Different cuts than brisket. You can use different smoked meat, such as smoked chuck roast. I recommend having it cubed in the same way, rather than shredded, which will create the best consistency.
Plenty of options for topping your bowls of brisket chili

Ideas for Toppings

Smoked brisket chili is pretty amazing on its own, but the toppings are the fun part. What will you choose?

  • Cheddar cheese – Absolute classic. Sharp cheddar pairs so well with that smoky, rich meat and stewed tomatoes. Try other cheeses too such as gouda, pepper jack, or even blue cheese.
  • Scallions or chives – Finely diced they add a nice textural crunch with each bite. The herbal touch brightens the overall flavors as well which is refreshing.
  • Cilantro or herbs – Parsley, dill, or any mix of herbs can work well depending on your preference. Cilantro is classic due to the regional dish.
  • Toasted seeds or nuts – Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) work really well, maintaining a nice crunch without being too strong in flavor. Sesame seeds and cashews are some of my other favorites.
  • Sour cream – Dollop a healthy spoonful of white cream to throw a bowl of chili over the top
Here's a bite of chili with a big piece of bacon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this considered to be a Texas chili?

No actually, even though it is loaded with smoked brisket. Technically a Texas chili has no beans or any tomato product. It’s made with meat, broth, and thick chili paste made from dried peppers.

Will this chili taste good with beans?

Maybe. If you’re going to add beans, make sure you don’t use small white beans. They will break up and make the chili gritty, adding a funny texture throughout. Adding beans to chili will also demand more liquid for the braise, so be prepared. Personally, I would save the beans for a different recipe.

Can I make a mild version of smoked brisket chili?

Leave out the chopped chipotles in adobo, that’s the main ingredient that builds the heat. You can also leave out the diced jalapenos, though they aren’t very spicy after braising for a few hours.

How can I thicken the chili?

Towards the end, take about 2 tablespoons of the broth out and mix it with a teaspoon of corn starch. Mix it up until the starch dissolves, and pour it back in. Continue to cook and it should thicken it up just enough. The chili will also thicken up overnight as it sets.

Sides to Serve with Brisket Chili

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Smoked brisket chili bowls

Smoked Brisket Chili

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5 from 2 reviews

Warm up a big bowl of Smoked Brisket Chili, the ultimate comfort food using your favorite BBQ. This recipe is spicy, savory, smoky, and so simple to prepare. Now you have another excuse to smoke too much brisket. Or is it just enough?

  • Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 8 cups 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 white onion, about 2 cups, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, diced
  • 3 cups leftover smoked brisket flat, 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 12 oz bottle beer, room temperature and poured into a glass
  • 2 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cans (15-oz) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup strong black coffee (leftover morning coffee)
  • Fine sea salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Prepare all of the vegetables and meat by dicing as instructed. It helps to have everything ready before cooking.
  2. In a large pot with a lid, or Dutch oven, add the diced bacon and turn the heat on to medium heat. The bacon will slowly start to render out the fat as it warms up. Stir the bacon until it’s crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and leave the grease in the pot.
  3. Add the onions and jalapenos into the pot and stir to cook for a few minutes until they are slightly softened. Add in the minced garlic and diced chipotle peppers. Stir to combine everything and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the cubed brisket and all of the spices. Stir the meat to coat completely with the spices. The spices will start to give off a stronger smell, which is important for developing flavor. Some of the spices will also stick to the bottom, don’t worry about that yet. Keep cooking for about 2-3 minutes until you notice most of the liquid is gone.
  5. Pour in the room temperature beer and scrape the bottom of the pot. Loosen up everything that has stuck, and stir gently. Allow the beer to come up to a low simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Add in the beef broth, fire-roasted tomatoes, bacon, and coffee. Stir gently to mix everything and bring the liquids to a low simmer. Scrape down the sides if needed, and place the lid on the pot. Allow the chili to cook for about 60 minutes.
  7. Lift the lid to stir the chili and taste the sauce. Adjust with a little fine sea salt if needed, but realize that the flavors will continue to concentrate as it reduces. Continue to cook with the lid for another 30-45 minutes until it’s as thick as you’d like.
  8. If the chili is not thick enough, mix a teaspoon of corn starch with 2 tablespoons of the broth. Stir to dissolve the starch, and add it back into the chili. Allow it to cook with the lid off for 10 minutes to thicken up.
  9. When ready, you may serve immediately. The chili will be best the next day when it has a chance for the flavors to develop.
  10. Serve warm with your favorite toppings!

Notes

  • You may cook with the lid off for the second half if you prefer a thicker chili. Otherwise, try the corn starch method mentioned above.
  • Leave out the diced chipotle if you’re looking for a more mild brisket chili.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Beef & Lamb
  • Method: Braising
  • Cuisine: Dinner
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