Hayden's Famous Chili

I went to a small Baptist University for college and every fall they had a chili cook-off. I always wanted to compete and win. I knew my chili would win, hands down; of that I was confident. Only problem was, my school only let males compete. Maybe because they knew they didn’t stand a chance against female cooking? That’s what I keep telling myself. I did find a way to get around that distasteful rule. insert Grinch smile here I let a fraternity on campus enter with my chili recipe….and guess what? They won. So take that, small Baptist University which shall remain nameless. It’s won a few awards in addition to that first delicious victory and today I share with you all the recipe I’ve kept most under lock and key. I haven’t gone completely mad. I am keeping a few tricks to myself. But you all are getting the base recipe that bolstered this chili’s fame.



1 lb Ground meat of choice (I use beef and greatly prefer that. At least 80/20)

1/2 lb Chorizo

1 Sweet onion chopped

1 Can of Rotel

1 Small can of tomato sauce

1 Can of Ranch Style Beans (The can with the black label and yellow/white writing, if you don’t have access to these, a can of chili style pinto or red beans will do. If you’re not in the US you will have to make chili beans in a chili gravy)

2 Tsp chili powder

1-2 dashes of cayenne, depending on how hot you like it

1/4 tsp cinnamon

A sprinkle of two of dark brown sugar

Chips of choice (Mine are scooable frito’s always and forever)

Toppings: shredded and american cheese, jalapeno’s, sour cream, cilantro, guacamole, etc

Seasoning salt to taste


  1. In a sizable chili pot on medium high heat, add chopped onion and saute for a few minutes to soften before adding ground meat in.

  2. Add in ground meat and season rather liberally with seasoning salt of choice (in the original recipe I used Lawry’s. Since learning the error of my ways, I make my own seasoning salt that is comparable but not full of nasty toxins. But if you want the OG, buy a bottle of the nasty.)

  3. Once the meat is no longer pink, add in each of the canned ingredients with all their liquid.*

  4. Once the base of the chili is combined, add in your other seasonings; chili powder, cayenne, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

  5. Let the chili simmer covered for about 30 -45 minutes.

  6. Test to see if any seasoning needs to be tweaked.

  7. Serve with your favorite chili ‘fixins. I top my high with cheese and eat with scoopable Frito’s (yes Frito’s) instead of a spoon. It’s the most holy way to eat chili I’m convinced. Other acceptable toppings are sour cream, cilantro, fresh or pickled jalapeno’s, cornbread, or cheese biscuits.

*This recipe double, triples, quadruples etc easily. The only caution I would advise is paying attention to the excess liquid in the canned Rotel. If you like a thicker chili, like me, you will want to possible drain 1-2 cans of Rotel depending on how thick or thin you want it. You also might need to cut the onion down so it’s not overpowering.

This recipe has won me boyfriends and eventually a husband, comforted me in my darkest of times, and celebrated with me in joyous seasons. It has fed many many people over the years; from Halloween parties to football tailgates, with friends after a high school dance and family around our table once the weather is cold. It is a constant in my life and I hope it becomes one for you as well.

Enjoy, friends,

~ Hippie Hayden